Scotland: The madness has to stop now

by Jonathan Todd

Mental health is said to be a ‘Cinderella’ service, lacking resources. Friedrich Nietzsche maintained, though, that madness is rare in individuals – but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule. He would be unsurprised, therefore, that I’ve received an email from a friend in Scotland who reports the Yes campaign is coming across “like a millennial cult”.

Similarly, Carol Craig has lamented that the approach of Stephen Noon, chief strategist for Yes, “is nationalism laced with a heavy dose of what looks like a whacky personal development philosophy”. Yes vehemently insist that doubts about UK breakup evidence only a lack of belief in the Scottish.

The then European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said it would be “extremely difficult, if not impossible” for Scotland to rejoin the EU after UK breakup. The Royal Bank of Scotland will leave Scotland if the UK breaks up. Given concerns about the currency, Ultimo, the company of the Scottish business woman Michelle Mone, would also follow them south.

Scottish nationalists will insist that the Royal Bank of Scotland doesn’t really believe in Scotland. That Barroso knows nothing of the EU and simply lacks faith in Scots. That Mone is full of it. She probably isn’t actually Scottish. There is no concern that can’t be dismissed if you are a true enough Scot.

Sadly, Mone, born and raised in Glasgow, no longer feels safe in Scotland having been targeted by Siol nan Gaidheal, an ultra-nationalist group that boasts of ‘in-your-face-confrontations’ with Jim Murphy. Friends also tell me of Better Together posters resulting in smashed windows. Sections of the Scottish population have thuggishly moved beyond reason.

The exasperation of Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor, speaking earlier in the week was palpable. Currency union in the event of UK breakup would be “incompatible with sovereignty”, he observed, wearily referring to a speech that he’d given earlier in the year. He might as well have said, “I don’t know how many times I have to say this”.

If the treatment of Mone and Murphy is anything to go by, he’ll never be heard by some. Maybe heard but not accepted. Perhaps they think he’s bluffing. Or having a laugh. But this is not a stag party or another occasion for laughs. It’s even less of an occasion for laughs than a general election.

UK breakup is an irreversible decision that will have highly deleterious consequences. If you want UK breakup at any price, which the Yes do, then you are prepared to accept these costs. If you recognise them and still want breakup, you may gloss over reality in the attempt to bring others to agreement, which is what Yes has done. “A nonsense wrapped in a distortion inside a whopping great lie” is how Alex Massie has characterised their claims.

These assertions appear, unfortunately, to have traction with the kind of voters who have traditionally supported Labour and who have also disproportionately contributed to UKIP’s growth in England: the working-class and those who left education early. “UKIP is tearing off this section of the electorate”, Matthew Goodwin recently argued, “creating a fundamental divide in British politics between those with the skills, education and resources to adapt, and those who have little and feel intensely angry.”

Better Together campaigners can attest to the anger of Yes. The NHS is a particular source of anger. This is in spite of health being a devolved issue and therefore, controlled by the SNP administration. Which already has access to tax raising powers, should they wish to raise extra revenues for healthcare.

There is no option on the ballot paper to remove these powers. But there is an option that, given the exodus of businesses and uncertainty over the servicing of UK public debt, would imperil the capacity of resources to be raised, either through taxation or money markets, to be spent on Scottish public services. This is Yes and the real threat to public services.

It requires a suspension of disbelief longer than the Forth Bridge to think otherwise. Yet there are potentially enough so suspended that Yes might win. If they do, the haggling over divorce terms will be bitter and the accompanying economic calamity profound, both north and south of the border. Then the anger of Yes will be met with anger elsewhere. UKIP has already demonstrated that reserves of English anger run deep and would delight in further mining them.

A madness that Nietzsche would recognise has transmitted from “the millennial cult” to the wider Scottish population. It will travel further if it secures its objective of UK breakup. The English backlash has the potential to be as ugly as the Scottish anger has already been.

