According to the Guardian, a UK Government minister who the paper claims would play a major role in negotiations following a yes vote – so not Danny Alexander or Alistair Carmichael then – has admitted that a currency union would happen. According to some reports, the person in question is an “uncomfortably senior Tory”. Which rules out Vince Cable, who would otherwise be the likely suspect.
The truth is it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that our Westminster masters are beginning to realise that the independence campaign is not drowning under a tsunami wave of scare stories. Scotland has learned how to surf. The more they throw in, the higher yes rises.
It was another lost in translation problem with the Scottish vernacular, the UK Government didn’t understand at first that when Scotland responded to Osborne’s threat with “aye, that will be right”, we were not in fact agreeing with him. The penny has now dropped, along with Better Together’s poll ratings. Meanwhile the independence campaign keeps surfing higher.
The minister even admitted what many north of the Border have been saying for a while, that the no to a currency union is a tactic in the referendum campaign, but after a yes vote everything changes and there will be less of the foot-stamping petulance and more of the reasonable discussion on matters of mutual interest. He hinted that Westminster might be willing to enter a currency union, but only if Scotland will negotiate on, say, Trident removal. Which is bound to provoke another “aye, that will be right” from a considerable section of the Scottish populace. Getting rid of the weapons of mass destruction sitting 20 miles from Scotland’s largest population centre is a moral question. A currency union is a matter of money. I know which is more important because I’m not a Tory MP.
But the main point is that Better Together’s currency claims have been debunked, not by a pro-indy blogger, not by an economist, not even by a rogue backbencher. They were debunked by a UK Government minister at the very heart of the anti-independence campaign. Better Together has been sowing a minefield of lies. With a few words in the shell-like of a Guardian journalist who isn’t Severin Carrell, the anonymous minister deliberately trod on the biggest landmine in Project Fear’s armoury. The damage limitation squad was rapidly deployed, but the corpse of the currency threat has exploded into a pink mist. There’s nothing left to put back together.
Of course that hasn’t stopped Better Together’s bitter enders from trying. It’s just people being emotional, as Alistair Carmichael was trotted out to blubber, and as one insider said to the Guardian’s reporter:
“We went early with the currency union announcement in the hope that a rational, rather than an emotional, judgment will prevail among voters,” one Better Together source said. “But people have got to believe we mean it.”
And there’s their problem right there. People don’t believe Better Together on the currency, nor about anything much else. They’ve been caught out too many times in the past. These are the people who brought us the economic crisis, the war in Iraq, the expenses scandal, the lack of accountability in just about every UK institution you care to mention, and on and bloody on… You’d think they’d have realised that their credibility tanks contained nothing but a nasty smell.
In a referendum where the central question for the Unionist campaign is “does Scotland want to give Westminster another chance”, the low esteem in which the public hold the political classes demanded their truth and candour from the beginning. It required the renegotiation of public trust. It meant listening and learning. And if they’d done that they’d have realised that they should have snapped up the offer of a question on the ballot about enhanced devolution, and come up with a credible and meaningful proposal. We’d be in a whole different campaign, and Alistair Darling wouldn’t be knotting his distinctive eyebrows.
Instead we got a promise to conduct a positive campaign followed by a barrage of fear and scares. The entire premise of the Better Together campaign strategy is itself a lie. Disnae bode well for the rebuilding of public trust does it. And now one of their insiders has more or less admitted they’ve been lying on the currency all along.
Better Together is paying the price for relying on lies as a campaigning tool, even when you can trust a friendly media which won’t probe too far into uncomfortable questions – at least if you can maintain a semblance of keeping a lid on things.
It starts off with a promise to be truthful. But then you tell a little lie. Then you have to tell a big lie to keep the wee lie sounding plausible. Then the lies run away with you and you begin to sense that people don’t believe you any more. So you tell a really big lie, or three. Yet this only causes people to doubt you even more. And so the lies grow more colourful and fantastic and contrived. By this time you have lost track of your lies and no longer know what’s the truth and what’s the lie. As the contradictions slam into one another like Eric Joyce in a House of Commons bar, in your panic you end up exposing your own lies, and your stories lie shattered around your feet amidst the wreckage you’ve created from the lives around you.
By this time you’re left with as much credibility as a devolution proposal from Johann Lamont. And even a friendly media finds it difficult to ignore, because now their credibility is on the line too.
Like many gay men of my generation, I spent quite some time in the closet. My straight friends and family didn’t know I was gay. For much of my 20s I lived a double life and got very good at lying. I know a lot about lying. And I know that lying takes its toll. There’s a heavy price to pay for lying, even if you’re not found out. When you spend your life trying to pretend to be something you are not, you lose sight of everything that has real meaning and value. Which is why one day I woke up and something just snapped. I thought “och fuck this”, and came out and started living truthfully. It was the best decision I ever made.
Westminster lives a lie, a not very important European power trying to cling on to former glories, pretending the Union is something it is not. They’ve lost sight of everything that has real meaning and value, and can’t tell the difference between truth and lies any more. And the lives that suffer the consequences are mine and yours and the disabled auld guy along the street, the lassie on the zero hours contract waiting by the phone as the electric meter counts down to cold, the lad who can’t find a job and has to think about leaving.
I was much better at lying than Better Together, because I never got found out. They’ve been found out. And I fervently hope that come the 18th of September, Scotland will wake up, muse on the condition that this country is in, and think “och fuck this” and vote yes.
Then Scotland can live truthfully.