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By David Torrance

There’s a scene in Ridley Scott’s new film Prometheus in which a scientist asserts that rather than being descended from apes, human beings have actually evolved from alien life forms. When another character asks her if she has any basis for that assertion she replies, quite simply, “no”, adding, “but it’s what I choose to believe”.

I mention this because I have a funny feeling the “no” campaign is currently developing what might be called a Prometheus strategy. At a recent First Minister’s Question Time the Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont accused Alex Salmond of basing his vision of an independent Scotland on “assertion, belief and hope” rather than fact.

The official “no” – or as they would have it, the “yes to the UK” – campaign, reportedly preparing to launch later this month, will probably continue this refrain, questioning the basis for the SNP’s stance on a whole range of issues, for example currency and the European Union, with the implication that it is predicated upon wishful thinking.

The aim will be to undermine the “yes” campaign’s strategy of emphasizing stability and continuity, while planting seeds of doubt in voters’ minds. As for the launch itself, I reckon this will be pitched about half way between a regular party political press conference and the glitzy (if rather lame) “yes” launch of a few weeks ago.

It’s no secret that the “no” side are still playing catch up in almost every respect. While the SNP (which now forms the core of the “yes” campaign) has had since last May to prepare its case for independence, proponents of the status quo have only recently recruited the former Labour Party strategist Blair McDougall, not to mention arranged opinion polling and funding.

Its instinct will, I suspect, to be to go for the jugular. After all, negative campaigning can work, as anyone involved in the fruitless attempt to convert UK voters to the Alternative Vote back in 2011 can testify. As Peter Kellner of YouGov has argued, the general trend during referendums is that those advocating change – particularly radical change – tend to lose ground as the campaign progresses.

Unless, therefore, the “yes” campaign enters the formal referendum campaign in 2014 with a strong lead, then it has a slim hope of winning the independence battle. That said, the opinion polls were wrong about levels of SNP support in April/May 2011 and could well be wrong again. The SNP’s sophisticated Activate software will have a pretty good idea of how many Scots are likely to back sovereignty, not only now, but over the next two-and-a-half years.

So what are the likely strengths and weaknesses of the “no” campaign, whatever it ends up being called? I think in personnel terms the mooted line up – former Chancellor Alistair Darling, former Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie and former UK Liberal leader Charles Kennedy – will be, broadly speaking, a strength. Kennedy, in particular, still polls well with normal people, and when on form can put a political case with wit and authority.

The “yes” side’s chief asset is, of course, Alex Salmond, whose approval ratings continue to put just about everybody else’s in the shade. And while Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie has so far performed well, the “no” campaign’s trio of big-hitters probably has the edge – at least at the moment. The SNP’s attempt to discredit Darling as the man who destroyed the UK economy lacks credibility (Salmond, after all, did not demur from the pre-2008 economic orthodoxy), while the former Chancellor’s cool authority should prove a match for the First Minister.

The “no” campaign’s other major strength, at the moment, is having public opinion on its side. Despite the events of January, most notably the Prime Minister’s intervention over the referendum, there has been no real movement in the proportion of Scots intending to vote “yes” and “no”. Indeed, a recent YouGov poll, mischievously released to coincide with the “yes” launch, put support for independence at 33 per cent.

This was not disputed by Alex Salmond on the day, for it had a large sample size (1,500) and the SNP fully realizes there’s work to be done; only a couple of recent polls have put the “yes” vote above 40 per cent, but those had tiny sample sizes (100 or 200) which mean they’re difficult to take seriously.

The weaknesses in the “no” campaign, meanwhile, could emerge over the next couple of years. As I’ve argued elsewhere, the consensus between the UK Coalition and Labour Party about welfare cuts will not play in their favour. Although the SNP’s alternative is vague and ill-defined, it’s indisputably the case that most Scots don’t like what Iain Duncan Smith is proposing. And as those cuts – and indeed others – begin to bite closer to the referendum, the “yes” campaign could reap the benefits.

Another negative is the lack of a positive, compelling argument for the United Kingdom (although who knows, perhaps this will be unveiled at the “no” launch). Now there might not be a compelling argument against the UK either, but the “yes” camp have, I think, the edge in terms of momentum, aspiration and language. Negative points against your opponents – as the SNP know well – only work if masked by a broadly positive narrative.

Finally, I reckon the all-important ground war poses problems for both sides. Although those in the “yes” campaign are more likely to get fired up by their cause, what they’re being asked to sell (the Independence Declaration) is rather abstract, while voters’ desire for detail is unlikely to be satisfied. Those on the “no” side, meanwhile, have tended to take the status quo (i.e. the Union) for granted, and might struggle to campaign for a constitutional position rather than a political party.

For both sides, the stakes are high. If the “no” campaign fails to challenge the “yes” side’s superior electoral machine it will mean the end of Great Britain, while a decisive “no” vote would spell the end of Alex Salmond’s impressive political career. As the movie posters for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus puts it, “the search for our beginning could lead to our end”.


David Torrance is a writer, journalist and broadcaster.
He is also author of 'Salmond - Against The Odds' a biography of Scotland's First Minister

Newsnet Scotland hopes to attract more contributions from respected commentators from across the constitutional spectrum. If you would like to see more of this kind of content then the following donate button will allow you to contribute into a special ring-fenced fund specifically set up for this purpose.

Comments  

 
# Louperdowg 2012-06-07 06:48
Charles Kennedy's wit and authority are going to convince us to say 'No'?

Its the way you tell 'em David.

It certainly put a smile on my face.
 
 
# scottish_skier 2012-06-07 07:00
"This was not disputed by Alex Salmond on the day, for it had a large sample size (1,500) and the SNP fully realizes there’s work to be done; only a couple of recent polls have put the “yes” vote above 40 per cent, but those had tiny sample sizes (100 or 200) which mean they’re difficult to take seriously."

I suggest Mr Torrance does give up his day job.

1000 is the standard base used by MORI and TNS-BMRB. SSAS used 1600. The last ICM was 500.

Yougov? The 'everyday value' online panel survey and an outlier since 2007.

Facts please. Is that too much to ask these days?
 
 
# snowthistle 2012-06-07 08:42
Wasn't there something about the question that they asked in that particular YouGov poll?
 
 
# scottish_skier 2012-06-07 09:11
Well they did use the word 'separate' and asked if you wanted that 'tomorrow'.

Other polls have traditionally used a wording as currently proposed by the SNP and just asked whether you are supportive of that proposal.

