To be fair, the article in today’s Sunday Mirror isn’t shy about setting out its position.
“In the end it will all come down to two little words. One of which will save our 300-year union with Scotland. The other will rip it to shreds. If Scotland’s Bravehearts vote YES on September 18 it will tear apart that union which has seen both countries’ men march shoulder-to-shoulder in two world wars.
Which is why YES seems such a small a word to bear responsibility for dismantling one of the world’s oldest democracies and for cutting a centuries-old umbilical cord that has kept us joined to Scotland since 1707.”
It’s all in there – “tear apart”, “rip to shreds”, Braveheart, two world wars, Rule Britannia blah blah etc – inside the first 100 words, so you know what’s coming. Although we’re pretty sure you’re not supposed to leave umbilical cords attached for centuries.
But as it turns out, that’s the most sensible part.
Life for Hamish is already hard. Up at 5am in all weathers, he works till 10pm most nights for the kind of money that barely keeps food on the table. To make ends meet he drives lorries for a haulage company.”
Well, you can see why he wouldn’t want anything to change, can’t you? Hamish is terrified that he won’t be able to sell his sheep to England because Scotland will be out of the EU, even though it’s England that wants to leave the EU and is likely to have a referendum on the subject within three years.
The EU has no interest in stopping Hamish selling his sheep either way. But if he’s only made a profit once in 12 years, leaving him “all but crippled” and working two jobs just to cling on by the fingernails, maybe he needs a new line of work anyway.
“After saying goodbye to Hamish we head North to Ayrshire, to Waterside, near Kilmarnock to meet two people whose lives have been blighted by the SNP’s vision of a Scotland powered by renewable energy.
As we drive through endless acres of pine trees and sun-drenched fields you could be forgiven for thinking this is what heaven must look like. And then you see them. Row upon row of wind turbines, 215 of them, occupying every inch of the horizon.
This is Alex Salmond’s dream writ large and in the middle of it lies the dream of another man – only his has been shattered. Jon Peberdy and his wife Heather live in a long, white-walled cottage that used to be a dairy.
It took years of renovation and all of their life savings to get it the way they wanted it. Just after it was finished they discovered Scottish Power was about to build Whitelees, the biggest wind farm in Europe.
Mr and Mrs Peberdy don’t seem to have quite made the leap to realising that this terrible blight occurred while Scotland was still in the Union. The referendum vote won’t make a blind bit of difference to it either way.
“With us is his neighbour Rachel Connor whose beautiful farmhouse is just a mile away. Rachel is English but for 30 years Scotland has been her home. If it’s a YES vote she and her husband will leave for good.
‘I fear what will happen,’ she says. ‘I’ve never been aware of racism towards the English. Now I am, which is so sad because I love Scotland. It’s my home. My two children have Scottish accents. I can see what happened in Wales happening here. I mean that – the burning of houses, people being battered and bullied.'”
Since no actual incident of racism is mentioned, we’re not entirely sure what’s happened from “I’ve never been aware of racism towards the English in 30 years” to “if there’s a Yes vote everyone will get their house burned down”.
Extreme Welsh nationalists burned down English-owned holiday homes, not places people lived, and the last recorded incident was 20 years ago. They weren’t doing it because they hated English people, they were doing it because they objected to villages being “hollowed out” by second-homers, something that’s common to all parts of the British Isles.
James Stephen, who owns two of Peterhead’s biggest fishing boats and has been a fisherman all his life says: ‘There used to be 400 boats going out to sea from Peterhead. Now there are just 100. We’re a shrinking industry and Salmond could wreck what’s left of it.
Just as with shipbuilding, Scotland being in the Union has seen 75% of the fishing business destroyed as successive governments divert resources away from traditional industries to the financial centres of the City of London. Yet it’s independence they fear will put paid to the last 25%, for no conceivable reason.
Sounds like everything’s working out just swell! Why change?
“Davey Milne is boss of the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association. With a ‘Scotland the Brave’ tattoo on one arm and the Saltire, his country’s national flag on the other, he looks like everyone’s idea of a dyed-in-the-wool nationalist. He looks like it, but he isn’t.
‘We currently have 27 votes within the EU fisheries policy, the highest number together with France and Spain.But as an independent country that would go down to a maximum of just seven votes. And the truth is that even with 27 votes we’ve not been able to negotiate a good deal for the Scottish industry. So how can we do it with just seven?'”
We currently have 29 votes in the EU Council of Ministers, not 27. You’d think someone in Davey’s position would know that. But he can’t have it both ways – Scotland has no votes at all in the EU. The UK has the 29. And if you’re assuming that the UK is casting its votes for the good of the fishing industry, then independence would mean MORE votes for Britain’s fishermen, not fewer.
It’s hard to know what you’d tell any of the people Carole Malone sought out for her trip. (There’s a second part coming tomorrow, God help us all.) It takes an effort of will not to be rude in the face of such patently irrational statements. But when someone openly tells you “Everything’s terrible, so I’m going to vote to keep it the same”, what’s the sane response?
That’s not a rhetorical question, by the way. We’d really like to know.