Less than a week and too close to call. The independence referendum is upon us. There is no getting away from the fact that the Better Together campaign has allowed the SNP & Yes Scotland to frame the debate and run with the Scotland vs The Tories line. I warned of such the very start. It is incumbent on Better Together and other `No` groups to counter this narrative. I understand the need to focus on the `don`t knows` but the resulting effect has been a distinct lack of passion in comparison to the Yes campaign. There has been very little mention of Britishness and a woeful under use of Welsh & Northern Irish politicians to broaden the No campaign. The Yes campaign has not shied away from using Plaid Cymru or Bernadette Devlin McAliskey. Yet the Better Together campaign has resolutely spurned anyone not from the other big three. I was therefore glad to see interventions this week by both the First Minister of Wales and the First Minister of Northern Ireland urging Scots to stay in the Union.
Having an English father, Northern Irish mother and having been reared largely in Dumfries & Galloway in the South West of Scotland, I feel British and have a strong affinity with Scotland. For that reason alone I don`t want Scotland to leave yet there are so many more reasons why I think Scotland should stick with the Union.
The elephant in the room during the various debates has been `independence`. What is actually on offer is separation from the rest of the UK rather than true independence which would see Scotland with it`s own currency outside of the UK & EU. The SNP campaign has centred on the argument that `independence` would allow Scottish decision being taken in Scotland rather than Westminister. This was contradicted at the European elections by the European Free Alliance (of which the SNP & Plaid are part) who produced a video stating that:-
“70% of our daily activities are governed by laws that originate from the EU”. – European Free Alliance
Last nights debate saw George Galloway nail the other major sovereignty issue. Currency. Not often I agree with George (he has me blocked on Twitter) but on Scottish independence he is 100%. As the Daily Record headlined “Bank of England governor says Scotland won’t be independent if it shares the pound”. This is backed up by the Nobel prize economist Paul Krugman in the New York Times who says “the combination of political independence with a shared currency is a recipe for disaster.”
Today both Labour & UKIP will hold Pro Union events in Scotland and the Orange Order will hold a rally in Edinburgh tomorrow. Many have argued that the likes of the Tories, UKIP & Orange Order hurt the No campaign but in reality I think it reflects that the NO campaign is very broad one. The fact that Labour, Lib Dems, the Tories, UKIP, the Unions (GMB, Aslef, Usdaw and the Communication Workers Union), UUP, DUP, First Minister of Wales & Northern Ireland pretty much covers the entire UK political spectrum (plus the likes of JK Rowling, Eddie Izzard and Stephen Hawkings).
Last night also saw BBC Northern Ireland`s The View returned with a discussion about Scottish independence very much on the agenda. The implications for the rest of the UK, should their be a Yes vote, are profound. Sinn Fein`s John O`Dowd used `The View` discussion on Scottish independence to push for a border poll. Even a `No` vote will in my opinion lead to a constitutional convention and perhaps a federal UK (different proposals here (Federal Trust), here, here (Scottish Tories) and here and here). Nigel Farage is quoted this morning as saying “I am fully in favour of a federal United Kingdom,” We need a new constitutional settlement.” whilst Nick Clegg has backed radical English devolution.