Should Alex Salmond take a back seat during #indyref2?
Earlier today Sky News reported that Nicola Sturgeon didn’t want to announce plans for a second independence referendum. According to their ‘unknown source’ Sturgeon was bullied into today’s announcement by none other than Alex Salmond.
The whole report had a whiff of fake news about it.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 13, 2017
I imagine this is a deliberate tactic on the part of Sky as Sturgeon is much less divisive than Salmond.
During the last referendum, a report by Professor John Robertson into media bias found that one ploy used by the mainstream media was personification. They often distilled the Yes campaign message to reduce it into being one big Alex Salmond vanity project.
In the above data, the repeated association of the Yes/pro-independence campaign with the personal desires of Alex Salmond was regular and frequent. No such equation between No/anti-independence figures’ personal drives and the No campaign was made. Likewise the broadcasting of personally insulting comments by anti-independence representatives (especially Johann Lamont) aimed at Alex Salmond, almost entirely, was predominant though a few counter-jibes by Salmond against Lamont and the Labour Party did also occur. Notably the use of insults aimed at Salmond declined and had become less common in the second six months of the survey. The tendency by opposition politicians to attempt to undermine the Yes campaign by labelling its ambitions as Alex Salmond’s desires is, in part, beyond the editorial role, however, it was common for reporters and presenters to adopt the same style:
They did this because Salmond is a marmite figure that many potential Yes voters are wary of. You either love him or hate him. I personally heard dozens of No voters saying he was the reason they were not voting Yes.
I wouldn’t be surprised if what Sky tried today becomes a tactic in the next campaign. They will try to paint a picture of a Machiavellian puppeteer Salmond, pulling Sturgeon’s strings in order to complete his longterm vanity project.
Obviously this is not the reality of the situation but it may well be spun that way. Although, if Salmond wasn’t as prominent in the campaign it would make it difficult for the media to make the narrative stick.
Salmond is easily one of the best politicians of his generation.
He has done more than anyone to bring Scotland to the cusp of independence. He has the intellect and oratory skills to be a star in the forthcoming debates. Yet, regardless of how well he performs, he has been so vilified and misrepresented over the years that he can’t help but put many undecided voters off.
So would Salmond’s skills be better used down in Westminster during the next campaign?
He excels as the elder statesman in London. He would do a good job working to curb the worst excesses of Brexit while being a genuine thorn in the side of the Tories? He could be used to try to get the best deal possible for Scotland during the article 50 process.
Would it be better to use him sparingly in the Scottish debates? After-all, we have plenty of popular, articulate voices who are less divisive, battle hardened and who come from all across the independence movement.
My heart says he should still be an integral part of the indyref2 campaign.
Salmond is the best, most experienced politician we have and he deserves to be at the coalface fighting to achieve his lifetime goal.
However, the fact that our opposition made it about him in the past and would love to make it about him again makes me question my instincts. Maybe it would be better for our chances of success if Salmond was less prominent in Scotland in the next few years?
Maybe he should be rationed and brought out as a big hitter towards the end of the campaign to seal the deal?
Ultimately I post this just for the sake of debate. Let me know what you think in the comments. Do you think Salmond should be leading the charge or do you think him having a strong presence will be used by the media to hurt the campaign?
If you enjoy our blog you can help us in a few ways. If you shop at amazon you can support autonomyscotland for free just by using the amazon links on our site. Or you can donate via paypal. Click to find out more.
You can also help by sharing the blogs and joining our newsletter.