Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Thursday, September 18, 2014

and yes I said yes I will Yes.

OK, so my good intentions didn't get many posts written, eh? Of course, like everyone registered to vote in Scotland, I've been a bit preoccupied just recently with the Independence Referendum, when the people of Scotland get to vote on whether Scotland should, or should not, be an independent country.

Which should be simple, no? The facts are all set out, people make up their minds.

Not so much. There are inevitably some areas of uncertainty, whichever way the vote goes. The No campaign moved the goalposts when the polls first began to show a majority for independence, and are now offering further devolved powers for Scotland if we vote to stay in Britain. If that had originally been permitted as an option on the ballot, it would almost certainly have won by a mile. But David Cameron, in his arrogance, imagined that a straight yes/no to independence would provide him with a crushing victory over the Scottish Nationalists, so a straight yes/no is what we shall be voting on in a few hours' time. As far as extra powers go, the No campaign's materials are now claiming that these ar "guaranteed" in the event of a NO vote. Funny, I didn't see any Act of Parliament or Memorandum of Agreement mentioning "extra powers". In fact he hasn't even got the full support of his own party in Parliament for his offer. And in any case, these extra powers are mostly ones we already have, apart from the power to have our own tax collection service. We can collect taxes, and set our own rates now: all we are being offered is the expense of a new administration with which to do so. And varying tax rates when we're still in the UK will just drive jobs south: which is why in the 15 years we've had the power we've never used it.

Because the Westminster government has refused to discuss any terms for separation until after the vote, there are however some areas of genuine uncertainty. Most economists believe it would be insane for the UK not to offer a currency union with Scotland, as otherwise we will simply use the pound anyway (as do the Channel islands and the Isle of Man) but not obligingly take on a share of the UK's national debt. We're not obliged to take any of it, so nobody will penalise us for leaving it with the government which incurred it: and we'll be around £6 billion better off without it. It's Cameron's call.

Mostly, the NO campaign has degenerated into scare stories, bullying and intimidation, and outright lies spread with the complicity of the media, which have taken an almost uniformly pro-Union line. The worst offender, because the easiest for the government to intimidate, has been the BBC, whose coverage of the campaigns had been an utter disgrace. Not just because they have invariably given huge coverage to tiny shows of unionist support while ignoring much larger demonstrations by the Yes side. Not even because of the constant airing on BBC shows of myths and debunked scare stories. Not even because of the public youth debate last week in which the BBC felt there were too many supporters of independence among their audience and told some of the children to wear NO badges even if they didn't support the No campaign. No, the last straw for most people was when Nick Robinson asked Alex Salmond a question in a press conference, received a seven-minute reply (despite having heckled him during it), and then edited the news report to remove the reply while claiming that Salmond had never answered the question on the first place. Complaints from the SNP and the public were fobbed off with "we think it was fair reporting" bullshit.

So the BBC have lost all their credibility north of the border, probably irretrievably so. As the Sun found after it told lies about the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, people have long memories and little inclination to forgive and forget.

The other massive losers, however today's vote goes, are the Scottish Labour Party. By throwing in their lot with the No campaign and sharing platforms (and Project Fear rhetoric) with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats (both of which are already spent forces north of the border), and especially by letting a Scottish Labour MP become the front-man for the whole Better Together campaign, they have made it quite clear that there are no significant policy differences between NuLabour and the ConDem coalition. The shift to the right which Kinnock began and Blair completed has left the UK with no significant party of the left, and if the people of Scotland (the cradle of the British Labour movement) wish a future not involving Thatcherite economics then Labour has to go. The contempt for Milliband (Ed Milliwatt, the dimmest bulb in Westminster) was palpable when he joined the other kinds of Tory on his flying visit to the proles in Scotland. The BBC last night was full of how disgracefully he had been treated in an Edinburgh shopping centre, where people shouted at the poor flower. Maybe if he hadn't kept them waiting for 45 minutes beyond his scheduled arrival time while he finished his lunch they might have been more forgiving when he patronised them by smirking and refusung to answer questions (a tedious chore he left to the token woman, and token Scot, in his entourage, Johann Lamont).

Oh, I haven't mentioned how I'm planning to vote, have I? Have a guess.

Actually my entire household will be voting YES, as will a majority of the Scots whose voting intentions I know. I have plenty of friends, however, who will be voting NO, and that's OK. Some people on the Yes side have been calling No voters "unpatriotic" and "not true Scots". I keep reminding Yes supporters that neither of those things can be inferred from their voting intentions, simply that hey are as dumb as a bagful of hammers, a condition not at all incompatible with being a true Scot, as a visit to any Glasgow bar can readily demonstrate. However the vote goes, we will still have to live and work with these people. OK, the Edinburgh photographer who called me a Nazi on Facebook because I complained that he had lied about the question we would be answering in the poll: let's just say his studio won't be getting any of my business, ever. It's funny: while I had heard of Yes supporters having their houses, cars, businesses vandalised (only last Monday I was talking to a graphic designer whose former colleagues had done some work for the Yes campaign which had resulted in their shop being sprayed with NAZIS) I'd had no direct experience of it myself. Then a couple of days ago I was described as a "far-right nationalist" by one supposed socialist (definitely of the champagne kind), and last night this blob from Canonmills said that I "brought an air of 1930s Germany to the debate" by disagreeing with him. (Apparently "challenging" No campaigners was not being "fair" or "equal".) I asked him whether he was calling me a Nazi but was too cowardly to use the word, or whether he was referring to my love of the Comedian Harmonists - and linked the clip below. His response was not a denial but the schoolboy defence of "Well, you started it". So I blocked him.