Could it be Bodie and Doyle? Perhaps Starsky and Hutch? Morse and Lewis? Whoever provided the inspiration, someone in Downing Street has clearly been watching too many old TV cop shows because what George Osborne’s performance today was the final part of an old-fashioned good cop, bad cop routine.
Last week David Cameron stayed in London to ‘love-bomb’ the Scots (as the Nats described it).’Please, please don’t leave,’ was his message, ‘We really love you lots.’
That was part one, the good cop routine. Today we had part two, the bad cop bit. The Chancellor didn’t stay in London. He came to Edinburgh and was hard, nasty and belligerent.’Go independent if you want to,’ was his message, ‘But you can’t have the pound, so forget it.’ It was the hardest kick in the crotch the Chancellor has ever delivered to Scotland and it will alter the independence campaign drastically.
All day, the Nationalists have been touring television and radio stations to claim that Osborne is playing political games, that today’s message was orchestrated by Better Together as a deliberate ploy to get the ‘don’t knows’ back to the unionist side.
They are right – but only in part. Yes, this was a political move. Better Together strategists have identified the ‘don’t knows’ as the key to the campaign. They also know that uncertainty over the pound is what concerns them most. So they decided to end that uncertainty once and for all by making it clear today that an independent Scotland would not be in a Sterling zone.
There was also a secondary aim: trying to force Alex Salmond to come out with a ‘Plan B’ on the currency, something that would appear so unreliable and shaky it would destroy the Nats’ hopes of winning the referendum in one move.