Five out of Six
It’s pleasant to sit-back and watch as the case for the Union unfolds in the detail of a General Election the Prime Minister didn’t need to call for any other reason than to avoid the ignominy of police investigations precipitating by-elections (which they’d have lost under the shadow of criminality.)
Better Together won in 2014 for six key reasons, and five out of those reasons are now completely overturned.
It’s no secret that Yes lost big on the issue in 2014. Pensioners are a key demographic who remain unconvinced by the arguments for independence. Whether this is to do with an enduring cultural bond with British identity, genuine fears over the security of the pension under an iScot, or other reasons as yet unknown, it’s not clear. Today’s announcement that Theresa May sees no need to protect the ‘triple lock’ on pensions is a sign that the edifice of Britain as a source of security and permanence, the mainstream against the outlier of indy, is shot to pieces.
The Better Together campaign were successful in painting Yes supporters as ‘separatists’, drawing on a genuine fear that Scotland was a peripheral country and that we would be isolated in Europe and the world. This was a charge that was countered again and again by people arguing that self-governance was ‘just normal’, but the mud stuck.
The charge is now meaningless in the wake of the xenophobia of the Brexit campaign and the racism it unleashed.
In the context of widespread (and genuine) fear of economic uncertainty in the aftermath of Scottish independence, the argument that oil volatility would dangerously undermine the Scottish economy was a powerful and potent message. The projected figures for oil revenue were wildly optimistic and proved to be completely inaccurate.
That has been de-weaponised by the Growth Commission’s statement that a future case for indy would not factor in oil revenue. This is crucial for wider ecological reasons and future-facing economics.
It is undermined however every time nationalists jump at the latest ‘oil find’ reported in the North Seas.
Tory u-turns are ten a penny I know, but Ruth Davidson’s extraordinary two-faced position on Europe is bettered only by the Prime Ministers. The argument that Scotland would be more Albania than Albania – cast aside from the EU or having ‘join the queue’ has been so thoroughly debunked in the last few weeks that it has been removed from the No campaigns future armoury.
The fictitious ‘Spanish veto’ has been further undermined by the Brexiteers extraordinary attacks on Spain over the issue of Gibraltar.
Aside from showing up the abject hypocrisy of the Tory leadership the European dimension is likely to unfold further as Europe turns to welcome Scotland and renew itself against the ‘contagion’of copycat Brexit votes.
Blood and Soil Nationalism
An absolutely key tactic to toxify the independence debate and portray the Yes movement in the worst possible light – was to picture the movement as dominated by blood and soil nationalists, driven by anti-English behaviour or borderline racist superiorism.
As Evolve points out here, ‘Theresa May’s election platform is identical to the BNP’s in 2005’.
“The human need to belong is best met at a ‘tribal’ level, and the best way to avoid such tribalism leading in turn to clashes with other tribes is to encourage its realization at the level of a genuine nation-state, particularly one whose dominant political elite regard their primary duty as being to mind their own nation’s business and looking after their own people. This half-way house between the expansionist Empire and the nihilistic football gang is the best hope for peace.”
There is the argument that with both ‘separatism’ and blood and soil nationalism’, that while the arguments have been tackled beyond doubt, the very presence of them as issues in our wider political culture could mean they are still motivating factors. Not wanting Scottish independence because a primarily English political movement threw-up issues of xenophobia sounds crazy, but then all of this is crazy.
The sixth issue is the currency.