An Orkney Vole is not the smartest beast so the Mole using material from Mr. Lyon tried to tell me all about the Scottish Question, EVEL and how come the people who won the Referendum look so upset.
It now seems a very long time since David Cameron stood at a lectern in Downing Street, declared the Independence Referendum as done and dusted, and in the same speech turned the focus on English votes for English laws.
But now the victors now look like the defeated. The Tories continue to be haunted by Europe and harried by UKIP down south. A directionless Labour are falling apart under a gaff-prone leader, and a disastrous rejection by the Scottish people. The Liberals have lost all credibility since they swapped principles for power and joined a government that punished the poor for the greed of City gamblers. At the same time the SNP have trebled their membership to become the UK’s third biggest party, and the Scottish Greens have increased their numbers by several thousand.
How on earth did this come about? The major UK parties, Liberals, Labour and the Tories, were all joined at the hip. They were supported by the Treasury, almost all of the English and Scottish press and an unchallenging BBC. So why have they turned out now to be regarded almost with contempt by the Scottish people?
Let’s look at their behaviour in the period just before the referendum. Up until about a week before, network TV and the London national papers weren’t looking in our direction. They seem to have decided long ago that the Scots would never want to leave the UK. A couple of weeks before the very possible liquidation of their country, what did they decide was the big story? A Tory MP defects to UKIP and wins a by-election.
Then comes the wake-up call. About seven days before the Referendum a private Labour party poll showed Yes at 53%. According to another for the SNP the figure was 54%. You Gov polls, which had been showing a narrowing of the gap, suddenly showed a lead for Yes.
Immediately panic set in. Faced with humiliation, and the loss of billions of pounds of oil and whisky revenue, the Three Amigos, Cameron, Clegg and Millibland, jetted in. What could they do? They couldn’t change the offer – the Edinburgh Agreement forbade any change within 28 days of the poll. So what did they do? They simply ignored the Edinburgh Agreement and published ‘The Vow’ in Labour-supporting tabloid the Daily Record. The ‘Vow’ promised more powers to the Scottish Government, but failed to specify them. It also promised complete Scottish control of the NHS here (which it has anyway), but failed to point out that the level of funding to run it would still be decided in London. The extra powers would be recommended by the Smith Commission following consultation, and put to the Westminster Parliament after the 2015 UK election, following a very tight timetable.
So far, so vacuous. After making promises so vague that they could deliver next to nothing and still say they’d kept their word, they trundled out ‘Big Beast’ Gordon Brown. Broon made an impassioned appeal to the people, particularly his Labour people, to vote for the union. Or rather he tried to scare the old folk by telling them they would no longer get their pension if Yes won. This was a barefaced lie, as the Treasury had confirmed in January 2013 that a Yes vote would not affect the state pension. These were pensions declared in November last year to be the lowest in Europe. Low or not, who would want to lose their pension? After this, 75% of the over-65s voted No.
And during this last week was our BBC doing its job, challenging and testing claims by both sides, impartially, according to its charter? Er…not really. It simply reported manufactured stories suggesting that RBS was to move its headquarters to London after a yes vote, along, seemingly with thousands of jobs. That supermarket chains after a summons to Downing Street, would increase their prices. That a routine NHS report showed a £500m funding gap. (Senior BBC journalist Douglas Fraser later admitted on Twitter that this was ‘incorrect’.)
In fact our state broadcaster carried nothing Yes-related during this period, in direct violation of its charter.
So what was the result of these snake-oil sales techniques, tacitly endorsed by the BBC? Tory benefactor Lord Ashcroft analysed our voting behaviour, and found that 9% of No voters decided to vote No in the last week of the campaign – enough to reverse the result predicted by the polls a few days earlier.
The main concerns of No voters? Pensions, the currency and the NHS – the three things that Better Together and the Labour Party targeted with scare stories during the campaign, and which the BBC so obligingly and unquestioningly broadcast.
Clearly the evidence shows that these unethical actions won the day for the unionists.
The media spent two years attacking Yes on Plan B, on the currency, on Europe, telling us we wouldn’t be able to get Eastenders (if only), we’d have border guards at Berwick, and other such bruck. Then along comes the Vow, which effectively promises nothing. It contains not one single specific power. Yet the press refuses to challenge or criticise it.
But what’s the picture now? Eight weeks after the vote, the newspapers are reporting everything they ridiculed Yes for. Our NHS is under threat, they say. Our oil will last for 100 years. Sir Ian Wood (who said it would last only 30 years) has been granted the licence to frack our land. We are engaged once more in foreign wars, and the UK could soon drag Scotland out of the EU in a referendum.
The UK establishment turned all its big guns and billions in Tory funding on Yes, and they won the vote. They won because of relentless negativity and playing on people’s fears. They settled the Scottish question – but not for ever.
The Mole was helped with material published by David Lyon.