The Flumes of Project Fear 2

There were three big flumes at the Commonwealth Pool. They were colour-coded green blue and red. The widest one meandered slowly around the outside of the pool, the blue one a little more direct, while the red one was narrowest and was like being flushed down the loo. Like most big municipal swimming pools the Commie in Edinburgh had an urban myth about its flumes. The story was that persons unknown had glued razors to the flume rides and you would get slashed as you went whooshing down. Wee kids would spread the story and once you’d heard it you could never unhear it.

This urban myth is about the best we’ve heard so far from the Unionist media and their political allies. It is Project Fear 2 that we are hearing being screamed from every corner and every orifice of the press and broadcast outlets.

It’s a monotonous thing to have to repeat but we do not have a pluralist press reflective of the public outlook in Scotland, we have almost uniform hostility to the government we elected and the constitutional position backed by a majority of our MPs and MSPs and around 50% of the general public. It’s a truism and cliche but the media is bias toxic and one-dimensional.


But Project Fear 2 is not just a re-tread of the first go. The first campaign was awash with celebrity endorsements and pleas to ‘stay’ from everyone from David Bowie to Trinnie and Susannah, to Archie McPherson and Eddie Izzard. That may come again but it will be much harder to entice genuine passion for defence of the current UK.

In 2014 Britain was a pre-Brexit entity governed by the PR-friendly and superficially inoffensive David Cameron. Today it’s a sewer of standards in public office, a country presided over by a proto-fascist Home Secretary, a shambles of logistics and supply-chain chaos, and an economic basket-case. It is a union of horrendous and soaring social inequality the likes of which we’ve not seen in generations.

It’s an indefensible proposition.

This is not to say that the pre-Johnson Britain was one of sweetness and apple-pie, or free from corruption and at ease with itself. It was not any of these things. But the levels of consciousness about the state of elite rule and the awareness of social-crisis is by definition at a much wider and deeper scale than it was in 2014.

The Britain of the period before the 2014 referendum was one which had experienced years of Tory austerity. In fact between 2010 and 2019 more than £30 billion in spending cuts had been made to welfare payments, housing subsidies and social services (see Benjamin Mueller (24 February 2019). “What Is Austerity and How Has It Effected British Society?”. New York Times). It was not a pretty place. But Britain is broken today in a way it simply wasn’t at that time, and the unionists know this. This is a society deeply ill-at-ease with itself experiencing profound social trauma. There’s nothing to celebrate and little to defend. Corruption in British politics is so endemic it is part of the wallpaper, its is everyday, it is normal.

For these reasons fear and more fear-mongering is all we have heard so far from the defenders of Britain.

Their tactics so far are:

  1. Delegitimise any referendum in advance by framing it as ‘illegal’ ‘wildcat’ or irresponsible, thereby encouraging people to disown or withdraw from participation in advance.
  2.  Hope and pray that the Supreme Courts quash any attempt to hold any referendum: ‘Sturgeon pins hopes on ‘legal wheeze’ to hold new Scottish independence referendum’.
  3. Talk vaguely and repeatedly about future-scenarios where all this will just be wished away, from the evergreen ‘reform of the House of Lords’ to ‘Gordon Brown’s blueprint’ (coming soon!), to imagining a progressive Labour government, and so on ad nauseam.

This isn’t really going to work. The delegitimisation of the referendum in advance is a very risky business. Will the unionists have a united front to act in this way? If not they risk delegitimising their own delegimisation. Will Labour and Scottish Labour have learned nothing from 2014 in terms of the electoral costs of association with the Tories? It seems possible.

Neither is the possibility of a court ruling the slam-dunk that the oleaginous cult think it is. The reality is that there is a political mandate for a referendum and what will be perceived as an Anglo-British Court will not go down well. The ‘optics’ as they say will be shite.

Finally the rheumy-eyed idea of a reformed Britain has run out of political capital and credibility. We have all been there and done that and got the t-shirt. We have been lied to. We have also witnessed the period in between 2014 and now and witnessed the profound changes that have happened to Britain. They have not been progressive.

