Margo Macdonald: Don’t get spooked out of Yes vote

The No camp's claim that independence heralds disaster should encourage a healthy scepticism. Picture: PA
The No camp's claim that independence heralds disaster should encourage a healthy scepticism. Picture: PA
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I BLAME the government – a commonly-heard riposte that usually indicates a total incomprehension of whatever is being discussed amongst friends. The reason for the caveat about “friends” is a mindfulness of the current social scene.

Some friends will be unremittingly Scottish, not particularly anti-British, and determined to vote Yes. Other friends are British, but only just and are still close to the first Yes group. And then there are the others: people with a sometimes visceral hatred of Scottish nationalism and some individual nationalists, and it would appear, a few Scots who hate anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Excluding this last group, I have friends in all of them, and although sometimes the friendship is strained during a long campaign such as this referendum is proving to be, I hope they’ll still be my friends on the day after we vote for independence.

That’s why cheerfully shifting the blame onto Alex Salmond’s ministers and their ubiquitous “special advisers” is so useful in keeping the peace. It can be interpreted as meaning almost anything you’d want. But the SNP government hasn’t got everything wrong, and at least some members of Team Salmond seem to know how many beans make five.

John Swinney sensibly and honestly says that much of the facade of suspicion and opposition ranged against the option of pure independence will disappear, rightfully so, after our Yes votes have established that Scottish sovereignty is embedded in Holyrood and articulated by MSPs answerable to the Scots.

Let’s hope that it’s in place for good and for all time. And don’t forget that English people of all sorts and sizes, carrying out all sorts of different functions, maybe even doing what they see as their patriotic bit, to damage Scotland’s chances of voting for our freedom to make our own policy choices, will have to get along with us, after we’re independent.

Sometimes, I’ll admit, I boil with indignation and anger when I read the what the daily disaster is, dreamed up by an individual or organisation currently campaigning against independence. For example, last week, we had the dire warning that credit unions would be adversely affected by independence. Another day, according to the No team, it would be pensions, and yet another disaster promised last week was a complete absence of security for an independent Scotland because we could never afford our own, kilted, GCHQ.

And this is where I do blame the government. All of the above should have been anticipated and dealt with before the negative spin had been put on by people working to undermine Scottish self-confidence. The spooks’ job is to spread doubt and or dislike about the likely future changes to familiar or essential parts of civic life. If you think that’s over-egging the pudding, ask yourself what you would do if you were told that you were responsible for looking after Scotland’s best interests. The operation would be out of the spotlight so that mistakes could be put right without time, money and embarrassment, regardless of which party was in power.

Would you a) advertise for a used spy-centre with only one careful owner, or b) ask around to find out who has one to see if you can wangle an invitation?

Even without a natter with Scandinavian politicians, journalists and diplomats, the only foreign grouping I could imagine might have security interests in common with Scotland, I’d judge our closest interests, certainly to start with, as being with the rest of the UK. So I’d try to establish an understanding with Her Majesty’s Spooks (MI 5 and 6)

Up until the referendum, there will be “guest workers” looking for anything that could be used to undermine the status, and therefore the effectiveness of a Scottish Government. After work, they might have a drink in a pub near you and informally sound you out on your thoughts on the referendum.

All we can do is develop a scepticism about all the disasters that will attend independence, which have probably been the product of a spook’s imagination. Don’t forget the promise that the UK will become a land of milk and honey and its trillion pound debt will be wheeched away by great government from Westminster.

Testing player loyalty to the limit

The Kilmarnock supporter who lives with me says that administration is the best Hearts could have hoped for. If the group being assembled by Ian Murray MP is lucky they’ll get the chance to run Hearts, but will they be allowed to buy players if some of the current staff depart for clubs where they might think their wages are more likely to be paid?

Having 15 points deducted means that the Jambos would have to win five matches and do it for love, not money.