Martin Hannan: Scots have said No to negativity

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There has been a major turning point in the referendum campaign in the past month, and no, I don’t mean the poll in Scotland on Sunday, the Evening News’s sister paper, which showed that the gap was down to three percentage points, 42 per cent No and 39 per cent Yes.

That poll by a company with a reputation for accuracy really set the cat among the pigeons for Better Together, or Project Fear as they call themselves. As an SNP member, and Yes campaigner, I was delighted to read that the No organisation was in some bitter disarray through internal bickering and top Tories – nameless, of course – calling for Alistair Darling to be replaced as the campaign leader.

The real turning point, however, came earlier on March 31 when the Daily Mail published an editorial that was headed in its online edition “negative campaign is a gift to Alex Salmond”.

For the first time the paper of England’s middle class had stated what we in Scotland have known for months – that Project Fear was failing because we Scots are not feart of a future outwith the British state.

The Daily Mail editorial stated: “The worrying truth is that, from the outset, the No campaign has adopted negative, bludgeoning tactics focusing solely on what Scotland stands to lose from independence – raising hackles among proud Scots over high-handed English interference.”

To me that was an insightful and accurate portrayal of the situation, and that it came from such a newspaper with its strong support of the No campaign was devastating for Project Fear.

In the weeks since, the Mail and other newspapers – and some broadcasters – have begun to look askance at the No campaign and have questioned its tactics.

They have not changed their anti-independence stance, mind you, and Salmond is still their bête noir. But up until recently, many outlets in the mainstream media simply accepted everything Project Fear told them and did so without question, giving vast acres of space to the No viewpoint of their columnists – the Evening News, I should say, being one of the few exceptions as it has allowed me and the late Margo MacDonald to publish our pro-independence views.

Britain’s political journalists, I’m ashamed to say, have also failed their readerships. By concentrating on the personal slanging matches, mostly against Salmond, and falling for the Project Fear tactics, they have been harping on about a No vote for many months now, almost as if it was inevitable.

For there suddenly to be a close race – which I predicted from the outset – has taken them by surprise, not least because they have failed to report on the real reason why the Yes campaign is flourishing.

Only a few – a very few – political writers have reported on the amazing grassroots campaign which the Yes team has put together. All across Scotland community activists are busy getting the Yes message out, and they are clearly succeeding.

But that’s not sexy, that doesn’t get you headlines, even if it will gain independence.

Meanwhile, Project Fear continues on its ludicrously negative way, as shown by the latest furore over CBI’s inept decision to campaign against independence. The fact that the boss class is against it is enough to make a lot of people vote Yes.

Please do join us.

IS IT TWO’S COMPANY?

Glad to learn that Hearts have been saved, and as one Jambo wickedly suggested, we can look forward to the Edinburgh derby continuing next season. Ouch!

Co-operation is the A1 answer

HAVING been up and down the A1 a couple of times recently, it is clear that the dual carriageway that exists for much of the road’s distance in Scotland has been a real boon to motorists.

Yes, there are still many miles of the A1 in Scotland which are single-carriageway, and that is a disgrace given the importance of this link to England.

Yet many more miles of the A1 in Northumberland are single carriageway and the result is long queues behind slow lorries and tractors. I know, we were caught in them a lot in the past fortnight.

Surely this is one project which England and Scotland can agree on – the whole A1 between Edinburgh and Newcastle should be dualled.

Going a Nile to beat nasty colds

THANKS for the many responses I have had about my recent comments on the long-lasting cold viruses which have been bedevilling many of us.

As one correspondent said, it is actually a series of different viruses that is prevalent in the community, but some are nastier than others.

I am delighted to say that my own cold has finally disappeared after three months, and was killed off largely due to the heat of Egypt, where we were on holiday for a week.

Just a pity that the NHS can’t afford to send us all for recuperation in Sharm el Sheikh.

Hamish went a wee bite too far

THE adventures of Hamish, part 3: Our Jack Russell terrier went off on his holidays, too, and loved it. But he is still chewing everything in sight and last week added the home telephone to his list of bitten objects.

The line was crossed, however, when his mistress’s new sandals got chewed, and that’s why Hamish is in the doghouse, so to speak.