Alex Salmond has launched a judicial review of the Scottish government’s handling of sexual harassment allegations against him. The first few days after the news broke were marked by a curious reticence on the part of both the commentariat and the political establishment in Scotland. We can speculate as to the causes, although I think both shock that a colossus such as Salmond could be struck down by the #MeToo movement, and a complete lack of surprise about what insiders whispered was ‘an open secret’, played their paradoxical parts. Doubtless there was also a sense of ‘there but for the grace of God’ for some people; and for the other political parties, a fear that #MeToo might open the door on their own skeletons. One party even told some of its councillors to refrain from commenting on the allegations on social media because Salmond was so litigious.
My parents were self-made immigrants who never completed their secondary education. Displaced by war and poverty, their families survived by focusing on food and such inflation-proof assets as diamonds and property. The material plenitude my parents showered on their children did not include books because, as my father once asked about poetry, what was the point? My parents didn't get libraries, though they appreciated that they were free, while being disturbed that library books, like the handrails on public staircases we were warned not to touch, bore the imprints of countless strange and unhygienic hands.
Polling day is suitably dreich in Fife. Since yesterday morning the damp mists of a haar have loomed over us like a hangover that won't go away. We cannot see the Forth, the Isle of May or the Lammermuirs marking the horizon beyond. In Arncroach, where I live, there's just the polling booth adorned with a single large Yes poster. The most striking thing about the referendum is the extent to which it has turned out to be not about Scottish independence.