Margo MacDonald: Ignore kitchen sink throwers

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The only thing not flung at the Yes side during this past week, the kitchen sink, is still bolted to the wall, but don’t be surprised if it’s pressed into service next week.

From now until the day Alex Salmond announces the date of the referendum on independence there will be a relentless attack on the claims, statements and aspirations of people who think we could build a better country for our children and grandchildren.

You’d think that one, plain, incontrovertible fact would bring a blush to the cheeks of the MPs, political parties and spin doctors who are now telling the big lie. They say unemployment in Scotland will rise frighteningly if we vote Yes for the legal and political power to invest more of the extra revenue being generated by the current high oil prices in every sort of job, starting with construction projects.

Even if the No side really believes the Scottish Government after independence would be short of the readies, lukewarm, late entrants into the war of words like Gordon Brown know that comparing the Scottish economy after independence with the rest of the UK is like comparing apples and oranges.

We will have a completely different view of the world. We will be a small-ish European country on the northern rim of Europe. Hopefully, we will strive to make our country a fairer place than has been achieved under the Union. Independence enables our tax laws, our welfare benefits and pensions to complement each other and feed into the special measures we may have to take to get people back to work.

These Scots weren’t made unemployed because of independence, but because Westminster hadn’t the cash or the stomach to redistribute government spending to eradicate poverty.

Not all Scots would have the same way of going about achieving these goals and priorities would differ according to political leanings, but we would be much more likely to reach conclusions that reflected Scottish strengths and weaknesses in the workforce, for example.

At a time when some industries are crying out for recruits, we have a serious skills shortage in Scotland. Without full sovereignty, the Scottish Government, any Scottish government, cannot take the bold, wholehearted decision to spend what the Treasury in London might have spent using Scotland’s contribution to the UK, on keeping up the pretence of being a world leader.

This week, the old pals act was all the rage. Contacts established between politicians and civil servants at international conferences, summits, and information-gathering exercises were activated.

A bloke we’ve never heard of before sounds off about Scotland being left outside the EU’s charmed circle is pretty typical of the EU mandarin who is friendly with the man from the ministry in Whitehall and whose idea of political hell is the deconstruction of the bureaucracy that provides him with such a satisfying life.

Of course, not everyone who has expressed opposition to the idea of Scotland becoming independent of London is doing so out of self-
interest. Some of the original founders of the European idea are still around and, usually, their remarks are worth listening to, even if you’ve already decided which way you’ll vote.

But Liberal Democrat politicians should clear out of the picture until the smoke of battle subsides between the opposite ends of the argument.

The EU bureaucrats now openly admit what they concealed until they thought the UK was in too deep for its citizens to consider withdrawing. These EU federalists are poles apart from the UK Lib Dems who, traditionally, have pursued federalism for the entire UK.

So, don’t be put off by rubbish being heaved over the fence. There’s usually a very good way to discourage such behaviour.

Just remind the nuisance that we have another choice. We can apply to join EFTA. That way we get the benefit of free trade agreements and the same entrance to the EU markets as allows the Norwegians to sell more goods and services into EU countries than we do at present.

Pass me that kitchen sink.

Any better ideas?

Few people, if any, would choose to live next door to one of Edinburgh’s saunas. But with the exception of one or two that I suspect have colour-blind owners, judging by the lurid colours with which the outside of the premises are painted, they are not too intrusive.

But since 1986 they have been licensed by the council as places of entertainment.

Therefore, the police can and do enter them to check that activities inside are within the tolerable boundaries. Does anyone have a better idea?