Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling square up (Part Two)

imagesOne thing last night’s TV debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling disproved was the old Nixon-sweat theory.  You remember how, in the 1960 US presidential campaign, (ask your granny, Virginia)  John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon debated on television. Nixon lost, many commentators claimed, because he developed a film of sweat on his upper lip while JFK remained sweat-less and won. Alex Salmond did some sweat-moustache stuff in last night’s debate but he won the debate by a country mile. 

By body language as much as what he said. When asked about what currency an independent Scotland would use, Salmond stepped out from behind his podium and walked to a position nearer the audience. Body language in action: here I am, nothing to hide, I’m being frank and conversational. While behind him Alistair Darling looked like a slightly surprised shop-window dummy.  When he took his place behind the podium again, Salmond stood with one elbow propped on it, his body and face turned to Darling with an expression between puzzlement and amusement – and occasionally indignation.

Mind you the audience did lob Salmond a couple of soft ones. One woman said she’d advise the audience and everyone else, when they vote they should remember one thing: “Don’t believe a word out of Alastair Darling’s mouth!”. What’s more, when Darling next dined with fancy NHS privatising people, she hoped the ghost of Aneuran Bevan sat on his shoulder.  Another young lad asked Darling “If Better Together is so good, why aren’t we Better Together now?” Ouch. Cue audience cheer and whoop, cue Alistair looking like a man who’s had a ferret dropped down the front of his trousers.

Do these debates matter? There are two theories. One is they’re of no more significance than a cup of warm spit. The other is that they energise or deflate supporters, draw in or repulse those wobbling on the edge of voting for you. An opinion poll immediately after the debate showed 71% believed Salmond had won the debate while just 29% saw Darling as the victor. That could provide a warm glow for the Yes campagin but not much more. Alternatively it could prove to be their Gerry-Adams-arrest moment. We shall see.

12 Responses to Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling square up (Part Two)

  1. pointis August 26, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    Yes Jude, Alex Salmond did trounce Alistair Darling last night but there is one thing that came across very stongly for me in the debate and it Alistair Darlings complete detestation of Salmond, the SNP and its supporters.

    If you watch carefully you can see the body language. Darling repeatedly refers to Salmond as ‘him’ while Salmond uses Darling’s name.

    For me that shows a complete lack of respect for another human being very much like the derogatary behaviour of the DUP members when they talk about Sinn Fein or Republicans.

    Maybe like here it wil inspire people to vote in the belief that they will no longer tolerate being considered as second class citizens in their own country.

    • Jude Collins August 26, 2014 at 11:20 am #

      Good point, Pointis (I’m doing it again…) I noticed that ‘him’ thing myself – should have included it. Go raibh maith agat.

  2. pointis August 26, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    You have probably been following the trends on twitter but one thing that has come across very strongly is that no matter how the referendum goes in Scotland, that Labour have definetly been damaged in Scotland perhaps mortally.

    Many Scottish people believe that Labour have been duplicitous in that South of the border it has been critical of same policies which it is advocating in the ‘better together’ campaign.

    I think Labour may soon find itself without any meaningful mandate in Scotland!

  3. John Patton August 26, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

    Your commenter, Pointis, is dead right about the enmity between Labour and the Nats; it is visceral. I chaired a hustings for the first Scottish Parliamentary elections and I was taken aback by the ferocity of the divide, mainly in the auditorium; the speakers were conventionally civil to each other and, unlike last night, did not interrupt the other speaker. The floor had to be handled firmly – I had made it clear that I would have misbehaving offenders ejected. The audience was certainly a factor last night, although I feel that Salmond had the arguments and skills to demolish Alistair Darling easily. It was all very much as I had forecast in my blog yesterday morning.
    I expect the Nationalists to make further gains in the polls this week. They have a very comprehensive campaign on the ground and they have exploited social media particularly well. I hope it is enough to push YES over the line

    • Pointis August 26, 2014 at 6:36 pm #


      Your morning blog was ‘dead on the money’ in terms of the arguments used.

      Alex Salmond offered Alistair a fig leaf by way of a representation on any future financial policy group should the referendum go Yes but I have a feeling last night was more of a “good night and good bye Darling” moment.

