On March 11th, the Financial Times wrote:
‘Scottish separatists gain the upper hand towards a second vote. A spasm of English nationalism makes the case to demand another say on independence. As the UK slashes and stumbles through the thickets towards Brexit, a familiar shadow has fallen. Scotland, its prickly, unreconciled northern nation, is moving towards another independence referendum four years after the first.’
I know it’s not very respectful about us Scots but I quite like the way they reveal their true feelings. At least we know where we stand with them. I like their use of the word ‘spasm’ too. The article is meant to scare the Conservatives into action and it repeats the lies they’ll need to use to fool us again.
Here’s their first point to stir up the Unionists:
‘Three years ago, the result was closer than many expected, with the pro-UK side winning 55 per cent to 45 per cent. Support for separation rose during that campaign. The nationalists have since swept their opponents aside, taking all but three of Scotland’s Westminster seats and securing a third successive governing term at the devolved administration in Edinburgh. The psephological leap the separatists have to make in a second vote is much less daunting.’
Prof Curtice at Strathclyde University and at the BBC regularly is psephologist. He studies and analyses elections and polls. What the FT means is ‘it’s too close to call now.’ They’re right. Look at the recent polls. BMG Research used exactly the same words themselves. The second negative for the Unionists is this point:
‘Unionists have a further problem: who has the credibility and unifying power to front another “Better Together” campaign? The leaders of the pro-UK movement back in 2014, eminent Westminster Scots such as Alistair Darling, former chancellor, are retired from frontline politics, retain little influence and it feels as if they belong to another age. The Labour party, which dominated Scottish politics for generations, is in a state of collapse. It has been replaced by the SNP as the left-of-centre option for many voters, and at the last devolved election slipped into third place behind the much-ridiculed Scottish Conservatives.’
Again, they’re correct. Already Labour Scotland have insisted they won’t share a platform with the Tories and Kezia (No)and Jeremy (Yes) don’t even agree if we should be allowed another referendum! The No campaign team will be weaker this time. So here is the FT’s solution:
‘If the separatists are to be defeated again, it is likely to be down to the facts. The oil price, central to nationalist boasts about the prospective wealth of an independent Scotland, has plummeted. In 2014, the Scottish government predicted North Sea revenues of between £6.8bn and £7.5bn in 2016/17. In reality, UK oil and gas generated receipts of effectively zero and are forecast to remain around that level.’
This is already out-of-date thus wrong and will be even more so by end 2018 judging by current trends in the Scottish oil and gas fields. The companies are re-investing, the hedge funds are piling in like a bunch of well-informed bookies and the Saudis have done a deal with them to keep the price stable. I’ve written several pieces on Scotland’s energy boom but here are just two:
Here is the FT’s second set of ‘facts’ to be used by the feckless No campaign:
‘Further, the Scottish government’s figures [GERS] show the public spending deficit has reached almost £15bn: 9.5 per cent of gross domestic product, compared with 4 per cent for the UK. The SNP has failed to produce a credible plan for closing this gap.’
There is so much written to dispute the above. Basically, it doesn’t take into account how much revenue Scotland raises through taxation and it’s based on how Westminster has screwed up the Scottish economy over previous decades:
‘What this means is that the GERS report represents how Scotland’s economy is performing within the union and tell us next to nothing about how Scotland would have performed as an independent nation now or in the past, nor about how it would perform in the future with either independence or full fiscal autonomy.’
There is a fuller rebuttal, worth reading, at the above.
The FT then returns to the anxiety the Unionist camp surely feels with this:
‘In these unpredictable times, no one can be sure of the result if Scots go to the polls again. Despite the weight of economic evidence against her, the “take back control” message that delivered Brexit may work just as well for Ms Sturgeon. The UK may yet not see out the decade.’
Let’s hope so.