We must confess, we’ve never quite understood the No campaign’s longing to turn the independence referendum into one on Alex Salmond. The First Minister certainly divides opinion, but his personal ratings are consistently more impressive (and by a considerable distance) than poll figures for Yes.
The latest one we could find (from a month ago) suggests that if the referendum question was “Do you want to entrust Scotland’s future to Alex Salmond?”, the Yes side would win by an 11% margin on an 85% turnout.
So it makes stuff like this, from today’s Sunday Herald, all the more puzzling.
“In the first foreign policy initiative launched in Edinburgh since 1707, senior SNP figures have begun an intense round of behind-the-scenes meetings with foreign dignitaries as they prepare the ground for next year’s indyref.
Led by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and fronted by External Affairs Minister Humza Yousaf, the diplomatic campaign is firmly aimed at pitching the independence project to a sometimes hostile international audience.”
That’s not the puzzling bit. The “Better Together” spokesman contacted by the Herald was clearly so desperate to get a Nat-bashing quote out that they didn’t have time to actually bother reading the story first:
“People in Scotland will be appalled to find out that rather than devoting their time to dealing with the issues they were elected to deal with, Alex Salmond and his ministers are off round the world trying to sell their independence dream.”
Alex Salmond isn’t mentioned at all in the piece, either by name or by implication. There’s no suggestion whatsoever that he’s gone off anywhere. It clearly identifies Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf as the people directing the initiative.
Yet the Unionist campaign simply tramples over the inconvenient facts in order to personalise the story and attack a man challenged only by his own deputy for the title of “most trusted politician in Scotland”.
It IS weird, isn’t it?