Despite Jittery January, Fearful February and Monstering March, Scots resolutely refuse to believe the warnings issuing one after another from BetterDaeAsYerTelt. The no vote has not shown any signs of rising. Quite the reverse, a new opinion poll commissioned by the excellent Newsnet Scotland has confirmed the pattern from other recent polls – the gap between yes and no continues to narrow. A three percent swing would see yes take the lead – and yes is already leading amongst certain age groups.
The no campaign’s strategy is clearly not working. Och the shame. All those resources, all those Westminster big beasts (incidentally, I’m not sure what is so great about being a big beast. Cows are big beasts. They’re still thick as shit.) , all those media supporters, and they still cannae beat a yes movement that relies upon the campaigning of ordinary punters who do it for free. Which if nothing else conclusively proves that the average Scottish punter is a much better political strategist than the supposed masters of the trade.
If nothing else, Scotland has proven that we don’t need Westminster in order to engage in popular democracy. In fact Scotland does it considerably better by itself. Independence movements without political violence are not commonplace. Scotland has proven it can achieve that, so the Scottish electorate can achieve anything. Our democratic credentials are impeccable. Which is more than can be said for Westminster politicians and their backroom deals to screw over the electorate.
After the embarrassing debacle of Labour’s devo-sleight-of-hand, executed with the finesse of a five year old in boxing gloves carrying out neurosurgery, it’s clear to everyone that no Westminster party is going to present substantive proposals for further devolution. Except possibly media pundits, who’ve already shown that they have their fingers on the pulse. The pulse in this case being a handful of stale lentils.
Scottish MPs are entrenched in their opposition, since they already have non-jobs and fear that further devolution will only expose their uselessness. But it’s too late for that, Scotland has already got them sussed. Episodes like Ian Davidson sticking the knife into his own constituents, the farce of Labour’s role in the Grangemouth fiasco, Danny Alexander gleefully promising ruin and devastation if we vote no, while equally gleefully imposing cuts and austerity, the sheer desperation of just about anything that comes out of Magrit Ma Weans Wull Be Furren Curran … and on and on and on … have shown that none of them put Scotland’s interests first.
What makes today’s poll even more worrying for Better Together’s strategists – that would be George Osborne with Danny Alexander nodding enthusiastically – is that polling was carried out before Johann Lamont announced Labour’s pitiful and incoherent devo proposals and before she did her interview with Gordon Brewer when she demonstrated that she didn’t understand the existing devolution settlement, never mind her new one.
It’s going to be difficult, if not impossible, for the unionist parties to come over positive all of a sudden. Who will believe them now they’ve spent the past two years doing an impression of Corporal Frazer sooking lemons. It’s now impossible for the three main unionist parties to present joint proposals – who is going to believe something cobbled together in a panic at the last minute?
There are signs that the Naw campaign is backtracking on some of its more ridiculous scares. Alistair Koalamichael has gone into reverse on Scottish membership of the EU, but he’s still trying to dress it up as something frightful. In today’s Scotsman, the UK cabinet’s voice in Scotland asserts that Scotland would get a “poor deal” from independent EU membership. This isn’t quite what he was saying a few months back, when he was trying to convince everyone that Scotland wouldn’t get membership at all. He has also conceded that Spain will not block Scottish membership after all, but still claimed that Spain and Croatia might have objections.
He cannae help himself, and was still spouting the moronic threat that Scotland may be forced to sign up to Schengen – the common travel area encompassing most EU states. Joining Schengen would mean Scots gaining passport free travel to other members of the Schengenzone, but since the rUK and the Republic of Ireland are not members, there would be passport controls at Berwick. What he hasn’t explained, and can’t explain, is which EU state or states are going to insist that Scotland joins the Schengenzone as a condition of membership. Alistair has obviously never looked at Hamlin’s Illustrated Atlas for Schoolchildren and Scottish Secretaries of State. Back in the real world, as opposed to the world of Alistair’s scary bedtime stories, there is no Schengenzone state with a border with Scotland, and no Schengenzone state whose interests would be compromised by Scotland remaining a member of the Common Travel Area with the rUK and the Republic of Ireland. Geography Alistair, geography.
The scares all rest on the premise that international bodies will treat Scotland the same way that Westminster treats us, with a mixture of scorn, contempt and dismissal, and a willingness to cut off their noses to spite their faces. Westminster can treat Scotland like that because Scotland is powerless under the Westminster system. There’s no come back, no consequences, so Westminster can do exactly as it pleases. And usually does.
But sovereign states must be treated with considerably more respect, and we will be masters in our own home. Carmichael claimed that Croatia may object to Scottish membership of the EU, forgetting that according to his own standards, Croatia with its population of 4.2 million (one million less than Scotland), and an area of 56,000 sq km (22,000 sq km smaller than the 78,000 sq km of Scotland) cannot possibly have any international influence at all – what with it been even weer than we are. And they don’t have any oil or Scotland’s embarrassing riches of natural resources either. Alistair didn’t bother giving any reasons why he thought Croatia might have problems with fast track Scottish accession to the EU. At this stage in the campaign it’s clearly enough just to cite some random country and hope that no one will notice the Clyde Tunnel sized hole in the argument.
Meanwhile the UK news cycle is dominated by the budget. It contained nothing to alleviate the poverty into which increasing numbers have fallen. It did nothing to counter the growing gap between rich and poor. It’s Westminster’s business as usual. We got the usual ritual assertions that Scotland would be impoverished, while Osborne presented a budget designed to attract voters in 2015’s General Election. The poor will still be expected to bear the burden of the UK’s economic strife. There was nothing there to convince Scotland that we are better together with Westminster’s bunch of wasters and wastrels.
So what’s next for Ali’s Army? More fear, more scares, more threats, of course. But don’t be surprised if the polls continue to narrow and we start to hear more of the warnings that a yes vote may not mean yes after all. The realisation is dawning on Scotland’s Unionist MPs that after September they may have the same employment prospects as a Jimmy Savile impersonator. They’ve already shown that they are willing to lie, to manipulate, to deceive. It’s Westminster’s comfort zone after all. Expect them to retreat further into it as the polls continue to narrow.