It’s also worth noting two further reasons for the need to repress and suppress any democratic event. Contrary to popular opinion, they’d lose. The first referendum started with Yes at 34% and made up to 51% with days to go triggering mass panic in London. We will start the next one on 50:50. That’s terrifying.

The second is that two million people who weren’t eligible to vote in 2014 will be eligible in 2023. How do you think they’re voting? That’s terrifying. So don’t think the fear is a one-way process. The reason that the British establishment is urging on its scribes to shape and curate the agenda as they are is that they have nothing left.

If Scotland can’t legislate for a referendum on its future, then it isn’t a functioning democracy, and that’s a real problem that won’t just go away.

The options for the unionist side are to choose a flume: red, green or blue? They all go in the same direction.

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Comments (14)

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  1. Cathie Lloyd says:

    Your last para reinforces the message that we need systematic canvassing to identify supporters of independence coupled with a drive to ensure that all are registered to vote. It seems unlikely that we will need photo id to vote in Scotland but we need to be prepared to respond quickly to. efforts to enforce this. I think we need to look carefully at the small tasks like this along with the necessary bigger brush approach.

  2. Iain Macphail says:

    There is a fingers-in-the-ears wilful ignorance from any pro-union commentator who thinks all they have to do is deflect, obfuscate & do “just enough” to win indyref2 & it’ll all go away.

    I like to point out to those folk they face 3 options, now that we are out the single market

    1) persuade team UK to return Scotland to the single market ahead of indyref2. This would almost certainly win them a reprieve at the indyref2 BUT we all know they can’t so they won’t (and world class farming & fishing & other export businesses in Scotland suffer every day we are outside the single market).

    2) they could do nothing (to address our economic & social & political concerns in post Brexit Britain) and deservedly lose indyref2


    3( they could scrape a narrow win by the black arts….but that does nothing to address the Rwanda policy or the economic damage of the single market situation, and it doesn’t address widening inequality, and it supercharges indyref3

    So far I’m ruling out 1, hoping for 2 but expecting team UK to do nothing to acknowledge or address the issues that drive the independence movement

    1. 220620 says:

      I’m not sure unionists have to do anything, let alone make a positive case for the union. The onus is on separatists to make a positive case for making the government of public affairs in Scotland independent of the government of public affairs in the rest of these islands, which the electorate can then vote for or against as the referenda in any future referendum on the matter. The only task the unionists need to undertake is to critique or cast doubt on that case.

      1. Unfortunately this is is true. Though it’s a risk for them. It’s not as if the ‘status quo’ is unshifting, normal or stable. It’s none of these things, so while in the past it would have been feasible to just say nothing at all or to say ‘everything’s fine’ – this has less credibility when people are tumbling into financial crisis and experiencing social trauma.

        1. 220620 says:

          But unionists aren’t saying nothing or that ‘everything’s fine’; they (right, left, and centre) have their own respective programmes for problem-solving change that don’t involve making Scottish government independent of the UK.

          The challenge for separatist parties is to each demonstrate to [enough of] the electorate that a) its own particular programme for change is the the ‘right’ one (the programme that’s most likely to be effective in bringing about the changes that they, the electorate, desire), and b) making Scottish government independent of the UK is required for the success of that programme.

          This is less of a challenge for nationalists, who believe that making Scottish government independent of the UK is good-in-itself, on the principle that the state ‘ought to’ coincide with the nation (rather than with some other level of community). But nationalism – independence for its own sake rather than as a means to something else – doesn’t seem to have the same purchase in Scotland as it arguably does (for example) in England.

          1. “But nationalism – independence for its own sake rather than as a means to something else – doesn’t seem to have the same purchase in Scotland as it arguably does (for example) in England…”

            That is true and a tragi-comic paradox I have been thinking about about.

          2. 220621 says:

            Perhaps the conclusion we may draw is that, in contrast to the imagined community of ‘England’, the appeal of independent government is more greatly limited in ‘Scotland’ to its usefulness, and that it needs to be marketed more for what it would be good for in relation to the diverse social hopes of ‘Scots’ in all their ideological variety than simply for the sake of nationalism.

  3. Chris+Connolly says:

    The media’s position is that democracy is only a good thing when your side is going to win.

