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The Shackleton Report: Issue 20

by Douglas Lindsay, with Dr Ian Shackleton, senior lecturer at the Glasgow School of Politics and Football

Westminster is ours too, claims Salmond

In a surprise weekend development, First Minister Alex Salmond announced that Scotland would seek to continue to use the Houses of Parliament in London in the event of a Yes vote.

'The Palace of Westminster belongs to Scotland too,' Mr Salmond told a crowd of cheering schoolchildren at a primary school in Strachur, 'and there's absolutely nothing anyone can do to stop us using it.'

It is not yet clear whether Mr Salmond intends that the Scottish parliament should sit in session in London, or whether plans are being made to move the Palace of Westminster to Scotland, brick by brick.

While the No campaign refused to reveal cost figures for either plan, a Better Together insider suggested that both options would have significant financial implications.

'I doubt anyone is surprised by this move,' Dr Ian Shackleton of the Glasgow School of Politics and Football told me this morning, 'if you consider just how rank awful the building in Holyrood is. It was supposed to be cutting edge, sitting in the land, architecturally magnificent. Now it looks like that school project you made in Primary 6.

'At the time you thought it was awesome, then you take it out the cupboard15 years later, and you're like, oh dear, that's really crap, no wonder Mrs Hamilton told me never to try to make anything ever again.'

From the outset it has been clear that the SNP strategy was to keep as much continuity from the UK as possible, to try to attract voters naturally conservative in nature. From the pound to the Queen and the BBC, the First Minister's approach has almost been one of Independence Lite, to the dismay of more radical nationalists.

Now, in the face of a Better Together campaign that has insisted iScotland won't get the pound, they can only have the Royals that no one else wants, like Camilla and Eugenie, and that they can have BBC3 and that's it, Mr Salmond is intent on raising the stakes.

As well as continued use of the Houses of Parliament, Mr Salmond indicated that an independent Scotland would be pushing for:

• ownership of one-tenth of Buckfast Abbey

• one in ten episodes of Downton Abbey to be made in the Highlands

• that one-tenth of Crossrail should run through Dundee

• half of one of the surviving members of the Monty Python team to be declared Scottish

• one-tenth of MI6 should be relocated to Edinburgh and known as MI6/10ths

'We currently have just under one tenth of the population of the UK,' said Mr Salmond. 'Accordingly, having rounded that number up to make it easier, it is in no way unjust that we should be entitled to one tenth of the assets of the UK, and to continue to use those assets as we see fit.'

A Better Together spokesperson responded, that by using the same argument, the UK was entitled to nine-tenths of all previously government funded projects in Scotland, and that the decent parts of the A9 would be removed for use on the A66.

'It's all subtext,' said Shackleton, as we spoke in his 98th floor office in the all-new Kris Boyd Memorial Tower overlooking Glasgow's south side. 'No one seriously supposes that the Scottish government is going to meet in London. No one really thinks that London is going to take nine-tenths of the Garrison in Millport. What it points to, however, is how acrimonious this is going to get if there's a Yes vote.

'Everything is on the table, and this isn't going to be some cosy negotiation, with a bunch of old duffers sitting agreeably in a club, drawing straight lines on a map, and spending more time debating which port to have after dinner. It's going to be like Stalingrad multiplied by The Towering Inferno.'

Earlier Mr Salmond attempted to take the heat out the debate over the pound, by confirming that his government are in negotiations with the embattled land of Mordor with a view to forging a currency union. While Mordor originally held sway over men, elves and dwarves, in recent times their influence has diminished significantly. Some economists believe that a fiscal union with an independent Scotland would be a bold starting point for Mordor, as it begins to attempt to claw its way back into a position of power.

While some pundits question the motives of the SNP leader, others are quick to point out that the path from the Bank of England to the Bank of Mordor is a short one. Nevertheless, most commentators urge caution, albeit not always for the reasons that one might think.

'Mr Salmond is going to look mighty foolish, walking out on David Cameron into a pact with Sauron, if it turns out that Cameron and Sauron are, as many suspect, one and the same person,' says Professor Malcolm Connery, of the Glasgow Institute of Special Things.

'The similarities between Cameron and Sauron are well documented. Neither of them needs to be leader, they just choose to do it out of badness, they're both happy for their people to live in austerity, and from a distance they both look like a pussy.'

At this stage it is still too early to say what citizens of an independent Scotland might be using for currency come March 2016 - chickens, blocks of cold porridge out the kitchen drawer, and the new Scottish Imperial Shekel remain favourite - which can be said for much of the picture surrounding iScotland.

Better Together have attempted to paint an image of total bewilderment, something in which political pundits reckon they are finally beginning to succeed.

Meanwhile, the weekend opinion polls were the usual mixed bag depending, as ever, on who commissioned the poll in the first place.

The result was that the poll of polls showed, for the first time, Don't Knows moving into the lead with 37%, ahead of No 34% and Yes 29%.

If Don't Knows win the vote on 18th September, analysts believe Scotland will be set to live in a state of total confusion for the next three hundred years.

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