Alastair Darling

Talk to the Monkey

For a long time, Alex Salmond has been challenging David Cameron to debate with him on Independence. And for a long time, Cameron has said No. It’s not a matter for him. But Cameron has continued to invite intervention from foreign governments, naturally.

As Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy leader of the SNP has said “Alex Salmond wants to debate the Prime Minister. I think that’s right and proper. This is a debate about a transfer of powers from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament. Surely it’s right and proper that the leader of the Scottish Government debates with the leader of the UK Government.

But Cameron’s not having that.

So rather than the First Minister of Scotland debating the Prime Minister of the UK, Salmond will now debate with the head of the No Thanks / Better Together / UKOK / No campaign, but the SNP has renewed the call for Cameron to debate.

Talking to the Monkey rather than the Organ Grinder.

Salmond is known to be an accomplished debater, and it’s likely he’ll outclass Darling, who recently has apparently been prone to uttering incoherent mumbles – and to many he’s being once again set up as the Tory’s whipping boy.

It’s been a consistent feature of the No campaign that they have rotated their headline-makers regularly. With some representatives such as Gordon Brown, the policy has backfired badly, but it’s a natural approach, given that Darling was voted the most boring politician in Britain two years in a row. But the central problem is that we’re always listing to second-rate place-men and has-beens. Reid, Alexander, Darling, Brown, Major, the new Secretary of State for Scotland guy who replaced the other Secretary of State for Scotland guy. It’s all about leadership from the rear, with a rotating cast of plodding dullards rolled out to provide their sound bites.

This is of course when the ‘No’ campaign do turn up for debates, having notably failed to attend a number of Yes/No debates, including those organised at schools in Scotland – and being unable to provide any alternative speakers when citing unavailability.

Leadership is about stepping forward and taking a lead. About taking responsibility and being unafraid of opposition or criticism. Cameron has displayed none of the qualities, and by sending the Monkeys in to do his talking, he’s making it clear he is simply afraid to debate Salmond, and lacks the confidence to state his case in a debate.

The mystery to many observers is why Cameron does not grasp this opportunity to stand up for his argument – because he will be in a very poor position when he loses the Union without ever having stood up for it like a man. But instead the organ grinder keeps standing there churning out the same old tunes, while his monkeys dance around searching for support.

The trouble is, most people passing by are now wearing headphones, listening to their own choice of tunes.

The prize is a better country for the people of Scotland. And that’s only 86 days away.

Photograph courtesy of Agencia Brasil via Wikipedia.