    All the flim flam from the Unionists is utterly transparent. The reason they don’t want Indy Ref 2 is that they expect to lose. There’s not much more to say, really.

  4. Squigglypen says:

    Arlene Foster objected to Scotland wanting to leave the UK ..(being dragged out of the EU) …as a reason for wanting was after all a ‘democratic’ vote by the ‘british people’.( whoever they are)..and we live in a democracy. ( define Democracy…you do what the english government and Arlene tell ye) ..on the same program an obscure wee lassie plastered in make up told us that Nicola was VILE.
    This is a minute bit of the BILE we will be subjected to till we get to the Referendum, by dangerous NONENTITIES like Foster and Westmonster. Been there.. seen it.. done it. We carry on..bit like Sher Khan in Jungle Book when Kaa the evil snake tried to bamboozle him…Khan just bashed his paw doon on Kaa’s moosh and said..”I’ve no time for this sort of thing”… totally ignored him and carried on……
    I support UDI…a hard border decorated in tartan..passports for the English..that includes yoo Betty Windsor…but that’s another story…..I suggest Arlene you help your own country….stay with the english if you like..they pay better…’a bag o’ siller.’…as Burns said.

  5. gavinochiltree says:

    Some problems for the “nationalist separatists” (Labour and Tory) desperate to remain out of the EU, damaging trade here.
    Given that, they just sound daft shouting “narrow nationalist” to those of us who want to JOIN the world.
    The UK has a raft of problems, none of which will be solved by 2023.
    Cost of living
    Poor productivity.
    Declining standards of everything.
    Westminster in permanent shambles mode.
    For a lot of people, an alternative to that, would be welcome.
    We have everything we need for prosperity. Energy resources in abundance. Quality Food/drink production. Land. Water. Highly educated people. Europe seems to like us, in spite of the spite from some quarters…………..

    Who will lead for NO?
    Boris will soon be gone, but the Tory alternatives are pretty poor.
    Starmer doesn’t have it, and certainly not for Scots.
    Neither DRoss nor Starwars cut the mustard. Send for the Colonel?

    The media is partial and dishonest, but then it always has been while pro-Indy parties have been on the rise.

    The YES side have to be on the ball. Informed, answers nailed down, positive and telling a GOOD STORY.
    With a smile and a bit of banter.

    Independence is natural: the norm: worth the fight: good to have. Once attained, it is never surrendered!

  6. Alistair MacKichan says:

    The Inde pitch will certainly gain strength after the awful developments since 2014. Let’s say 60% of Scots supported Inde at a 2023 referendum. However, just a possibility, the organisation which organised the referendum ensured that ballot boxes in transit were flooded with illegitimate but hard-to-trace unionist votes, dead people in unoccupied homes, family members serving abroad in Forces, whatever, And after that dilution of the true balance of votes, had stooges placed among the counters, a unionist vote on top of 99 inde votes, banded in a bundle, counted as all unionist votes – it has been known. And then let us say that the figures fed into the comptometer somehow met an algorithm which said that 5% of the inde votes were somehow invalid – improperly presented, spoiled, requiring discard. I know all these ideas are silly, but I am aware that we do not live in a democracy any more, and I did hear that there was already a company selected for the administration of votes in Scotland which just happened to have Tory establishment figures in its directorate. Now that did worry me. Can we trust a referendum to be scrutinisable?

    1. 220621 says:

      Right enough! If the local authority returning officers and their staff, who administer all elections, including referendums in Scotland, will collectively rig the upcoming referendum just like they did the last one, it might be better not to bother holding it at all.

      BTW where did you hear that the conspiracy had already selected a private company to take over the corrupt administration of our elections from our local authorities?

  7. Jennifer Houston says:

    Project Fear? We have had it solid for two or three years now. 2020 and 2021 were built entirely around making the public frightened, causing a massive uptick in domestic abuse, bankruptcy and suicide. 2022 has seen global fear mongering increase – this year we have been told the spring storms would kill us, Putin would nuke us, monkeypox would infect us, and now we’re being told to panic about the economy. (It turned out shutting it down for months on end would cause supply chain issues around the world. Who’d have thunk it?) So, yes, we’ve had plenty of project fear, and the SNP’s indulged in it too.

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