At a press conference late last week, BBC political editor Nick Robinson asked Alex Salmond about what would happen to the tax revenues of an independent Scotland should RBS relocate. Salmond gave an answer, Robinson pressed him further, Salmond made a diversionary joke. So far, so what – this is a set-up that happens in politics virtually every day. Except that through the lens of an emotive week, leading up to the possible breakup of the United Kingdom, things are not as simple as that.
There was a pro-independence, anti-BBC rally in Glasgow over the weekend, protesting what the Yes gang saw as impartial treatment by Robinson towards the First Minister. They chanted “stick your license fee up your arse” and demanded Robinson’s sacking. Now, whatever your viewpoint on what Robinson did (it seems to me he was just doing his job, but what do I know), you have to admit that these two things, the license fee chant and calling for the political editor of the BBC’s P45 to be issued, are psychologically very interesting.
In the minds of these people, isn’t Scotland going to be, with details still to be ironed out of course, an independent country in three days time? Therefore, why bother chanting about license fees being inserted into orifices when it will be effectively irrelevant? You won’t be part of Britain anymore, so one would assume that how TV works in your new country would have to be worked out anew. The folks in White City will certainly not be the beneficiaries; that much is certain. The psychology of this follows on neatly with the asking for Robinson to be sacked. He’s the political editor of what will soon be a foreign news channel. Would the Yesers have organised a rally in central Glasgow to ask for the sacking of TV2 in Denmark’s political editor if they thought that he/she were being unfair on Salmond?
It seems like even those calling for independence as loudly as possible cannot envisage Scotland not being part of the Union in any sort of real, meaningful sense. They can’t even imagine not having to pay a TV license fee for Christ’s sake. It’s as if the whole thing were some sort of temporal protest against the Tory government, as if voting Yes on Thursday were not the irreversible decision that it actually is. If you want Scotland to be independent, fair enough, here’s your chance. But part of that package is surely realising that it means that the rest of the UK will become a foreign country with all that entails. From what I saw over the weekend, this does not seem to have sunk in very deeply.