Question aside, something went wrong with Yougov indy polls post 2007; they diverged strongly from all other polls surveys from then on (although follow the same relative trends). I suspect it is related to the C2+DE (working classes and low income) transfer to the SNP from Labour which occured post 2007. This group used to be predominantly Labour, however this all changed post 2007 and the SNP are giving Labour a run for their money here now. While it is a generalisation, this group are probably the least likely to be signed up to Yougov/regularly actively seek to be involved in such surveys. Those signed up from this group are possibly the more 'active' Labour party people and hence are saying no to indy. Yougov tends to give a much higher 'no' share in these two groupings compared to every other poll anyway and has a strong Labour bias for VI. Something is up anyway.

And remember, Yougov 'select' people from a database of paid panel members based on what these people have given as their demographic. In contrast, other polls pick phone numbers at random then ask people their demographic informaton for subsequent weighting to the overall profile for the country. Quite a difference.
 
 
# Barbazenzero 2012-06-07 11:36
Well said.

To which I would add YouGov's strange weightings on newspaper readership, especially Record vs Sun, and their strange reluctance since early 2011 to publish full Scottish weightings in their occasional Scottish polls while they include their GB ones on a daily basis with their "UK" polls.
 
 
# Macart 2012-06-07 07:02
I'm sorry Mr Torrance but nobody has a grasp on future events that I'm aware of. You assert that the no campaign will highlight independence and its consequences as an unknown. Will we be allowed to stay a member of the EU for instance, currency issues, defence, all the usual suspects.

The current UK government can't give those answers either. In fact exactly the same questions can be fired right back at them. Will there ever eventually be a referendum on the EU? As Britain and in particular Scotland's defence profile shrinks ( with the recent notice that the uk military will downsize by a further 20,000 personnel over the next 8 years), how will UK guarantee Scotland's security as a UK partner? Or indeed fulfil its overseas obligations over the same period?

Fact is with independence and a proactive government we have the opportunity to make independence work. As part of the UK the remote and uncaring parliament that is Westminster will carry on its profligate ways regardless. At least the SNP government have offered the Scottish electorate a future vision. As yet all we've heard from the anti independence camp is 'trust us, it'll be fine'.
 
 
# Wave Machine 2012-06-07 07:06
It's good to see David contribute, as it generates debate. No bad thing.

I'd like to use my brother as a litmus test, I chatted to him on the phone last night. We live quite distantly from one another and we usually chat about other subjects. Last night, however, was unusual in that the subject of the recent Jubilee coverage was brought up and the observation, from my bro's point of view, that the BBC was clearly biased. He used the word "propaganda."
"What's happened to the BBC?" was his question. He then extended this to the constitutional debate and he offered the point that "It's now obvious that Scotland can pay its way if it were Independent."
Now, coming from someone who has expressed a dislike for Alex Salmond and was a fairly typical Lib Dem supporter, this was a reasonably surprising turn of events.

I prefer to use the experience of my Bro rather than the YouGov poll, as his contribution is more reliable.

The reason I say this is because he represents the average voter; he's not politically active, he has other interests and his thoughts rarely stray to the constitution. Now, if he has been influenced by the Jubilee, can see through the red, white and blue broadcasting lens and has made the leap in his mind to identify with Scotland's ability to pay her own way, and all this with a lack of real information available to the electorate, then those of us with a nationalist viewpoint can afford a smile. I'm smiling this morning.
 
 
# UpSpake 2012-06-07 07:11
What David and a host of other pundits fail to observe is that there is now other voices out there whose vision of independence varies quite dramatically from that of the SNP.
That being said, the SNP have all the running for so long, being the only game in town. They still are.
New voices, however well articulated are not being heard. That is a democratic deficit in itself but at this stage of the play, hardly earth shattering.
However, as the SNP stumble and stutter through either ill thought out policies or as in some cases, no policy at all, this provides great succor to the opposition who spy weaknesses in the SNP case. This is precisely what an alternative view throws up - weaknesses.
As soon as a 'better' altrnative rears its head, if it's not been a prouct of SNP thinking it is sideleined or ignored.
That suggests a highly totalarian point of view. Not therefore an SNP strength and a denial of there assertion that they are reaching out.
Patrick Harvie I think is beginning to say the kind of things I have thought for some time and see well displayed on the web-pages of the SDA.
As for polls, well, I'm in my late 50's now and have never met anyone who has ever been polled, nor have my friends nor friends of their's. So who are these mysterious people who'se views matter so much ?.
 
 
# scottish_skier 2012-06-07 07:24
"So who are these mysterious people who'se views matter so much ?."

Me for one. I have been telephoned randomly by IPSOS-MORI and TNS-BMRB. I am also very politically and internet active, so of course I've signed myself up to yougov. All the friends I know (who are not particularly politically active but generally always vote) have telephones and a good majority of them plan to vote yes. None are signed up to Yougov.
 
 
# Siôn Jones 2012-06-07 09:21
I'm signed for yougov, but I have not been asked about independence either for Wales(where I live) or Scotland (where I used to live).
 
 
# scottish_skier 2012-06-07 09:40
The impression I get is that the more surveys you complete, the more often you get asked.

However, that does seem to require you to also give your thoughts on perfumes, the standard of service at M&S etc. Although, I can't say I actually spend too much time thinking about my answers in these cases.
 
 
# Davy 2012-06-07 07:44
Quoting UpSpake:
What David and a host of other pundits fail to observe is that there is now other voices out there whose vision of independence varies quite dramatically from that of the SNP.
That being said, the SNP have all the running for so long, being the only game in town. They still are.
New voices, however well articulated are not being heard. That is a democratic deficit in itself but at this stage of the play, hardly earth shattering.
However, as the SNP stumble and stutter through either ill thought out policies or as in some cases, no policy at all, this provides great succor to the opposition who spy weaknesses in the SNP case. This is precisely what an alternative view throws up - weaknesses.
As soon as a 'better' altrnative rears its head, if it's not been a prouct of SNP thinking it is sideleined or ignored.
That suggests a highly totalarian point of view. Not therefore an SNP strength and a denial of there assertion that they are reaching out.
Patrick Harvie I think is beginning to say the kind of things I have thought for some time and see well displayed on the web-pages of the SDA.
As for polls, well, I'm in my late 50's now and have never met anyone who has ever been polled, nor have my friends nor friends of their's. So who are these mysterious people who'se views matter so much ?.


