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ONE OF THE much-loved comedians of the second half of the twentieth century was Tommy Cooper, the wizard whose magic tricks almost always ended in failure and much hilarity. He would explain what he was going to achieve, exclaiming it would happen “just like that!”. It rarely did. I was reminded of this recently when I saw Scottish separatists proclaiming Scotland’s strengths and assets – usually to an exaggerated extent. With our talent and resources, goes SNP propaganda, how can we fail? Freed from the oppressive (and exploitative) occupation of our country by the UK (we are told), we would be bound to succeed outside the UK because of what we already are, ‘just like that’!
This is somewhat reminiscent of the stance of the SNP in 2014, under their then leader, Alex Salmond. It’s well known Salmond enjoys a flutter, and his gambling instincts extend to the political arena. Such was his capacity for brushing aside difficult questions that his motto in 2014 seemed to be ‘it’ll be all right on the night’. One example of this was when Philip Hammond, as Defence Secretary, was visiting Clyde shipbuilders in 2014 and was asked by a member of the workforce whether the Royal Navy would continue to build warships in Clyde yards if Scotland left the UK. His unequivocal answer was ‘No, they would not’. Salmond immediately rushed to the TV studios to give an undertaking that was not in his gift: ‘I guarantee that the Royal Navy will build warships in an independent Scotland’. It was a characteristic piece of Salmond chutzpah – not to say dishonesty.