It is a classic of the Hollywood Western genre as portrayed by everyone from Gary Cooper to Clint Eastwood. The quiet man just trying to live a peaceful life, ignoring provocation from the baddies until something inside him snaps. With a reluctant sigh he straps on the belt and comes out all guns blazing. Happy ending, bad guys slain, peace restored to a grateful populace.
For big easy going guys the Coopers and Eastwoods of this world can’t half wreak some havoc. Happens in real life too. Churchill said that ” To jaw – jaw is always better than to war – war”, but when jawing proved fruitless old Winnie caused mayhem from the Boer war to WWII.
And so to the independence campaign. If anyone was labouring under the illusion that this wasn’t a war the events of the last few days should have caused the scales to fall from their eyes.
It started with the BBCs campaign, courtesy of Glen Campbell (great singer, played a goodie in True Grit. Where did it all go wrong?). He traipsed around Europe, at taxpayer’s expense, desperately seeking EU foreign ministers with hee haw knowledge of British constitutional history, or international law, to warn the Scottish electorate that in the event of a yes vote they would be punted out of the club and only allowed back in 9 years hence and then only provided they adopted the Euro and handed over their oil and fish.
It continued with the leaking of an old Scottish cabinet briefing paper carefully timed to coincide with the release of the latest GERS figures. The GERS figures were all good news for the independence campaign showing Scotland’s fiscal deficit was far lower than the UK’s and on a per head basis we were over £800 better off than the UK. The figures continue to underpin the economic case for independence.
The leaked cabinet briefing was spun to make it look like the Scottish Government was going to cut pensions, slash defence spending and was facing a huge hole in the public finances. The unionist press, in what appeared to be a coordinated attack, printed lurid headlines and repeated all the distortions, misrepresentation and downright lies they were fed by the No campaign.
So how did the Yes campaign and the SNP/government react? Like a laid back Gary Cooper still waiting for something to snap inside and turn them into one of Eastwoods avenging “angels”.
True, Alex Salmond gave a typically spirited performance pointing out that the naysayers of the opposition parties must be the only politicians on the planet who see oil wealth as a curse. But nothing is being done to directly counter the claims of the no campaign.
Yes Scotland (and I’m a part of it) and the SNP are running a positive campaign emphasising all the benefits of an independent country. But being positive isn’t enough. The Dr Goebbels of this world don’t put so much effort into propaganda because it doesn’t work. We have been subjected to propaganda for decades not just the last year and half which is one of the reasons it is difficult to counter even before you consider the bias of the msm.
If you look at some of the newspaper comments columns in the British/English press, as I know some of you are brave enough to do, you can’t fail to be startled by not only the level of bile delivered but the astonishing depth of ignorance on display. It is far worse than the Scottish press where at least a section of contributors have some idea of what they are talking about. But the views propounded exist because there has been no counter to the years of anti Scottish, anti independence rhetoric from politicians and the press.
It can’t go on. We have to counter. I’m not suggesting we go negative and indulge in the kind of shameful personal attacks we have seen from Better Together and the Labour Party in particular, but we are ignoring a huge opportunity to take the very propaganda being used against us and turning it round to show that the people you shouldn’t be trusting are the no campaign and that they are actually making our case for us.
Take the Campbell tour of Europe. We know he only broadcast half the story from the Latvian FM who said that the EU were looking at the legal implications of the UKs membership not just Scotland’s. We know that both the Irish and Luxembourg FMs have complained that their remarks were misrepresented. We know too that there have been public demonstrations against BBC bias. None of this of course is broadcast by them. We should be taking every opportunity to broadcast, no pun intended, this bias including working it into interviews on the BBC. After all if Ian Davidson can get away with the ludicrous accusation that Newsnight is actually NewsNat why can’t we speak the truth?
Over the top? Do we want to risk offending the BBC? Make no mistake the BBC like the msm are not our friends and never will be. Tackle the bias head on and you get it into the public domain and who knows maybe embarrass them into more balanced reporting. While we are at it we need to get some older and wiser heads on screen. Too often the young bucks are too quick to try and score points rather than skilfully dissect the opposition claims. I’ve lost count of the number of opportunities lost to bring them to book and well short of convinced that some of the people who appear are fully conversant with all the facts.
The Bitter Together attack on the leaked cabinet paper is actually full of opportunities to highlight the distortions, misrepresentations and downright lies being peddled by them. These can be used not only to emphasise that they can’t be trusted to either inform the debate or the electorate but when you reveal the truth behind their propaganda you actually highlight positives for independence.
I’m sitting looking at their latest leaflet, you can check it out on their website. Consists of both paper headlines and their own spin, 90% garbage.
So what sort of things am I talking about in their “Top Secret” report? Again you can read the full thing on their website, it is all open to challenge. Let’s look at one or two examples.
Point 14 in the paper. BT highlights, “However in 2016-17 OBR forecasts suggest that Scotland would have a marginally larger net fiscal deficit than the UK”. Their accompanying post it says, ” Today they claim that Scotland is better off than the UK. They admit internally that we’d soon be worse off.”
Claim? No, fact. They have admitted nothing at all. The figures are from the OBR, the Office for Budget Responsibility, a UK government dept! These like nearly all the figures in the paper are UK government forecasts not Scottish government forecasts. The OBR has a miserable record of forecasting.
Point 22. BT highlights “North Sea tax receipts have been more volatile than onshore receipts” (well duh). Their post it says,” A key point. The SNP know that oil revenue is going down but refuse to say so publicly.”
The report paragraph goes on to say that the March 2011 UK budget forecast £61.3bn in revenue between 2011-12 and 2015-16. In the 2012 budget they were revised down to £44.1bn. Again these are UK government forecasts. The SNP, and nobody else either, knows oil revenue is going down. These forecasts are part of the UK budget so they can hardly be a Scottish government secret.
Underlying these figures are oil price forecasts by the Department for the Enviroment and Climate Change (DECC). Now the guys at the DECC know this isn’t an exact science and confirm that by providing not one forecast but three. A high, a low and a medium. Guess which one the OBR use. As this is an old document we do know one of the figures. 2011-12 forecast for Scottish share of oil revenue, £10.1bn, actual revenue £10.574bn.
Point unnumbered. BT highlight (John Swinney), ” Scotland is assigned a per capita share of UK defence spending.”……………………………………” I have made it clear to the Defence Workstream that a much lower budget must be assumed.” Their post it says, “Publicly the SNP claim we’ll have 15,000 soldiers, keep bases open etc. Not possible if defence spending cut.” I don’t think they have ever claimed 15,000 soldiers, 15,000 total forces maybe, but we’ll let that pass.
This is the bit missing from the report quote,”This represents the cost of defence activities undertaken by the UK government for Scottish residents. Historically defence spending in Scotland has been lower than Scotland’s population share of the UK budget.” Didn’t highlight that did they? Defence spending isn’t being cut it is being increased! The UK spends about £2bn in Scotland but we pay about £3.5bn to the UK for defence. The Scottish government is proposing to spend approx. £2.5bn on defence, thereby saving £1bn of contribution to the UK but actually spending £500m more here in Scotland.
There are plenty more examples. It is all there, lies, damned lies and statistics. We can counter all this reinforcing the case for independence and confirming that the public can’t rely on the unionists to give them truthful information.
Press releases, leaflets, showing up their distortions in television interviews, whatever. It is time to take their ammo and fire it back at them. It is time for Gary to buckle on the guns and Clint to look out the poncho. After all a mans gotta do what a mans gotta do.