Let me go on blog-record here saying that I'm basically neutral on the issue of Scottish independence, and that my vote is for sale to the highest bidder. Thus far, I've been offered and declined "some magic beans", and also "a stiff kick in the balls", neither of which met my reserve price of £20.
I can't say I have much sympathy with either of the campaigns, to be frank. The Yessers are a bunch of blithe gobshites who would, I suspect, promise every man in the country a bigger dick and a Lexus full of cocaine if there were a few votes in it.
Meanwhile, the pro-union camp have battered us with one of the all-time fearmongering panics - a relentless campaign of screeching terror of such pitch and intensity that it's a wonder the nation's children manage to sleep a wink. They've done everything bar kidnap our pets and email us pictures of themselves pointing guns at our cats' heads, with the words Vote no, or the kitty gets it written underneath in 72-point gothic script.
Since this annoying, formless cynicism is pretty much my usual stance on issues that don't rile me up, I thought I'd be well-placed to make a few observations without attracting too many accusations of partisanship, and so...
- Contrary to all the hoo-hah, I thought David Cameron's speech today probably went down well with the target audience, because the target audience wasn't undecided Scottish voters - it was other Tories and unionist types throughout the land.
Dave's many things, but he's not a daftie. He knows full well that anything he has to say about the referendum will hit a Scottish ear like a the fat end of a glass Irn-Bru bottle, so he's making no attempt to sway us. His objective here is to make a good stab at Standing Tall For Britain or whatever, the better to reassure people who give a vague shit whether an abstract political entity endures for eternity or morphs into something different. And it wasn't too bad an attempt, although it certainly bored the hell out of me.
And Cameron's in an invidious position here. The referendum could well consign him to history as Britain's most beshitted and clownish politician, the PM who was in office when the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland turned up its toes... And by far his best chance of avoiding it is to shut his yap and let someone else bang the gong for Britain.
All of which means you can take Alex Salmond's yappy Scrappy-Doo impersonation - Lemme at him, lemme at him! - with a pinch of salt. Home advantage would make Dave vs Alex on independence a bit like a fight to the death between Dot Cotton and one of those giant monster-swatting machines from Pacific Rim.
Anecdata time now, since I'm seeing interesting trends emerging among friends and work colleagues:
- Pro-union folk I know seem to have a disproportionately-sized stick up their arses about the stupidity and gullibility of the electorate. Almost all of them, prompted on the possible outcome of the referendum, will shake their heads and say, Well, folk are going to vote on this based on gut feelings and horseshit, without considering the REAL issues.
To which I can only respond - so you mean, like they do in a General Election, then?
I mean, what is a UK parliamentary election if not a slickly-choreographed rerun of Braveheart, with all of us cast as Scots at Bannockburn, fending off an insuperable army of dole-scroungers, criminals and grasping foreigners?
If our referendum is going to be a retarded display of flag-sucking, belligerent idiocy, then I have to point out that it'll still be vastly more edifying than the average election for the European Parliament.
But this exposes a truth - that large sections of the Scottish middle class and the upwardly-mobile types from the one below have always had a bit of a nasty, snotty streak about working class folk, who appear in these speculations as a wholly undifferentiated army of orcish, Buckie-swilling Neds.
In reality, if the Yes vote is more popular with working class people - and it is - then that's probably down to the fact that they have fewer Audis or nice detached houses in Milngavie to fret over.
- And kudos to Scotland's amateur Nationalists, who seem to have got their Immediately calling everyone who disagrees with them a traitorous Quisling problem under control, at least during daylight hours.
This has long been a problem for the tartan biscuit-tin crowd, who have a tendency to treat disagreement like a minor variant on the Dolchstosslegende, but all credit - they do seem to have chilled out on this front.
Until they get onto the internet, of course, or until they get all pissed up and raging. Add either anonymity or alcohol to the mix, and they're still conjuring the wailing shades of bayonetted Highlanders to guilt-trip you into submission faster than you can say Barnett Formula.
Well, I'll leave it there for now. Next time, I may well focus on how skillfully the SNP have played the hand that they were dealt in the 2007 election, and how they managed to transform independence from the minority interest of a bunch of astoundingly dull, sheep-worrying hillbillies*, into a highly successful and vibrant movement within mainstream Scottish politics. But with cursing and sexual imagery.
*Edit to add: I'm aware that this isn't an accurate summary of the history of Scottish nationalism, which has long tended more towards urban or transplanted-urban intellectualism. Nonetheless, generalisations like this tend to annoy people greatly, and I'm very much in favour of that, especially when the annoyed people have an indestructable majority in our parliament.