Last night’s 2-hour debate between Alex Salmond, the Scottish independence chieftain and Alistair Darling, the understated and cerebral general on the pro-Union side, was long billed as a decisive encounter in the 30-month long campaign that will culminate in a referendum on 18 September.
The Scottish National Party SNP is very much in touch with the times in one key respect. It believes presentation trumps substance in this age of media imagery and spin. Much effort has been invested in presenting Alex Salmond as a man of destiny capable of transforming Scotland.
‘Yes for Scotland’ even announced that a coach had been hired to instruct this already supremely self-confident politician about how to come over as the man of the hour. In the end, he came over as a curious mismatch, a cross between a jokey and avuncular Boris Johnson, the mayor of London and a slightly menacing Richard Nixon.