Alistair Darling double-teamed Scotland’s current affairs shows last night, appearing at length on both Scotland Tonight and Newsnight Scotland in order to blink furiously in turn at first Bernard Ponsonby and then Gordon Brewer.
The STV man largely wasted his opportunity, spending the bulk of the interview talking about live debates, but Brewer did a much better job of putting Darling on the spot in several areas. Indeed, with the “Better Together” chairman’s very first words onscreen, the BBC interviewer drew from him a huge and fundamental lie that sits at the very heart of the independence debate. Stand back, because here it comes.
The realisation that the No camp’s reaction to the independence White Paper has been based on a massive, scarcely-believable misunderstanding/misrepresentation of reality has thrown a new light on all sorts of things from the past week.
The most recent “BLACK HOLE!” story is a case in point.
Sadly we don’t have the ability to capture video here. Or rather, we don’t have the technical knowhow, or the time to acquire it. That’s not usually a problem, because we can capture audio and often other people more savvy than us will archive video clips before they vanish into the inaccessible vaults of broadcasting forever.
Sometimes, though, sound alone just doesn’t properly convey the tone of something. And since we suspect the seven-minute interview Alistair Darling gave BBC News this lunchtime will never be seen in full again [EDIT: Yes it will!], as rolling news doesn’t usually appear on iPlayer, we thought we had to capture it some other way.
I make videos. The written word is not my weapon of choice. But “Better Together” have left me with no alternative. Let me explain.
I’m a recently-retired video producer. Another recently-retired video producer (aka ‘the wife’) and I decided to make a series of films about how the grassroots of the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns were bringing their respective messages to the people of Scotland.
We kicked off by covering Yes Garnock Valley and West Kilbride’s public meeting in Kilbirnie. We contacted the local organisers who were very happy to have us come along, even providing us with a private side room where we could get ‘sound bites’ from the speakers, Dennis Canavan, Shona McAlpine and Alex Bell. Everybody was most welcoming, and frankly they couldn’t have been more helpful.
We’ve released the speeches and the Q&A in their entirety, warts and all, so that anybody interested can listen to the arguments and make up their own mind.
Our next foray into citizen video journalism was to have been the Better Together East Ayrshire launch event on November 1st at the Burns Monument Centre in Kilmarnock. That was where things started to go pear-shaped.
Alistair Darling is in full Private Frazer mode over on the “Better Together” website today with his campaign’s latest variant on the timeless “too wee, too poor, too stupid” theme. Allow us to save you some time by stripping the entire 1000-word rant down to its three core paragraphs:
“Scotland has run a net fiscal deficit in 20 of the past 21 years. This suggests that over this period North Sea Oil receipts would have been required to fund public services in Scotland rather than being invested in an oil fund.
Faced with the fact that Scotland’s oil taxes are needed to fund Scotland’s public services, John Swinney made a decision that alter the terms of the independence debate forever. He made it clear on Good Morning Scotland that he favoured borrowing money to pay into an oil fund.
Borrowing to save is such a daft idea that it leads you back to the conclusion that to set up an oil fund they would have little choice but to raise taxes or cut spending. “
Contained within those few short lines is so much misinformation that it’s going to take rather longer to pull it all apart and see what the former Chancellor is trying to conceal, so let’s get straight to it. We don’t even have time for a picture.
We just noticed this from The Observer in January 2012:
After David Cameron reignited the debate about independence a week ago, demanding that Scottish National party leader and Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, come clean over the timing and scope of a referendum, Darling was immediately punted as the best man to lead the “no” campaign. He is respected, he is not a Tory, and he is a fervent unionist. Perfect for the job. But he wants none of it.
A man whose word can clearly be relied on, there.
Forgive the mangled Star Trek/Blackadder reference, there.
We’ve been having a wee dig around in the just-released full data tables from today’s Panelbase poll, and found something we thought was particularly interesting, and which we don’t think anyone’s picked up on, because it’s a bit tricky to get your head round. Walk with us while we simplify it.
We just had to have a lie down after wading through Tory councillor Tom Kerr’s speech in Bathgate last night. We don’t know if we dare inflict the full incoherent horror of it on you, to be honest. But something quite interesting happened after it.
A local activist stood up and asked Blair McDougall if David Cameron was prepared to debate Alex Salmond on independence, and his answer was enlightening.
In an extraordinary outburst on TV last night, “Better Together” campaign chairman Alistair Darling accused Alex Salmond of exaggerating the amount of extractable oil in the Scottish sector of the North Sea by 1,200%.
The former Chancellor (who we learned a few weeks ago thinks the population of Scotland is six million, creating an impressive 705,000 imaginary Scots) suggested that rather than the 24 billion barrels currently estimated by the oil industry – and commonly cited by the UK government – there were in fact just 2 billion barrels left.
As BT are a tad wobbly with numbers, let’s do a quick bit of arithmetic on that.