Newsweek Scotland: The Empire Strikes Back
There's been so much action this week it's been like a space chase in Star Wars. Whoosh! Another missile overtakes on the starboard side. Zing! There's an explosion at 11 o clock. There are mighty monsters clawing at each other's throats and bellowing madly. Yes, it's another day in Scottish politics. At last the commanders of the mothership London have ordered a counter attack on the Salmondista forces of rebellion against the Empire. (Grow up - Ed.)
Oh well, it has been pretty gripping for politicos like me as a new event broke live on telly as I struggled to catch up with the papers and FMQs. There's been claim and counter claim and it's time to draw breath at the end of the week. What will we do with it all? Well the first thing I did was search for some perspective in order to get things into position. So I sat down with one of our pre-eminent political scientists Professor James Mitchell who has a special interest in the SNP - no one outside the party is closer to the leadership - and he's an expert on the Tories. ( I suggested this was a fringe interest nowadays but I was only joking). So he tells us all about previous constitutional turmoil and - relevant I think - how previous promises of change were abandoned.
Is anybody in any doubt that Labour, the Lib Dems and Tories have formed a pact to resist a second question? It looks rather like it. Or, as Professor John Curtice put it on Newsnight: "it is curious". He says they want Salmond to lose and be left with nothing. It seems he must be humiliated and damaged because he has been a nuisance to the Tory Government and his clear defeat will leave the way open for Labour to surge back into power at Holyrood (goes the theory). So they won't endorse a second question as a consolation even if Devo Max is something Labour and especially the Lib Dems are likely to promote later. The spanner in their works is that Salmond is still in control of the question and is likely to put which ever combination he wants even after a consultation. We have a debate with Angus Macleod and George Kerevan.
We're working on more material on the referendum including other countries where there have been referendums. We will also look at the welfare reforms and how they impact on disabled people. We hear how they are feeling unloved and under pressure. And we have a heart-breaking insight into the latter stages of Burns' life. Poor Rabbie never did capitalise on his great talent and died deep in debt. We hear from Clark McGinn who has unearthed new evidence of just how parlous were the Bard's circumstances at the end. And yet after his death the family collected his complete works and it was a publishing sensation making them wealthy. If you never had a lump in your throat at Ye Banks and Braes or Ae Fond Kiss, you will after hearing this. I'm off to look for my light sabre.