In the ongoing war for hearts and minds in Scotland over the question of independence it seems that the British nationalists, the so-called Unionists, are not just losing the struggle but are losing the plot too. We recently had the first truly significant rise in polling numbers from those favouring Scottish sovereignty over continued union with England, still a minority but a significant one. The panicky reaction since then from the more committed members of the Pax Britannia (or more accurately, Anglia) has been more than a little bit excessive. From the Scottish Herald:
“Scots who stay in the UK Armed Forces following independence would be “mercenaries in a foreign country”, a former Conservative Scottish Secretary has suggested.
The only other choice would be to leave and join Alex Salmond’s “Dad’s Army”, Lord Forsyth warned.
His comments prompted a furious response from the SNP who said that the Conservative Party had insulted past and present servicemen and women.
The row follows that over a fellow Tory peer who suggested that independence would “dishonour” the UK’s war dead.
Lord Lang made the remark as he opened a Lords debate on Scottish independence yesterday.
He refused to bow to SNP demands to withdraw controversial parts of his speech, after his words were briefed overnight.”
Am I the only one perplexed by the constant references made in the Unionist campaign to Britain’s military history and the claims that soldiers in a Scottish Defence Force would not have the same opportunities to “serve overseas” as those in the British Armed Forces? Since the end of WWII “serving overseas” in the British military has meant fighting, killing and dying in wars ranging from Ireland to Afghanistan. Is that something to be regarded as virtuous? Young men (and now women) being sent off in dubious causes to kill or be killed, to maim or be maimed? Is that what Britain still stands for in the 21st century, the best that the supporters of the “Union” can come up with? An appeal to quasi-imperialist militarism and the fading glories of times past?
The Economist magazine has been traditionally hostile to the idea of Scottish independence yet even it with its London-centric sympathies can see that the No campaign is faltering:
“On September 18th all Scots over the age of 15 will be offered that choice in a referendum. The pro-union Better Together campaign is reliably ahead in the opinion polls. With a strong hand in any secession negotiations, the unionists have foxed the pro-independence Yes Scotland camp with erudite questions about tricky details.
Yet Scotland’s constitutional future will be decided far from smart conference rooms, in the sort of hard-up neighbourhoods that rarely get much attention from politicians. Working-class Scots are more drawn to independence than are others. And quite a few of them are still to play for.
In most referendums, undecided voters drift into the conservative camp towards the end of the campaign. Scotland’s independence vote may turn out to be an exception. Undecided voters are more left-wing than the average Scot, more hostile to the Conservative-led government in London and more inclined to think that Scotland would succeed alone; in short, they are “almost undoubtedly more favourable to independence,” says John Curtice, a psephologist. They worry unionists keen for a decisive win, and excite nationalists longing for an earthquake.
Standing out from the crowd of sky-blue Better Together jackets (each bearing the slogan “UK OK”) is a dash of red. It belongs to Johann Lamont, the leader of Scottish Labour, which dominates the pro-union campaign. In areas like this people either vote for her party or do not vote at all. So she ought to get a sympathetic hearing. But responses are mixed. One woman with a foam of toothpaste around her mouth admits that, though a Labour voter, she has not decided how to vote in the referendum. She is not alone: according to the large Scottish Social Attitudes survey, 36% of people who identify with Labour are yet to make up their minds.
In the battle for undecided voters, nationalists will try to drag the debate onto the free-market evils of the London government. The Tories, Yes Scotland has concluded, are the best recruiting agent for the pro-independence cause. His eye on undecided voters like Cathy and Thomas, Mr Salmond has repeatedly demanded a televised debate with David Cameron, Britain’s patrician prime minister. For the sake of the union, Mr Cameron should keep declining the invitation.”