Fear and lies work. Over many decades (and really for centuries) the Unionist parties and the media have succeeded in persuading a large percentage of Scots that they’re beggars, scroungers, vagrants and “subsidy junkies” dependent on the ever-generous charity of England to keep them from starvation.
And in terms of the facts, that hasn’t always been an easy sell.
In what may be a new all-time low for the broadsheet press in Scotland, this morning’s Scottish edition of the Telegraph makes a front-page lead story out of a petition with a pathetic 4500 signatures, put together by some extremist Yoon nutters to express their rage that there might be a peak-time news show actually made in Scotland.
The idea of a so-called “Scottish Six”, whereby the main six o’clock news bulletin would be a single programme made by BBC Scotland and covering Scottish, UK and world news – rather than the current half-hour London-centric UK programme followed by 30 minutes of regional murdur’n’fitba in Reporting Scotland – has been exercising the media (and pretty much nobody else) for the best part of 20 years.
But now it’s become a constitutional battleground, and the funny thing about it is that the two sides are fighting bitterly over something neither of them actually really wants.
We just caught a documentary on the BBC News channel presented by John Beattie and entitled “The Games People Play”, which seems to have been first aired on either Saturday or Tuesday (the BBC seems somewhat uncertain). Covering the link between sport and politics, for our money it’s one of the best things the state broadcaster has produced as part of its referendum programming, and we recommend it.
One rather depressing bit leapt out at us, though.
Sir Craig Reedie CBE, from Stirling, is former chairman of the British Olympic Committee and a current member of the International Olympic Committee. And when Beattie asked him about an independent Scotland’s entry into the 2016 Olympics in Rio, he gave an answer which readers may or may not find surprising, depending on their level of cynicism about “proud Scots”.
And this time we’re not being sarcastic. We were bemused yesterday when a number of people on Twitter started swapping referendum-based jokes about Stanley Baxter, who for younger readers used to be some sort of pantomime star and vaudeville performer. The jokes were explained today when it was revealed, to our considerable surprise, that Mr Baxter was in fact still alive and urging a No vote in the referendum.
Baxter, who left Scotland 55 years ago and told the Times that he now returns only for “the odd funeral”, nevertheless felt able to assert from these occasional visits that support for a Yes vote was founded in hatred for the English from simple-witted Scots who “don’t know any better” caused by “Braveheart” and hey, stay awake at the back there because we’re coming to the important bit.
We’ve highlighted some truly gruesome displays of anti-Scottish bigotry on this website over the last couple of years, the large majority of them from right-wing English newspapers. But today sees perhaps the worst case we’ve ever seen, and we’re sad to report that the blame for this one lies squarely at Scotland’s own door.
This is a leaflet distributed to pupils at Ellon Academy in Aberdeenshire this week. It was put together by “the school’s Better Together team” as part of the lead-up to a mini-referendum this Tuesday and sent to us by a concerned parent.