We should, if for nothing else, commend the No campaign for gradually learning from experience. Much hilarity ensued when it attempted to claim an independent Scotland would need to renegotiate “14,000 treaties”, and even more fun was had when it produced a list of 500 (actually 507) “questions” about independence.
So we applaud the UK government for dialling down the crazy a notch and producing another doom-and-gloom list of reasons why it would be impossible for Scotland to achieve what around 150 countries have managed to achieve in the last century or so, but which restricts itself to just a modest 200 entries.
The latest attempt to terrify people out of voting Yes with the threat of a mountain of paperwork took the form of a daunting directory of UK administrative bodies which an independent Scotland would have to replicate lest the entire nation were to collapse into primitive, seething anarchy akin to an Old Firm under-17s game or something.
You can read the entire thing here, much of which comprises a compendium of the bleeding obvious (We’d need a Scottish HMRC and our own Ministry Of Defence? Who knew?), but other parts of which appear, well… somewhat less essential.
Here are a few of our favourites.
THE UK SPACE AGENCY
Tell you what, let’s put interstellar exploration on the “B Priorities” list, eh?
THE BIG LOTTERY FUND
Is it strictly necessary to operate a Desperation Tax on the poor? Does the state have to run it? And if so, do we definitely need it right away?
HIGH SPEED 2 LTD
What, the HS2 that isn’t coming within 200 miles of Scotland?
THE OFFICE FOR BUDGET RESPONSIBILITY
The one the UK managed to somehow struggle along without for hundreds of years until it was formed in 2010?
THE STUDENT LOANS COMPANY
See also: Gallows Maintenance PLC and the Office of the Witch-Finder General.
THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS
Are we planning to engage in a major war requiring conscription any time soon? Probably safe to cross this particular bridge when we come to it, then.
THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON CONSUMER ENGAGEMENT
“The Advisory Committee on Consumer Engagement reviews and assesses the Food Standards Agency consumer engagement work and provides external assurance to the Food Standards Agency Board that they continue to “put the consumer first” and that engagement is following good practice.”
Wait, has someone slipped us a leaked “The Thick Of It” script instead?
THE ADVISORY COUNCIL ON THE MISUSE OF DRUGS
Misusing drugs is bad, mmkay? That’s that one sorted.
“Provides confidential advice to the UK Government on issues that affect disabled people.” Not a problem, as by the time independence negotiations are concluded Atos and the DWP will have eliminated all disability. (Or perhaps just all disabled people, if Iain Duncan Smith can get away with it.)
THE HORSERACE BETTING LEVY APPEAL TRIBUNAL
Okay, we’re going to have to throw a few billion at this one.
THE CERTIFICATION OFFICE
“Maintains a list of trade unions and employers’ associations.” So, a bloke with a big notepad and a pen, then.
THE BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION (BBC)
Don’t we already own BBC Scotland? How much does a new nameplate for the front door of Pacific Quay cost?
BBC WORLD SERVICE
Hang on, that isn’t included in “BBC”? Is it vital to have a Scottish World Service competing with the UK one? Is that a thing normal countries have? Is there a Belgian World Service, or a Danish World Service?
“The independent passenger watchdog, whose mission is to get the best deal for passengers.” Based on current rail fares, a function that’ll be just as effectively served by a £45 cuckoo clock from Argos.
Fairly sure we’ll be wanting people to Visit Scotland instead.
COMMISSIONERS FOR THE REDUCTION OF THE NATIONAL DEBT
Yeah, because those guys have done such a bang-up job so far that we couldn’t possibly get by without them.
THE SCIENCE ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON THE MEDICAL IMPLICATONS OF LESS-LETHAL WEAPONS
Wait, what? There are more than two levels of “lethality” now? (Beyond “lethal” and “not lethal”.) Are you SURE this isn’t from “The Thick Of It”?
Well, you get the idea. Perhaps later we’ll break down the (partly) more serious entries of the list and see how many of them are in fact one thing made to look like 10, as seen in the unforgettable “500 questions”, and how many more are useless quangos that should never have existed in the first place. But in the meantime, just stay tuned for the latest No-camp fearbomb, which we’re sure will be dropping any day now.