Home Comment In Tweets: Comment at the Scottish Independence Debate

In Tweets: Comment at the Scottish Independence Debate


In her final piece for Comment this year, Debate Correspondent Fiona Potigny reports on the most recent DebSoc event, taking to Twitter in search of the finest commentary the audience had to offer.

And so, we reach an end of an era: the current DebSoc committee’s final debate, and my last critique of the week’s speakers. Let the gushing begin… DebSocExeter ‏@DebSocExeter Mar 21 Last debate of the year. There won’t be a dry eye in sight #endofanera #debsoc <blockquoteclass=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”> Last debate of the year. There won’t be a dry eye in sight #endofanera #debsoc — DebSocExeter(@DebSocExeter) March 21, 2014
Emotional though it may have been, the DebSoc members certainly knew how to inject a bit of fun into the proceedings:
Chloe Bitcon ‏@ChloeBitcon Mar 21
Let the games begin #bingodebate #debsoc pic.twitter.com/xbCclOHFwt
<blockquoteclass=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”>

Let the games begin #bingodebate #debsoc pic.twitter.com/xbCclOHFwt

— Chloe Bitcon(@ChloeBitcon) March 21, 2014

With our first speaker, Eben Wilson of the proposition, taking the audience on a rapid ride through Scottish History via civil wars, industrial revolution, exploration, university life, and a period of “cold socialism” supposedly imposed by the English (this was later called into dispute), it wasn’t long before *ding ding ding* we had a winner: Finlay Knops-Mckim ‏@FinKnopsMckim Mar 21 @DebSocExeter Bingo! #debsoc #cliche pic.twitter.com/RUOsX3R3G4

Shock struck, however, when the man who had initially announced so proudly “Oh-ho! I’m Scottish!” in the most quintessential of Scottish brogues suddenly changed his tune: “and now for my real voice”, a notably more English sound, “because I went to a public school, and university in St Andrews with Alex Salmond”.
DebSocExeter ‏@DebSocExeter Mar 21
Not sure if Rory Bremner or Eben Wilson #manofmanyvoices #debsoc
<blockquoteclass=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”>

Not sure if Rory Bremneror EbenWilson #manofmanyvoices #debsoc

— DebSocExeter(@DebSocExeter) March 21, 2014

Along with the accent change came a change in tone; the Director of TaxPayer Scotland’s impassioned laudation of Highland life and history gave way to reasoning: given the aforementioned historical journey, Scotland should have freedom to act independently, without having its hegemony quashed by Westminster. Edward Jones ‏@thejonesey101 Mar 21 @exeterdebsoc Wilson & Wilson vs. Tory & Tory on Scottish Independence #debsoc <blockquoteclass=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”> @exeterdebsoc Wilson & Wilson vs. Tory & Tory on Scottish Independence #debsoc — Edward Jones (@thejonesey101) March 21, 2014
First of Team Tory, Robert Manning, National Deputy Chairman of Conservative Future (who, of course, was opposing the motion), chose to examine the issue through an economic lens, dismissing the previous “history lesson” as lacking an inherent answer. Going solo, he believed, would cause interest rates, mortgages, and household bills to skyrocket, whilst jobs would plummet: a disaster for families. This, in addition to Salmond’s apparent miscalculation of oil revenue (a worrying shortfall of no less than £3 billion), and his confusing and, moreover, seemingly impractical attachment to British currency left Manning citing the Jack Johnson mantra: “We’re better together”.
Wilson #2, MSc Economist and recent internal debate competition winner, arose to a most hearty applause.
DebSocExeter ‏@DebSocExeter Mar 21
@david_m_wilson That is the most enthusiastic welcome we have ever had for any speaker, who’s your fan club?

