Is the No campaign losing the plot?
The cacophony of scare stories about Scotland does seem to have tipped from the bizarre to the gently unhinged. A year ago The Scotsman actually ran a headline saying that “Scots would lose the right to travel within EU”, according to an “expert” at Edinburgh University. Since then there’s been a drip feed of distressing propaganda all very reminiscent of the Tories pre-devolution messaging.
But of all the heart-warming stories that have been sent our way to enlighten the independence debate, from Skintland to Poundland, from ‘we’ll be forced to join the Euro’ to ‘we’ll be cast out from Europe’ (often, confusingly, simultaneously), to ‘they’ll take away the Pandas!’ – to that lovely story that ‘England could bomb Scottish airports’ - this Lottery one has got to be my very very favourite.
The Better Together campaign has suggested that Scotland has benefited from awards to the tune of £2.3bn in grants to good causes by the National Lottery since 1993. This, apparently was “another reason we are better together”. All of this would be at risk if we were to do anything foolhardy.
It’s got a lovely tone to it. It’s basically a variation on the handouts idea, whether that’s the ‘handouts’ of universal social provision that Johann Lamont’s going to put a stop to or the ‘£433 m handouts’ that the English Democrats decry.
We are beggars.
But the simple reality is that – not only did the Olympics scour Scottish charities for years – ‘Lottery figures show Scots charities losing’ - but the then much promised Olympics recompense (unsurprisingly) failed to materialise. In fact it caused a 12% drop in visitors.
Even The Scotsman revealed as far back as 2007 that good causes in Scotland faced losing an extra 51million on top of the multi-million-pound contribution they will already have to make to fund the Olympics. See here.
This is all intended to promote not just fear and a state of crisis and uncertainty, but really a sense of obedience. Some – like Pandagate and Poundland – backfire. I suspect that ‘they’ll take the Lottery away’ will go into this category. But others are too obviously attractive to eave alone. Expect the jobs, military, jobs, military mantra to be repeated until October 2014. Like a drum-roll. Trident is a doozey. Yet even the big bad ones often have surprisingly easy solutions, as Iain MacWhirter explains…
The defence secretary, Philip Hammond, warned that, after independence, Scotland would have to pay “billions” for the cost of relocating Trident. This wasn’t quite in the same league as losing the pandas, but was equally daft. I don’t recall the Ukraine being required to build bases in Russia for the nuclear weapons it returned in 1994. Scotland never asked for weapons of mass destruction in the first place. Anyway, there’s a simple enough solution: Trident nuclear warheads are moved by road convoy every year from Coulport to Aldermaston near Reading. Maybe they could just make a one-way trip in 2014. Scotland could pay for the diesel.