Since the inception of this Independence Referendum campaign there have been cringe-worthy contributions from either side. But the good will shown by Salmond and Cameron at Aberdeen dissipated almost immediately on the NO side. Against a YES campaign that laid out far more detail than any government ever has prior to a general election, NO supporters have delivered only a dreary barrage of simplistic questions repeated in the teeth of answers given.
But worst of all—and most damaging to encouraging those entitled to vote to engage in this crucial debate—has been a catalogue of unsubstantiated and largely untrue assertions that may qualify as the most stultifying misleading campaign posture Scotland has ever had to suffer. To quote, only in part, a representative cross-section:
- “Yes vote is a threat to freedom”
- “Independent Scotland’s economy would crash if it tried to use sterling”
- “Go-it-alone Scotland ‘defenceless’: Nation will be left without weapons”
- “Mortgages up £1600 if Yes”
- “Scottish yes vote could lead to currency limbo, say MPs”
- “Postal costs in Scotland could rise after independence, say MPs”
- “Scotland and the UK will separate geographically, as well as politically”
- “Yes could be catalyst for sterling crisis”
- “Yes will send shares crashing”
- “Labour claim 1m may lose jobs after independence”
- “Darling: Independence could cost Scotland £8bn”
- “700,000 to Leave if Union is Broken”
- “Yes vote would lead to economic crisis worse than the crash”
- “UK split to set back cure for cancer”
- “Gordon Brown raises organ-transplant fears ahead of referendum”
- “Alex Salmond Is A ‘Prototype Dictator’ And ‘Master Of The Borg’”
- “Juncker Ends Salmond’s European Dream”
- “Scotland’s tourism industry is threatened by independence”
- “Split ‘may cost Scots £400m for welfare IT’
- “Yes vote pension cost warning“
- “Vulnerable people could lose benefits in an independent Scotland“
- “Bank bailout doubt if Scots vote to quit UK“
- “Independent Scotland Could Suffer Iceland-Style Financial Collapse“
- “Consumers would snub separate Scotland’s brands“
- “Scottish independence ‘would harm world’s poorest’”
- “Go-alone Scotland faces ‘threats from space’”
- “Scottish Independence ‘Will Lead to Soaring Energy Bills’”
- “Scotland faces £143bn debt after independence”
- “Fears for fishing in breakaway Scotland”
- “Thousands of defence jobs will be at risk if Scotland votes Yes”
- “Scottish independence will cause civil war in Africa”
- “Scottish independence ‘would be cataclysmic for the world”
None of the above come from hot-headed local leaflets: all were carried by public media—who don’t emerge from all this smelling too sweet themselves.
This blog had always been clear, consistent and, I hope, rational in its support for independence. In holding to that, it has not responded to the wilder fringes of unionist abuse in kind. Nonetheless, it is difficult to maintain objectivity in the face of such unprincipled and unsubstantiated scaremongering. No wonder it is dubbed “Project Fear”: no matter how senior their spokespersons, double standards prevail: e.g. a mindless repetition of “What IS the currency Plan B” while denying any need to detail the “Devo Max” to which all unionist parties are supposedly agreed.
Much flaky tat comes from the Westminster nomenklatura—those with much to lose if their UK gravy train were derailed—which is a disservice to those uncommitted genuinely trying to get valid questions answered. Even blogs like this accept that reasoned arguments for the union exist. But this deluge of theatrical exaggeration, verging on abuse insults the intelligence of all voters, not just YES supporters. Which means, in turn, the positive arguments for the union—whose existence no enlightened YES supporter has ever denied—are being drowned out.
So an undecided quarter of all voters, bombarded by lurid non-information, are tuning out this crucial debate on the most important decision they will ever make because of nauseating cacophony assaulting them at every turn. If both sides don’t tone it down and avoid dissuading our many switherers from voting at all, then Sep 18th will drift into a tie, conclude nothing and the whole circus will roll on indefinitely.