Sunday 15 December 2019

Naysayers hope new royal baby will swing Scots vote

The Scottish Question: Referendum Diary

Good Wife star Alan Cumming
Good Wife star Alan Cumming
Kim Bielenberg

Kim Bielenberg

Perhaps it was clutching at straws by the No campaigners in the Scottish Independence Referendum, but yesterday there were hopes that they would receive a royal baby bounce.

Maybe it's a sign of desperation, but the announcement that Kate Middleton, wife of Britain's Prince William, is pregnant has created some glimmer of hope that dewy-eyed Scots, smitten by the prospect of a bonny babe, will suddenly abandon their plans to have their own country.

According to this belief, the perfidious voters north of the Anglo-Scottish border will gently coo at the prospect of Ms Middleton dropping another infant - and begin to weep at the possibility of losing the queen, Prince Charles and his funny little ways.

Even the most hard-hearted Scottish Nationalists - rough-hewn men of Argyll, pugnacious Glaswegians and crofters in the Shetlands - will leap into the arms of the loyalists and say: "Nay bother". They will vote No, all because of a royal baby. Or so we are led to believe.

It all seems like wishful thinking on a grand scale. The topic was raised when I dropped into a hostelry named the Yes Bar in the centre of Glasgow yesterday afternoon on my first day on the election trail. You know you are onto a winner when they suddenly name a bar after your political cause. It shows that the wind is in the Yes side's sails.

Alan McLaughlin previously called his bar the Vespbar, but decided to change the name to Yes Bar when he was on holiday.

"I am not normally political, but I passionately believe we should have an independent country," he told me."

"Since I changed the name I have been inundated with customers. The place has been packed," he said.

Soon after lunch there was a whirr of activity in the bar, when a familiar figure stepped majestically out of a taxi. And he seemed rather important.

I knew the face, but I was not quite sure of the name. It is hard to remember all these celebrities nowadays.

When I asked who this high-megawatt personage was, a passing paparazzi photographer tut-tutted and said it was Alan Cumming, star of the X Men and the Good Wife.

After I politely introduced myself Cumming told me he had flown into his native country from Dublin to join in the excitement of the referendum campaign and to urge the Scottish electorate to vote Yes.

With 10 days left until the referendum, he urged people to "grab this wonderful opportunity with both hands".

The actor continued: "I feel so good. I've always felt the longer the campaign goes on, the more likely it's going to be a Yes victory.

And, of course, Cumming was asked about the royal baby. Could it all be a sinister plot by the evil stuffed shirts down in Westminster? Was the timing of the royal baby announcement a last-ditch attempt by the No campaign to win votes. With a straight face, he said: "It's a Machiavellian plot. They have induced a pregnancy to win votes."

Then he laughed and added: "No, of course they didn't."

On the streets of Glasgow, there will be voters who believe there is no coincidence to the announcement, given their distrust of those down south.

The Conservatives only have one seat in Scotland, and it is surely only a matter of time before voters insist on a government that reflects their concerns.

The caption on a caricature of Tory prime minister David Cameron in a Glasgow shop window seemed to sum up a common view: "Chaps, I'm just popping up north to pacify the natives. Be back before you can say 'deep-fried foie gras'."

Irish Independent

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