These "other voices" SDA etc actually how many MSP's, MP's or councilors do they have ??? since they have such great ideas it must be a lot, please enlighten us.
 
 
# clootie 2012-06-07 09:17
It's a pity Upspake's team doesn't put as much effort into pro Scotland as it does detailing SNP failings - we would be well in front with the horde of activists they can muster.
 
 
# snowthistle 2012-06-07 08:46
Is it not the case that the SDA do not stand against the SNP in elections?
If that is so then the 'democratic deficit' is of their own making.
 
 
# Macart 2012-06-07 08:57
Apparently the SDA strategy is to support the populist independence vote up to the referendum and on a successful conclusion throw their hat in the political ring in the following Scottish GE. Make of that what you will.

By the by, thanks for that update yesterday snowthistle.
 
 
# frankyB 2012-06-07 07:12
I think this is a good analysis of the situation at the moment. He doesn't mention the medium being used over the next few years will further aid a weak 'no' campaign by propagating and amplifying people's doubts.

One aspect which may come into focus is the direction Europe may take. If it looks like it will move to a more financially integrated EU then the English electorate will be pushing for us to leave Europe and this may help the case for independece because its backdrop would become one of British isolation v Scottish integration' You can't have the no camp arguing for stability and no change on one hand while arguing for independence form Europe on the other.

It is a battle no doubt about it. We can't expect a fair run by the media so we need to find alternative ways to get our meesage out there.

It's not beyond us.
 
 
# Clydebuilt 2012-06-08 12:34
Franky

is that you.....Last weeks Sun column was brilliant.....havent seen todays paper ...canny wait

Clydebuilt
 
 
# Suomi 2012-06-07 07:12
Good article,but I disagree with Davids suggestion that independence is abstract.It means self determination,m aking your own decisions,That is normal and understood by the citizens of every independent nation.If by abstract he means having a view about everything from now until forever,of course,but that is the same for the UK government and unionist politicians.Nobody can predict who will be in power in the future,what the issues will be,or what decisions will be taken.

I do wonder why people are obsessed about knowing every detail about how the future will look? At the moment,Scotland is the invisable nation who cannot represent itself in the worlds institutions,or some sporting events,such as the Olympic games.Additionally,Sc otland is a wealthy nation who cannot control all of its resources for the wellbeing of its population.Aspirations (the expressed will)of the majority of Scottish people are overridden by a parliament in London due to population size determining voter strengh.To sum up,Scotland is seperated from its wealth,the decision making process and direct communication with the rest of the world.Independence will fix those problems by creating partnerships of equal parliaments within the British Isles.That will do for a start.The Yes campaign,as well as the NO campaign,are such broad churches that nobody should expect an agreed policy on every possible issue,from either group.
 
 
# dundie 2012-06-07 07:35
The standard respomse to any of the pointed questions such as "what will Scotland's currency be worth after Independence" should be to turn it back and ask what Bank of England sterling will be worth at that point. Since no-one knows what market forces may be in play by then, or what other world events may have influenced this, then the question becomes academic, and at best a wild guess. This can be applied to most of the more ridiculous questions, since there is no definitive answer in either case.
 
 
# mealer 2012-06-07 07:41
How can David write an article on the forthcoming referendum and the strengths and weaknesses of each side without mentioning media bias? Its by far the biggest advantage that the NO camp have.Far more important than having three "yesterdays men" to front it.Do referendum campaigns for change always lose ground in the run-up to the vote? Or is this purely the opinion of the Yougov bosses based on the squalid little pretendyPR referendum ? Did support for devolution fall away in the run up to the vote ? Perhaps it did.I dont know.Whate ever way,there cant be much Scottish evidence to back up the assertion.
 
 
# Holebender 2012-06-07 13:08
IIRC the opinion polls all underestimated the YES YES support in 1997. The tax varying powers vote was expected to be on a knife edge, according to the polls, but in reality it passed comfortably.
 
 
# Soloman 2012-06-07 07:45
So while the NO campaign are busy telling us that in the future under a Westminster Government ( Be that Tory Labour or Lib Dem ) the NHS will be privatised, are we to expect the YES campaign to agree with them?
2nd question for Referendum should be: after this referendum do you still want an NHS?
 
 
# Ready to Start 2012-06-07 07:58
No Scotland campaign has three tarnished has beens and support of UKIP, BNP, Scottish Defence League and Orange Order.
 
 
# Diabloandco 2012-06-07 08:15
There is no poll that cannot be manipulated, therefore I now treat every poll as worthy of only a cursory glance .
( I signed up to yougov and all they ever asked me was about washing powder and electronics - a complete waste of time for both them and me!I signed off)

The referendum is the only indication of the settled will of the people of Scotland.
 
 
# GrassyKnollington 2012-06-07 08:21
An alternative title for David Torrance's article would be

"What is the positive case for the union?"

It's a difficult one to answer relying as it does on a mixture of misty eyed British nationalist nostalgia, scaremongering and fact burying.

I suspect that's why David chose not to go with it.

I've noticed lately that unionist political commentators have invented a narrative among themselves that Salmond's star is not shining as brightly as it did. Their source for this insight is generally columns which each other have written.

Their own hopeful speculation and wishful thinking about Salmond's stock falling is not allowed to be troubled by evidence.

If a fellow British nationalist has made the observation then it's demonstrably true and can be recycled and passed along the line.

If Mr. Darling is so confident about the position of the union why did he choose the pollster with the poorest reputation for accuracy when covering Scotland?

Also the idea that a failed Tory regional leader whose stock in trade was nasty and patronising jokes about the FM's appearance , a man in coalition with the Tories who was forced to resign as leader of his party due to personal issues and the economically illiterate facilitator of the "bust" part of boom and bust are a crack team is a tad fanciful.

David Torrance is right that negative campaigning for the union can be successful. We know that to our cost as the BBC forces us to pay them to do it on our behalf.

Who needs a tiddler like YouGov when you've got the national broadcaster on side ?
 
