Martin Hannan: Cacklers make my hackles rise

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Have you heard about the quirky American book The Interrogative Mood by Professor Padgett Powell? Did you know that the 164 pages consist entirely of questions ranging from the trivial to the philosophical and everything in between?

Could you come up with enough questions to last 164 pages? Would you want to?

Powell was inspired to write the book because of the number of e-mails he received asking him silly questions – let’s face it, haven’t we all wanted at one time or other to get our own back on those people who annoy us with daft queries? But would you write a book to do so?

Is this the best question in the book? “How did we go so wrong? Wasn’t there a day on Earth when not every soul was possessed of his or her own petty political and personal- identity agenda?” Be honest – wouldn’t you have to agree with the good prof’s question-statement?

In the book you won’t find this question – stands Scotland where she did? Isn’t that a lulu of a question?

Were you at the launch of the Yes campaign on Friday here in the capital city? If not, did you see it on telly? Or did you see the Big Debate on BBC on Sunday night? If so, did you see how many questions ordinary Scots wanted answered?

Do you agree with me that right now, in Scotland, we are involved in times that are truly historic? Aren’t you glad you are alive at this time and able to take part in what I call the Greatest Debate, and won’t you be pleased to make up your mind and cast your vote in October 2014? Isn’t it extraordinary that those of us of voting age will be granted the privilege of deciding the future of our country, a privilege only a parcel of Scotsmen and no Scotswomen previously enjoyed?

Does not the seriousness of the issues we are confronting behove us all to rise above petty political and personal-identity agendas? Do we not all need to raise our eyes to the horizon and perceive the glimmer, or darkness, of what may come?

To brass tacks: have you thought about independence and what it would mean for you, your family and community, your country, aye, and others, too? No, not just the knee-jerk or gut reaction – I mean have you really thought it through?

Don’t you think that if you are to play your part as a citizen of Scotland, then it’s time you started asking questions and sought answers, or at least allowed others to ask the questions on your behalf?

In that regard, do you agree with me that the majority of our politicians, and not a few pundits, are letting us down with their crass assertions based on ignorance and concocted self- serving evidence, filtered through the arrogant mind-set of “we-know-best” pig-headedness? Do you not consider that far from providing answers, our leaders on all sides are not even being asked the right questions yet?

As a member of the SNP who is committed to campaigning for independence I believe Alex Salmond and the SNP government can lead us to a Yes vote in the referendum whenever it is held, but do I want it right away? No – would it not be more morally correct, more right, for the Yes campaign to first of all provide the answers to the myriad of questions which every sentient Scot must want to pose about independence?

The SNP has tried to provide what answers it can, but even as a member I have plenty more questions to ask – why are we committed to much the same welfare and pensions system when we could have a much better one? What exactly will be our immigration policy? How long before we kick out Trident? How exactly will we maintain membership of the European Union and do the people want to?

That’s just a few questions to show that I don’t think the SNP has provided every answer, because it hasn’t been asked every question, yet is it not the case that the Unionists and the further devolutionists have been getting away with vast amounts of obfuscation because no one has really put proper questions to them?

What does devo max mean in detail? And devo plus? And why are the Unionists among us so bound to an agenda of fear and self-loathing? How many more illegal wars will Scots have to die in if we stay in the Union? How long will the coalition savage poor people? That’s just a few, so can you let me have more time to think up some more?

Will it not be more efficacious for Scotland’s future, in whichever direction that goes, for all the queries about independence, devo max or devo plus, or maintaining the status quo, to be asked and answered?

Is it not more sensible in this Greatest Debate for the people to be allowed the most possible time, say two years or more, to ask and study all the questions and answers and make up their own minds? Isn’t that what Scots do?

Doesn’t Scotland deserve searching, sensible questions and honest comprehensive, answers about this country’s future? We need less inane cackling on all sides, and more and better engagement on the issues with queries openly put, and answers freely given – about that, surely, there is no question.