Martin Hannan: Scare stories are insulting voters

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Here is the news: the Yes side lost the referendum last September. There will not be another referendum for a number of years – my prediction is five to ten years or more, but that is only my view and not that of the SNP, of which I am a proud member.

It says everything about the inability of Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems to properly advance their own policies that, for many days now, they have been concentrating on claims that the SNP wants to force a second referendum as soon as possible.

This supposed scare story is because now that we are Better Together, Labour and the Tories don’t like the possibility that the SNP could hold the balance of power. Sorry, but when you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind, and the hurricane’s called Nicola Sturgeon.

She could have said “referendum – bring it on” but she has taken a principled stance that it will be for the people of Scotland to decide the timing of the next referendum.

Here’s one SNP member’s view – we don’t want a second referendum any time soon for the simple reason that victory for the Yes side is far from certain, not least because those in favour of independence have not yet dealt properly with issues such as British identity, currency and pensions. Sort that lot out and maybe we’ll convince the 5.2 per cent of the electorate who need to “swing” to bring about a Yes majority.

Independence for Scotland is inevitable, as I have often argued. Each year the number of Yes supporters increases, while the No vote is losing adherents simply because of Old Father Time. But I have to accept that a successful referendum is now a longer-term project than we had hoped.

Meanwhile it shouldn’t even be a subject for debate. This general election campaign was always going to be long, loud and brutal – thanks largely to the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 which meant that May 7, 2015 as election day was known years ago.

What I cannot understand is the paucity of the intellect being displayed by Labour and the Tories in particular.

It is an utter disgrace that Cameron and Miliband have ended up talking about the SNP “threat” to try and scare voters. Labour in particular has tied itself in knots and I know a couple of its candidates who are wishing that Miliband, Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale would stop banging on about the SNP and start pushing Labour’s positive message – believe it or not, it has one.

In Edinburgh and the Lothians, Labour is facing widespread defeat, though I personally think the vagaries of the first past the post system and the Lib Dem collapse will enable the party to hang on to a couple of seats, with possibly Mark Lazarowicz holding on to Edinburgh North and Leith, while Kenny Young has a chance of keeping Midlothian in Labour hands and the diligent Ricky Henderson could take Edinburgh South West.

I’m pretty certain Tommy Sheppard is going to win Edinburgh East for the SNP, and the other seats could all go to my party if the polls are correct. I don’t think they are, but I still see the SNP having up to 40 seats in a hung parliament. And then the fun will really start.

Funeral showed city at its best

I was one of at least 350 people – I counted them on video – who attended Friday’s funeral of the boy we now call Sonny Leith.

Seafield Cemetery was a place of high emotion and great dignity as ordinary people came from far and wide to ensure that the unknown baby boy was buried with love.

I had no doubts whatsoever that there would be a large turnout, and I have to say that I have rarely, if ever, been more proud of Edinburgh than I was on Friday morning.

There are those who will say this is an uncaring, mean city compared with others. Not after Friday can that ever again be said of the community of Edinburgh.


Last word on the general election: not a single decent joke, apart from Alex Salmond’s chuckle about “writing Labour’s budget”. And didn’t the po-faced English press so not get that joke.

What else is hiding in the Botanics?

Had to do a double take on the News’s story that paranormal investigators had found evidence of “fairies” in the Royal Botanic Garden, with a portal between their world and ours.

I am never one to knock such stories, and maybe if they had kept on looking they would have found the ghosts of Scotland’s Labour and Liberal Democrat parties . . .

Give our clubs a civic reception

So now Hearts and Hibs have indeed finished first and second in the SPFL Championship and Hibs have given themselves a real chance of qualifying through the play-offs.

How so very different from this time last year, when both clubs were frankly surrounded by uncertainty and despair.

I don’t know if a civic reception is being considered for the record-breaking Hearts, because it would only usually be granted for cup wins. But if both teams make it back to the Premiership – against all predictions – both should be invited to the City Chambers to mark their feat.