The Wicked Witch of Westminster says the independence referendum is not legal

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By a Newsnet reporter
 
Do you remember the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’?
 
Dorothy, the scarecrow, the tin man and the lion travelled all the way to the Emerald City in order to seek help from the all-powerful wizard to obtain qualities they believed they lacked.

By a Newsnet reporter
 
Do you remember the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’?
 
Dorothy, the scarecrow, the tin man and the lion travelled all the way to the Emerald City in order to seek help from the all-powerful wizard to obtain qualities they believed they lacked.

When they arrive, an intimidating spectre tells them that help will be granted only if they accept stringent conditions which involve capturing the wicked witch of the west’s broomstick.

However, on accomplishing the task, Dorothy and her companions return to the Emerald City to discover that the wizard is an ordinary man who tells them the qualities they sought were in actual fact in their possession all along.

Dorothy goes back to Kansas, the lion, the tin man and the scarecrow are left in charge of Oz and the timid wee munchkins are freed from the witch’s tyranny.

Much of the movie is a metaphor for what we are currently witnessing with respect to the independence referendum and the increasingly hysterical claims by elected and non-elected Westminster based Unionists.

The Wicked Witch is of course Westminster and Oz is the London controlled BBC which has decided to ignore both the Scottish election campaign and its result and simply re-write history using the wicked witch’s version of the last twelve months.

The yellow brick road

Let’s take a walk along the yellow brick road, to twelve months ago … to the weeks and months prior to the Scottish elections.

Labour were being touted as odds-on favourites to supplant the SNP, Iain Gray was readying himself to become First Minister and all three Unionist party leaders were rehearsing their excuses for denying a referendum on independence or extra powers.

Tavish Scott, Annabel Goldie and Gray himself had stonewalled the SNP over more powers for the Scottish parliament and a referendum for all of four years.  Too near to the recession, wait until economy improves, if people want independence they’ll vote SNP in the election, were some of the more common refrains as the limitations of the SNP’s one seat advantage became all too apparent.

The SNP’s first term in office wasn’t supposed to last the duration, but last it did despite smears and allegations finding their way into the Scottish media with monotonous regularity.  However the four year Unionist nightmare that began in 2007, the aberration, was about to end.

The SNP’s ultimate goal of independence always required a ballot and the Unionists were in no hurry to hold one, or even endorse the idea.  Things would return to normal once the election campaign had been navigated and all three simply had to hold out until May 5th.

At no point throughout the campaign was there any suggestion that the ballot would be illegal, indeed as the election drew nearer the Unionists main complaint was that in the four year term of office, the SNP had not brought a Bill to Parliament for them to vote down – Salmond had bottled it, was the claim.

Of course the only way to get a referendum was to get a majority of MSPs to vote for it and the only way to do that was for the SNP to get support from another party – for Holyrood’s voting system had been designed (rigged) specifically to prevent the SNP from ever winning a majority of seats.

As none of the Unionists had the slightest intention of joining with the SNP it was widely accepted that this alliance wasn’t going to happen – the best the SNP could hope for was to pip Labour and become the largest party, then would begin months of politicking as Salmond’s team would try to harness public opinion in order to exert pressure onto the Unionists.

Independence was a pipedream and the Unionists held all the cards.

That changed on May 6th when the impossible happened – and the SNP overcame the system designed never to allow the nationalists a majority. 

They did it against a backdrop of a media who had relentlessly pushed the idea of a certain Labour win.  It wasn’t until the last two weeks that signs started to emerge that the media had backed the wrong horse.

An independence referendum was now a certainty and what’s more, the new majority Scottish government held all the cards.

There was nothing Westminster could do but sit back and watch as the nationalists swiftly came to terms with the shift in power.  A party that had navigated four years of uncharted waters against rocks and icebergs carefully positioned by the opposition suddenly found itself in calm seas with a fair wind and a full sail.

The Unionists made noises about wanting a referendum right away.  Gone were the economic concerns that, pre-election, were cited as insurmountable obstacles to a referendum.  In their place were new economic concerns over the delay.

Unionists had simply reversed their arguments and the media reported it without the blink of an eye – black was white and white was black.

Salmond himself was urged to name the date and call the ballot, an implicit acknowledgement of mandate and legality.  Unionists north and south of the border fell over themselves reminding people that Salmond had the power to call the referendum now – and insisted that he was running scared.

However the rhetoric was backed by nothing of substance.  No matter how many times they made demands, the SNP merely had to point to their overwhelming mandate.

The Scottish government were playing a patient game and the Unionists were powerless to do anything about it.

But London had one trick up their sleeve – the constitution is reserved to Westminster and only London can make changes.

The voice of Oz

The ballot being planned for the referendum however was merely consultative.  The SNP planned to ask the Scottish electorate whether they wished the Scottish government to negotiate independence with Westminster – changes would only result after the referendum had taken place.

However a bit of political sleight of hand and a not inconsiderable lapse of memory on the part of the entire UK media and we had London now claiming that the Scottish government lacked the powers to hold a referendum.

This was a last gasp attempt by London to wrest control from the Scottish government, they knew that without a challenge then Scotland would become independent sooner or later.

It was contrived of course, and for the tactic to work would need the recipients (us) to believe that it wasn’t just empty rhetoric, that there was substance to the claims.  It needed an Oz to pull off the illusion and there is only one body capable of presenting political propaganda as legitimate news.

The BBC had to be willing to report Westminster’s intervention in a manner that would give it legitimacy.  It also had to agree to present the Westminster government’s interference as a helpful offer.

