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Bankruptcy.


Alex Salmond, the First Minister, in front of a Yes Scotland sign - Image: Getty


Scottish independence: 'Yes campaign every bit as dodgy as Iraq dossier'


Scotland is being led over a cliff by a dossier every bit as dodgy as the one that took Britain into Iraq a decade ago

The Telegraph
By Andrew Gillian
14 September 2014

One of the key themes of the Yes independence campaign – I saw it scrawled on a No poster in Edinburgh only last night – is that a “free Scotland” will no longer be tricked into illegal wars based on lies.

But as the BBC reporter who first exposed those lies, I believe that Scotland is being led over a cliff by a dossier every bit as dodgy as the one that took us into Iraq.

Like the whole of Britain in 2003, Scotland in 2014 is being asked to fix a problem that does not exist. Back then, it was an imaginary threat from Iraq. Now, it is an imaginary threat to the NHS, 45 minutes from destruction if you vote No.

Back then, it was the supposed “clash of civilisations” between Islam and the West. Now, it is a supposed “fundamental conflict of social values” between two nations, England and Scotland – whose social values, all surveys show, are extremely similar.

And just as in 2003, Scotland is also being asked to tackle another problem that is real and does exist – but in a way that will only make that problem worse, for itself, and for all of us. Back then, we were told that invading Iraq would protect us from international terrorism. In fact, of course, it gave international terrorism a boost beyond al-Qaeda’s wildest hopes and dreams.

Now, Scots are told that independence will protect them from global capitalism. They are told that a new international border at Gretna will form a magic shield against the City, the Tories, and the cuts.

In fact, after a Yes vote the City, the Tories, and the architects of the cuts would have more power over Scotland, not less.

Because what is offered by Alex Salmond and the Yes campaign is not independence. It is sharing a currency, whether formally or informally, with England.

Scotland’s central bank would be in London. All the key levers of Scotland’s economic policy – interest rates, borrowing and spending – would be controlled not in Edinburgh, but by a UK government that Scots no longer had any role in choosing; a government much more likely than before to be Tory, without Scottish votes.

To mention another Yes campaign porky, no one “always gets the government they vote for”. But Scots have got the government they voted for at three of the past four UK elections. Next year’s may well make it four out of five. After independence, over the things that really matter, Scots would never get the government they voted for again.

In the modern world, all nations are battered by powerful external forces, which you need power of your own to resist. A nation of five million is, by definition, less powerful than a nation of 60 million. Indeed, with banks, capital and investment rushing for the exit, Scotland would be more battered than most.

It would have to accept whatever terms the moneymen offered – and they would not be good terms.

There are no short cuts to social justice. If Scots want to tame international capitalism, it can only be done internationally. They have to make links, not break links, with other people in other countries, like England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, who agree with them.

The idea of the SNP as progressives ought to be laughable, even before you include the thugs and bullies on their fringes. They cut thousands of college places for working-class kids to subsidise free university tuition for the children of lawyers. One of their largest donors ran a campaign to keep the anti-gay Section 28. Their key business endorser is the man who promoted RBS’s Fred Goodwin!

Yet it’s not laughable, because – like the rest of the dodgy dossier – so many people seem to be buying it. How on earth has a famously rational, unemotional, cautious place like Scotland – birthplace of the Enlightenment – come so close to being swept into this land of the unknown by a last-minute wave of shallow populism, emotion and fairy-tale lies?

It’s partly brilliant tactics. The SNP ground operation, the best in Britain, was the first in the world to use the precision voter-targeting software that swept Obama to power in 2008, and has honed it since. Behind most “grassroots” street-stalls there’s a Yesser with a smartphone.

It’s partly, as everyone says, the same anti-Establishment anger that drives Ukip in England – even though Salmond, of course, is the head of the Scottish Establishment. And the fact he was able to pull off that trick is a tribute to the sheer uselessness of the SNP’s opponents.

Only the Nationalists keep their top Scottish talent north of the border. Labour’s still gravitates to Westminster, and Holyrood has to make do with the B-team and the C-team.

Scottish Labour is an unfraternal snake-pit, but the SNP is hugely disciplined. Its political success and intellectual dominance over the past seven years may explain why its lies over independence are so readily believed now.

The Iraq war was something Tony Blair survived, but never really recovered from. Scotland will survive, and in time it will recover. But independence achieved by a wafer-thin margin, on the basis of deceit, fiercely opposed by half the population, is not a recipe for a stable or happy new state.

As an Englishman without a vote, I today have the same feeling of powerlessness and dread as I had the week before the Iraq war. I knew it was wrong. I knew it would be disastrous. But there was nothing I could do to stop it.

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