Tonight saw the launch of “Better Together Bathgate”, the No camp’s debut foray into our beloved hometown. The email advertising the event, sent out on the 15th of July, said “I hope to see you at the on 28th June” [sic], which might help to explain the rather sub-spectacular turnout of around 40 hardy souls from a town of 16,000.
Of that 40 or so, several (perhaps as many as a quarter) were dastardly pro-Yes spies. And we know that for certain, because one of them was ours.
Our intrepid agent reported several other confirmed infiltrators, including one gent who went so far as to stand up and actually announce himself as an SNP independence supporter, and several folk appear to have just popped in for a nap.
Our agent’s report described uninspiring speeches, save for one notable revelation:
“If any comments could be said to be memorable, they came from Blair McDougall, who among other things said that the SNP “deceive us at every turn”; that a Yes vote for independence equals uncertainty; that pensions will not be covered in the forthcoming White Paper.
Also, when asked if there would be a TV debate between Alex Salmond and David Cameron, he categorically said that wasn’t going to happen; any debate would be between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling.”
(Our emphasis.) But of rather more interest was the leaflet being given out in the room, which we can’t seem to find anywhere on the “Better Together” Facebook page or website and which contains some rather disturbing claims.
You can click the two images to see larger versions and read the whole document for yourselves, but allow us to pick out a few highlights. We’re pleased to see that the pamphlet reflects the No camp’s much-vaunted new positive approach, screaming “CAN YOU AFFORD TO GO IT ALONE?” in huge text across the top of the front cover. You probably won’t be all that shocked by the implied answer.
An exclusive sight of the alternative referendum question wording, there.
Wait, what? We’re pretty sure the technical term for that is “complete cobblers”. Scotland will NOT lose the pound on independence, unless it wants to. Sterling, as everyone knows, is a freely tradeable world currency which can be used by any country that wishes to, without seeking the UK’s permission.
(The only conceivable semantic defence for what to all appearances is an outright scaremongering lie is the phrase “our own”. But even that disingenuous, misleading hairsplitting would require Sterling to be currently exclusive to the UK, which it isn’t.)
This short passage packs in quite a lot of untruth. The SNP, should it be elected as the government of an independent Scotland, has indeed pledged to reduce Corporation Tax, like the last Labour government and the current Tory/Lib Dem one. But not for “big businesses like Google or Amazon” - for ALL businesses, large or small.
Secondly, of course, as pretty much everyone in the UK who’s capable of reading a newspaper will already know, Google and Amazon essentially pay no Corporation Tax at all anyway, so cutting the rate at which they’re dodging it isn’t going to make much difference to anything.
(Scotland’s share by population of the total amount of Corporation Tax paid to the UK Treasury last year by Google and Amazon is the grand sum of £202,000.)
And thirdly, the leaflet’s explicit assertion that personal taxes will be increased to make up this (almost completely non-existent) shortfall is one which has been flatly denied by the current Finance Secretary. If the No camp wish to suggest that John Swinney is lying, that’s one thing. But to state, as a fact, the exact opposite of what he’s actually said is… well, let’s keep it clean and use the word “audacious”.
This is an odd one. Most people will have found it difficult to avoid the news that benefit payments are being savagely slashed by the UK government as we speak, with more of the same to come. So it’s a little curious to imply that “guaranteed benefit payments” are only threatened by independence.
In fact, it’s openly-stated UK government policy that welfare payments are going to be cut further if Scotland DOESN’T vote for independence. And what’s more, even if that Tory/Lib Dem UK government is replaced by a Labour one in 2015, benefits will not only still be cut, but are likely to be made lower in Scotland in the rest of the UK.
The picture above shows “Better Together” campaign director Blair McDougall in the process of feeding the paper’s contents to some empty chairs and a small handful of Bathgate residents who thought this was their Pilates class. But no exercise regime could involve this much twisting of the fabric of reality.