SPEED AND SCOTLAND

Penny Hunt's blog coffee conversationsWhoosh. Snap. Ring. Sort. Done. It’s all chop-chop in the café today.

Possibly literally – there are 2 jabby-finger growly ‘yoou’re wrong/ noo yoou’re wrong’ Scots in the corner.Two shouting ladies drawn by Penny Hunt

Are you a Yes or a No?

I usually rail against reducing stuff to binary options.

But the dawning ‘oooops’ affecting those who should have known better……well, it’s absolutely thrilling. It’s suddenly made something happen.

Speed is feeling good.

As they talk, what’s really annoying Ms Yes is broadcast, with some passion, to the rest of the café where we are all doing the same thing. We must all be reading the same email. It says ‘don’t take your eyes off the screen, make like you’re entranced, and you will be completely invisible to the people on whom you are frankly, shamelessly, eavesdropping’.

Ms ‘Yes’ is making things clearer to Ms ‘No’.

The latest intervention is being filleted (Gordon Brown’s dramatic appearance in the role of Banquo’s-ghost-with-sweeties on Sept 8th. Wonder for a moment at the pleasing notion that the word ‘timetable’ is being used as a rallying cry. It’s not quite William Wallace, is it?).image01
The proposals are ..’a ridiculous panic behaviour, patronizing, desperate knee-jerk reactions, far too late, unworthy, and…’ here some fantastic Scottish word that even I can tell is probably better spoken than written.

Ah, the old ‘ad hominem’ attack. If the content is tricky to counter, then attack the presenter. Messenger not message. Everything about the messenger in fact – motives, size, haircut, probity, halitosis…

Ms ‘No’ gives as good as she gets. What’s more patronizing than being told to by Mr Salmond ‘not to worry about currency until later’? Eh? Does Ms Yes realise what being in financial limbo will do to business confidence, to Scotland’s standing in the world?

Ah, the ‘exaggerate the opponent’s proposition’ attack: combined with the ‘make your opponent angry’ attack I suspect.

This is such a serious issue. Thank goodness they mind, thank goodness they’re getting stuck in.

But I think they’re stuck into their positions, not into what is, or could be, real.

OK, they’re both right at one level. Panic, irresponsibility, suspicious motives, not very likeable people telling others (telling the Scots! The nation with one of the highest educational achievement profiles on the planet!) what to do or what not worry about – and making generalised, unlikely promises.

Suddenly that’s not what it’s about.

image00Out of a swirling cocktail of higher purpose, dubious personal ambition, betrayal, integrity, greed, desperation, fear and hope – a plan is hastily concocted: a plan that would have taken aeons to develop in less urgent circumstances.

Speed. It’s helped.

With only days to go to the referendum, speed and panic has brought something into being that can just about be grasped, measured, and judged. Hurrah. The most unlikely (and in many cases unlikeable) interests suddenly align themselves behind keeping the UK together, and despite themselves and their inadequacies produce a tangible plan. Speed has injected practicality and real-ness. A motley crew of messengers do actually have, at last, a message

There’s a lot to be said for ‘no one leaves this room until we’ve got something’.

We’ll know on Sept 18 whether it has had any impact. I hope so.

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