The BBC Radio 4 play Dividing the Union was a crude piece of propaganda for Scottish independence (Broadcast at 2.15pm 14 March – available on IPlayer for six days from the date of uploading this blog post http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03xgsly).
The actor playing Alex Salmond ( Greg Hemphill) sounded and behaved like Salmond, that is, he was aggressive and wilfully patronising. The actor playing David Cameron (Greg Wise) seriously failed represent Cameron’s voice and manner. He spoke with a form of received pronunciation but it did not sound like Cameron, who has a much crisper delivery and somewhat posher voice. However, that weakness in characterisation is dwarfed by the lack of dominant tone and energy in his persona. This Cameron came across as dithering and uncertain, constantly fretting that Salmond will be too clever for him in conversations with his adviser Robert (David Jackson Young). These conversations include the fictional Cameron whining to Robert that he (Robert) should not have left him alone with Salmond when the Edinburgh Agreement was agreed. All that is utterly unlike Cameron, who is naturally aggressive in debate and quick on his mental feet.
Then there is the deal they come to. The play has Cameron agreeing to a currency union, a split of the national debt by population and a division of the oil and gas revenues on a geographical basis favourable to Scotland. What does he get in return? An extension of the period in which the nuclear submarines on the Clyde can be kept there before being transferred to the rest of the UK. That is precisely the type of deal that Salmond has been angling for and saying Westminster would agree to when faced with the fact of independence. Such a deal would be grossly to England’s disadvantage.
Finally, why a play about the YES camp winning this close to the referendum? Can we expect a balancing play in which the independence vote is lost? If not, why not?