It should have been the easiest question to answer on Tuesday night’s televised Punch and Judy show. Of all the ones that were asked and either answered or dodged, this one seemed innocuous.
As Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling went head-to-head over that most important issue of independence, Darling quivered and, for a moment, became his namesake on Blackadder.
It didn’t come from heavyweight Salmond or the STV’s man-in-the-middle. It came from a woman in the carefully-selected audience and was directed at the Labour MP for Edinburgh Central. She asked simply if he had a house in Scotland.
You’d think she’d asked if Darling was in agreement with David Cameron – but that was another question or few. However, she couldn’t get a straight answer.
Now, if the champion of the No camp who has been an MP in Edinburgh since 1987 and a member of the city council for many years before that can’t say “yes” or “no” to a woman who only wants to know where he bides, how on earth can we take anything from anything he says , or doesn’t say?
For clarification, I phoned Darling’s constituency office at 24 Canning Street in Edinburgh (0131 272 2727) and asked the same question.
Did he have a house in Scotland? I expected a straight answer – but didn’t get one. They wouldn’t tell me. I asked again. I asked thrice – and they still wouldn’t tell me.
I was referred instead to the HQ of the Better Together campaign press office and given their phone number. I told 24 Canning Street,Edinburgh, that I simply wanted to know if their MP ... well you know what I asked and you know the “no” answer.
Better Together were much more forthcoming. He lives in the south of Edinburgh and is registered to vote.
In previous columns, Grey Matter has made it abundantly clear that he is voting Yes on September 18. Nothing I heard – or didn’t hear – on Tuesday night swayed me from that path.
Yes, Salmond hedged a bit on the currency issue. He wouldn’t reveal a Plan B because he is adamant he doesn’t need one as we (an independent Scotland) will be able to stick with the £.
I believe he is right. Popping into the wee shop at Cornhill or the burger van at the Carter Bar to change notes and coins would be idiotic beyond belief.
The gloves are now off. The Commonwealth Games truce is over. The phoney war – fought with scaremongering and sniping – has ended.
The true battle for Scotland’s right to be independent has begun.
On a much lighter note, I enjoyed Lauder Common Riding last Saturday.
I chatted with veteran Jim Middlemiss, cornet in 1954. I found David Steel at the Waterin’ Stane in custody of a baby in a buggy while wife Judy was in the saddle. David Parker was fine company.
And I was so glad that the erstwhile general of the No campaign – he’s still fighting their corner – Michael Moore was there. The former Secretary of State for (a non-independent) Scotland vouched for me when I was challenged if I qualified for a free nip at the open-air bar for guests.
Thank you, Michael – but I’m still voting Yes.