We want to inspire – The No campaign want to scare

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  By Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
 
The Sunday Herald report which revealed that people in the No campaign describe their organisation as “Project Fear” marks an important moment.
 
The time leading up to next September’s vote is a precious opportunity to have a quality debate about the choice of two futures between Yes and No, about what is best for Scotland and everyone who lives here.

  By Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
 
The Sunday Herald report which revealed that people in the No campaign describe their organisation as “Project Fear” marks an important moment.
 
The time leading up to next September’s vote is a precious opportunity to have a quality debate about the choice of two futures between Yes and No, about what is best for Scotland and everyone who lives here.  It’s an unrivalled chance to discuss what kind of society we want to be, the powers we need in Scotland, and how we can use them to maximise quality of life and prosperity.  It should be about how we can build a fairer country and stronger economy, and the constitutional future which enables this to happen.

From the Yes perspective, that is the kind of debate I am determined to help lead, and show how the full powers of an independent Scotland are the key to realising the ambitions we all have for our families and future.

The significance of the “Project Fear” revelation is that it shows the No campaign has little interest in having this debate.  It does not want to build up – it wants to knock down.  It does not want to inspire – it wants to scare.  It has abandoned any pretence of positivity, and chooses to define itself, at least internally, as an essentially negative proposition.

I firmly believe that the strength of the Yes case, and the need for Scotland to gain the powers that only a Yes vote offers, will prevail next September.

Scotland should always get the government we vote for – instead of remote control from Westminster by Tory governments we reject.  For well over half of my life, people in Scotland have had to put up with the Tories despite rejecting them in ever increasing numbers.

A Yes vote resolves Scotland’s democratic deficit, and means that decisions taken for Scotland reflect the views and votes of people in Scotland.  It means, amongst many things, that we can scrap the Bedroom Tax and develop our own approach to welfare; focus fully on capital stimulus to boost the economy in place of Tory austerity; negotiate Scotland’s vital interests in Europe rather than having the debate dominated by UKIP, which has never even saved a deposit here; and deliver safe conventional defence including getting rid of Trident.

I think this would be a wonderful and energising future.  But rather than present a positive alternative, the No campaign seeks the paralysis and inertia of “Project Fear”.

But the scares are getting dafter, as the well from which they are dredged runs dry.

Last week, as the Sunday Herald reported, the claim that mobile phone calls between Scotland and England would cost more after independence was demolished by the fact that the EU is moving to scrap roaming charges – with the support of the UK Government.

The claims on trade didn’t make sense either. The majority of OECD countries’ biggest trading partners are their neighbours, and there would be no barriers between Scotland and the rest of the UK, particularly with the shared sterling area we propose.

It’s about as sensible as arguing that sales of Guinness are damaged by Ireland being independent!  Or, as the No campaign has done, painting a lurid picture of Scotland without a AAA credit rating – just before the UK lost its.  Or suggesting that Edinburgh Zoo would lose the giant pandas if we vote Yes.

People are beginning to look and laugh at all this – perhaps the greatest danger for “Project Fear”.

Part of my confidence in the success of the Yes campaign is that Scotland has been here before.  The name “Project Fear” may be new, but that approach to opposing progress for Scotland is age-old.

It was deployed by the No campaigns against a Scottish Assembly in 1979 and a Parliament in 1997 – and in both cases the people voted Yes, albeit Westminster fiddled the electoral system the first time round with the 40 per cent rule.

Take this classic editorial from the Daily Express, 10 days before the 1979 referendum:

“How much of Scotland’s economy will be left intact if a Scottish Assembly gets the go-ahead on March 1?  Will our coal mines go gaily on?  Will Ravenscraig or Linwood thrive?  Will Bathgate flourish and Dounreay prosper?”

This was Project Fear before “Project Fear”.  And the irony of Scotland losing all these industrial facilities in the absence of an Assembly will be lost on no-one.

And William Hague in a speech the week before the 1997 referendum said that “devolution would make no difference to schools, to hospitals, to jobs or to business.  The tartan tax would lead to foreign investors saying no to Scotland.”

In reality, devolution has enabled us to safeguard Scotland’s NHS.  Rather than add burdens, we have the most competitive business taxation system in the UK.  And instead of a flight of investment, last month’s Ernst & Young report confirmed that Scotland is the most successful part of the UK outside London in attracting inward investment.

Last month, former President Clinton said of our independence debate: “You will come out of this better, regardless, if you go about it in the right way.”  I agree.

“Project Fear” was wrong in both tone and substance in the last two referendums – and I am confident that Yes will win again next September.

 

This article was written by the Deputy First Minister for the Sunday Herald where it was originally published