Was this down to his dazzling dialogue about to come? Were they eagerly waiting to be wooed with talk of a more efficient and representative government as a result of no longer being “at odds” with the Conservative government sharing a different ideology? Had they preempted his upcoming argument about independence as the democratic solution? Perhaps, perhaps…then again, it was probably the immense power of the glowing green DebSoc tie: they were simply stylestruck. DebSocExeter ‏@DebSocExeter Mar 21 @david_m_wilson looks like he could be from Mad Men in a smart suit, checked shirt and FANTASTIC tie #plugcentral #graziatweet #debsoc <blockquoteclass=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”> @david_m_wilson looks like he could be from Mad Men in a smart suit, checked shirt and FANTASTIC tie #plugcentral #graziatweet #debsoc — DebSocExeter(@DebSocExeter) March 21, 2014
Harry Chamberlain, Exeter’s own Conservative Future chair, opened by conceding that his stance didn’t signify merely keeping things as they are, but devolution and a transferal of powers back to Scotland, as opposed to Salmond’s “incoherent” plan.
Concerns raised included media misrepresentation (according to Chamberlain, even the most “optimistic” polls at 35% did not equate the apparent nationalist fervour perpetuated by the media), and a lack of alternative currency – “why hang onto the currency if England is so deplorable?”
Nonetheless, the mention of the formidable Theresa May’s immigration unease formed the most convincing part of the argument: a shared border governed different policies would surely result in conflict. Moreover, would we, the English, be subjected to border control upon each short drive northward? Wilson #1 (Eben) dismissed these “silly” claims during question time citing the weather as a natural obstruction to immigrants: “No one’s going to want to move here – it’s too cold and wet!”
Eben’s historio-cultural justification for Scottish Independence was first to come under audience scrutiny – surely every region should be allowed to go it alone on this logic? Wilson #2, however, stated that, we can appreciate that Scotland’s cultural norms are different enough from those of, say, Yorkshire in order for it to merit independence (though this led to some heckles from the Freedom faction of the audience).
DebSocExeter ‏@DebSocExeter Mar 21
Independent People’s Republic of Yorkshire #godsowncountry #geoffboycott #whiterose #debsoc
<blockquoteclass=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”>

Independent People’s Republic of Yorkshire #godsowncountry #geoffboycott #whiterose #debsoc

— DebSocExeter(@DebSocExeter) March 21, 2014

With this in mind, could the opposition recognise independence on these grounds? Manning couldn’t deny it, following it with the soppy statement: “Of course, but we’ve also got the right to say, we love you chaps. Please stay.” Discussion of the EU provided an additional a clash point. Wilson Jnr. argued that the EU would provide an important means of support in establishing its identity and economic aid, though Chamberlain was sceptical that Scotland would even be able to fulfil membership criteria. On the contrary, insisted Wilson Snr., potential membership would provide a substantial incentive to reduce the deficit. An unequivocal “yes” came from the opposition in response to whether independence was purely for SNP’s Salmond’s personal political gain. Wilson (Scottish edition) disputed this, as Salmond had specifically returned to politics to “get rid of the loonies” and pursue this ideal: “that’s all he wants. He’s a one-dimensional guy”. “A one-trick pony, more like,” retorted Chamberlain. Wilson the Younger dispelled both arguments, claiming that intention is irrelevant, “it’s still what’s best for Scotland”. DebSocExeter ‏@DebSocExeter Mar 21 If the one trick a pony has is moonwalking like in the 3 advert that isn’t a bad trick to have #debsoc <blockquoteclass=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”> If the one trick a pony has is moonwalking like in the 3 advert that isn’t a bad trick to have #debsoc — DebSocExeter(@DebSocExeter) March 21, 2014
Practical concerns aside, though, an important question was still to be addressed: what would Robbie Burns’ reaction have been, and could the panel give a poem to illustrate this?
“Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever!”

“It’s about the woe of losing our dear Scotland, but we love them nonetheless”, he justified.
DebSocExeter ‏@DebSocExeter Mar 21
If anyone wants to know what my favourite poem is please refer to the Barmy Army’s stance on Mitchell Johnson #sophisticate #debsoc

Despite much of the opposition’s argument being dismissed as “economic speculation” by some members of the audience, perhaps it was this final dose of emotion that appealed to their more sentimental side, winning them the majority of the evening’s vote. But the evening didn’t stop there, the highly-coveted “Zinger of the Year” for the best quote was yet to be awarded to…*drumroll, please* DebSocExeter ‏@DebSocExeter Mar 21 Here it is in all its glory…! pic.twitter.com/O3SKxyDJGI

Professor John Maloney, honorary DebSoccer and prolific humorous quote-generator, who won for his contribution to the Teashop Debate (http://xmedia.ex.ac.uk/wp/wordpress/in-tweets-comment-at-the-teashop-debate/):
“I’ve got one hard and fast rule that I use for most situations; if the Green Party are against it, it’s probably a good idea.”
And so, two terms and over 20 debates later, so concludes the year’s final debate, and my time covering them. Many thanks to those who have enjoyed or simply endured my critique, the dependably punbelievable tweeters (you know who you are), and to DebSoc for continuously providing such a fantastic forum of Friday night entertainment.
DebSocExeter ‏@DebSocExeter Mar 21
Debsoc: it’s been an honour and and absolute privilege

To the Ram?

Fiona Potigny

Did you attend last Friday’s debate? Is this an accurate version of events? Leave a comment below or write to the Comment team at the Exeposé Comment Facebook Group or on Twitter @CommentExepose.

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