Yes Scotland, the official campaign for an independent Scotland was founded on 25 May 2012, and quickly followed by the official campaign opposing independence, Better Together. In the past two years Yes have relied mainly upon a positive message about a free Scotland, while Better Together’s entire campaign has been negative. There is a story that behind the scenes they even called themselves Project Fear. Better Together and thier fellow-travellers have continually attempted to scare voters in Scotland with negative, doom-laden claims about the future under independence. Out of these have come some of the wildest, most bizarre claims, which even some of their own supporters have scoffed at.
Drive on the right-hand side of the road
“I also don’t want to drive up the M6 and get my passport out or have to drive on the right when I want to drive on the left” So said Labour Party former Health Secretary Andy Burnham in September 2013.
There are of course no plans for an independent Scotland to drive on the right, and if Burnham thinks it would be enforced upon us by the European Union, then perhaps he would like to explain why the EU has not enforced that on the UK already, or for that matter upon any other EU member state which drives on the left, such as Eire.
Burnham’s facetious remarks were deemed so silly that the Manchester-based newspaper The Guardian ran the story on 1 April 2014, as an April Fool’s joke.
Get your passport out to see Granny
Allied to Andy Burnham’s silly statement, one of the longest running and most abiding of unionist scare stories is that there would be border controls between Scotland and England.
Nobody in Yes Scotland, or the Scottish National Party (SNP) for that matter, has ever suggested setting up a physical border between the two countries. In fact, the plans for independence are that Scotland would remain in the EU and join the European Common Travel Area, by signing up to the Schengen Agreement, which allows freedom of travel among Schengen countries.
This claim, which predates Better Together, was first voiced by the then UK government Home Secretary Theresa May, on 24 May 2012, the day Yes was founded. Speaking on the BBC Sunday Politics programme, May stated “If there was a separate Scotland, there could very well be some sort of border check, but what that would be, to what extent that would be necessary, would depend on the issues about whether Scotland was in Schengen, whether it wanted to be in the Common Travel Area which they would have to negotiate, if that was what they wished to do.”
May insisted that this would also be cognisant upon Scotland’s level of immigration. It no doubt comes as a surprise to many, particularly those in Eire, where immigration is lax to say the least, and yet there are nowadays no border controls between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.
It should be recognised that nobody in support of independence has ever or would ever propose closing off the Anglo-Scottish border; it is purely those opposed to independence who would seek to do so.
It’s good to talk – but will cost more south of the border
On 28 June 2013, a government paper, funded by the UK taxpayer, stated that after independence, Scottish mobile phone users could face high roaming fees once they crossed the border into England or elsewhere in the remainder of the UK (rUK).
The publication of this report followed an agreement on 13 June 2013, signed by 27 European Union member states, including the UK, announcing their intention to scrap roaming fees across the EU from 1 July 2014.
End of the Time Lords
“The SNP simply cannot guarantee that we’d still get Dr Who after independence.” (Scottish Conservative Party leader, Ruth Davidson, 21 November 2013)
“The vote is about whether Scotland wants to remain as part of the UK. If they don’t want to do that, it’s a vote to leave the institutions of the UK and the BBC is one of them.” (UK Government Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, 26 February 2014)
Doctor Who is currently enjoyed by millions of viewers in 75 countries across the globe, and Chairman of Yes Scotland, Blair Jenkins, has given a 100% assurance that BBC shows like Doctor Who will continue to be enjoyed post-independence. Should anyone take Blair Jenkins’ word for that? Well, considering that he was formerly Director of Broadcasting at Scottish Television (STV), and Head of News and Current Affairs at both STV and BBC Scotland, one would think so.
Allied to the claims by Davidson and Miller, are that a seperate Scottish Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) would not able to produce quality dramas and other broadcasting which the BBC can, and that watching the BBC would cost more in an independent Scotland.
The first of these claims of course is an unknown quantity. But given that BBC Scotland has produced some first class broadcasting, from dramas like Hamish Macbeth, to the wonderful products of the BBC Scotland Comedy Unit (Rab C Nesbitt, Chewin the Fat, etc), to children’s programmes like Balamory, that claim is highly insulting indeed. Where would the funding come from? From licence fee payers of course, just as the BBC is currently funded by licences.
As to watching the BBC costing more in an independent Scotland, looking at one of the largest cable / internet TV providers in the USA, Charter, I discovered that a internet / TV / phone package for 125 TV channels, including the BBC, costs US $29.99 per month. That equates to around GB £18.00 per month. Given that a UK TV licence costs £145.50, equating to £12.13 per month, then yes, that is more expensive. Consider however that the Charter package also includes internet and phone (and allows for HD) and one soon sees that in fact works out cheaper the BBC TV licence. The cheapest package I have seen, My-Expat-TV, offers UK broadcasting from as little as £5.00 per month.
And as far as Doctor Who is concerned, one claim I saw stated that Scottish viewers would not be able to enjoy “English-based BBC broadcasts”. I was very quick to point out that Doctor Who is in fact produced by – BBC Wales.
