Is anyone listening any more? The independence debate is now a fixture in the traditional tale “The Little Chief Executive Who Cried Wolf”. We got a few more half hearted scare stories today, courtesy of the usual suspects. The construction of the scares is now so flimsy that you no longer require specialist demolition equipment to raze them to the ground, they fall apart as soon as you prod them with a 10 foot barge pole dipped in disinfectant. But then shoddy standards are what we’ve come to expect from Westminster.
First up is Archie Norman, the chief executive of ITV. Erchie has warned that the Scottish Government has no economic plan for an independent Scotland and has called on Scots to vote no. He may or may not have threatened that he won’t let us watch Corrie if we’re independent, but I’d given up reading his scare by the first sentence in the report. The first sentence being the one that mentioned, as an aside, that Erchie used to be the Tory MP for Tunbridge Wells.
So the content of this scare story can be summed up as “Outraged Tory from Tunbridge Wells thinks independence is a bad idea”. Like that’s going to swing opinions in Easterhoose, especially when they find out that Erchie is also a former English public schoolboy who went to Cambridge University – because folk like that really have their fingers on the pulse of working class Scottish concerns.
Erchie’s impression of a green crayon letter writer to the Telegraph was quickly followed by a report from Labour’s favourite Scottish think tank, the Centre for Public Policy and the Regions (CPPR) based at Glasgow University. The CPPR has published a study based on forecasts from George Osborne’s Office for Budget Responsibility which allegedly prove that the oil is going to run out next week and Scotland’s finances are facing a black hole bigger than the excavations for London Crossrail. Oil forecasts from the OBR have now attained almost mythic status, up there with the record executive who refused to sign the Beatles saying there was no future in pop groups. There’s a future for the OBR however, it will continue to Twist and Shout right up to September and won’t Let It Be no matter how much the oil industry dismisses their forecasts.
The two lead researchers for the CPPR are John McLaren and Jo Armstrong, both of whom were advisors to previous Labour / Lib Dem administrations at Holyrood. McLaren was also previously a researcher for Labour. Armstrong was an advisor to Jack McConnell, and is known as a proponent of privatisation. Associates of the organisation include, or have included, Brian Ashcroft (husband of Wendy Alexander), and Jim Gallagher – the civil servant responsible for writing the Calman Commission report and recently appointed as an advisor to Better Together.
Three years back, before becoming an SNP MSP, Joan McAlpine listed numerous other connections between the Labour party and the CPPR in her blog. It’s well worth a read, and kept in mind whenever another report from the organisation is published in the Scottish media as a “neutral” intervention in the independence debate – interventions which invariably consist of a sucking noise followed by the words “nae ye cannae”. Despite Joan’s calls for greater transparency in links between think tanks and political parties, the BBC still cites them without a health warning.
So we can sum the latest warning from the CPPR, something about the oil running out next month or something (see, I’m no longer paying attention) as “Labour party advisors advise that independence will bring about your doom”. Nope. I’m still not scared.
And then we had a cherry picked report from the New York based financial company Blackrock. Despite the headline from the BBC, helpfully pointing out that the company warns there are “risks” to independence. The report also states financial companies are unlikely to flee south of the border after September but says that given the stance adopted by the Unionist parties, a currency union does not look feasible. Guess which bit got prominence in the media?
Meanwhile Labour has announced that it will back Osborne’s plans for pension reform, which benefit better off pensioners but no one lese. The party will also support the Tory plan to cap benefits payments at a total figure of £119.5 billion in 2015. The cap will include Housing Benefit and disability payments. So if you are unfortunate enough to have complex care needs and even worse you live in private rented accommodation, you can at least take comfort in the fact that Labour thinks you’re the best person to reduce the national debt.
Think of it as a back to work strategy from the caring UK. Former Tory MPs, Labour think tanks, and financial companies want you to pay so they don’t have to. It’s the redistributive Union in action, redistributing cash from poor to rich, redistributing facts from truth to lies.