January, 2014, and it feels as if the Scottish Independence Debate has lost momentum. Is it the 'lull before the storm' - or that shuffling, whispering interval you get half way through a pantomime, that brief interlude of surreal peace and calm before the frenzy of 'Oh yes we can ......' 'Oh no you can't.....' starts up again?What course the independence debate will take during the the final 'act' remains to be seen but, given that neither side has any verifiable facts to offer the info-hungry ranks of the undecided, it seems to me that - unless something happens to push voters one way or the other - the argument will get sillier and probably nastier.
The SNP 'White Paper' might as well have been a colourful leaflet handed out in the street for all the impact that it had. Did the SNP really believe that any sane person was going to sit down and read through what amounts to a 670 page long election manifesto? And now they are demanding that the 'NO' camp reciprocate by publishing their 'vision' for the future of Scotland, trying to provoke a response which would turn the already rarefied nature of the debate into a competition to see which side has the most fertile imagination.....
The Unionists, for their part, seem intent on persuading the undecided - and probably a great many 'NO' voters as well - to vote 'YES'. Apparently there's a plan afoot to 'lovebomb' Scotland with images of English celebrities pleading with the Scots to stay in the UK. Maybe, come September, Gareth Malone will have the entire population of England singing 'Stay with me ...' in perfect harmony...... [More likely, it'll be David Beckham and Russell Grant standing on Hadrian's wall, wearing kilts, singing 'Ye canna shove yer granny aff a bus...'] Who are these people? And who do they represent? From my experience, most [English] people don't care whether or not Scotland leaves the UK - and quite a few wish that the Scots would just get on with it.
Scottish independence is a perfectly reasonable proposition and there might never be a better time for Scotland to set itself up as an independent country.The choice is clear and simple but months and months of claim and counter claim will have done more to baffle the electorate than enlighten them - and there's still eight months of 'the debate' to go.The trouble is, that, once you get beyond the basic premise, i.e. become independent or stay within the UK, you're in the nether world of speculation . Faced with this situation, it seems likely to me that the 'YES' camp will resort to that ancient Scottish tradition, namely: when all else fails, have a moan about the English.
Andrew Marr has warned about the potential for growing Anglophobia as the referendum approaches and the fact that the SNP chose to hold the vote shortly after the 700th anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn suggests that they believe that there are 'YES' votes to be gained by playing the anti-English card. [Imagine an in-out EU referendum planned to coincide with the anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar, or D Day....].
Terms such as 'English colonialism', 'thirldom' ['thraldom'?], ' overlordship', 'fiefdom' are bandied about on the internet and even Radio Scotland as if they were relevant to Scotland's current situation - and Gordon Wilson - former leader of the SNP - has urged Alex Salmond to direct his campaign at 'the Southern cancer', 'the rapacious greed of Southern England...'.
The nationalists like to portray England - especially the South - as right wing, upper class, racist etc. and I'm sure that, like every country, England has its fair share of fascists and bigots but nothing is ever as clear cut as demagogues like Salmond would have us believe. Here are some 'FACTS' from the 2010 UK election results:
ENGLAND AS A WHOLE SOUTH EAST ENGLAND
Conservative 39.6% 298 MP's Conservative 49.9% 75 MP's Labour 28.1% 191 MP's Labour 16.2% 4 MP's
Libdem 24.2% 43 MP's Libdem 26.2% 4 MP's
UKIP 3.5% ---------- UKIP 4.1% ----------
BNP 2.1% ----------- BNP 0.7% ----------
Green 1.0% 1 MP Green 1.4% 1MP
Labour 36.6% 38 MP's
Conservative 34.5% 28 MP's
Libdem 22.1% 7 MP's
UKIP 1.7% ---------
On these figures, it's clear that the South East of England is a Tory heartland - though not in any way ultra right-wing - but it's also clear that London, like Scotland, would have elected a Labour administration with an overall majority......[London also has a higher unemployment rate - 8.1% - than Scotland - 6.4% - even higher than Glasgow...]
Gordon Wilson also talks of Scotland having 'the moral support' of the North of England [ presumably in terms of left of centre voters]. Has he never heard of Tatton's Golden Triangle? or seen pictures of Harrogate?
The national average for school-age children who attend private schools is 7%. In Edinburgh it's 25%.
There are palm trees in Plockton and icy winds in East Anglia.
A proportion of Scots will have benefitted from the Poll Tax, a great many English people will have lost out because of it [ myself included, Poll Tax x 2 = 30% more than Rates, despite my wife having no income.]
Nothing is ever black and white - vote 'YES' and free Scotland from the REAL tyrants: distortion and myth....