If there is anything you can do you can to avert this harm – speak to Scottish friends; campaign for Better Together, either on the doorstep or over the telephone – please do it. The madness has to stop now.

Jonathan Todd is Deputy Editor of Labour Uncut

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10 Responses to “Scotland: The madness has to stop now”

  1. Tafia says:

    Which already has access to tax raising powers,

    But they do not have the power to lower tax do they. And that’s the point. As things are they can keep their taxes the same or they can marginally raise some of them. But they are prohibited from ever lowering any. They can’t lower VAT, they can’t lower income tax, they can’t lower corporation tax. London – not Edinburgh, will not allow them to.

  2. Mike Stallard says:

    Mr Salmond is being revealed very slowly – perhaps too slowly – as a charlatan who promises other people’s money away far too easily.
    At the moment, he promises English money away far too easily.
    After independence, no doubt, he will promise Elfin Gold from the Highlands.
    The Scottish people may well come to rue the day they put their country into his hands.

  3. paul barker says:

    All true but one reason Labour Voters may be open to the SNP con is that The Labour Party has used similar arguments. Labour in Scotland have claimed that The NHS in England has been privatised & have regularly denounced Tories & Libdems as Southern Toffs. Prescotts speech yesterday used the same sort of language.

  4. swatantra says:

    Same old stale arguments from a unimaginative ‘Better Together’ campaigner.
    To get real change you have to be more radical than that.

  5. Mr Akira Origami says:

    If there is a no vote and Alex Salmond plays the Terminator, insisting he and his nationalist mates will come back with yet another referendum. In this event, us folks South of the border should hold a parallel referendum asking: “do we want Scotland to be part of the UK.”

    Meantime could somebody please contact Debbie Horton and ask her could she make it up with Alex……

  6. Tafia says:

    From UK Polling Report

    With what I assume are all Sunday’s Scottish polls in, where do we stand? Looking across the board at all six companies polling, two of them using two different modes, we actually have a broadly consistent picture. Excluding don’t knows, the Yes shares in the 8 different companies/methods are:

    ICM (online) 54%
    Panelbase (online) 49%
    ICM (phone) 49%
    TNS (face to face) 49%
    YouGov (online) 48%
    Opinium (online) 47%
    Survation (online) 47%
    Survation (phone) 46%

    Seven of the polls are clearly clustered around a small lead for the NO campaign, with the one exception that rather odd looking ICM online poll with a smaller sample size than their usual online efforts. A lead of just a couple of points in a single poll is within the margin of error, but in this case all but one poll is showing NO ahead, so I think we can reasonably say that the polls are giving NO a genuine but small lead.

    If the polls are broadly correct, and if nothing changes in the last five days, then NO look like they’ll have a narrow win… but of course those are two very significant ifs. It’s certainly possible for a race this tight to change within a few days and there have certainly been occassions in the past when the polls have had a systemic error of a couple of points in one direction or the other.

    This is clearly a disaster for Westminster even if No wins. At wporst case scenario Scotland will vote Yes. At best case scenario No will only narrowly win meaning nearly half of Scotland’s residents wouldn’t piss on London if it was burning.

  7. wg says:

    Isn’t it amazing that “the party for change” – Labour, upon seeing their assumed grip on power slipping away, come out screeching for the status quo.

    Socialism has never been about empowerment but about controlling everybody else’s lives.

    Speaking as a working class tradesman, who has watched the massive damage done to this country by Labour, I feel the overwhelming weight of schadenfreude bearing down on me.

  8. Andrew says:

    It’s articles like this, trading in threat, fear and insult, that have driven me, an Englishman living in Scotland firmly into the Yes camp.

  9. uglyfatbloke says:

    Andrew…now you see why I despair of Better Together.
    Mike Stallard; there’s more than enough thing wrong with Salmond without making stuff up. He does n’t promise English money to anyone, but the sort of claim you’re making is the sort of thing that pushes people to abandon the Union.

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