 
# Jake62 2012-06-07 08:22
"Another negative is the lack of a positive, compelling argument for the United Kingdom . . "

and

"If the “no” campaign fails to challenge the “yes” side’s superior electoral machine it will mean the end of Great Britain . . ."

The United Kingdom and Great Britain are not synonyms. Great Britain is a geographical term used to differentiate 'Britain' from Brittany, and if Scotland becomes independent it will still be part of Great Britain. It's the United Kingdom which will be dissolved when Scotland becomes independent.

Sorry to be pedantic, but this sort of detail is important in debates, and features especially frequently on the Guardian message boards where the emotive argument is that an independent Scotland will somehow steal Britishness from other UK citizens. It won't. They'll still be British.
 
 
# Exile 2012-06-07 08:51
As we're being pedantic Jake, the clue is in the orignial name in 1707: 'the United Kingdom of Great Britain.' Great Britain was the political construct created to unite England and Scotland as a single united kingdom. It harks back to Roman times and the terminology they used regarding the areas south and north of Hadrian's wall (Britannia inferior and Britannia superior (if I remember corrctly). It has absolutely nothing to do with Brittany. I don't know who first came up with this red herring, but it has no credibility whatsoever.

The bottom line is, when the Union is ended, 'Great Britain' will be no more. And good riddance!
 
 
# Alba4Eva 2012-06-07 10:25
en.wikipedia.org/.../...

"Great Britain or Britain (Welsh: Prydain Fawr, Scottish Gaelic: Breatainn Mhòr, Cornish: Breten Veur) is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, the largest European island, and the largest of the British Isles."


en.wikipedia.org/.../...

"The United Kingdom is a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system, with its seat of government in the capital city of London. It is a country in its own right[10] and consists of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales."

Sorry your wrong. It is the 'United Kingdom' part that is the political Construct. ie the UNITED KINGDOM of Great Brittain and Northern Ireland... Great Britain is wholly geographic and should be differentiated from the British isles, as it only refers to the largest Island in the british Isles. For example Arran is not part of Great Britain, as it is a separate island which is part of the British Isles.
 
 
# Jake62 2012-06-07 13:10
"As we're being pedantic . . "

That'll be the royal wee, no doubt.

"It has absolutely nothing to do with Brittany. I don't know who first came up with this red herring, but it has no credibility whatsoever."

You'll need to take that up with Geoffrey of Monmouth, then.

"In his pseudohistorica l Historia Regum Britanniae (c. 1136) he refers to the island of Great Britain as Britannia major ("Greater Britain"), to distinguish it from Britannia minor ("Lesser Britain"), the continental region which approximates to modern Brittany."

en.wikipedia.org/.../...
 
 
# Exile 2012-06-07 21:18
Jake

I think you and me constitutes a we, no? As for Geoff of Monmouth, that's all very well, and I bow to your knowledge there. But in its (pre)modern usage it dates to James VI and I and his aspiration to unite his two kingdoms, an aspiration that was finally fulfilled (if in a botched manner) in 1707. So, I admit to getting it wrong on the etymology, but not on the substantive point over UK = GB in 1707, and therefore end of UK = end of GB in 2015??? hopefully.
 
 
# James01 2012-06-07 08:47
Here is an example of the media bias the 'Yes' campaign received on its launch.

www.youtube.com/.../

I wonder when the 'No' campaign lauches if we'll get a complete turnaround by the media with 'Yes' campaigners receiving a series of easy leading questions in interviews and 'No' campaigners getting a hard time. Somehow I doubt it.
 
 
# A_Scottish_Voice 2012-06-07 09:01
I have had the misfortune of seeing this man several times on TV over the years, and it was very clear then that his analysis and opinion was not a true reflection of actual facts, but more a delusion of what he would like them to be.

I see that not much has changed.
 
 
# Suomi 2012-06-07 09:03
In spite of what I said in my earlier post,I do accept that there is a need for the Yes campaign to provide clarification on some topics.Not a detailed picture that will serve us for all time,but an idea about how some things would look.The currency,and defense are two obvious areas.Anecdotal evidence, also tells me that some people are worried about the effect on occupatioal pensions.

It is likely that different components of the YES campaign view these issues differently.It would be amazing if they didn't The trick will be make sure that differences are not exploited by the NO campaign.I see a broad based campaign (that includes non political groups and think tanks,such as the SDA) as a rich (fertile) source of ideas and innovation.However they must be able to show that they are united and that diversity is positive.

One thing that the Yes campaign should agree on,is how to take the venom away from the unionist attacks on the use of Sterling post-independence.The attack appears to be based on an argument that if you do not have monetary control,your not really independent,bec ause you cannot set interest rates etc.Actually a lot of EU countries are in a currency union and cannot fix interest rates but still consider themselves to be independent.The UK itself has devolved monetary control to the Bank of England,so using Ms Lamonnt's logic,I assume that the UK is not independent? There is a need to explain the difference between monetary and fiscal autonomy.While it might be reassuring to keep sterling temporarily,the re is a need to explain other long term options,albeit that we do not know what the economic situation will look like in the longer term.
 
 
# Siôn Jones 2012-06-07 10:03
Lamont says Scotland will have no fiscal powers if it uses sterling. That is nonsense - she does not understand the difference between monetary and fiscal measures. She says Scotland will be at the mercy of the English government - the BoE, which sets monetary policy, is independent of the government. Why she has not been publicly humiliated on this by Salmond, I don't know. Perhaps he is keeping his powder dry in order to slap her down in a more public forum than FMQs.
 
 
# Exile 2012-06-07 10:08
Suomi, I reckon the SNP's position on the currency has been made crystal clear. I'm not sure I agree with it myself, but it's a valid position and it's been spelled out. If the media choose to ignore it, whose fault is that? As far as I remember, the position on defence has also been spelled out in broad terms. Details are a matter for the government of the day, when the time comes, or for inclusion in the manifesto for elections to the first post-Independence Parliament.

It really isn't the YES campaign's or the SNP's fault if the BBC et al refuse to discuss the policy positions that have been published. In my view, that's just part of the disinformation campaign by the British State.
 
 
# Mei 2012-06-07 17:12
There will be plenty of time to switch currencies after we disentangle our countries and peoples assets. The last thing we want is currency turmoil when are getting set up.
 
