The Double Negative of the independence referendum

 

UPDATE: Just over 24 hours until polls close I’m laying my cards on the table, Scotland will reject independence with the following result: YES: 43.4%    NO: 56.6%    turnout 87.2%

My rationale for the above . . . the timidity of the NO voters …nobody wants to be seen to be ‘unpatriotic’ in front of friends and family…so people tend to tell pollsters they’re YES when in fact they’re NO. This is based on my own experience of talking to friends and family in Scotland. The YES vote has been obviously noisier and on occasion coarser..it’s already inherently more of a strain to say you’re against something than to say you’re for something, doing so in the face of pretty forceful opposition tends to quieten the ardour even  further…the love for NO will flourish inside the privacy of a polling booth. A well-known World Service presenter put it well, the NO voters are like Tory voters in England…they tend to keep quiet but there’s an awful lot of ’em about.

 

 

 

It’s the final day I cannot ignore all the talk during the Independence Referendum campaign on the negativity of the NO campaign, but if you really delve down you’ll find both sides equally up on the down aspect so to speak.

 

Irvine Welsh sums up the NO campaign well with this . . .

 

irvine-1

 

He has a point. The NO campaign decided early on to go for the cold, hard facts of the economic disadvantages that would befall an independent Scotland. As a Peterhead fisherman yesterday on the World Service’s Business Daily pithily said, “We’d be like Greece, but without the sunshine”. That’s not to say Scotland could not support itself…it could, but with one hand tied behind its back Greek style it would be missing out on the juicy cut of the Barnett formula which is to say Scotland accounts for about 8.3% of the UK population but receives about 9.2% of the public spending. If the Barnett formula were a cow, Scotland gets the filet mignon. Yes, yes I know there’s oil to be factored in to that equation post any YES vote, and yes if Scotland had total control of the North Sea revenues that would be a massive boost, but would you found a nation’s prosperity on an inherently dwindling resource?

All the same I like my campaigns top be a bit more positive. The Better Together campaign should have been the guy at the party who, when things are flagging at 2am, urges everyone on down the road to a pumping secret rave …. maybe Spud style “wi a wee dab ae speed” to get things really cooking.

 

The negativity of the YES campaign is best summed up by another Welsh quote, this time from Trainspotting . . .

— It’s aw a loaday shite anyway, Sick Boy meekly counters, using one of this classic tactics. If you can’t win the fine detail of an argument, then rubbish its context*

 (*eagle-eyed readers will know this is one of my favourite quotes, and yes it can be twisted to any topic, any time …however, it is particularly apt here)

The absence of Nationalism in the debate has been noted by myself already, both sides in this battle would probably concede that people voting for independence are not doing so out of a strong sense of Scottish pride rather the refrain from Salmond and others in the SNP has been a constant and I think quite effective: save Scotland from “a government we didn’t elect”. . . “out of touch Westminster elites”…as if London were some far-away el Dorado; its streets paved with the skins of Jarrow marchers on which Tory toffs prance daily. People are voting YES for very similar reasons to those who voted for UKIP back in the May European elections –they want to stick one in the eye of the ruling establishment. It wouldn’t have made a blind bit of difference had Labour or the Lib Dems been in power right now the rhetoric would have been the same (witness Ed Milliband’s ugly heckling yesterday in Edinburgh).

And who can blame them? Back during the height of the ecomomic crisis in 2008/2009 a good friend wondered aloud what “all this” was doing to society? What he meant by ‘all this’ was a political and financial elite who placed giant bets on red and when it came up black they kept their Maseratis while we, the taxpayers, bailed them out. What we saw in May and what we’re seeing as part of the YES campaign is a continuation of this subtle form of class warfare. When the likes of David Nish of Standard Life speak ominously about how “operations” might have to move south in the event of a YES vote they are to all intents and purposes speaking to a blank wall, the people they’re trying to convince think they — the financiers — should be in jail not on a soapbox pontificating about Scotland’s future. I have some sympathy for this view — the gamblers who created the 2008 shock waves have, almost to a man, kept their positions and wealth without penalty. However, the solution to a system you don’t like is not simply and petulantly to do away with that system. The YES campaign are like those kids at school who when the footy wasn’t going their way would march off with the ball and one of the jumpers you were using for goalposts. We’d often find these moody moochers on another patch of green across town an hour or so later playing with another bunch and sure enough, when the game again started to slip away, they were off …harrumphing back to their maws. Voting YES because you hate Tories is a pretty shaky foundation on which to found a nation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

One Response to “The Double Negative of the independence referendum”
  1. Horseshoe bar girl says:

    Well said and I have to agree. Good writing … although the third paragraph did throw me as you were talking about filet mignon and then went on to talk about oil. I thought you were taking us on a culinary journey (I always did like the pieces you wrote about food – ok maybe you didn’t write many, perhaps only one, but maybe I always thought you should write more like that), only to realise that the type of oil you were talking about was not the olive variety! Anyway, glad that Scotland is with us … kind of!

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