Elites scramble- in England the elite are scrambling. The “Better Together” campaign has enlisted the help of ex-PM Gordon Brown who rolled out a series of, well, desperate promises to give Scotland everything short of independence if they vote no on September 18th.
Here’s the problem- the offer only reminds the Scots of how for many decades all their appeals to Westminster to give Home Rule to Holyrood within the Union have been rebuffed. Indeed, all throughout the period when the Better Together campaign seemed to be on top in the polls, no such promises were forthcoming. Better Together’s appeal appears to be negative. It amounted to threats that the Scots would lose the Pound and a whole rash of bad consequences, some of which, like the Pound, would be punitive acts by an angry England. This was hardly the way to woo voters.
Throughout Scotland’s schools, being for Independence is “cool”, and nobody wants to be seen with a “NO” sticker or button. In a vote which, astonishingly, gives the vote to anyone 16 years and older, this is far more significant than pollsters and pundits might even now understand. In the streets, the YES crowd are fond of pelting eggs and hurling insults at the NO crowd, and nobody seems interested in stopping this. Indeed, it must be noted, the Scottish government is fully behind the YES vote and, surprisingly ignored by pollsters, these people have already won their party’s vote.
Now Westminster is all about “devolution”. This will not work. It is clumsy, cloying even, and only reminds the Scots that they can have all the home rule they want by voting YES rather than waiting for Gordon Brown to roll out a “plan for devolution” and Home Rule “by the end of November.” If this can happen so quickly, why wasn’t it proposed and promoted last year and why wasn’t it touted as a reason to stay in the Union?
Were I a Scot I’d vote for the Union, and I can think of many reasons why this is desirable. Scotland are a great people and a vital part of the UK. By going it alone they renounce that inheritance, which is the British identity, a British identity and way of life many Scots fought and died for. Consider World War Two, consider also the future. One does not have to give up being Scottish in order to be British, but one loses the British identity and heritage by a rash independence that will divide Great Britain and undermine the existence of Britain itself.
Scotland is better within the Union, it has earned a respectable inheritance within Britain, its sons and daughters have made that flag their own. The YES campaign are seeking to sunder a beneficial Union for transient political aims, they essentially want a free hand to move further down the road to socialism, they are putting their Party and their ideology, which tomorrow may be forgotten, ahead of a 300 plus year Union that has quite literally made their people wealthy and powerful.
But, having said all that, it’s far too late in the game for the Better Together crowd to come up with a positive message or to overcome the popularity of Independence. Who wants to say “no” to anyone these days? And therein is the problem. The Better Together crowd, so demonstrably “establishment”, occupied the “no” space, not the “yes” space. It should have been “choose Union of Independence” and the Union crowd should have defined “Independence” as “secession” for party political reasons.
The election results are too close to call. Conservatives, loyalists to England who live in Scotland, and the monied classes will all vote for the Union. The socialists, many of the young, and the working class will vote for independence. But the choice is not patriotic: the NO crowd are not feeling sentimental to Britain, they are feeling frightened about the prospect of living in a socialist state; the YES crowd are not re-enacting “Braveheart” at the ballot box with a deep love for Scotland, they’re saying yes to hand-outs and socialist utopianism.