 
# snowthistle 2012-06-07 10:27
Good points Suomi,
With regard to pensions, we do already pay our share of the bill for state pensions, so no problem there. Private pensions are provided by financial companies not by government so there should not be any problem there either.
I wholeheartedly agree about the need to explain the difference between monetary policy and fiscal policy. Where I disagree is on keeping sterling as our currency. It is not just reassuring, it's also the most logical decision. If our economies are broadly well aligned, and there is no reason to expect that they won't be come independence, then the same interest rate that is good for RUK will be good for Scotland.
A shared currency has solid advantages for trade and business. Floating a new currency has significant cost implications. When our economies diverge we must make a judgement on when the benefits of floating a new currency outweigh the cost. As an independent country we can do that. During Thatcher's time when the economy of the south east was overheating and sky high interest rates were used to combat the inflationary pressure, the north was stagnant and needed investment. With interest rates at the level they were at investment was killed stone dead and as part of the UK there was nothing we could do but suffer.
 
 
# Jamieson 2012-06-07 14:02
I believe that at first an Independent Scotland should use Sterling or at least peg its currency to Sterling. But there is no political mileage for the SNP to talk about being in a Currency Union with rUK when such an event is not in the SNP's power to deliver. And the NO people would never agree to it before the Referendum. The SNP are being shafted by this and the sooner it is dropped the better. However SHADOWING Sterling pegged at the current level IS within the SNP's power and should be hammered home as the preferred option. And details of how that would operate are quite simple to explain.
Changing the subject a bit. A point which seems to be forgotten by the SNP Government, people on this site and other sites like it, is that the Referendum will be won or lost by the votes of the masses whose needs, attention span and education are not the same as the activists here. And so far I haven't seen many policies set out in simple terms which would show how their lives might be affected. It's been mainly high falutin' stuff which MPs and SNPs like to talk about
 
 
# snowthistle 2012-06-07 15:01
Hi Jamieson,
Could you explain a bit more about shadowing sterling? I must admit to being completely ignorant of this idea.
 
 
# Mei 2012-06-07 17:16
The Saudi Riyal shadows the US dollar. They keep the Riyal at a fixed rate of SAR/USD = 3.75.This has been done since June 1986.
 
 
# snowthistle 2012-06-07 18:17
Yes, just not clear what advantage this would have for a newly independent Scotland. Not trying to be awkward I really am interested in the pros and cons
 
 
# Jamieson 2012-06-07 18:11
There's nothing complex about it. Many countries and other entities with their own currency shadow a stronger currency. For example the Channel Islands shadows Sterling pegged at parity, and the UK shadowed the Deutchmark in 1987/8 because it wouldn't join the ERM but wanted the advantages of low inflation deriving from that. 'Shadowing' is a form of monetary policy where a Government publicly declares, with or without consultation with the holders of the shadowed currency, that from a particular date its currency will be pegged to the stronger currency at some value which it believes it can comfortably sustain given the state of its economy and its intended fiscal policies. In Scotland's case that would probably be Sterling at parity.
It is certainly not a panacea, as those of us who lived through the financial disaster in the UK after it had to stop shadowing the Deutchmark in 1988 will remember, but it helps financial markets to assess the strength of a country's economy. In my view shadowing would be better for Scotland than any official Currency Union with UK as it would be much more flexible and leave ALL monetary as well as fiscal decisions in the hands of the Scottish Government.
Hope this helps>
 
 
# snowthistle 2012-06-07 18:55
Yes thank you, it did. It would seem then that you would still have the initial start up costs of floating your own currency but you would have the advantage that financial markets can be sure of the strength of a country's economy.
As, you can tell, I know little about this so I wonder is that advantage quantifiable? Could we make a reasonable gestimate of how much that would help the economy? and would the benefit outweigh the start up costs?
 
 
# Jamieson 2012-06-07 22:37
The start up costs would be negligible in the context of a country's economy. And even less so in an Independent Scotland because all the operations and levers necessary to set up a new currency are Sterling based and already in place. And a location to house employees for a new Treasury would be required for both types of set up.
Quantifiable? No. But the advantages and disadvantages of Currency Unions and 'shadowing' are to be seen at the moment in Europe. The UK and other countries not in the Eurozone have been virtually shadowing the Euro for a few years now, whereas of the remainder in the EZ some are doing very well others are not.
 
 
# Exile 2012-06-07 21:22
It's similar to what Denmark has being doing for decades, first vis-a-vis the Deutschmark, and then in relation to the Euro. They're still doing it and very successfully, although they have to keep on the ball to pre-empt attacks on their currency by speculators.
 
 
# daveniz 2012-06-07 09:18
So the polls say the majority don't want independance I don't beleive it for one second simply because all polls have the same ratio all the time of 3:1 for years now and they all are paid for by a unionist paper or political party and I'm sure there all paying for the result they want theres nothing to stop multiple polls being done and the paper or the political party poll picking one to fit there agenda or selecting people to give a very slanted outcome!
 
 
# pmcrek 2012-06-07 09:21
Mr Darlings poll used the phrase "seperate from the UK".

In Westminster nobody can hear you scream.
 
 
# Mako 2012-06-07 09:32
Another thing you forget about these opinion polls. They ask if you want to break up/separate from the UK. That is not what this referendum is about. Its about dissolving the Union of Parliaments, NOT the CROWN!!!
 
 
# Hugo 2012-06-09 06:03
It is a good point that Mako is making. The UK can have two different meanings.

If we refer to the Union of Parliaments as UP the we could have the eye-catching slogan "Down with UP".
 
 
# clootie 2012-06-07 09:35
I find it hard to believe that the 50 countries who have gained Independence since the 2nd World War had every issue resolved as they sat down at their first parliament.

I do know the drift of England towards a capitalist realm of market forces in which the strong prosper is in stark contrast to the Scottish values of fairness and social responsibility.

We just need to keep pointing at the policies creating social inequalties down South to know we can do better.

The NO campaign want the details of the bedroom colour scheme when we have still to buy the house.I'm more interested in owning the house first - I like the location (only downside is the noisy neighbours plus I hear they have stolen a bit of the garden)
 
 
# Exile 2012-06-07 10:10
Beautifully put clootie.
 
 
# Mako 2012-06-07 10:50
Indeed. If our fellow Scots think all will be well when Labour get back into power in a UK where Scotland is still dependent, they can think again. The only way Labour can keep the masses happy is to ensure that the foul play below the border does not reach Scotland. Thing is...they cant do that. There is no way that they will make welfare reforms, privatise elements of the NHS, charge for prescritions,fo r hospital parking,for Education In England, Wales & NI and not in Scotland.

