By Mark McNaught
The excellent NNS articles detailing the collusion between the BBC and the ‘Better Together’ campaign have not only annihilated any pretence of BBC objectivity towards the independence debate, but also laid bare the absurd notion that the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) is anything more than a propaganda weapon targeting independence.
The OBR was created in 2010 by Scroz (George Osborne’s new nickname: help it catch on), presumably because he was tired of legitimate economic analysis discrediting his fascist, neoliberal, Tory ideology.
It is difficult to even discern what the OBR is. It was founded to produce ‘independent’ economic reports, even though much of what it puts out is independent only from reality. It operates like a free-market, corporate-funded think tank with no methodology, but its employees are on the government payroll and therefore nationalised.
Case and point: the Fiscal Sustainability Report released this month by OBR. I realise 166 pages of vapid propaganda masquerading as scholarship is a dire read, but there are some real gems: charts helping to justify selling off the English NHS to profiteers who pay Lynton Crosby to lobby Number 10 entitled ‘Risk of dying in the next month for those in residential care’ (p. 153), ‘Adult social care productivity index’ (p. 154), and ‘Additional spending on old people’ (p. 156).
While Scots can take comfort that they control their own NHS, and will not be asking their 90 year old gran to either get a job or die quickly, the section dealing with oil revenues is even more Orwellian. Lacking footnotes, an acknowledged author, or a shred of coherence, this ‘report’ has been cited by the ‘Better Together’ campaign to belittle the Scottish energy sector and cower Scots into voting ‘no’.
If there is any ‘logic’ to the report with respect to petroleum revenues in an independent Scotland, it seems to centre around that most frightening characteristic ‘volatility’. Only through being chained to Westminster will Scots be able to weather the brutal storms of petroleum price volatility, or something.
This is nonsense. Did they assume that Scotland is not entitled to all revenue from its waters under international law? For petroleum, has ‘volatility’ ever meant anything other than rising demand and prices throughout the world, with no end in sight?
I have been encouraged by recent improvements in the Scotsman and Herald in their referendum coverage. Several months ago, many of their stories started with something akin to “In a massive blow to Alex Salmond, some think tank fellow said something at a pub at 3 in the morning about Scotland being doomed after independence.”
Both papers are now covering both sides much more critically and objectively.
In contrast, as the official UK government propaganda organ, the BBC is constitutionally mired in corruption and bias. I honestly feel sorry for many of their reporters, many of whom are perfectly capable and would undoubtedly love to cover the referendum with integrity, honesty, and balance, but would be fired for doing so. They are doing what they have to do to keep their jobs, so they cannot be objective and fair.
Let us review, then:
1. ‘Better Together’ cites the OBR ‘report’ as some paragon of credibility;
2. They ‘leak’ a document to the BBC on the separate issue of Scottish government electricity generation policy to help wean the UK off fossil fuels;
3. This is reported as proof that the SNP has been dishonest about offshore oil production and Scotland is doomed if it dares to vote ‘yes’.
For OPUAS charter members BBC, ‘Better Together’, and OBR, war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, and Scots do not deserve to control the revenue and spending from their own natural resources to improve their society upon independence.
If this is the way the UK government runs an anti-independence campaign, we see clearly the mechanisms by which Westminster has held Scotland, and all other regions of the UK besides greater London and the Home Counties, down for years.
Vote ‘yes’, and end this Orwellian nightmare.
Mark McNaught is a member of the Constitutional Commission and an Associate Professor of US Civilisation at the University of Rennes 2 France. He also teaches US constitutional law at Sciences-Po Paris.