2007 - 2022

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.

Oil Volatility
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.

EU Membership
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.


Comments (18)

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  1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    It might well be the case, indeed (at least to a long term ‘converted’ like I!) probably is the case, that these six ‘fear inducers’ have been shown to be vacuous, but I doubt if that will stop a future NO campaign using them again.

    The media will just reprint them in similar sensationalist language, the broadcast media will amplify them and the impartial BBC interviewers will unchallengingly allow ‘experts’ to tell us how independence will bring all of these plus all the plagues of Egypt.

    They worked in the past, so they will probably work, to some extent, next time.

    They will be augmented by further terrors from Pandora’s Box.

    Of course, for supporters of independence, it is reason for confidence that such ‘fears’ have been so well exposed and that we can use them as evidence to refute arguments based on the fears. However, we will need to be prepared for the, “Ah, but ……”.

    Thanks to Mr Small for providing this handy ‘cut-out-and-keep’ summary.

  2. johngerard says:

    The biggest lie was over the use of Sterling, it ought to be mentioned that the Republic of Ireland was linked to Sterling till 1979 and British notes and coins were exchanged on the same basis of the locally printed Irish pound and UK interest rates set were applied in Ireland. And when you consider that that the Republic got independence in 1922 after a bloody war with Britain, so for 57 years the Sterling relationship lasted.

  3. David Sillars says:

    Here is another article debunking the Scottish government’s lack of economic activity. http://www.wired.co.uk/article/accelerator-report-released

  4. john young says:

    Fearties then fearties now and there are far too many of them,Scotlands claim to fame Scotlands claim to shame.

    1. James says:

      Yes John you are right, for me it remains inexplicable that any Scot would be swayed by fear. What type of Scot would reject returning their nation to a sovereign status? especially when it was so freely offered. But then perhaps they were not Scottish. As I am an expatriate Scot I wonder just who and from where did my replacement come?

  5. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

    With regards to Oil. In 2015 Norway collected some £17bn of oil tax. Circa £2.9bn for BP alone.

    The UK’s was practically zilch. Circa £43m.

    Recently the CEO of BP stated that the” North Sea has a great future” and their extraction costs in the North Sea” are $12 a barrel”.

    Mike, your a journalist. Why don’t you carry out an investigation?

    1. I’m aware of this. On ecological grounds I’m not in favour of an oil-focused economy – but I think it remains true that such an economy is volatile, and so even if you completely disregard our climate change crisis, you can take a narrow strategical view that its wrong to ground your case for indy on oil.

  6. Clare McKay says:

    I am very worried there may not be a ” next time “. – I think this is time for action , to keep pressure on the SNP and make this General Election our new Independence Referendum .
    Theresa May can reduce powers at Holyrood ( e.g. fishing and agriculture not be returned following Brexit )She can take Holyrood away ; our power lies with our Manifesto commitments of our MPs in Westminster ; which cannot be interfered with . This is where we are equal partners in this United Kingdom .
    Now is the time .
    I have e-mailed Nicola Sturgeon ( she has always said the people will decide !) and asked her to be bold , that the manifesto makes clear that a vote for SNP is a vote for Independence and that elected SNP MPs would return to Westminster to begin negotiating withdrawal from the UK

    1. Alf Baird says:

      My understanding is that numerous SNP groups meeting over the next week or so may be making the same proposal to the party leadership, namely for the leadership and the party to return to campaigning for independence at the GE on June 8th, as opposed to the prevailing SNP election strategy which essentially implies campaigning for continued Westminster control of Scottish affairs, and depending on Westminster’s (presently refused) permission to hold another referendum, the result of which would likewise in turn need to be ratified by Westminster. A widnae haud ma braithe tho.

      1. IJM says:

        Is there an online petition for this approach. I also have noticed the SNP’s reticence to be bold,
        or at least to put forward the case for this way of securing Independence. Too much pussyfooting
        about. If the SNP do not have the balls for this now ( with 50+ mps) ,then when ???
        Lets stop fannying about. The ( mainly ) English attitude towards us now is overt hostility. I
        work in England ( due to the fact my work in Scotland has been decimated ) and the comments
        aimed at Scotland and Scots, when Independence is brought up are discriminatory, inflammable and
        racist. No more Mr nice guy. Declare Independence once the SNP win again.
        All debate has been shut down. The MSM has won down here.

