• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

TV review: imagine an indyref campaign without politicians, trolls or eggs

Mibbes Aye, Mibbes Naw (BBC1) confirmed an indyref truism: the country may be divided on yes or no but there's one thing upon which we all agree: John Barrowman in soft lilac tartan is annoying.

The programme went into the homes, farms, boats, hair salons and draughty castles of Scottish people, following them over a period of six months to find out how they intend to vote and how they decided. It also copied the format of Channel 4's popular Gogglebox programme by showing political broadcasts and interviews and filming the reaction from the sofa.

Loading article content

It got off to a wobbly start. We were shown a clip of a family indulging in the empty to-and-fro of 'I'm British.' 'Aye, but you were born in Scotland.' 'Aye, but I'm British.' 'Aye, but….'

Thankfully, this was trailed as a bit of jokey banter and didn't reflect the rest of the programme which was a thorough look at how ordinary people discuss the Referendum in the blissful absence of politicians, journalists and Twitter. It was just folk on their sofa with nippers on their knee or a glass of wine in hand. No soundbites and no hashtags.

In a Parkhead tenement, Mark was adamant he'll vote no but his fiancee, Jessica, revealed she's still 'hoping to be persuaded'. Here she reflected the belief that women are largely undecided and so could swing the result on polling day. However, she gave no impression of being a dim housewife worrying her pretty li'l head on how to vote as some would portray 52% of our nation.

In Arran we saw a family sprawled on the sofa, with babies scattered amongst them, indulging in hearty, good-natured argument. How warming it was to see this! Newspapers and social media often present the debate as being plagued by abuse, threats and eggs. Scare stories abound of how people are shouted down and afraid to comment. There's a Cybernat under your bed! There's a Britnat in your wardrobe! But here was a family divided on how to vote, yet speaking freely. There was no aggression, just thoughtful argument and gentle ribbing.

Of course, we're not all snug in the heart of a boisterous, talkative family. Sean, a hairdresser from Dennistoun, said he has registered to vote for the first time in his young life but, just as you're ready to congratulate him, he admits he has no idea what the issues are. In a way this is positive because he must have registered based on the passion and debate around him, but it also points to the huge, whistling gap which exists between politicians and young people. But Sean will not stay uninformed. The constant stream of East End women who come into the salon aren't shy in voicing their opinion, so he'll decide based on his chats with these customers, not from distant politicians, and who can say that's a flawed plan? Hopefully he won't take advice from his boss, though, who was slipping into Project Fear's hands. She wondered if there will still be enough business for the salon in an indy Scotland. Are we all to be pronounced baldy the morning after a Yes vote, then?

We also met Simon, the laird of Craufurdland Castle, who doesn't want you to think he's a stereotypical posh boy. His ancestors were cousins with William Wallace, you know. He says people expect tweed when they meet him 'but they get a lot more ripped jeans'. He's certainly not your typical toff, he pleads. Well, I think he doth protest too much for he then disappears down the toff-worn path by saying he's voting no. He fears uncertainty, as does the lady of the manor. 'I'd rather stay where I am, thank you very much' says his privileged wife. Change might upset their moneyed applecart. No tweed here, but typical toffs nonetheless.

Amongst this survey of Scottish people, divided by occupation, location, class and wealth, one thing united everyone. When a clip of John Barrowman was show the people flinched. 'Aw naw!' said one, whilst another stuck her fingers in her ears and said, 'right, that's it!' However divisive the referendum result, we can rest assured there will still be something to unite us.

Yes, there was a light-hearted air to this programme - some may say this was badly needed in an increasingly sour campaign - but it perhaps ventured too far into niceness. The people featured were all bonny and hearty and cosy. We didn't hear from anyone marginalised, poor, unemployed or desperate and let's not pretend these people don't exist. Although those groups may typically have allowed themselves to be disenfranchised, all signs point to massive voter registration and a mighty high turnout on 18 September. Hopefully, people who feel cut-off and ignored will award themselves the power they're entitled to, even if they're not invited to smile and joke on BBC Scotland.

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

258609