If they did I suspect there would be riots. If they did not I also suspect there would be riots.

All we need to do is make it clear that a lot of the social democratic freedoms and privileges we enjoy were delivered by the SNP and are unsustanable unde ANY unionist.
 
 
# Macart 2012-06-07 09:46
Speaking of union positives. Came across this little item in the Guardian about Westminster creating closer links with Nowegian energy suppliers.

guardian.co.uk/.../...

Does anyone else think Cameron may be desperate to find a replacement for Scottish oil and gas? Could it possibly be that he's not so confident of a UK positive outcome for the referendum? And what happened to the whole why would we aspire to be like Norway thing anyway? According to the article Britain and Norway are great friends and allies, yet when Scotland and Norway are mentioned in the same breath as energy partners it suddenly becomes a laughable idea.
 
 
# scottish_skier 2012-06-07 10:10
I would say the Tories are most acutely aware the writing is on the wall. After all, there could be some benefits in Scottish independence for them. They'll do what they can to fight it, but at the same time prepare for it.

Labour in contrast are horrified at the prospect of losing 40 odd guaranteed MPs and I get the impression they are still largely in denial. They have been since 1997 as Scotland kept supplying them with what they want from it. The fact that they keep bringing up the 42% share they got in 2010 as a confirmation that 'Scotland loves Labour' says it all - heads firmly in the sand. The socio-political views of Scotland are only correctly reflected in the Holyrood vote; UKGE results are largely tactical. ~51% of the popular vote went to independence supporting parties in 2011. In theory, there is no need for a referendum really.

Current Lab/Lib party attitudes remind me of this from Father Ted.

intepid.com/res/417.gif
 
 
# Macart 2012-06-07 10:47
Hah, nice one. :)

In theory no there isn't, but this is where we differ from Westminster our parliament aspires to bring the people along with them, not herd them with a big stick. Whatever else happens in 2014 the current SG should be remembered for actually showing faith in the electorate and having the courage to empower the people to make their own choice. They've certainly set the precedent for people power, something the other team apparently are having great difficulty with.
 
 
# pmcrek 2012-06-07 11:20
Yeah its funny how the "You dont need a referendum, if people want independence they'll vote SNP" brigade seems to have been mute the last few years.
 
 
# Dcanmore 2012-06-07 09:50
The only worry I have over the next two years is the extraordinary amount of attention the 'No' campaign is going to get from the BBC and MSM, while isolating and demonizing Salmond and the SNP.
 
 
# Siôn Jones 2012-06-07 09:59
I am so looking forward to the 'No. . .but YES . . .But NO . .but YEs . . .' but NO campaign launch. I am still waiting to hear the details of exactly why we are stronger together, for instance. If it means military might, then it will fall flat. If it means economic prosperity - Osborne has disproved that as a theory.
 
 
# Caadfael 2012-06-07 11:03
No lessa person than Proffesor Ferdinand Porsche proved mathematically that the bumblebee cannot fly.
Seems he left the bee out of the loop!
 
 
# mealer 2012-06-07 10:14
Dcanmore,
thats a fact of life that isnt going to go away.The best we can do is to try to undermine peoples confidence in the neutrality of the media.We need people to go into the polling booth NOT believing everything the BBC tells them.Its a huge challenge for us.But its up to us to fight this battle.The SNP can do very little on this matter at the moment.We can.
 
 
# Mako 2012-06-07 10:54
Mealer
Agreed but we need to play our part. I will be attending all demo's regarding the BBC and also attending the Independence March this September. Things like this will not be easily ignored and will paint an opposing picture to the BBC's as well as letting the BBC know that we are onto them.
 
 
# ituna semea 2012-06-07 10:28
"It’s no secret that the “no” side are still playing catch up in almost every respect. While the SNP (which now forms the core of the “yes” campaign) has had since last May to prepare its case for independence, "
The SNP have had much longer than that it is their raison d'être.
 
 
# scottish_skier 2012-06-07 11:06
That and you can trace the movement for increasing autonomy in voting intention / historical events (e.g. 1949 petition for a Scottish Parliament) all the way back to to post WWII. Almost a direct correlation with decline of the empire incidentally; the empire being of course the original purpose of the union. With the empire gone, what is the purpose now? That is what the unionist parties need to come up with. Simply saying 'stronger together' raises the question as to why e.g. Denmark does not join Germany, or why Ireland does not rejoin the UK.
 
 
# Dundonian West 2012-06-07 11:42
Lord David Owen (ex Labour) on BBC R4 Today programme re Europe's difficulties,an d proposing a two question referendum.
Comparing the EU/Eurozone questions in the Referendum:---
"Just as the Labour Leader and the Conservative Party Prime Minister are getting together in handling the Scottish referendum."

Does that now make Conservative/Labour "getting together" re Scotland official?
Presumably this is with the full support of Scottish Labour and Johann Lamont who,I'd imagine,have some interest in Scotland and it's future.
Cameron and Milliband,"Getting together" on Scotland.
Oh dear---goodbye Scottish Labour's input.
 
 
# Macart 2012-06-07 11:48
Jings, nice catch DW.

So it's no really Darling, Kennedy and auntie Annabel, it's Cameron and Milliband. Puppets and strings spring tae mind.
 
 
# Dundonian West 2012-06-07 11:57
"So it's no really Darling, Kennedy and auntie Annaelle"
Yes Macart,it does look as if the Darling Trio are a bit of a red herring/irrelevance.
Real power and direction remains at Westminster/Establishment with ALL the resources of the UK State.
 
 
# Macart 2012-06-07 12:21
Yep, its always been the posh boys in reality. Their major hurdle has been the lack of major players north of the border. Well they've got front line now.

Jeez
 
 
# Mark 2012-06-07 11:47
Excellent Article if I wanted to slash my wrist.
David Torrance should have told us his positive case for the Union.
 
 
# BeltaneFire 2012-06-07 12:09
During the last few election campaigns, while door-to-door canvassing, we have been asking a series of consistent questions. The last of these questions was: Given the opportunity to vote in a referendum on Scottish independence, how would you vote, yes or no?

