First Person - with Allan Crow

Allan Crow, Fife Free Press
Allan Crow, Fife Free Press
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CAN I be the first person to go on record and say I am bored rigid by the independence debate?

Other than journalists, politicians and policy wonks, it’s not on my radar, it doesn’t figure in any conversations over a pint, and, as far as I can see, the man in the street is far more concerned with paying bills and working endless hours to get himself into too much of a tizzy over the finer points of devo max.

Yes it’s a biggie and yes it will get my full attention come 2014, but that’s still a year and a big bit away.

Devo-itis - it should be a medically accepted condition.

Symptoms. A sinking feeling in your stomach every time you switch on ‘Newsnight’ and there’s Gordon Brewer putting his scariest glower on some terrified political backbencher; your teeth itch, and your head hurts, but that’s probably because you’ve just smacked it repeatedly off the living room door.

Devo-itis diagnosis

I can trace my own diagnosis of Devo-itis back to the summer and the Olympic Games.

As a nation we embraced the event, and savoured every second of every triumph in every single sport - even the ones we’d never even heard of.

It was a remarkable success which delivered a wonderful feel good factor to all.

But deep within the bowels of politics, in a land inhabited by the wonks, the writers and the wannabe backbenchers, only one issue mattered - how would the Olympics impact on the independence vote?
Would we now consider ourselves more British and vote ‘naw’? Would we fancy our chances competing as Team Scotland and all get Braveheart at the ballot box in 2014?

And as for the term ‘Scolympian’ - whoever invented it should have been taken outside and set on fire with an Olympic torch.

Now, I know people in politics live in a bubble. They really do get their jollies on this sort of stuff - journalists, broadcasters, political thinkers, bag carriers, lobbyists and so on. They genuinely believe the chatter and debate reflects what is happening up and down the country. It disnae.

I actually stopped buying one newspaper after it harped on and on and on about the Olympics’ impact on the devolution debate. Four months on and I cannot recall a single word it said. Talk about word blindness.

The Sunday papers are serial offenders. Give a columnist a page and they’ll immediately think ‘‘hmm, haven’t written about devolution for all of, oh, seven days.’’ and whack out 1000 words. Pardon me while I stretch for the remote and tune into ‘River City’...

Spin doctored scripts

I enjoy politics as much as the next man. There is still nothing to beat the cut and thrust of political debate, even if such a thing is a rarity as politicians have become little more than ‘‘I speak your weight’’ machines who cling to their spin doctored scripts like first year high school pupils holding on for dear life to their new timetables.

The devo debate has started far too early.

If election campaigns lasting six weeks fail to spark enthusiasm, how on earth are we supposed to avoid a sense of weariness with this two-year long slog of stage managed photo-ops and patronising soundbites?

So here’s my suggestion. Let’s bin all devo talk in 2012 and 2013. Like Christmas it should have its place in the calender, and that’s 2014.

Those who do wish to debate every nuance should congregate in a big hall in a remote field where we can lock them inside and leave them to talk themselves hoarse.

What’s that they say about empty vessels?

Now I just need to find something for Mr Brewer to glower about on Newsnight ...