The Tories have produced a buzzfeed-style page for the indyref.
They take their assertion that Scots are better off by £1200 per year each in the UK than we would be if independent (their figures don’t make sense, but frankly the SNP’s arguments that we’d be better off by x amount per year each don’t make sense either) and they’ve done a series of images of the things that £1200 could buy.
Both sides have tried this argument, and both sides made a hash of it, because it is a frankly silly argument. The wealth of the UK is not a cake to be sliced up and everyone given a bit. Even if Scotland were to become actually independent in March 2016, or enter a devomax arrangement set up between the Tories and the SNP as planned in the White Paper, or remains part of the UK as at present, Scotland will still have a very few very rich people, a proportion of wealthy people, and a lot of people who are horrifyingly poor.
In less than four months, we’ll go to the polls to vote Yes or No to the question:
“Should Scotland be an independent country?”
And today, the campaign period for the referendum officially begins.
But as I pointed out a few weeks ago (and Simon Jenkins pointed out yesterday) the SNP are not offering independence: they want major decisions for Scotland’s governance to be made at Westminster/in London. (It’s all in the White Paper: haven’t you read it?)
Looking ahead to 2015, the polls say (and the bookies agree) the next general election is likely to be a Labour victory.
The results in so far from the local English council elections support that (full results won’t be out til later today): despite a low turnout (estimated at 36%) Labour has maintained or gained control in 27 local councils (up 2 – there were 161 local authority elections yesterday) and won 617 council seats (up by 101). Including – as I found out via Twitter – David Cameron’s favourite Tory council Hammersmith & Fulham.
The Conservatives have lost control in 8 councils (they’ve kept control in 27) and are down 99 council seats. The Liberal Democrats have lost control in one council (kept control in two) and are down 93 council seats. None of this looks good for their general election prospects.
The Green Party have four seats so far, up by one.
None of this, however, is the headlining news.
When I published Leaning Towards No, I expected reaction from Yes voters who’d been hoping I would come down on their side of the fence.
I wasn’t expecting the reaction to be so supportive of the SNP. From the reactions, [hardly anyone]* who plans to vote Yes intends to challenge the SNP’s plans to install devomax “currency union” in place of our present devolved system, and while some actively support the plan, many simply don’t see changing the SNP’s policy as possible.
*Not quite “no one”, as I initially wrote.
It therefore seems likely that – much to my annoyance and disappointment – I really don’t have any choice but to vote No. I don’t support devomax. I never did. I won’t vote Yes to have devomax replace status-quo devolution, and that’s what the Scottish Government’s White Paper says is going to happen.
Let me go through the various objections I’ve received to this, beginning with the silliest. (None of these are direct quotes from anyone, so if you recognise yourself in them, it’s purely coincidental.)
George Osborne says the Treasury won’t permit Scotland to use the UK pound, supposing Scotland votes for independence. In May 2015 – regardless of how Scotland votes in September – Osborne’s reign as least-qualified British Chancellor since the one who forgot his budget speech in 1869 comes to an end, so his pronouncements are necessarily limited to campaigning for a Yes vote.
(What? There was another reason for his coming up to Scotland? Seriously, does anyone think a very posh, very English Tory Minister telling Scots what they can and cannot do is likely to be anything but a drawback for the Better Together campaign?)
Quite possibly the worst result for 18th September would be for fewer than 50% of the electorate to vote, but for Yes to win by a narrow margin. The more Conservative Ministers moved to join the debate the better in that regard.
The next General Election for the UK will be on 7th May 2015. In Scotland, we’re all looking at 18th September 2014, but for the Westminster parties, the general election campaigning has already begun.
At the 2010 general election, the results were Conservatives 307, Labour 258, Liberal Democrats 57: the LibDems dashed into a coalition with the Tories, and the hugely unpleasant mess that followed is still miring us up.
It’s fair to say that without the LibDem decision to join the Tory party and keep them in government (despite Tories not having won an election since 1992) – there likely would not have been a majority-SNP government in Holyrood: conceivably, if enough Scots had voted LibDem in 2011, there might not be an independence referendum this year.
Yesterday, the National Health Action Party launched.
The idea behind the NHA Party is one I support: since the Labour Party is unable and unwilling to properly defend the NHS against the Tory attacks – unable because it is at present a minority party with an unpopular leader, unwilling because properly doing so would involve backtracking and acknowledging that the Labour Party itself went hellishly wrong during the Blair years – there must be political pressure on Labour to force them to act when, as I hope, they win the next election.
Founded by a group of health professionals, our party strongly opposes the Health and Social Care Act. We believe the Act is wrecking the NHS in England by allowing it to be broken up and sold off. We intend to put up around 50 candidates in carefully chosen general election constituencies, and we will urge the Labour party to repeal the Act. We’ll also field candidates in local council elections.
Party co-leader and cancer specialist Dr Clive Peedell said: “For generations we’ve trusted the NHS to be a safety net for everyone in times of need. Putting the values of business and the markets ahead of those of patients and communities will ruin the NHS. This destruction is being fast-tracked by Tory and coalition policies. We hope our new party will halt this process.”