According to Scotland’s only polling expert, the pro and anti independence campaigns are failing voters as they are preoccupied with issues which are of low priority to the electorate. Or at least that’s what the Scotsman said he said, which means that the ubiquitous Prof John Curtice probably didn’t say that at all. But then it wouldn’t be the Scotsman if it didn’t find some way of spinning every story as bad news for independence.
Och It’s Yerself Again John has published findings from the latest Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, which showed that 52% would vote in favour of independence if it meant they’d be £500 a year better off. That works out at around a curry with nan bread and pakora every week for a year. If only Gandhi had known, India could have been independent long before 1948.
The point is not that Scots could easily be persuaded to vote for independence in return for a national curry food bank, after all the UK is already doing a marvellous job of forcing people to rely on food banks, but that in the Prof’s opinion the electorate want to hear about how independence will affect the family budget. So they could decide if they’d rather have a fish supper, pizza, or a Chinese cairry oot instead.
In fact the latest Scottish Social Attitudes Survey contains some good news for the yes campaign. It shows that the gap between yes and no is narrowing. Support for yes is up 6% while support for no has dropped by the same percentage. However the Survey was conducted between May and October last year, before the publication of the White Paper. The Survey continues to ask people whether they would prefer some form of enhanced devolution, which isn’t going to be on the ballot paper due to Westminster’s refusal. It certainly underestimates the true level of support for independence. But you won’t hear that in the mainstream media.
There is little real doubt that Scotland would be in a far better financial position as an independent state. Scotland is blessed with an embarrassment of natural and human resources and runs a much smaller deficit than the rest of the UK. As an independent country Scotland would not have to contribute large chunks of cash to UK projects which are of little or no benefit to Scotland’s citizens – like the London Olympics, London’s sewer upgrade, or nuclear weapons. Those billions could instead be spent on developing the Scottish economy and improving the finances of Scottish households.
The Jimmy Reid Foundation has already published a wealth of economic reports which detail the financial situation of an independent Scotland. Business for Scotland have also published numerous articles detailing the robust financial health an independent Scotland would enjoy. The Scottish Government has produced figures to support its claim that the average Scot would be £600 a year better off with independence.
The Reid Foundation’s most recent report demonstrates that if Scotland had controlled its own finances, we would be sitting on a surplus in public finances of over £148 billion. The report makes the reasonable suggestion that Scotland’s historic contribution to UK finances must inform any negotiations on the proportion of UK debt an independent Scotland is to take on. If Scotland had achieved financial control of her own affairs in 1979 when Westminster’s underhand manipulation deprived us of Home Rule, independence negotiators would be able to tell Westminster “stick yer assets, and yer debt”.
The problem is that the Scottish electorate remain unconvinced by the fact that – irrespective of how much historic debt Scotland will be lumbered with from the UK – they live in a wealthy nation, and this is not unrelated to the way in which the Scotsman et al cover the independence debate.
The media revels in bad news for Scotland, and takes agenda from the Better Together campaign. The no campaign has a vested interest in ensuring that the electorate does not engage with the debate, as once people start to consider independence with facts as opposed to scares they tend to shift to a yes vote. Instead the Unionist media ensures that the topic de jour is yet another “blow to independence hopes”.
Just a few days ago another important survey was published, one which the Scotsman, the BBC and the rest of the Scottish media virtually ignored – Scottish broadcasters are providing heavily biased cover of the debate which favours the no campaign by a margin of 3 to 2.
It’s not the independence campaign which is failing the electorate, it’s the Scottish media.