        If this GE is not the time to take back our country and our dignity back into our own hands
        then will someone please tell me when is.?????

      2. Willie says:

        I think the over sixty sector who voted for the status quo in 2014 need to be told, and told clearly, exactly what a right wing Westminster Tory government will do for their pension, for their beloved NHS that Westminster would privatise in a heartbeat. Some say that these people were just selfish in their choice. 2017 they should be fearful because the selfish are now on the kicking end. Westminster cannot, and will not afford them unless they have private means. Let them eat cake on their senior years. It’s their Union Dividend from a benevolent Tory government.

    2. Wul says:

      Remember that “pledge” thing that was doing the rounds before the ’14 Indyref?

      As I recall, it was a document with over 1m. signatures of people stating they would vote for independence.

      Maybe a huge petition to the SNP saying “make a manifesto commitment that a vote for the SNP means a vote for independence” would gain enough support to persuade them to take the plunge?

    3. Willie says:

      The high watermark may have passed Clare. The Tory vote in Scotland appears to be on the rise and it will be difficult for the SNP to retain its 56 Westminster seats. Maybe however the SNP will retain its share of the vote, or better it. That would be fantastic. But again that will be difficult as the voting polarises between a resurging Unionist Tory vote and a Nationalist party whose MPs have been seen to be wholly ineffective. With 56 MPs the party could have been dynamic and been seen to be so. But they didn”t and their assimilation into the Westminster machine reinforced for me how some six months ago one of the fabulous fifty arrogantly telling me in the quickly acquired gravitas that comes with elevation to Westminster that there was absolutely no chance of an early snap election. And now here we are.

      But let us hope the SNP do well. They are by far and away the party to look after Scotland’s interests. They have done much, with limited powers but they need to do more before our tide goes out.

    4. phil says:

      I share your concerns. I am also aware that the SNP appear wedded to the referendum route. I therefore suggest that their manifesto should include holding a referendum at a time chosen by the Scottish Parliament and that no conditions can be attached without the agreement of the Scottish parliament. In addition that they reserve the right to declare independence unilaterally if the referendum is denied or unacceptable delays or conditions imposed.
      This strategy more than fulfils any test of democratic mandate, and has the additional benefit of compelling the unionist parties to campaign for a independence referendum, which would be a good laugh.
      Give them the choice independence for certain or a referendum on the Scottish governments terms.

  7. MBC says:

    Most No voters didn’t vote ‘against’ Scotland or ‘for’ the U.K. They voted simply for safety, for the status quo.

    The word just isn’t getting out amongst them that the U.K. isn’t the safe option.

    They go by brands. The UK brand is just a stronger brand.

    I don’t know how we get the word out.

  8. Saltiregrace says:

    I think it’s true that a lot of people did vote to stay part of the uk as it seemed like the safe option but I think the uncertainty over brexit and Theresa May wavering over the pension triple lock do create an opportunity to persuade more people that independence is the best option. True safety lies in self determinism and the power to control our own affairs. The more we can highlight the gulf between the increasingly right wing uk and our vision for a new Scotland where equality actually matters and isn’t just a convenient buzz word to placate the masses the better, this of course is not easy when much of the main stream media is against us and filled with misinformation.

    1. Craig P says:

      The status quo is always the ‘safe’ option, there are always people who dont have the imagination to aspire to anything different – yet when things change, the same people can adapt remarkably quickly to a new status quo.

      Which is a worry for us as people will quickly get used to being out of Europe and having slightly worse pensions and maybe even the repatriation of powers to Westminster… on the other hand it also means that a narrow Yes vote in the next indyref can consolidate quickly to a settled majority just a few years later.

  9. James Dow says:

    Being an expatriate Scot living in OZ ironically I have been raised surrounded by archetypal Scots. Emigrating in 1952 and being a piper in a band since boyhood, over the years it was always the same type of Scots that had the courage and belief that family emigration requires that shared my growing up, and in many cases became band members. If we had all not emigrated over the years Scotland would be a Sovereign Nation today, for in Scotland’s case emigration delivers the best to other nations.

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