Can be seen in today’s Scotsman – ironically in a comment located below a story headlined “Independence: Salmond pledges politics-free Games”.
Below it is a torrent of anti-SNP abuse, including the suggestion that Alex Salmond should be dropped out of a helicopter without a parachute. We’re sure, of course, that the No campaign will rush to condemn these remarks by another of Blair McDougall’s Brit Boys, and that the media – which scours the most obscure websites and Twitter accounts for comments to whip up a “cybernats” storm about – will have a double-page spread on it tomorrow.
Yesterday a number of news outlets including the Scotsman, the Courier and STV all carried a scare story from Gordon Brown about independence ending cross-border organ transplants. Curiously, none of them had thought to check the allegation with NHS Blood & Transplant, so we did it for them, and got the unequivocal and unambiguous answer back that “Scottish independence will not affect organ donation and the system will continue as it does currently.”
You’d imagine that the publications concerned would have wanted to put their readers’ minds at rest by publishing that categorical reasssurance today, wouldn’t you?
You know how the rest goes by now, readers.
We got our reply (emphasis added):
Thank you for your recent telephone call to the NHSBT Donor Line.
I can confirm that Scottish independence will not affect organ donation and the system will continue as it does currently.
I hope this answers your query, please let me know if you require any further information and I will be happy to help.
NHS Blood and Transplant
Organ Donation and Transplantation Directorate
Fox Den Road
Tom didn’t actually say the words “Gordon Brown is lying through his teeth to terrify Scottish people into voting No”, but we think it’s pretty much implied.
We telephoned Organ Donation Scotland on Friday for their reaction to the despicable scare stories being put around by a teenage Labour activist from Liverpool bussed up to Scotland last week by the No campaign.
We’re still waiting for them to get back to us with a quote. But in the meantime, it’s been predictable – but no less disgraceful – to see senior Labour figures repeating the lie. It all seems to be part of a major Unionist offensive on health, doubtless sparked by fears that privatisation of the English NHS will lead to a significant reduction in the Scottish block grant and corresponding damage to the Scottish health service.
The No camp, unsurprisingly, has chosen to fight fear with fear.
For independence supporters of a certain age, the 1979 devolution referendum is one of the most infamous moments in Scottish history. While a wafer-thin majority of Scots voted Yes to devolution, an electoral fiddle conceived by a Labour MP meant that it didn’t happen, and part of the reason was that in effect, dead people were counted as No votes.
(We won’t go into all the details here, but basically an impossible threshold was set for turnout, and people who’d died but hadn’t yet been removed from the electoral roll were counted towards the calculation of that threshold.)
We were put in mind of it by an odd development this evening.
Alert readers may have spotted that today’s Sunday Herald features Professor Adam Tomkins and myself for its weekly “In The Hot Seat” interviews with opposing figures in the independence debate. The paper’s Investigations Editor Paul Hutcheon flew down from Glasgow on Wednesday to do the piece, and we had an interesting and enjoyable two-and-a-half-hour chat on the subject of the referendum and politics in general.
Obviously it’s not easy to edit that down to a short 1,000-word article. But just for fun, I thought it might be enlightening to compare the content of the two columns.
From today’s Sunday Times.
The referendum is now just two months away, and things are starting to get serious. Yesterday we received notification from the Electoral Commission of the procedure and deadline for appointing “referendum agents”. These are people who can:
- attend the receipt and opening of postal ballot papers and/or appoint postal ballot agents to do so on their behalf.
- attend polling stations on polling day for the purpose of detecting personation and/or appoint polling agents to do so on their behalf.
- attend the counting of votes and/or appoint counting agents to do so on their behalf.
There are 32 local counting areas, and we’d like to have a Wings representative at each one to keep an eye out for any shenanigans. This is too important to be another Glenrothes, so please only put your name forward if you’re sure you’ll be able to do it.
If you’d like to volunteer, see below.
After the implosion of Rory Stewart MP’s “Hands Across The Border” initiative (to be replaced by “Make A Big Pile Of Rocks For The Union”, which we’re sure will be a roaring success, despite being currently £52,500 short of its fundraising target), we comforted ourselves that there was still to be a big lovebombing exercise between Scotland and England this month, in the form of the Border Union Rally.
Tragically, it seems as though some “unforeseen technical problems” have struck the event – although we’re not absolutely sure how you can have technical problems with going for a walk – and it too has had to be cancelled.
The website has vanished, so the precise details of these insurmountable logistical obstacles aren’t as yet forthcoming. (We’re finding it hard to shake the terribly cynical suspicion that they’re related to the difficulty of calling something a “rally” if there are only three people at it.) But we’ll bring you more news as we get it.