By Bob Duncan
As we reach the end of a year which has been characterised by scare stories and negativity from anti-independence politicians, say the SNP, the No campaign’s New Year’s resolution should be to raise the quality of the referendum debate in 2013.
The Nationalists have appealed to the Better Together campaign against Scottish independence to raise its game next year by signalling an end to its tactic of scaremongering, and have cheekily assured No campaigners that Hogmanay will continue as normal after independence.
Despite their promise earlier this year to ‘make the positive case for the Union’, claims emanating from Better Together campaign politicians include: an independent Scotland losing the pandas from Edinburgh zoo, an independent Scotland losing its NHS, and even England being forced to bomb the airports of an independent Scotland.
SNP MSP Bruce Crawford – who convenes the Referendum (Scotland) Bill Committee – said:
“After this year of silly scaremongering, it’s surprising the anti-independence campaign hasn’t claimed Hogmanay would stop under independence.
“Just as our great traditional New Year celebrations would continue in an independent Scotland, the NHS would carry on, ‘English’ would still be taught on the school curriculum and there would be no custody battle over the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo.
“A Tory peer even suggested that England could be forced to bomb an independent Scotland’s airports in the event of a terrorist attack.
“As they reflect on the campaign they have been running this year, anti-independence politicians should make it their New Year’s resolution to raise the tone of the referendum debate in 2013. Some of the stuff that the people of Scotland have heard this year has frankly been an insult to their intelligence, and they deserve better.
“People have legitimate questions to ask, which is why we need an open platform – not one congested by the most bizarre claims, including saying our friends and family in the rest of the UK would become foreign.
Referring to what he characterised as the more positive Yes campaign, Mr Crawford continued:
“In contrast, the Yes campaign is rooted in a positive approach that represents all of Scotland’s communities – young and old, job-creators, Labour movement figures, civic Scotland, the Arts and urban and rural Scotland.
“The SNP believes Scotland’s people – and its future generations – should be in charge of their own fate and know that the alternative to a Yes vote in 2014 would be to see the achievements of devolution being rolled back.
“Being independent is the best option for Scotland, because the people best placed to take decisions on all issues that affect Scotland are the people who choose to live and work here. That is the fundamental truth which resonates so powerfully with people across this nation.
“A country that earns its wealth and shares it more fairly, where every child has the chance to grow up and fulfil their potential and that enjoys excellent relations with its friends across these islands.”
Examples of negative and scaremongering stories from 2012 included the following:
- Lord Fraser, the former Tory Solicitor General, claimed that England could have no choice but to bomb Scottish airports in order to defend itself from attack if Scotland became independent
- Home Secretary Theresa May claimed that passport checks would be issued at Scotland’s border with England
- There were claims that the Westminster Government would seize custody of the giant pandas at Edinburgh Zoo post-independence
- Anas Sarwar claimed that in an independent Scotland we wouldn’t have access to our favourite television shows or current affairs programming
- Lord Caithness suggested that the northernmost Scottish Isles and Rockall be ruled from London in the event of independence
- Philip Hollobone, a Tory MP says that an independent Scotland would face an economic crisis similar to Greece
- According to Ian Davidson MP and Michael Kelly, former Labour Councillor and Lord Provost of Glasgow, individual constituencies could stay part of the UK if Scotland voted for independence
- Anti-independence campaign leader Alistair Darling claimed that friends in the rest of the UK would become foreign
- The Scottish Tories suggested that independence would increase the number of sick days taken by public sector workers – on the basis that there were fewer absences during the two-week period of the Olympics, when compared with the same period last year
- The Westminster Scottish Affairs Committee queried if people could still buy wine from The Sunday Times Wine Club or whether the school curriculum would include ‘English