‘Over four million individually addressed pieces of communication started going out last week.’
Responding to the surprise opinion poll (6 September) showing majority support for Scottish independence, Labour MP Douglas Alexander declared that Better Together had already increased its work rate. But the attempt to sound pro-active only revealedthe limitations of the ‘no’ campaign.
‘Individually addressed pieces of communication’ is an especially telling phrase. It tells tales of typefaces personalised to look like handwriting; it speaks of an address to 18-30s which eschews formal logic because digital natives are obviously too restless to follow it.
Hence ‘pieces of communication’ – format not specified; content equally imprecise.
Thus the full gamut of sub-Facebook friending in all its complex variations.
Variations, that is, on the same banal message – don’t take risks.
Enter First Minister Alex Salmond, jolly and jowly, pug-faced and a reputation for pugilism (political). At least he understands that faux is our deadliest foe. He knows what’s real in Scotland is unreal to the Westminster Village, and vice versa. But his yes to ‘independence’ is no more than a ‘no’ to unbearable lite-ness.
Suddenly former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown lands on stage like Salmond’s heavyweight brother. Marginalised because of previous prevarication (losing a UK general election because he didn’t call it in time), now doubly determined to be decisive, Brown is just enough of an outsider to play both Unionist part and Rejectionist role.
Safety first, notional nation, the idea of ‘home rule’: three projections in search of a people; no substance in any of them.