If reported by the BBC then the general public would accept it as genuine and valid.  The Scottish Government of course would challenge the assertions, so it was vital that, rather than scrutinise London’s claim, the story be presented as a simple ‘row’.

This is precisely where we are now, with media commentators – especially in Scotland – fully on board. 

There is little or no appetite for scrutinising the illegality claim, and there doesn’t have to be, it simply needs to be repeated over and over until the populace believe both sides have equality of claim.

This is consolidated by Westminster’s consultation process.  Three months in which anything the Scottish government announces is repackaged by the media as either a rival/parallel proposal or a submission to London as part of their ‘process’.

With this ‘imposter’ mandate established the attack has shifted onto the Scottish government’s integrity and thus, by implication, the SNP’s mandate itself.

Thus, radio phone ins, news bulletins discussion programmes have all started covering the latest incarnation of the ‘row’.

Accusations that the ballot is rigged, claims that sticking to a campaign timetable is a ‘delay’, claims that businesses are worried and the demonisation of a democratically elected government are all part of the process aimed at disenfranchising the Scottish people.

Yesterday, the day after the referendum question was published, BBC Radio 4 featured a professor Robert Cialdini of the University of Arizona, who described the question as “loaded and biased”.  The professor was introduced as having no interest in devolution and someone who does not know Alex Salmond, thus, says presenter James Naughtie, he is a “rather good witness”.

The fact that the academic heads a company whose UK branch chief is a member of the UK Secretary of State’s Behaviour Change Network Team within the UK Dept. of Health, is not deemed worthy of mention.

Look out for Cialdini appearing in the Scottish media.  Accusations that the question is rigged is the next line of attack and there is a lack of academic backing for many of the Unionist claims.

On the same day as Cialdini appeared one Adam Tomkins popped up again on BBC Scotland informing listeners that the referendum was illegal and that Cameron’s ‘offer’ is “very generous”.

Professor Tomkins is presented as someone who is subjective with no political agenda.  However on this occasion he felt the need to tell people that the SNP is likely to lose the referendum and that it would be convenient for the SNP to have the ballot stopped by “a London court”.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b019p9dk/Newsdrive_25_01_2012/ – 1hr 12 mins.

It really is incessant.  As the Scottish government unveils each step in the process an army of accusers are produced by what is supposed to be our own national broadcaster, paid for by us, to launch assaults – covered of course by this artillery of ‘legality’.

It isn’t just the process that Oz is attacking.  A campaign is also underway to destroy the character of the First Minister and the BBC is again providing the platform.

Only yesterday witnessed Alex Salmond being described on Radio Scotland as an “evil dictator” by a caller to Call Kaye – the programme once again saw Unionists outnumber nationalists.

It was followed later that evening by a news item where several unelected Conservative, Lib Dem and Labour peers were heard making insulting comments about the Scottish First Minister.

Listeners heard unelected peers claiming the referendum, the regulator role and the franchise were all “rigged”, that a Yes vote could trigger “nationalist terrorism” in Northern Ireland.  The First Minister is called “devious” man who will “put the boot in” and someone who is “manipulative”.

BBC presenter Jeremy Paxman compared Salmond to African dictator Robert Mugabe, and for good measure likened Scotland to Zimbabwe.

All presented by well paid professionals adding weight to the nonsense with their sober delivery.  It’s genuine, it’s valid, it’s legitimate … it’s news, the familiar voice tells listeners.

The proportionally elected majority government has been described as a dictatorship – majority Labour or Tory administrations at Westminster are examples of secure and strong government.  However a majority at Holyrood becomes a poisonous regime when it is the SNP.

On Brian Taylor’s Friday debate a fortnight ago an audience member was allowed to make unbelievable allegations of anti-English behaviour against un-named and absent SNP supporters.  Unchallenged by Taylor who mumbled in apparent agreement, this man claimed his daughter was subjected to anti-English bullying at school and that it had materialised only after the SNP came to power.

The BBC has broadcast all of this propaganda without question in the form of serious news reports, short bulletins or phone in shows.

As each scare story or lie is exposed as just that (EU membership, forced into Euro, Cannot use the pound, will pay for removal of Trident etc, etc) the BBC replace it with another. 

Miscreants, whose lies are found out – like CBI Scotland’s Iain McMillan, disappear for a while until enough time has passed for the next press release to be safely headlined.

Genuine morsels of real comfort for the Unionist camp become media feasts running for days on end as can be seen with the latest wheeze regarding the bank of England lending to an independent Scotland. 

Forget that an oil rich country will, over time, almost certainly be the one doing the lending.  This is all about creating the image of mature debate, of convincing the Scottish electorate that each scare story is actually a legitimate concern.

But will it work?

The witch is dead

The upside (yes there is) to this is that it looks to be failing.  Polls suggest that support for independence has increased since the Wicked Witch entered the fray.

The wee Scottish Munchkins may not be as daft as London thinks.

But what is it that London is trying to prevent with all this political pulp?

It’s their ultimate nightmare, the thing they have known was a possibility since May 6th last year – a third option on the ballot paper and with it a certainty of major constitutional change. 

Not legally binding?  Really?  And just how will London stop it?

Try holding up an obscure sentence from the Scotland Act in front of the oncoming tide of Scottish popular opinion and see what happens.  One word – Canute.  That’s Cnut to Brian Taylor.

I still believe that there is a good possibility that there will indeed be one question; namely – Do you want change?

On one side will be a simple box marked NO.  On the other it will give the voter the choice … Independence or Devo-Max.

And with that – Ding, Dong the witch is dead …

 

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