If there’s one person we know Unionists treat as an unimpeachable fount of definitive information when it comes to the subject of the EU, it’s European Commission president Jose-Manuel Barroso. Time and again they cite his opinions with regard to an independent Scotland’s status, and they almost exploded with joy when he made unusually explicit comments about it on the Andrew Marr show recently.
So in the context of our piece earlier this morning in respect of the UKIP vote in England, it seems worth pointing up something Mr. Barroso said last October, which an alert reader spotted but which for some reason didn’t get as much coverage in the Scottish media as most of his pronouncements do.
There are a couple of opinion polls in the papers this morning, of which independence campaigners are naturally paying most attention to the ICM one for Scotland on Sunday which shows referendum voting at a hair’s-breadth 48% Yes to 52% No (after removing Don’t Knows).
But perhaps more revealing is one in the Sunday Telegraph regarding the imminent European elections, which puts Labour on 30%, UKIP on 27%, the Tories on 22% and the Lib Dems – the only actively Europhile party south of Scotland – on just 8%.
If you apply those figures to the electorate of the rUK, excluding Scotland, that means that there are something like 11.3 million UKIP voters in England, as opposed to a total Scottish electorate of 4 million.
Readers may wish to consider for a moment which of those groups is likely to have a stronger influence on the direction of UK politics in the coming years.
As alert readers will know, we’re slacking off a bit over the holiday weekend, although today we’re hoping to combine pleasure with business – more on that later.
But we’d also like to have a go at getting you to do some work for us.
We’ve yet to hear of a single public debate where Yes/No polls were taken at the start and the end which HASN’T resulted in a swing towards Yes. Here’s a recent example, from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh a few weeks ago.
(The introductory waffle goes on for about 17 minutes if you want to skip past it.)
It may help to explain why Yes Glasgow are still having very a hard time getting “Better Together” to send a representative for a major debate in Scotland’s biggest city.
The estimable James Kelly of Scot Goes Pop! wrote an excellent blog post the other day deconstructing a laughably skewed and leading poll which was commissioned by “Better Together” this month.
Blair McDougall’s Beleaguered Billy Boys, as hardly anyone calls them, had loudly and bizarrely trumpeted figures which actually showed a 6% swing to Yes, but that wasn’t the thing we found most interesting in their press release.
The poll question had in fact offered respondents a forced choice between two options: independence or “Scotland remaining part of the UK with increased powers for the Scottish Parliament”. (Which meant, among many other quirks which made the findings nonsensical, that the roughly 10% of people who want Holyrood abolished altogether got lumped in with the “increased powers” side as the least-worst option.)
We’ve already learned what BT mean by “increased powers” – the piddly and trivial ones enshrined by the Scotland Act 2012, rather than any dramatic new settlement from any of the Unionist parties, but the jarring part of the release is the twisting of that already-twisted wording to mean “stronger”.
Because a stronger Scottish Parliament is the LAST thing the No parties want, and you only have to spend a minute thinking about it to figure out why.
When you’ve been wading in the Scottish and UK media for two and a half years, it’s easy to develop a siege mentality and believe that the entire rest of the world buys into its cataclysmic view of independence. So it’s a relief when you realise that beyond the borders of Britain, most people are calm, rational and practical about the prospect.
We’re going to take things a little bit easy over the holiday weekend, so why not relax and both read the article we’ve linked in paragraph 1 and watch the above discussion between some learned international gentlemen (including Scotland’s own Professor James Mitchell) at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC for a slightly less apocalyptic view of a world with an independent Scotland in it?
Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer, 8 April 2007:
“With fewer than 30 days until the elections, Labour is displaying its nerves by sounding increasingly hysterical about the prospect of an SNP government. When they did their rather grim double-act in Glasgow, the Prime Minister and Chancellor came laden with apocalyptic predictions about the consequences of a nationalist victory.
Watching the Prime Minister and his heir-presumptive issue dire warnings about tax bombshells and the Union in danger is to witness one of those bizarre transmogrifications that can happen in politics. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are turning into John Major.”
Imagine if they were still trying that stuff seven years later, eh readers?
This is the new “positive” campaign poster from “Better Together”:
There’s a lie in the picture, but it’s probably not the one you think.
The Scottish media displays such a remarkable uniformity of thought when it comes to the independence debate that you’d think it’d be the easiest thing in the world for them to at least all get their story straight when they launch a smear campaign against a prominent Yes figure.
That, however, would presuppose that they weren’t also incompetent.
“Sod it”, we thought, “let’s compile a list after all“.
Clearly we’re not impartial judges of how the No campaign is being conducted. To assess its performance with any degree of fairness, we must instead take the widest possible sample of opinion from those on its own side. Here goes, then.
Remember, readers, how last year “Better Together” tried to ridicule the fact that we’d put a satirical line about “space monsters” into one of the questions in our first Panelbase poll? Remember how it was the most absurd, stupid thing imaginable?
That was the UK Secretary of State for Defence, yesterday.