It’s déjà vu time, a repeat of the 1979 devolution referendum when Unionists threatened to leave Scotland the day after we voted yes. The oil would soon run out, Europe would cut us off at the knees, your English auntie would become a “foreigner” required to show her passport to make a visit and that our claim to Shetland as part of Scotland was false, given that it’s nearest railway station was Bergen in Norway.
Laughable, isn’t it? But déjà vu it is. Michelle Mone, she of the bra company, will up sticks for England the minute we go independent because she could not run a profitable company here any more. Will it be that, upon independence, Scots women will, apparently without any explanation, go bra-less and lingerie disappear from our high streets? Will Scots men no longer face that embarrassing moment when asked “what size” when trying to buy the wife, partner or girlfriend those frilly undies for Christmas because there will be none? We’ll all be so skint, according to Michelle, we won’t have a penny to spend on fripperies and luxuries.
We are asked to believe that the recent find of a new giant oilfield is pure fiction. All those geologists who said it was there are wrong. All those oil experts who said it would give the Scottish oil industry another 40 years of life were writing garbage. All of us Scots who believed that, like the Gulf states and Norway, we have been given a huge bonus for the economy, with onshore work as well as offshore prospects good, are living in cloud cuckoo land.
All those Scots who swallow the lies about the oil being unimportant are mugs. We were mugs before and, if the déjà vu works, we’ll be mugs again.
Let me tell you a true story. In the 1980s, I wrote a letter to The Scotsman saying we had oil for 100 years. The then letters page editor took pity on me. He phoned and told me he didn’t like to see me make a fool of myself, with such a claim. Didn’t I know the oil was running out? I told him he was wrong and to print my letter. He reluctantly agreed, with words to the effect “it’s on your head” as his parting shot. There was an intelligent journalist who had bought the “oil is running out” propaganda.
As for Europe, haven’t you heard? We’ll be thrown out. We’ll have to crawl to Brussels on bended knees to get back in. The entry price will be awful. We’ll be forced to join the euro and pay for the Greek debts. Brussels will insist on us joining Schengen, letting in an army of illegal immigrants using us a back door to get to England, forcing the English to put up barbed wire along the Border and patrol the Solway with gun boats. Try getting your auntie up for the weekend through that lot.
Then there’s Shetland, part of the realm of Scotland since 1470, taken into the UK as part of Scotland in 1707. Never once until oil was found was its status as an integral part of Scotland questioned. Now we have amendments to the Scotland Bill in the House of Lords to place it outside of Scotland if we vote for independence and a flow of articles arguing that Shetland is not really in Scotland because, up until 1470, it was Viking territory.
Why are they bothering with Shetland? Why not the Hebrides, or the isle of Arran, also once in the control of the Norsemen? Because if Shetland was extracted from Scotland, there would be a great deal of oil that England could claim. That oil which they keep telling us is so unimportant. So, they are trying a bit of the old divide and rule.
They know so little about Shetland in the south of England that quite often Scottish newsrooms in Glasgow and Edinburgh, when there is something worth reporting, are asked to “nip” up to Shetland and get the story – you know, like nipping up to Aberdeen and taking a small boat for a quick and easy trip across to the islands.
These ploys have been visited upon us before. Our heads are supposed to button up the back. We are seen as the saftest of the family. We are asked to believe Scotland is unique, the only nation in the world quite incapable of running an independent country successfully. No English person would think that of England, or a Swede of Sweden, or Latvian of Latvia (so much smaller and with so little of what Scotland has in abundance).
We are asked to swallow the myth of our own inadequacy. Asked to categorise ourselves in comparison with all other people as being second-class incapables. The tragedy in 1979 was that we bought the negative package, and the Scottish lion was too feart to step out of the UK cage. It will be an even bigger tragedy this time, if we buy the same insulting message.