It has been quite instructive reading and listening to the recent outpourings from the No campaign. There has been near unanimity among their own supporters that the No campaign is too negative and as a result is not working. They need to be more positive about the UK and all that. Yet, despite this, all we get is even more outlandish scare stories. Doom and gloom apparently is all that awaits us if we have the temerity to vote Yes. It seems that the No campaign is unable to change. I suspect this is because deep down even Unionists and Britnats know that there is no positive case for Scotland to remain in the UK.
It seems to me that there are only two reasons why someone would not want Scotland to become an independent country. The first is if that person feels his or herself British and not Scottish. Or at least primarily British. Their loyalty is to Britain and only secondarily to Scotland. The other reason is if someone is convinced that Scotland will be worse off if independent. Worse off economically, socially, security wise etc. This is the too wee, too poor syndrome. I cannot think of any other reason why someone, particularly someone living in Scotland and with the right to vote in the referendum, would choose to vote no.
The claim that an independent Scotland would be too poor and too wee to become a thriving country is so blatant a lie that it only survives due to its constant repetition by a largely uncritical media. There is thankfully plenty of evidence from reputable sources both in Scotland, the UK and elsewhere that demonstrate beyond doubt that Scotland is a resource rich country. The scare stories that constantly assail us – mortgages will go up, food will cost more, taxes will go up etc, are all based on this strange Unionist notion of Scottish exceptionalism – that Scotland and only Scotland, among all the small independent countries in Europe, will suffer untold doom as a result of independence. Unfortunately for the No campaign more and more Scots are seeing through this nonsense. Many have actual experience of visiting some of these other small independent countries, others know people who have visited these countries and of course many of our fellow citizens have come to live here from these small independent countries. The unanswered question for the No campaign is, if every other small country has made the successful transition to independence, why cannot Scotland? They have no answer which is why they just ignore it and carry on with the lies and scaremongering.
The other basis of the No campaign – an appeal to Britishness, is no more convincing. It undoubtedly appeals to many, probably most, of those who feel themselves to be primarily British. However that is very much a minority of the population in Scotland. The overwhelming majority of Scots regard themselves as either wholly or mainly Scots and not British. This appeal to Britishness is also a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand if the appeal is to our shared history and values across the islands, this must include the people who now live in the Republic of Ireland. For most of that country’s modern history it has been part of the English crown and then latterly an integral part of the UK. So it is very hard to think of any values that are shared by the English, the Scots, the Welsh and the Northern Irish, that are not also shared by the citizens of the Republic of Ireland. The mere existence of the Republic of Ireland is of course something that Unionists like to just ignore. Especially the fact that no-one in Ireland thinks they would be better off by rejoining the UK. So to the extent that there are shared values, then they do not depend on a political union, as is proved by the Republic of Ireland.
If on the other hand, the appeal is to solidarity with people living in the rest of the UK, this too is rather problematical. Labour is particularly keen to use this appeal. Working class Scots have more in common with working people in Liverpool, Bradford, Cardiff and Belfast than with rich, landowning Scots. Which to a large extent is true, but so what? Why does solidarity with working people have to stop at England, Wales and Northern Ireland? Does the working class of Dublin not also merit our solidarity? Or the working classes in Denmark, Spain, Greece. To exalt solidarity with working people in the rest of the UK to the exclusion of working people elsewhere is to come very close to appealing to British nationalism. Now let me make it clear there is nothing inherently wrong with this. An inclusive, civic British nationalism is neither better nor worse than an inclusive, civic Scottish nationalism. However nearly everyone in the No campaign is at pains to point out that nationalism is bad and Scottish nationalism is really, really bad. But they cannot have it both ways. Well they can try, but the more they appeal to a sense of Britishness the clearer it becomes that deep down they are at heart British nationalists. This of course brings us nicely to the heart of the referendum. Which is about democracy and who decides. Should the future of Scotland be decided by the people who live in Scotland or by people who live elsewhere in the rest of the UK.
So in essence then the No campaign is based on a lie and an emotional appeal to a dying sense of Britishness which verges on British nationalism. There is nothing else. So we should not be surprised that the No campaign will simply up the ante and get even nastier as we get closer to referendum day. They have no alternative. Be prepared for lots of lovebombs without the love!