I love watching election results. Following British politics is one of my nerdier hobbies. I love it when the two collide as they did last night during the Scottish Independence referendum or #indyref as the kooky kids on Twitter hashtagged it.
I had a grand old time last watching the BBC on CSPAN whilst tweeting up a storm. During past UK general elections, CSPAN has dicked us around a bit by offering tardy or incomplete coverage, which didn’t happen last night. That was obviously more irksome in the pre-internet days but I’d still rather sit on the sofa with Oscar nearby than watch a wobbly stream on the computer screen. Della is apolitical unless it involves the vital issue of feeding Della Street. Dr. A tends to boycott election coverage, especially when it’s all talking heads as it was during the early hours last evening. She’s much wiser than me. I’m just a wisecracker who lives on a wiseacre…
A few words about the post title. I made that Alex Salmond joke so often on Twitter that people threatened to lox me up and schmear me with cream cheese if I didn’t relent. The term noslide came from my friend Jeffrey. I’m not sure if he birthed it, but I thought I’d give him credit. I’d rather steal jokes from friends than strangers. More pandering to the pun community after the break.
It became clear by around 9-ish CST time that the Scottish voters would just say NO to YES. The final count was NO with 55% and change. The *worst* result would have been a narrow margin either way, especially for independence. It wouldn’t have much of a mandate for Salmond and the SNP to have a Franken-Coleman or LBJ-Stevenson squeaker.
An interesting sub-plot of the referendum was the role of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the later stages of the NO campaign. Brown is Scottish and he’s remained more popular and respected in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK. His reputation was badly damaged by his premiership and the NO camp initially wanted nothing to do with him. ( There’s also very bad blood between Gordon and his former Chancellor Alistair Darling who headed Better Together.) Brown is a bulldozer of a man who was once described as a giant clunking fist. He put that clunking fist to good use with spirited campaigning and preaching the old time Labour religion. It worked. He also brokered a devolution evolution agreement with the UK party leaders. It remains to be seen as to how that will play out but devolution evolution revolution scans well…
Some additional unintentional comedy about the referendum was provided this morning by the Russians of all people:
Russia has said the conduct of the Scottish referendum “did not meet international standards”, with its observers complaining the count took place in rooms that were too big and that the procedure was badly flawed.
In an apparent attempt to mirror persistent western criticism of Russia’s own elections, Igor Borisov – an accredited observer – said the poll failed to meet basic international norms.
Borisov and three other Russians arrived in Edinburgh on Wednesday evening, the state news agency Ria Novosti reported. The team from Moscow’s Public Institute of Suffrage watched voting take place in the Scottish capital and the surrounding area. It also met with Scottish politicians, voters and representatives from non-governmental organisations, Ria said.
Borisov said he was unimpressed by what he saw. He said the room where he watched the count on Thursday night was a cavernous “aircraft hangar” next to an airfield. It was difficult to see what was going on, he said, adding: “The hangar is approximately 100m by 300m. There are tables, with voting papers stacked upon them, but the observers are stuck around the perimeter. Even if you want to, it’s impossible to tell what’s happening. It’s also unclear where the boxes with ballot papers come from.”
The Russians also thought there was something sinister about the high turn out. I guess they thought Salmond and Darling were frog marching voters to the polls or something. Even Gordon or Cameron wouldn’t do such a thing…
And I thought that Yakov Smirnoff and Robin Williams’ character in Moscow on the Hudson were the only funny Russians around. Silly me. Vlad and his boys turn out to be like the Merry Pranksters, only without the Grateful Dead, LSD, or Ken Kesey. Where the hell is Tom Wolfe when you need him? To paraphrase my favorite line in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Vlad is “the bull goose loony” of current world affairs.
Back to last night on the boob tube and Tweeter tube. The Beeb’s coverage was a bit dry *until* the results started to cascade in, but there was a standout moment when a Ukipper said something bigoted and stupid as one would expect. UKIP is the xenophobic, anti-immigrant, and Eurosceptic right wing party that has been peeling off Tory votes for the last few years. Its current leader, Nigel Farage, has a cheeky chappy, bloke you’d want to have a pint with at the pub image. He’s actually a wealthy financier kinda chap. He gives good spin.
Anyway, the Ukipper made a series of stupid remarks guaranteed to raise Scottish hackles and was shocked, shocked that anyone objected. That’s how bigots operate and Ukippers tend to be throwback bigots. They also don’t like certain kinds of white people as you can see from this exchange with two fellow core NOLA bloggers who are still at it:
The other high point of the BBC’s coverage was when a Sikh YES supporter in a blue turban and a kilt appeared. He’s a one man ode to diversity as well as articulate, passionate, and funny. He also bears an eerie resemblance to Sascha Baron Cohen, which led to series of punishing tweets:
I know I could research the name of this guy who brought me so much mirthful pleasure last night, but I prefer to think of him as Blue Turban Ali G Dude. The only way he disappointed me was in not coming on later as Borat or Bruno. Perhaps he’s saving that for next year’s general election.
Since I was in a punny mood, I could not help but make the odd reference to one of Tommy T and my favorite pop combos:
There are many serious issues to be discussed in the wake of the referendum. The whole thing remains, in the immortal words of Oliver Hardy, another fine mess. I may return to it when I’m in a more serious mood. Perhaps even around the time of the World Serious. Here’s a pun for the road:
I decided to not end with that musical groaner. I don’t want you to whip it, whip it good in my direction. I’ll give the last word to the Glaswegian rock stylings of Del Amitri. It appears that the majority of Scottish voters have decided for now that independence is Not Where It’s At:
UPDATE: While I was writing this post, Alex Salmond announced that he was resigning as First Minister for Scotland. It’s unclear if he’s planning to swim upstream and spawn…
For more detailed coverage, and fewer bad fish jokes, check out the Guardian’s Scottish Independence section.