It has been almost a year since the referendum and I have only just gotten around to reading this book, one of the first to come up following the No vote and the acceptance that Scotland would, for the time being at least, remain part of the UK.
MacWhirter is a well-known name in Scottish political journalism with a decent swathe of credentials. He was unashamedly a Yes supporter, but prefers the concepts of federal UK. Therefore, it is important to note when you are reading this that there has to be an inherent sense of bias in some of the reporting.
The purpose of the book is to look at the campaigns, Yes & No, and to see what the future may hold. MacWhirter is scathing in his review of the Yes campaign, implying that it was poorly led, poorly managed and actually an obstruction to the movement for separation. I was surprised at this. He points out that the late race groundswell to Yes was achieved not by great organisation from the central power, but rather from the hearts and minds won by the various Yes campaigns which rose; and the way in which these movements added colour to a moment in time which will be studied for years to come.
He doesn’t hold back in his criticism of the MSM which was almost 100% in favour of No. In particular the Daily Record – a publication whose circulation is dropping like a dying centurion – is railed against.
He commends Darling and Brown’s performances at times in the campaign. He is equally praiseworthy and cautionary on the Salmond effect and he dissects the campaigns well, and I think fairly, to show where things could have/should have/will next time, be done better.
He goes on to foreshadow the SNP’s massive win at the recent GE2015. He points out that Sturgeon will be much more pragmatic and tactical than Salmond and he doesn’t believe the Yes campaign is by any means done yet. There are a fair few sage observations from what would happen in the year after the referendum. And it is worth reading for this alone.
A decent review of a year in which Scotland was at the centre of the political world, and one that is easy to read, understand and relate to.