A great thing, metaphors, for bringing a dull or complex subject to life. I’ve perpetrated a few in my time on this blog. But I’m not sure Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp has quite got the point. He’s the founder (his word – were no others involved?) and director of Business for Scotland, the pro-separation, pro-SNP group that purports to represent Scottish business. Here he is in an article on the Commonspace website yesterday:
Excuse me, Gordon. ‘Knife edge vote’? Do you mean that 55% to 45% vote in favour of staying in Britain? A ten percent difference in these matters is a thumping majority. You want knife edge, try:
- a party, the SNP, that governs (sort of) in Holyrood with 48.8% of the seats in parliament
- a party, the SNP, who despite getting nearly all of the Scottish seats in the Westminster election in 2015 thanks to the first past the post system, got precisely 49.97% of the votes cast
- a movement, Yes, (I prefer ‘Leave’ but that’s a battle for another day) that on the most favourable interpretation of the most favourable poll recently might only count on 50% of voters (the real total’s less but that’s the way the ‘news’ paper you write for, The National, chose to portray it).
Does the red print help you get the point? These are real knife edges.
Of course, it may just have been a slip of the tongue. Or perhaps you suffer from MAD (Metaphor Allergic Disorder).
Or maybe like many nationalists you’re engaged in the more sinister pursuit of re-writing history. Why not? It’s the modern thing. Trump does it all the time. So does father-of-the-nation Alex Salmond. He did it with his constant lies about ‘The Vow’ and he did it yesterday on LBC talking about GERS (hear LBC’s Iain Dale putting him right here).
Perhaps, if enough people like MacIntyre-Kemp repeat the lie about the 2014 referendum often enough, people will come to believe it. ‘Jings, we only lost it by a knife edge last time. One more push and we’re there.’
Pity that the most recent poll by YouGov (OK, my usual caveats about reading trends not single polls) had 57% of those interviewed saying they’d vote No in another referendum and only 43% Yes. Now that’s definitely not a knife edge.
I think MacIntyre-Kemp has discovered that metaphors can be a blunt instrument. Sharpest knife in the drawer? You decide.