By a Newsnet reporter
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has today called on the anti-independence No campaign to raise its level of debate as significant cracks appeared in their ‘Project Fear’ campaign.
This weekend’s Westminster Government claim that Scots would face roaming charges when south of the border was quickly undermined by the fact that the EU Commission has already announced moves to abolish such charges across the EU by next year.
To compound matters, the claims were made on the very day that roaming charges were due to fall across the continent ahead of their expected abolition.
The latest round of scare stories has been described by the deputy leader of the Scottish Tories, Jackson Carlaw, as “silly” and by former Tory donor John McGlynn as “puerile”.
Currently visitors who use their mobile phones in other EU states are hit by a surcharge. However in a vote in Brussels earlier this month, all 27 members of the EU voted to end the penalty.
The EU’s Digital Commissioner Neelie Kroes has pledged to end mobile roaming charges before the next European elections. Legislation is expected to be fast-tracked in order to end the charges by July 2014, two months before the independence referendum takes place.
The proposal would mean all calls, texts and data costs would remain at a set fee no matter where in the European Union they were made.
Reacting to the latest scare from the No campaign, Scottish Conservatives deputy leader Jackson Carlaw wrote: “Some of the arguments against #indy are becoming a bit silly.”
Former Tory donor John McGlynn wrote: “Well I think the mobile phone scare story takes the Independence debate to a new low! Puerile.”
The blunder by the No campaign has led to calls for a scheduled publication on Tuesday of a paper by the Westminster coalition, containing the mobile phone claims, to be cancelled. UK minister Vince Cable is reported to be planning to make the mobile claims a central theme of a paper his department will publish.
Prospective SNP MEP Toni Giugliano said the EU has been moving towards complete abolition of roaming charges since 2007 and added:
“I find it hard to believe that Project Fear were completely oblivious to this. If anything the No campaign is suggesting that the UK will soon be out of the EU and not part of its digital framework.”
Describing plans by the EU to abolish the charges and introduce a uniform cross border system as “good for business and good for consumers”, Mr Giugliano added:
“We need Europe to remain competitive on the digital agenda. With China and the US racing ahead of us it’s time to remove the barriers to creating a single telecoms market.
“Why should a phone-call to Frankfurt or Rome cost extra when we’re part of a common market? If we can trade and travel freely we shouldn’t be paying more for using our phones.
“The EU’s telecoms agenda is good news for Scotland and as an independent country we’ll be using our phones across Europe at no extra cost.”
Meanwhile the SNP also attacked the same Westminster report which attempted to whip up fears about the future of the postal network in Scotland, pointing out it came the day after a strike by postal workers that was prompted by a Westminster agenda that has seen job losses and post office closures across the country.
And in today’s Sunday Herald the former head of intelligence and counter-terrorism for Strathclyde Police branded negative claims about security in an independent Scotland as ‘scurrilous scaremongering’.
Speaking to the newspaper, Allan Burnett said: “Their studied intention is to fill the discussion gap they have created with scurrilous scaremongering. ‘The Americans won’t share intelligence with you’, ‘you’re leaving yourselves open to terrorist attack.’ The truth is that an independent Scotland would face less of a threat, intelligence institutions will be readily created, and allies will remain allies.”
Commenting, Nicola Sturgeon MSP said:
“Next year’s referendum is about deciding what kind of Scotland we want to live in – one that is a fairer and more prosperous country where decisions are taken by people living here or one that remains tied to a failing Westminster system.
“A Yes vote is about winning the powers we need in Scotland that will to build a stronger economy and a fairer society.
“The silly scare stories which the anti-independence campaign are resorting to serve nobody – least of all the people of Scotland.
“It is obviously the complete lack of vision in the anti-independence campaign that leads them to fall back on a steady drip of scare stories that are becoming more and more ridiculous.
“But when leading figures on their own side start to describe the approach as ‘silly’, it is time for them to think again. To that end, I welcome the intervention of Jackson Carlaw.
“The Yes campaign have a clear vision for the kind of fairer, more prosperous Scotland we want to see.
“The fact that the anti-independence campaign seems unable to find any positive case for a No vote speaks volumes about their campaign and is shaping up to be the fatal weakness of their argument.”