24 hours before the referendum vote in Scotland, Maria Fyfe presents the case for NO and the unhelpful influence of unhelpful Tories.
There have been times when I thought we would lose it. The gap was down to single figures when Cameron and Osborne managed to get hackles up. They were explaining a simple truth, but saying it in a bossy way. Why would England, Wales and Northern Ireland want to be the lender of last resort to what had become a foreign country? So yet again we heard Salmond’s refrain: anything any opponent says is either bullying, bluffing or scaremongering.
The deceit by the Nationalists has been staggering. Salmond claimed to have legal advice that Scotland would have no difficulty with continued membership of the European Union. This turned out to be completely untrue. There never has been any such advice and the Scottish taxpayer paid for the legal bills arising out of a successful Freedom of Information challenge. Currently they are claiming the NHS will be privatised in Scotland if the No vote succeeds. This, despite the fact that our NHS is wholly in the hands of the Scottish Parliament, and no party at Holyrood has ever proposed doing that. They claim no-one in Westminster will deliver extra powers for the Scottish Parliament, because having the parliament at all was rejected in 1979. No mention that Labour campaigned for it for years, and it was won when Labour came to power in 1997. They even lie about Scottish history. You can amuse yourself counting the number of factual errors in the film ‘Braveheart’, which some regard as inspirational for the struggle for Scottish freedom. But my favourite is the one about the Scottish Parliament. It came into being in 1999, created by an Act of Parliament whose first line was, ‘There shall be a Scottish Parliament’. Not according to the Nationalists. As they will have it, even although 300 odd years have passed since it was abolished (as was the English parliament too) in 1707, it has actually been ‘re-convened’.
I fear that if it is a narrow win for a No vote, the Nationalists will not respect the result, but keep on in a neverendum like Quebec
They have been promising a land of milk and honey. But with no tax rises promised as well, and a cut in corporation tax of 3p in the £ below whatever George Osborne sets it at, people then ask how they are going to pay for all this. And doesn’t it follow that with big business paying less, the rest of us will either pay more, or see cuts imposed in social services? Do people in England realise this policy is expressly intended to draw businesses and jobs away from England? It’s a race to the bottom. Not only that, it is hardly the action of a ‘good neighbour’ which Salmond goes around England promising to be.
They even pretend to have Labour’s interests at heart. Oh yes. In an independent Scotland Labour will be free of the shackles imposed by right wing Labour in England, and could compete with the Nationalists as an alternative social democratic party. Just in case any reader is fooled by this, note that for years it has been the SNP’s intention to destroy Labour, because that is the only party that can stand between them and their goal of independence.
It has been frustrating to me to see so much of the media down South ignoring all this, or even worse pandering to Salmond’s ego and making him out to be the best politician in Britain today. Then of course they all forecast Salmond would win the TV debate with Alastair Darling. What a shock they had when he didn’t.
An oft-repeated joke is that Scotland has more pandas (two, soon to be three?) than Tory MPs (1). Therefore England is irremediably Tory. But the last time the Tories won a General Election outright was in 1992. People are voting in this referendum who were not even born then. And the Tories do have 15 MSPs, which the Nats never mention as it rather spoils their argument.
So, is all this winning a Yes vote? According to recent polls, the Yes vote has dropped by four points and the No vote up by the same amount, following Alastair Darling’s trouncing of Alex Salmond. Examination of poll results shows strongest support for Yes to independence amongst male working class respondents. Women in all social classes are hugely more likely to vote No. None of us campaigning for a No vote are complacent. This is a vote we must win. I worry about something happening between now and the 18th September that swings it for the Nats. Salmond must be desperately trying to find some kind of game changer. And can Cameron and Osborne and other top Tories avoid putting their foot in it?
I fear that if it is a narrow win for a No vote, the Nationalists will not respect the result, but keep on in a neverendum like Quebec. To stop that happening Labour has to regain trust amongst voters that fell away, in all parts of Britain, and at least achieve and stay in power for a good while to come.
This article is in the current print edition of CHARTIST (#270)