  4. Norma wilson August 26, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    Hi Jude,
    I was just listening to E. Fitzgerald and Louie Armstrong singing you say “tomato”, and I say “tomato”, you know the one, Let’s call the whole thing off! I love that period of time, when men looked and acted like men, and women were feminine.
    The song made me think of the two tribes of Ireland, you say black and I will say white, you have more peas on your dinner plate than me.
    I support Israel and you Palestine. Then I got to thinking, 1954 was a bad year, for unfortunately I share it with George Galloway, and Alex Salmond,
    I don’t think the union should be broke up, as you know. Ireland should never been divide, it should all be in the union, but that’s wishful thinking on my part.
    I was on the receiving end of the Protestants on Saturday night, for we went to the Ulster Hall to hear that little man, and all the clap trap that he spews.
    I was afraid, and wondered what the hell I had done, then I went through a stage of pure guilt, thinking I am at the wrong party, I should be across the road, waving an Israei flag, showing solidarity.
    It’s a funny old world, we all see things differently, our politics are wide apart, and through all this I am in a mixed marriage, married to the best man in the world.
    I was just telling my husband about the band at Ardoyne, All the British soldiers, and Orange bastards go back to England, in your dreams I thought, yeah, bring it on, do you feel lucky??
    Ah well, time for some more swing, time for old Frankie. “My Way”,
    ATB Norma

    • Jude Collins August 26, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

      Good choice, NOrma. You know the old cartoon joke. Two old guys sitting on a porch, weeds everywhere, drinking beer. One is saying to the other “You know, looking back on life I have only one regret:I did it my way”…

  5. Norma wilson August 26, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    Nice one Jude,
    Chutzpah, oh the irony of it. Just read your reply to my husband, we both laughed! I look forward to reading more of your blogs, really don’t know how I got through life with out you.

  6. Perkin Warbeck August 26, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

    You oughtn’t be bothered too much, Esteemed Blogmeister, for failing to include Alastair Darling’s continued reference to Alex Salmond as ‘him’. You are in extremely exalted company: the paper which modestly refers to itself as The Paper of Record did ditto.

    Otherwise known and beloved by all, sans exception, as The Unionist Times.

    They did, however, report the following factual fact with their trade mark tut, tut, tut: ‘Salmond was loudly cheered by many in the specially-selected audience for the BBC-hosted debate in Glasgow, which at times often sounded distinctly in favour of the Yes side’.

    Gadzooks ! ‘Aunty’ showing a wee bit of bias? Perish the v. thought.

    Wouldn’t happen in TUT, and that’s for sure. Where today Fintan O’Toole was – for a change – wielding his anticlockwise sickle in the manner disinterested on the topic of abortion. (Oops! Almost wrote ‘human sacrifice’!): swish ! slash ! swipe !

    More on the debate: ‘Mr. Salmond unashamedly played the Scottish card’.

    Cowabunga ! Surely the scoop of the year so far: Leader of the Scottish National Party plays the S. card. Something surely out of, erm, kilter there, Jock. What next?

    Difficult to know for sure where TUT stands on the Scottish Referendum, though they have in recent times mentioned The Salmond of Knowledge accusing Alastair Darling of being ‘in bed’ with the Tories’, or words to that effect.

    Or, ought that read as Alastair Darlink?

    Answer comes there none.

    To elucidate: the reference to Dick Nixon in today’s blog prompted the question. It was said once of a certain Hungarian-born Hollywood actress name of Miss Gabor that while she had nine husbands (though not necessarily simultaneously or even at the same time) she still chose to make ‘the beastie with twa backs’ with Dick N.

    If Miss Gabor were still alive and had a vote it is noo doot she would be on the side of Alastair Darlink and be vocal on the side of: Zsa, Zsa ! She was always one for the horizontal form of Unionism, anyway. And the vertical one as well, perchance.

    But, to return to the rumination above: which side is that synonym for disinterestedness, The Unionist Times on?

    Perhaps a brief perusal of what the ‘wee, sleekit, timorous, cowering beasties’ of TUT are squeaking about today might lend a pointer.

    No shortage of swishing and that’s for sure. Apart from the above mentioned ‘anticlockwise sickle’ there is also the swish of embroidered episcopal robes to be heard. Coming from the direction of the Archbishop of the Diocese of D’Olier than Thou, as TUT’s religious correspondent, the polite-toned Patsy McGarry (may his tribe increase!) is affectionately known by his legion of fans and his regiment of admirers.

    Today we are indeed blessed to be able to share in the bounty of not one, but two outpourings of his prolific pen. It’s like getting not one but twa invitations to bide a’ wee in the Braw Kirk o’ the Heather.

    The first is entitled: ‘Irish/British engagement in the first World War was morally right’.

    Holy Semantics, Batman ! Shur, the whole of Ireland and his mother, Machree, knows that !
    Ah, yes, but here’s the rub: there are still those Neanderthals amongst us, dwindling thou they be, who hold an opposite myopic view and they have not gone away you know. That is why Archbishop McGarry who carries himself so elegantly still has to raise himself ex cathedra, as it were, occasionally and smite the Primitives on the back of the poll with the jaw bone of a righteous ass.