The results in the Almond Valley constituency, (Livingston and the surrounding area) show the average 'yes' vote in the mid-40%, while the no vote was around 30%, with the rest undecided.

Clearly, much to enthuse and build on, and hopefully, replicate across the country.

All to play for! The people want to be persuaded!
 
 
# Richardmci 2012-06-07 12:32
Was @ the launch of the 22 Sept, 2012 March and Rally for Scottish Independence - Edinburgh and was interested to hear there was Scottish Conservatives attending in support of Scottish Independence!
 
 
# Mako 2012-06-07 12:35
EH?! Seriously?

How did the it go? I coudnt make the launch but will not miss the event itself.
 
 
# ButeHouse 2012-06-07 15:14
Am I miss reading this post? The date says 22nd Sept 2012. Was this recent launch in reference to a March and Rally being held on that date or is the date wrong?

VOTE YES in 2014
 
 
# Richardmci 2012-06-07 13:08
# Mako Yes seriously. The launch went well S.T.V. Equinox and even the B.B.C. There filming and doing interviews.

As to the Tories being there, it was announced by the organiser that this march is not just about the S.N.P. but the Greens and Socialists are involved also and then the bombshell was dropped about the Tories! Very encouraging.
 
 
# Mad Jock McMad 2012-06-07 13:24
Question Mr Torrance:

Just what are the benefits in continuing this asymetric political union and where are the Westminster policies to deal with the 60+% routine support for full fiscal autonomy for Scotland? Where is the Westminster policy to create a Scottish Oil fund? Where is the Westminster policy to promote inward investment for renewables in Scotland? Where are the Westminster policies to protect Scotland's cente left political view point on social democracy?

You see, from where I am sitting Westminster are devoid of any policies that will even begin to address the people of Scotland's stated political wishes and ultimately the continuing threat to Scotland's social democratic tradition will be the main driver for the Yes to indepndence vote.

The secret is in the increasing SNP vote share in election after election since 2007 - in the most recent local Governemnt election, that is an opinion poll decided by people who actually exercise their vote, there was a further swing from Labour to the SNP of 5%. That is a mid term government whose support is still increasing.

The real problem for the likes of Mr Torrance is they look at Scottish Politics through the bottom of a Westminster optic instead of looking at what is actually happening.
 
 
# freeussoon 2012-06-07 16:46
MJMCM

Totally agree with your last sentence.

Was very interesting today watching a Select Commitee in Westminster taking "advice" from Professor Gavin McCrone re-economic aspect of Independence. In reply to a Lib Dem lord, he stated that he had been disappointed that his report that an oil fund should be setup was ignored.

There were the usual suspects in attendance Lawson, Forsyth to name but two. This commitee were woefully ignorant of various aspects of proposed Independence which one member actually admitted! You would think that a little homework should have been in order.
 
 
# Teri 2012-06-07 13:26
I believe the 'No' campaign is now the 'Yes' campaign. Yes to the union of course. It seems they have decided they are going to be positive about the union which I'm really looking forward too. It is to be a 'soft launch' - not showbiz stars or razzamatazz and the date that is being banded about is 22 June, though some concede they may be read for the 15 June.
So, we are having 2 'Yes' campaigns. Will this confuse the public?
 
 
# Aplinal 2012-06-07 13:51
Perhaps the "Yes" to dependency campaign will also try to influence the question. I am banking on a non-biased question:

Should Scotland be independent? You have one vote.

YES or
YES
 
 
# clootie 2012-06-07 18:53
You have to be very,very stupid to build your campaign against Independence by implanting "Yes" in the mind of the voter.

I'm delighted but it tells you a great deal about the quality of their team.
 
 
# Robert Louis 2012-06-07 13:33
The britnats like Darling, Goldie, and the other guy, all make the same mistake over and over again. They confuse THREE distinct entities, the YES campaign, the SNP as a political party, and the Scottish Government. Whilst there is crossover, the reality is that as the campaign for YES progresses, the other elements become separate matters.

Time will show, as the YES campaign gathers pace, the utter folly of the britnats focussing their venom on Alex Salmond and the SNP. They are in fact fighting the wrong battle. They are just too daft to understand their mistakes.

For that single reason, we can be sure the YES campaign will win.

Just a point on this negative britnat NO campaign. We should not indulge their obfuscation by calling them by various convoluted names, we should call them only by what they really are, the NO campaign.

Vote YES in 2014.
 
 
# Independista 2012-06-07 15:59
Indeed RL.
And in case the unionists give vague promises to giving increased powers to Scotland we hammer home the message.
Vote No to independence. GET NOTHING!
 
 
# Dundonian West 2012-06-07 13:41
clootie 10:35."I do know the drift of England towards a capitalist realm of market forces in which the strong prosper is in stark contrast to the Scottish values of fairness and social responsibility.

We just need to keep pointing at the policies creating social inequalties down South to know we can do better."

WELL SAID,AND IT'S A POINT TO HAMMER HOME AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY----especially to Unionist,London centric 'Scottish' Labour who will stay with the Westminster Establishment forever.
 
 
# Mako 2012-06-07 15:14
Question to all. Does anyone know of a web page, facebook page etc set up Independence minded Scottish Torries?
 
 
# xyz 2012-06-07 19:34
I can hear it already from the LabourCons .. "You 'liked' the Tories!"
 
 
# Seagetagrip 2012-06-07 15:33
O/T

EIS are supporting votes for 16 and 17 year olds. Have no position on Referendum. Article in Scottish Times.
 
 
# Seagetagrip 2012-06-07 15:35
It will be interesting to hear if reported in EIS Conference news......? Doubt it!
 
 
# Mako 2012-06-07 16:03
This is a really welcome piece of news. One way to encourage people to grow up and take responsibility is to give them responsibility. It should also encourge people to become more politically active and vote from a young age, rather than what we have now.
 
 
# daveniz 2012-06-07 17:29
the head of eis is either a completely misguided idiot or a unionists with there idiotic logic how can he say that if the westminister government doesn't change there stance on pensions for teachers with contributions and working conditions and then go on to say they will go on strike if they can't do a deal with the Scottish government who doesn't have control over pensions! he sounds like a unionist that attended the Jackie ballie school of lies blaming the Scottish government for a Westminster decision!
 
