Helen Martin: Petty debate is serving no-one

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OH WELL, so much for the idea that the UK or Scotland could have a civilised, adult, informative discussion and debate about Scottish independence and then come to a conclusion based on consensus and democratic voting.

The campaigning – yes or no – has only just begun and already the knives are out and the waters are as muddy as a hippo’s hollow, largely because MSPs and the “politerati” keep taking off down esoteric cul-de-sacs.

On legal advice, or the lack of it, on our future independent position in the EU, Nicola Sturgeon’s statement apparently had politicians running around and cackling in fear or triumph like headless chickens.

She said: “The Scottish Government has previously cited opinions from a number of eminent legal authorities past and present, in support of its view that an independent Scotland will continue in membership of the European Union, but has not sought 
specific legal advice.”

It’s not crystal clear but it seems some learned people believe we would automatically be in the EU, but no-one has formally been commissioned to advise accordingly. I’m still not sure that justifies calling Eck a “liar” but, more to the point, legal advice and opinion is only that – advice and opinion. The outcome is never certain until it’s put to the test in court or, in this case, when the EU makes its decision. So really for now, who cares?

And keeping sterling? Well, even if the country voted for independence that’s a pretty sure thing because neither Scots nor the rest of the UK – whatever they might say today in support of a “no” vote – would want us to have a separate currency. If we don’t vote for independence we’re in sterling anyway.

Nato membership is an interesting exercise in political squabbling, but the finer points mean little to most of the electorate. The SNP leadership want the UK nuclear arsenal off Scottish soil but want to stay in Nato, and don’t mind the odd nuclear sub passing through Scottish waters. MSPs Jean Urquhart and John Finnie see this as a betrayal of nationalist principle and have resigned from the party.

The voters who really want independence would probably be happy with either option, and those who would vote “no” to independence are presumably happy to keep the nuclear weapons where they are.

So far, we haven’t heard any compelling new case for anything or been enlightened in any way. Instead, we are being subjected to a lot of infighting and point scoring. We are not witnessing intelligent debate and facts, or even straight opinions.

We are being thrust into the centre of a vicious rabble, drawn into the petty political rammy and forced to listen to their self-obsessed jousting. Why must politicians always behave like a class of dysfunctional teenagers who think fighting and quarrelling is impressive? By the time 2014 comes round, I for one will be so heartily sick of all this self-indulgent twaddle and so bereft of any real information I will have lost the will to live, let alone vote.

We are not stupid, even though MSPs seem to think so. We know they don’t agree. We don’t have the time or the inclination to go through a process in which one side attacks the other every time they open their mouth.

There is a disparity between what the people want to know, and what the politicians think they want to know; between what the people find interesting and what politicians think we find interesting. They, for example, despite all their grandstanding, are decidedly uninteresting.

Like a brassed-off teacher, I’d love to tell them to stop arguing, go away and do their homework, and come back with their completed essays, at which point I will mark them or, in this case, vote.

The ba’s burst

IS sport a business or a game? The evidence strongly supports the former, particularly for football but other sports, too.

For business reasons, the Hearts v Hibs New Year derby is being moved from January 2 to January 3 because that’s what Sky TV wants and, 
ultimately, TV revenue is all that matters. If it takes place at a time that doesn’t clash with other sporting fixtures, the TV audience will be bigger.

The fans may well be back at work and fewer of them will be able to go to the game, but the days when the gate takings were crucial have long gone.

The outcry from the fans is predictable but futile. Surely at some point they have to stop deluding themselves that they or their interests are of any relevance to the clubs and accept that what they perceive as their important role in turning up at the ground to cheer their team on is a minor concern and totally overshadowed by the interests of broadcasters. Their greatest contribution is their insatiable appetite for over-priced merchandise.

To save heartache, wouldn’t it be better to wake up and smell the Bovril and realise their love and passion is unrequited? Buy the strips, stand on the terracing, cheer and roar, but accept they are doing it for themselves, not the clubs who have bigger, tastier, telly fish to fry. That’s 
showbusiness.