What would be a truly Scottish outcome to the referendum? A late surge wins it for Yes? Stalled Yes support leads to easily win for NO? How about this: Yes wins the arguments but narrowly loses the vote….
Doesn’t that sound exactly like the type of result we’re used to? Scotland nearly gets it right. Despite all the evidence pointing one way, just not enough Scots were convinced to back the plan that would set them on the road to prosperity. And the alternative? More years of austerity with falling living standards as hopes for extra powers fade when Tories close gap on Labour.
As part of a kenspeckle life in the media I was for a while a reporter on church affairs (no, not the Cardinal-type of affairs). In that guise I covered the General Assembly and one of my favourite moments was when the immensely talented and irascible Rev Andrew Herron ran the Kirk like Moses with the staff of righteousness in one hand, a lamb under his arm and the burning bush behind him – or so it seemed. It was from this formidable and widely-loved minister that I first heard the old saw about the sinner who thinks he’s done his best only to be told by the Almighty he was being diverted from the Gates of Heaven to Lucifer’s door for a slate of misdemeanours of which he claimed to know nothing. “But, Lord,” he wails. “I didna ken…” I can still hear Herron’s voice of doom today.
You see, I detect a threadbare tone to the scaremongering – all that stuff about costing us hundreds of pounds each for being independent, neatly omitting the bit about our living standards falling with no prospect of improvement and public spending down to the levels of 1948. If it’s a few hundred quid we’re missing, I suggest binning the Trident replacement. And wasn’t it proto-Tory Danny Alexander who told us a year ago we might be up to one pound worse off? He’s changed his mind now. I wonder what all those Highland Lib Dems make of the activities of young Danny now and if they ask themselves what Russell Johnson would be saying. (I did love a dram with Sir Russell, a fag sucker like myself in those days and utter dependable for a bit of subterfuge and bitchy gossip – about his own side of course. That’s the whole point of an hour in the bar).
I also think the EU argument has pretty much corpsed. They’re limited to quoting Barroso now with no attempt at saying what it actually means because there is no answer.
The currency is laughable, especially after the Debt admission. I take it that’s why “Westminster sources” – I guess Fluffy Mundell again – has been briefing that Salmond is boxed in on the date of independence as March 2016. This looks like an attempt to wrest back the initiative after being routed over the debt promise by the Treasury. Here’s a question: Supposing the negotiations take longer than 18 months, what happens? Chaos, screams Westminster. But why? They’ll take as long as they need and if the date slips, what changes…? Johann will say Salmond missed his deadline and he’ll blame London. Also, why would a journalist buy the line that London needs only to sit on its hands and delay without agreeing anything while the date gets closer? You have to be joking. This is a massive embarrassment to London who will want a speedy settlement – I do not say an easy one – but a speedy one to show the world that it can still run its affairs efficiently. The whole onus is on London now that they have the debt burning a hole in their pocket.
In relation to all those international treaties Scotland will have to sign up to and it taking for ever. It’s not true. Almost of all them are automatic in that they will continue to apply to Scotland until a formal signing takes place and some of them we probably don’t need at all.
It may of interest that I emailed one of the lawyers who wrote the British government’s legal advice on the status of Scotland – I wont say which one because I suppose it may be technically private email correspondence – and he told me that the only international agreement Scotland will require to be smart about is EU membership. The UN, NATO and every fisheries, compliance and legal treaty will be a formality…although I personally think some finesse will be needed on NATO. We need to make sure we don’t swallow the lies coming from those brave Scots in the London government bending the ear of journalists.
My point is that the Unionist argument is unravelling and by polling day it will be the fearful and the gullible who still buy the line that they aren’t worth their own independence. But that might be enough, just enough, to win for No. And from then on we will hear them complain that they didn’t realise what would happen, they were told everything would be fine and we’d get Devo Max and it was too risky to back independence and I will hear again the voice of the Rev Herron booming down the years delivering his killer line from the Almighty… “Well, ye ken noo…”by