Double Bluff


By Derek Bateman

Of all the strengths at the disposal of the Yes campaign one of the most muscular and effective is the selfish and ill-informed posturing of Tory English backbenchers. These are individuals, virtually all male, whose braying and crowing against rebellious Scots is a counter-effective agent in the cause of Union.

In fact, collectively they sound like people who are secretly against Union just as they are more openly against the EU and they find it impossible to stop themselves from damaging their own country and their own party.

They have a self-righteous, indignant tone that implies this is their country, their currency, their assets, their rights. And, furthermore, if you Scots carry on, you’ll be punished. Like a landowner maddened by ramblers, they seem to say: “Get off of my land…”

It’s long been clear that the Union is a Good Thing for England’s political representatives – so long as it works to their advantage. This means in broad terms that they have the upper hand, get to dictate, allocate and restrict according to their own perceived national need. This is the England in which Scotland, Wales and Ireland (N) are the lucky passengers, permitted to share the journey sitting in the cheap seats.

Therefore the national (UK) resources are England’s essentially and are disbursed to the deserving but the quid pro quo is in return a sense of gratitude, albeit unspoken, and an acknowledgment that none of this would be possible without the nod of approval from the patient English nation. They have allowed the Barnett Formula to strip them of much needed resources in order to featherbed the Scots, mostly done to quell Northern nationalistic tendencies, and now that the ingratitude has reached epic proportions and threatens the existence of the very state itself, it is time to remind them who is boss and what price they will pay.

Thus Mark Field (City of London) and Peter Bone (Northamptonshire) have decided that after a Yes vote the Barnett Formula should cease immediately and not continue while negotiations go on. “It should not exist now”, says Bone. “It would be doubly absurd if it were to continue after they had voted for independence”. You get the drift. In effect, we will cut off their money supply and let them stew. Then we’ll demand a referendum to decide if “we” will allow them to share “our” currency. And I thought narrow nationalism was confined to the Scots…

This is part of the much wider media view which frames Scottish self-determination as an attack on England. It is only if you believe you are giving charity to someone – that you have done your best for them – that you are offended when they want to get on without you. In this they are heavily backed by both the British government whose legal advice is that it all belongs to them and Scotland ceased to exist 300 years ago and generations of compliant, self-serving Unionist MPs not one of whom ever stood up in the Commons and declared: My country is not subsidised.

No matter how many humiliations were piled on Scotland by eye-bulging Tory backwoodsmen, not one brave Scot had the guts to represent his or her country and put them in their place. It suited their real agenda – of downing the SNP and keeping the Union at any cost – and what was Scotland’s dignity when compared to the party’s advantage?

It still goes on. I can’t find a single one of Scotland’s Unionist MPs replying to those arguing for the end of the funding arrangement. Is that because they agree it must end but it would be too honest to tell the Scots? This is the Union at work.

The great unspoken irony of course is that independence is precisely the process by which English taxpayers get out of any funding arrangement with the Scots. The message of the nationalists is exactly the opposite of what the right-wing zealots target as Scotland’s case…it is to raise all the money for Scotland here in Scotland. Logically, wouldn’t you think they should be quietly saying this could be a good thing instead of wailing and whinging about Scottish budgets in an orgy of beggar-my-neighbour? In truth, I suspect they enjoy this catfight.

It gives them a platform and resounds with their voters. When else do you hear these Captain Manwearings except when someone has to be put in their place…immigrants, muslims, benefits cheats, Brussels or Scots?  And yet Labour has no reply, just silence…the Union at work.

I think the intervention of the English Neanderthals does our cause good. I think the Scots get it…they’re not wanted by this section of England and they want no part of them either. They are saying what you suspect secretly Cameron’s whole tribe also think but for diplomatic reasons has to keep hidden.

It is an unforeseen consequence of the referendum that both sides are now being seen in their true colours. One side, demonised by our own media, wants to stand on its own feet, raise its own taxes and spend more humanely while rebuilding a mature relationship with our closest neighbour: the other, unquestioningly backed by the media, is funded by a tiny wealthy elite, wants to keep us dependent while cutting our budgets and demands to control while routinely insulting us.

There is no political campaign which doesn’t contain an element of grievance, be it injustice, suppression, inequality or cultural resentment.  These Tory die-hards (have they had a complaint about their remarks from Ruth Davidson?) feed those feelings and damage the very thing they profess to support, the UK.

Similarly the relentless stream of Unionism as absolute font of power, far from intimidating the Scots as it is intended to do, is becoming so tedious, repetitive, unreasonable and irritating that is counter productive.

This week the opinion of a Glasgow University Professor who is committed to support of the Union and of this government told us we had little real stake in the assets of our own country. Only those fixed assets actually in Scotland and the finances were available to Scots, claimed Professor Adam Tomkins, the new darling of the Union-obsessed media. I say so because he has ready access to the newspapers and broadcasters where he goes largely unchallenged although on my own programme he could barely contain himself in frustration that anyone should counter his arguments.

Like many in academia he his clearly convinced of his own omnipotence and uses it to give total support to the British. He told Newsnight that the Scottish government had no powers to hold a referendum and should do as London suggested and accept the offer of legal underpinning.

He backs their legal advice that the rUK will be successor state and will retain everything it has, a highly debateable assertion disputed by, among others, Professor David Sheffer, and I, believe, by the EU’s own lawyers. Tomkins of course is entitled to his view and to express it but I read all his words with scepticism as to me he sounds more like a campaigner than a balanced academic. He proclaims his love of Britain and deep desire for it to continue. Did I mention that he is advising Ruth Davidson on her devolution commission?

I think the onslaught of Unionist aggression implying that Scotland has no real stake in the UK is a black arts secret weapon that is wearing down the soft Unionist support. How long before more and more of us reach the same conclusion – if that’s all they think of me, why would I stay? If all they can do is belittle me, why would I stay? If all they do is frighten me, why would I stay?

Incidentally, I think there will be no referendum on currency sharing because the political elite will know from big business that it is a no-brainer. And I back a review of Barnett if there is a NO. Public spending shows for a start that far too much money goes to London (more per head than Scotland) and that not enough reaches the Midlands and the North of England.

But I don’t trust the politicians to do it. If distribution of resources is to be reformed, let’s have a non-political body to do it and as soon as the truth is revealed, that Scotland pays in more than comes back, and therefore should be compensated, perhaps the English Nationalist knuckle-draggers will put a bone through their nose.

And am I wrong to think that Bob Dudley, paid a few million quid to run BP, took his chance to turn attention away from a 30 per cent drop in profits? Imagine losing that amount in the oil industry. I don’t think Mr Dudley needs referendum uncertainty to lose the company money. Thank  goodness there are excellent commentators like Ivan McKie to hand to make the obvious point – that both currency and EU uncertainty are in London’s hands, not ours.

Shouldn’t the head of a major company be smarter than Mr Dudley? (Scotland will use sterling – it’s up to London how it will work. the EU will clarify Scotland’s position if London asks) Come on, Bob, get with it. And remember, if Trident goes, you can drill off the west coast!

Courtesy of Derek Bateman