Martin Hannan: ‘No’ vote would not be the end

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As we get nearer the referendum, I can’t help but notice that the voices of the No camp are getting shriller by the day. Their negativity has always been overwhelming, and now their tone has become frantic and often puerile.

That’s because they have woken up to the most intriguing possibility of the referendum – that they might win the battle but lose the war.

Good SNP member that I am, and since I keep my ear to the ground while the No leaders have their snouts in the trough, I am still of the opinion that Scotland will vote Yes, and maybe even by a “working” margin – say 55-45. I am willing to entertain the possibility that the No campaign could win, but it is increasingly certain that even if they do, it will be by a very narrow margin indeed.

The hope of Project Fear since the beginning has been to bury the cause of independence for at least a generation. To do that requires a substantial majority of better than 60-40. Any less than that, and the inevitable change in the voting population – older people are less willing to vote for independence, while more and more younger people are coming round to a Yes vote – will ensure that the issue does not go away, not for a moment.

Indeed, should there be a No vote and should David Cameron, below, win the general election in May next year – and it looks increasingly likely that he will – we will have an in-out referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union in 2017 at the latest. At that point the differences between Scotland the rest of the UK will become so clear that a renewed campaign for independence will surface.

This is not making excuses before the result is known. It is merely a considered opinion that even if Project Fear wins on September 18, so many Scots will have voted Yes and been politicised that the question of independence will keep being raised until Scotland gets out of the UK. One thing we could all do without in the referendum debate – Yes and No camps both – is the kind of contribution that was seen in The Scotsman’s letter pages. On Saturday, a Mr Paul Hitchen of Northfield Road, Beverley in North Yorkshire informed us that he and 11 English friends who regularly visit Scotland for golf have unanimously agreed that in the event of Yes vote they won’t be coming back.

Mr Hitchen added: “My group has also agreed that we will lobby strongly for the British Open never to be played again in Scotland as it will have forfeited the right to hold a British competition.”

It’s people like this Yorkshireman who get England a bad name. For a start, any golfer of adequate brain knows that the tournament is the Open Championship of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and not the ‘British Open’. Even the PGA of America and USA broadcasters now call it the Open Championship.

For the next two years, the Open will be at St Andrews and Royal Troon. English golfers and spectators will be welcome to the greatest of all golf competitions run by the sport’s top Scottish club. We’ll miss Mr Hitchen’s dozen – but it’s a price worth paying for independence.

Airport flies in face of decency

I LEARNED about the increase in Edinburgh Airport’s drop off charge with resignation. I predicted once the charge came in four years ago, it would only be a matter of time before it went up, because these charges never go down.

The new price will be £1 for under five minutes, £3 for five to ten minutes, and £5 after that. It shouldn’t affect departures, but pick-ups will be difficult, especially if a person is elderly or disabled.

The airport management know all that, but they don’t care. They know they have airport users trapped and are going to squeeze them until it hurts. It’s not just greed, it’s arrogance, and its raw capitalism at work.

Heartfelt opener

What a start to the season by Hearts. For a club that was on the brink, it’s great to see them winning and playing so well. Now come on Hibs and match them.