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Star Comment: ‘No’ campaign is a shambles

Alex Salmond can hardly contain his glee at the decision of the three Westminster parliamentary leaders to abandon Prime Minister’s Questions in favour of trekking to Scotland to revive the No camp.

Their journey north of the border to love-bomb the Scots follows their previous consensus to let Gordon Brown tell people of the new powers Holyrood would be accorded in the wake of a No vote.

The Scottish nationalist leader accuses the three amigos of panicking and of having an approval rating among Scots lower than the Islamic State terrorist group.

The most hurtful thing about the chuckled barbs directed by Scotland’s First Minister is that they are totally correct.

The No campaign has been a shambles from day one since Labour chose to join the Better Together campaign with the well-heeled deliverers of the bankers’ austerity agenda.

Which supreme strategist proposed an alliance with the authors of the bedroom tax, slashed public expenditure, higher VAT, privatisation and cuts to wages, pensions and benefits as the best way to showcase Labour’s support for Scottish working people?

This decision set the terms of the campaign, allowing Salmond and his backers to associate the entire No camp with a Westminster elite’s devotion to neoliberal policies.

 

No wonder recent opinion polls indicate that 35 per cent of Labour voters in Scotland intend to vote Yes to independence.

How many of them were alienated by avoidable howlers such as Labour leader Johann Lamont’s juxtaposition of “free prescriptions, free tuition fees and the council-tax freeze” alongside her reference to a “something for nothing country?”

How many others switched their positions in protest at provocative statements from down south that Scots could not run their own state or, if they persist in pursuing independence, that there will be consequences?

People, whether Scots or any other nationality, tend to react negatively to being patronised or threatened.

The ineptitude of the No campaign has assisted its opponents to surmount serious questions over the quality of “independence” being sought by the SNP, which has framed the terms of the Yes challenge.

Retaining subservience to the monarchy, Nato, European Union and the Bank of England through a lop-sided currency union is a curious idea of what constitutes independence.

 

Many Yes supporters accept shortcomings associated with the SNP-dominated approach but are determined to give voice to their anger against Westminster politicians for either victimising them or taking their votes for granted.

This confirms a tendency identified by opinion pollsters long ago among people being surveyed that, having been asked a specific question, they answer another they judge as more relevant to them.

The Scottish TUC report, A Just Scotland, examining the policy areas touched on — but rarely more than that — by the referendum campaigns identifies key areas for consideration to promote real social change in Scotland.

A Just Scotland distances itself from the rhetoric of the Yes-No camps and highlights both sides’ failure to get down to brass tacks about the issues that determine what kind of society a post-September 18 Scotland would be.

Not least is the potential threat to the NHS from the secretive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership being negotiated by the EU and the US but which has been absent from the campaign.

Whatever happens on September 18 such dangers will persist and will need united popular mobilisation led by the organised labour movement to defeat them.

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