Alistair Carmichael as many of you will never have seen him before

Do you know what, this independence referendum is actually starting to have some nice moments.  I would never have thought it. Sadly, few of them are to do with the actual substance of the campaign, but there’s always hope.

One of the best things about it for me is that for what I imagine will be the only time in our lifetimes, my Dad and I are on the same side in a political debate. I was absolutely thrilled when he took up volunteering for Better Together one day a week and he’s become a bit of an expert on the money and energy markets, mastering the most intricate and complex details. It’s great.

Another great moment was the Jim Sillars/George Galloway debate. The entire Scottish political community watched and enjoyed it together. It was a bit like watching Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets debate various degrees of socialist Utopia in and outside the union. Galloway said everything the nationalists said was “nonsense on stilts.’ It was a priceless old ding dong. Part of the enjoyment for me was imagining the litters of kittens appearing in both Yes and Better Together as both men went deliciously off message. Some nice soul has put it on You Tube so we can watch it whenever we need cheering up. It actually is a very interesting debate.

The third fun moment was the BBC’s Referendum Connections documentary last night. For Scots it emphasises how much Scottish politics is a village. Everyone knows each other. Everyone grew up with each other. It featured the life stories of the five major politicians involved in the debate: Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon, Johann Lamont (the current Scottish Labour leader), Alistair Darling and our very own Alistair Carmichael.

We are treated to film going all the way back to the 80s. You get to see Alistair as most people reading this will never have seen him before, speaking at Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference in the 80s. He was certainly rocking the jumper chic.  And was it once cool to wear a tie under your jumper? He’s a bit older than me

A very young Alistair Carmichael

That’s not my favourite ever Scottish conference old clip, though. That honour belongs to the person who’s talking about Alistair in this documentary, Sheila Ritchie. In the early 1990s, she meant to talk about Michael Heseltine’s Brylcrean and blow dry. What she actually said was another 3 letter word. I’ll leave that to your imagination.

In contrast to Alistair’s controlled conference sense, we also get to see a very shaggy Alistair Darling get all apocalyptic on us.

And in this treat that goes on giving, we see a scruffy Kevin Lang watch Carmichael shin up a lamppost  during the 2010 election campaign.

Thanks to the beauty of iPlayer, you can watch this gem of Liberal Democrat history here. How many of your friends can you spot?

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Thomas Robinson 10th Apr '14 - 9:07pm

    Didn’t see it myself but if your report is accurate as I would expect, it met the usual high standard of BBC balanced reporting-3 NOs to 2 Yes 🙂

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 10th Apr '14 - 10:38pm

    Yes, but the Yes’s didn’t really have anything we could tease them for unlike two of the No’s (jumper and tie chic and apocalyptic shagginess).

    Oh, and the one thing I didn’t mention is that John Swinney had hair. Amazing!

  • Perhaps the wrong country is having the referendum. Has anyone thought of asking the English whether they want to be part of the Union?

  • Thomas Robinson 11th Apr '14 - 11:51am


    As a matter of fact someone has as the English Democrats have now moved their position from calling for a devolved English Parliament like the current Holyrood to independence for England.

  • Tony Greaves 11th Apr '14 - 5:00pm

    I would not dream of wearing a jumper without a tie “underneath”.


  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 12th Apr '14 - 9:47am

    Tony, I have the feeling you have just earned the lifelong admiration of the Secretary of State for Scotland. Not that you wouldn’t have had it already, of course.

  • Robin Bennett 12th Apr '14 - 1:04pm

    The programme was interesting not least because it is the first (?) programme presented by Sarah Smith since her move from Channel 4 News to the BBC team covering the lead-up to the Referendum . This programme was harmless “Before They Were Famous” entertainment, but both sides – particularly Yes campaigners – will be looking for signs of bias now that she is to present a new 10:30 pm half-hour programme on BBC2 Scotland (with Newsnight from London in its entirety following at 11pm) to compete with the successful Scotland Tonight programme on STV.

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