 
# farrochie 2012-06-07 19:03
Ed Milliband was interviewed on C4 News by Krishnan.

channel4.com/.../...

Ed Milliband really stumbled over this. Krishnan didnt even put the boot in but he exposed Ed completely about his identity; he failed to claim any sense of history, culture or values. For Ed it eventually came down to (IMO) "stronger economically" together, ie, they are happy to rob Scotland of its revenues.
 
 
# farrochie 2012-06-07 19:16
Oh ay, and he doesn't want his kids needing to carry a passport when they cross into Scotland.
 
 
# scottish_skier 2012-06-07 19:56
Boy he struggled when there was no need really. Ended up listing all these particularly appealing 'English' qualities in a way that sounded like he was saying they were unique to England when that was unlikely the intention. Dug himself into a hole.

Would have been a lot easier just to say:

"I live in England and love living here. I have chosen it as my country; my home. Ergo, I'm English"

Not hard really. 'I was born here' is not even a requirement.

Interviewer should have prodded him more on Britishness. What exactly is that? Well, it's Scottish, N. Irish, Welsh and English, so obviously will continue to exist post independence.
 
 
# Richardmci 2012-06-07 19:28
For ButeHouse above....# ButeHouse 2012-06-07 16:14
Am I miss reading this post? The date says 22nd Sept 2012. Was this recent launch in reference to a March and Rally being held on that date or is the date wrong?

No the date is right..https://www.facebook.com/ScottishIndepen dence?sk=wall
 
 
# velofello 2012-06-07 20:17
The No campaign -what can we expect? asks Mr Torrance.
It says it on the tin MrT - negativity, loads and loads of it. Let me help you, just picture a wee green imp perched on your shoulder for the next two and a bit years constantly trying to encourage self doubt in you.
Another picture to help you is of a sinking (UK) ship and lifeboats suspended on shoogily supports. Meantime the band on the ship continues to play and the passengers sing Rule Brittania.
A wee trailer of this was the past four days of Londoncentric indulgence with more to come courtesy of the Olympics.
 
 
# gfaetheblock 2012-06-07 20:19
A refreshing and well written article.

The trio leading the campaign to retain the UK will play well I think and cover a broad spectrum of policical views. They will be a good challenge to Salmond, who needs to widen the support he has from Harvie and Sturgeon.
 
 
# alicmurray 2012-06-07 22:49
Today's Yougov poll was about the sale of Scottish Water. They also had a question about trust or lack of. The BBC and STV were amongst the choices offered with the utility companies and Network Rail.
 
 
# Seagetagrip 2012-06-08 09:51
Torrance is a well established member of the Roye/Young/Torrance Axis. Pinch of salt time, methinks.
 
 
# Kinghob 2012-06-08 10:16
David Torrance has written an article with loads of wishful thinking replacing facts.

It isn't 'rubbish' as such, just pure opinion based on not a lot except the corny rhetoric that the unionists can somehow take the Scots love of the union for granted.

To say that the 'no' campaign has a stronger team is dreaming balderdash, the YES campaign will see many in civic Scotland and business and even the famous give their support over the next two years as our intellect will be insulted by unionist sentimental idiotic negativity.

How tired did the dodo unionist brigade look on bbc question time last night-ranting away, calling Scottish nationalism 'narrow nationalism' whilst berating a pro Independence actor for having dual citizenship by virtue of holding a British and American passport!

Scratch just beneath the surface of the unionist rhetoric and you will see the nasty invective simply bleed out in front of you.

I was at a 'jubilee celebration' punk gig last weekend and the amount of people that got on stage to shout "It's over' and suchlike and getting the cheers were many......the ones shouting for the union were zero.....they are all in the media or on the telly force feeding us their frightened negative bullshit.
 
 
# Kinghob 2012-06-08 10:21
Quote:
The trio leading the campaign to retain the UK will play well I think and cover a broad spectrum of policical views. They will be a good challenge to Salmond, who needs to widen the support he has from Harvie and Sturgeon.


Who are they again?

How many Scottish voters right now could name this magic trio that are going to save the union and save us poor Scots from making our own decisions?

The unionist 'nay sayers' political views will only obstruct them and tarnish their message who will be aimed to deliver only pure obfuscation on the issues involved-they will only be united in negativity and we will tire of it.

The thing that people such as yourself always forgets is that this isn't "Alex Salmond's referendum.......my name isn't Alex Salmond and I want this referendum! That's just one of many many people.

The fact that the Daily Telegraph or the bbc don't want it and neither do westminster politicians just doesn't interest me or rock my political beliefs in the slightest........it's over mate!
 
 
# gfaetheblock 2012-06-08 20:30
Goldie, darling and Kennedy, thought it was mentioned in the article above. All will have strong recognition, and over this very long slog to the referendum they will become better known. They haven't even launched yet mind.

Salmond seems the be taking a presidential approach, the figure head for the yes camp. People may tire of his perhaps?
 
 
# alba 2012-06-09 09:53
Quoting gfaetheblock:
Salmond seems the be taking a presidential approach, the figure head for the yes camp. People may tire of his perhaps?

Probably not; did the yanks get tired of George Washington? Both have/had faults but both are/were best place to end London rule. I dont care what title he chooses; or what title others would, perhaps, give him. All I care about ending this so-called union.
 
 
# Kinghob 2012-06-09 20:51
Quote:
gfaeblock: "Goldie, darling and Kennedy, thought it was mentioned in the article above. All will have strong recognition."


Er, I mentioned that most people, even those who might have already decided to vote for the dire status quo of the union will not remember these unionists, consisting of two spectacularly failed leaders and one spectacularly failed uk chancellor!

Beat that one!
 
 
# gfaetheblock 2012-06-09 23:21
Well, you clearly remember them, so there names definitely have some currency.

You may dislike them, but I find it hilarious that people can simplify the global financial meltdown to one man or party having failed. The others are two well liked leaders of parties that will never win the elections that they were competing in.

What basis do you have for no one remembering them?
 
 
# Leal 2012-06-12 11:42
In answer to the title Question.

I would Expect 'No Scotland ' to Exist should we vote for NO Scotland.

There will be NO scotland if we are Manipulated by skilled propagandists among the Enemy ranks into Voting NO.

quite simple really.
 

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