Martin Hannan: It’s not just the economy, stupid

Independence is about more than financial wellbeing.  Picture: Ian Rutherford
Independence is about more than financial wellbeing. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Given that it was a pretty stunning statistic, I am surprised that more has not been made of the information from the 2011 Census which was revealed last week.

That 62 per cent of people living in Scotland consider themselves to be “Scottish only”, against 18 per cent who said they were Scottish and British, should have had the Yes campaigners jumping for joy and Project Fear, aka Better Together, in total disarray.

Here, surely, is proof that there is an inbuilt majority in favour of Scotland going it alone. The problem for SNP members and Yes campaigners like myself is how we translate that feeling of Scottishness into solid Yes votes next September.

What Project Fear has so cleverly done up until now is to hijack the referendum question and alter it to read “Will you personally be better off in an independent Scotland?”

Putting the wallet and the purse at the top of the agenda is something that Project Fear deliberately set out to do. It was a mean and nasty tactic, pandering to that outmoded image of Scots as a tightfisted species.

It has been hugely successful, however, and the fact that so many pundits and commentators have zeroed in on economic and financial issues to the virtual exclusion of everything else should really be worrying the Yes campaign.

There is no doubt the people of Scotland will fret about their bawbees before they go into the polling booths in next year’s historic vote. That is only human nature, after all, and people should be concerned about the financial future of themselves and their family, and about the economic wellbeing of the country.

Yet there is so much more that should be asked and answered about the future of Scotland as an independent nation. If you measure your Scottishness by the thickness of your wallet then I happily concede that you might have doubts about the future under independence. I have some myself, almost totally because the UK government steadfastly refuses to discuss such things as the overwhelming national debt and how it will be carved up should 
Scotland vote Yes.

While we are at it, I would like to know what share of the joint assets built up since the Act of Union will be given to Scotland. After all, it was the taxpayers of Scotland who contributed to building up things like the defence forces, the civil service, even the Houses of Parliament buildings themselves, and if we are going to take on a share of the debt than we should also have a share of the assets.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg won’t discuss any of that, however, so anyone making a declaration that Scotland will be worse off under independence doesn’t actually know what they’re talking about.

There is just no certainty as to how the Scottish economy will turn out post-independence, but I am firmly in the camp of those who believe that Scotland has a much better chance of prosperity if we run our own affairs.

What should be happening now is that the very nature of Scotland and Scottishness should be under discussion, and I am confident that when the Scottish Government’s White Paper appears, that will be the springboard for widening the referendum debate to involve many, many more issues – bring it on!

Movie magic

Edinburgh-based movies are like Edinburgh buses – you wait ages for one, then along come two at once. Can’t wait to

see Sunshine on Leith and Filth next week.

Don’t celebrate tram catastrophe

Is it just me, or do I detect more than a hint of a worrying trend that is emerging as we finally approach the arrival of the trams?

Yes, it will be exciting when they finally start to run, but if I hear one word of self-congratulation or glorification by anyone involved in this whole miserable catastrophe of a project, I will be handing out the condemnations quick style.

Absolutely no-one can emerge from the trams debacle with any credit whatsoever, except possibly for Edinburgh City Council chief executive Sue Bruce.

I understand the need for a well-publicised opening to inform people that our trams are actually running, but let there be no bouquets, or the brickbats will start to fly.

As ever, Vlad is to blame for latest debacle

The news that the council is finally selling off Tynecastle High School, including the land used by Hearts as a match-day car park, should have come as no surprise to anyone at the club.

The site was re-marketed two months ago and the council made its position very clear to the club.

That Hearts can seemingly do nothing about it is the fault of one man, and one man alone.

The council, along with a great many other businesses and people in the city, were wilfully misled for years by Vladimir Romanov. He is the real villain of this piece.

Game on for our athletes

WARMEST congratulations to all those athletes from the Evening News circulation area who have been pre-selected for the Scottish team for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. It is a good move by the team management to give these athletes nearly a year’s notice that they will be competing in Glasgow, so let’s hope they make all Scotland proud next year.