In this game you have to know who to go to for first hand information.
I wanted some sense of where, emotionally, Alex Salmond was today.
So I spoke with a buddy this afternoon who is a political correspondent with a major Scottish title.
He basically lives at Holyrood.
He was the guy to call for the information I needed.
As it transpired he had been at a “Salmond event” all morning.
My mate has over forty years in the the trade.
Watching people is what he does.
My question to him was simple.
“How was Salmond presenting?”
He replied in his Leith vernacular that Salmond was behaving to the world like a male canine creature suddenly blessed with two sex organs!
Despite the spinning of the London political village that Prime Minister David Cameron had slapped down Salmond over the referendum my buddy picked up very little to suggest this view was shared by the Scottish leader.
I noted here that Salmond was a lucky politician.
The events of the last 24 hours have convinced me that his luck isn’t just holding up, but is getting stronger.
Scotland’s First Minister is on a roll.
One of the major things in his favour is that the people who are attempting to thwart his project have no idea what they are dealing with.
Here I examine this today for the readership of an influential Northern Ireland Blog
Late last year I spoke at the “Changin Scotland” conference.
The week end opened with a debate on the benefits of the Union versus the advantages of independence.
Actor and activist Elaine C Smith made the case for Scottish secession.
The case for the union was made my Alan Cochrane of the Daily Telegraph.
His killer argument, as far as he was concerned, was that he could be impeded by border guards on his way from his home in Scotland to visit his grandchildren in England.
He probably hadn’t legislated for someone like me being in the front row of the assembled throng.
I told him that I crossed an international frontier most weeks in life, except that I didn’t notice as I was only travelling from Donegal to Strabane to go to ASDA!
I analogised his arguments into an Irish scenario (Elaine being tickled to being dubbed a “Shinner” by myself!).
Alan’s body language indicated he wasn’t having a good time.
The debate was being chaired by Douglas Fraser of the BBC.
Amiable and caring he intervened to prevent further punishment from the Fenian in the front row.
Cochrane had no cogent response.
What struck me was the weakness of his argument for the union.
I came away from that debate thinking “is that all they have to offer? The fear of guards at the border?”
His piece today in the Telegraph indicates that, like the Westminster elite, he doesn’t understand what is happening either in the sequencing of the Salmond/Cameron sparring match over the timing of the referendum or on the wider issues.
Salmond is currently ahead on points because the people who oppose him don’t know what to say or do that will de-rail a project that is, at the end, about self-esteem.
He wants his country to be at the top table of nations as Scotland and until he gets that don’t be surprised if he’s like a dog with a bone.