No more pandas
“No one has fully understood the ramifications for the Pandas of any bid for Scottish independence,” (Westminster spokesman, 12 January 2012)
The inference here was that as the giant pandas currently in Edinburgh Zoo were officially a gift to the UK government, they would be fully within their rights to demand they be handed over.
Tian Tian (Sweetie) and Yang Guang (Sunshine) may indeed have arrived in Edinburgh Zoo in September 2011 as officially a gift to the UK government, however that gift was as a result of the Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, travelling to China to negotiate trade agreements.
Officially whichever spokesman came out with this is correct; Westminster could indeed demand that the giant pandas be handed over. But if they did, just how petty and small-minded would that make the UK government look in Scotland, in England even, and on the world stage? Only a government intent on political suicide and international condemnation would ever behave in such a churlish manner.
Of course it may be a concern to the government that given there is only one Conservative MP in Scotland, our giant pandas outnumber Tories by 2 to 1.
The oil will soone be gone…
When I first became politically aware in the 1970s (aye – I’m an auld bugger, get over it), there was then a campaign for a devolved Scottish parliament (which the SNP hoped would be the first step to independence), and the war cry then was that the oil would be gone “in ten years time”. Forty years later, the oil is still here, and we have heard the same old nonsenese ever since.
“some private oil companies now predict that we will run out of gas or cease to be self-sufficient by the end of the 1980s” (Conservative MP Timothy Eggar, House of Commons, 19 January 1982)
“North sea revenues will be running out before the end of the decade.” (Labour MP Jeff Rooker, House of Commons, 10 April 1984).
“By 2020, oil and gas production could be one-sixth of today’s level, according to the most pessimistic forecasts – enough to meet only 8 per cent of UK demand. Despite the soaring oil price, companies are drilling fewer exploration wells in the North Sea and investment levels have also started to fall. Malcolm Webb, chief executive of the trade association Oil & Gas UK, warns that unless these trends are reversed, some nine billion barrels of oil and gas – about nine years’ worth of production at today’s levels – could be left at the bottom of the sea forever.” (Tim Webb, The Observer, 4 May 2008)
Really? Well that seems to completely at odds with then Government Minister John Hayes, who stated in the House of Commons on 14 March 2014, “The North sea has been a major UK success story, and oil and gas will continue to play a key role in the energy mix for years to come. The Government continue to promote activity and investment in the North sea, and we maintain a close dialogue with the industry on how to support its continued development.”
In fact, in 1974 Professor Gavin McCrone was commissioned to produce a report for the then Conservative government of Edward Heath to determine the effect of North Seal oil and gas wealth. In that report he stated that the impact of oil wealth could make an independent Scotland “as rich as Switzerland.” and that the Scottish Pound would be one of the hardest currencies in Europe. As Heath’s government fell, McCrone passed the report to the Labour government of Harold Wilson. In subsequent investigations civil servants, including Professor McCrone, surmised that with oil Scotland’s “economic problems will disappear” and that an independent Scotland would be “the Kuwait of the Western world”. The McCrone report and findings were buried as top secret, until they and civil servants findings were released under the 30 year rule in 2005, and by SNP Freedom of Information requests.
If they told lies then, why should we believe them now? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Faslane forcibly annexed by the Royal Navy
“The sovereign base area is an option – it is an interesting idea because the costs of moving out of Faslane are eye-wateringly high.” (‘Government source’, The Guardian, 11 July 2013)
The government was quick to dismiss this statement the following day, but only after very vocal opposition to it, stating “This government has not commissioned contingency plans over Faslane. No such ideas have come to SoS [Secretary of State] or PM. They would not support them if they did.”
Despite this, No campaigners to this day maintain that Faslane would be annexed by the UK Ministry of Defence.
Scotland Versus the Flying Saucers
“In the past, the threats we faced came only from the sea, from land and, more recently, from the air. Now, they also come from two new domains – space and cyberspace – and from non-state protagonists as well as from nation states.” (Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond, speech during visit to Scotland, 15 April 2014)
Yes folks, he really did say threats from space. Keep taking the tablets Phil.
The scarier part? At the time this guy was in charge of UK defence. Where’s Dr Strangelove when you need him most?
End of the World
“The loudest cheers for the breakup of Britain would be from our adversaries and from our enemies. For the second military power in the West to shatter this year would be cataclysmic in geopolitical terms… Nobody should underestimate the effect all of that would have on existing global balances and the forces of darkness would simply love it.” (Former UK Defence Secretary and former Secretary-General of NATO, Lord George Robertson, 7 April 2014)
In short, vote Yes and you’ll upset the balance of power, throw the world into chaos, perhaps even a global thermonuclear war.
Frankly, for a country which the No campaign are continually dismissing as “too wee, too puir, too stupid”, I suppose we should for once actually consider it a compliment that the unionists see us as so very important on the world stage.
So, there it is folks. Just some of the arguments which the No campaign have put forward about the prospect of Scottish independence; and in each and every case they have been all too serious about them. Faced with such logic, how would you vote? I certainly know that these claims have made me all the more determined to vote YES on 18 September 2014.