    The shrewd use of the m-word – morally – is the real kicker here and hopefully will penetrate even the obtuse skulls of the Primordials. Or at least leave some kind of indentation. Their brains being essentially green field sites and so, undeveloped.

    There’s more: ‘The German army was responsible for many atrocities in Belgium’. Ah, yes, ‘little neutral Belgium’. AB McG started his first homily today, the better to bolster his argument, with a quotation from one, George Bernard Shaw. This is possibly the same GBS who once commented, re the imminent trial of one, Roger Casement, along the lines of: ‘Oh, yes, he’ll get a fair trial alright, and then he’ll be hanged’.

    Not sure if AB McG has ever come across mention of either Roger Casement or his work in the Belgian Congo -no reason in the wide w. why he should – but one seems to recall that he chanced upon certain – atrocities is too extreme a word – indelicacies, shall we say, on the part of the colonial ubermenschen. Involving the cutting off of hands of the numerous wives and innumerable offspring of the polygamous negroid natives in the rubber plantations who weren’t, erm, exactly cutting the mustard in the open plan office, as it were.

    But why is one even mentioning all this? Belgium and the Belgian Congo were continents apart ! Get a wee grip, laddie.

    There’s more: ‘Ireland’s forgetting of the 35,000 plus men who died in WW! has to rank as one of the great feats of ideologically-driven collective amnesia in history. But we remember them now’.

    Cowabunga ! We most certainly do. (Almost wrote: whether we like it or not). With a frenzy like that, who needs an enema?

    Unlike his first passionate homily AB McGarry’s (may his tribe continue to increase !) second passionate (one almost wrote ‘Passionist’) article does get to mention the Dark Continent, as it to make up for the previous lapse. And succeed it certainly does.

    Entitled ‘Irish nuns who spent lives on the missions had no homes to go to’. Now while Mother Church may well have reneged on these heroic and homeless women, not so, AB McGarry who is not one of the forgetful type: the Diocese of D’Olier Than Thou will be always there for them. The highlighting in the previous homily of ‘the destruction of one city (Leuven) had particular resonance in Catholic Ireland, containing as it did the Irish College’ is prood p. of that.

    This memorable line shines like a lamp on the forehead of a Kimberley miner: ‘ It is a cliché to say that many of Ireland’s best vocations to the religious life went on the missions’.

    As long as Patsy McGarry – the Audacious Arch-Bishop – is there to fight the good fight, we will all be singing from the same hymn (h-y-m-n) sheet : ‘ only the holy waters of Roman Catholic Ireland will run free’.

    Which brings one back to where one started: on which side of the Scottish Referendum does The Unionist Times sit?

    As they might say in Auld Reekie: ‘yer bum’s oot the windey on dat wan, Perkie’.

    • Jude Collins August 26, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

      Oh Perkin – you are Perkin the Merciless (but not the Ming) – I can hardly breathe for laughing. OK – here are my three favourites today – no three OF my favourites today. In reverse order:
      1. “As they might say in Auld Reekie: ‘yer bum’s oot the windey on dat wan, Perkie’.”
      2. “With a frenzy like that, who needs an enema?”
      3. “If Miss Gabor were still alive and had a vote it is noo doot she would be on the side of Alastair Darlink and be vocal on the side of: Zsa, Zsa ! She was always one for the horizontal form of Unionism, anyway.”

      Picture the Liverpool team’s supporters in the presence of Luis Suarez doing their raised-and-lowered-arms-we-are-not-worthy obeisance : that’s me. And countless, nay beyond countless others…

  7. Iolar August 26, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

    Alex Salmond dealt effectively with Mr Darling’s red herring on the currency issue. Mr Salmond made reference to the Norwegian Krone, the Swedish Krona and other eurozone countries, business is business and life goes on. Mr Darling failed to deal with the specific question put to him by Mr Salmond about respecting the right of the people of Scotland to vote for Independence if they so choose. Mr Darling’s remarks need to be considered in the context of how the government is actually performing at present. Mr Cameron’s government has just passed the “Health and Social Care Bill” designed to pave the way for further privitization of the National Health Service. Norman Lamb Care Minister recently stated that Mental health Services for for children are “dysfunctional.” Prof. Alexis Jay has reported that at least 1400 children were subjected to sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013. The parents of James Foley, the journalist beheaded in Syria, gave an eloquent testimony about their son on television. James was clearly of the opinion that social and economic deprivation are key factors in violent conflicts throughout the world. Mr Darling and his colleagues will be judged on the results of their conservative policies which on the basis of evidence to date appear to be detrimental to the welfare of many citizens.

  8. michael c August 26, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

    There is no chance that Scotland willl vote for independence and that has been evident from the day the referendum was announced.No matter how much we would like to see it ,it will never happen.