The case for Scottish independence is based on a short-term, simplistic analysis

The Scottish nationalists pick the best years for North Sea oil receipts and extrapolate into the future. The pro-UK voices point out that the decision to leave the UK is a long-term one and so we must look beyond short-term and simplistic analysis.

Blair McDougall is Campaign Director for the Better Together campaign

A referendum isn’t an election. That seems obvious, but the importance of the differences between an election and a referendum help explain why the nationalist government in Scotland have found themselves in such difficulty.

For years, separating from the UK has been a vehicle which could carry any and all political grievances. Independence was the answer, regardless of what the question was.

In much the same way that UKIP frame all of the UK’s problems as having a common source in the political cooperation with our nearest neighbours, so the nationalists in Scotland have laid the blame for every problem at the door of our political and economic union with the rest of the UK.

The nationalists have created a political dynamic around this idea. Voters who would otherwise choose one of the UK parties split the ticket believing (I think wrongly) that Scotland will be better represented by a nationalist voice within the UK.

However, now that the impending referendum has transformed independence from hypothetical pub-conversation to real prospect, the framing of the debate has changed.

In elections voters will observe the debate and make judgement as to which narrative presented by politicians is most compelling. We know that, while important, elections are merely a way of choosing someone to exercise decision making on our behalf for a few years. The decision can be deemed less serious because it is temporary.

In any referendum, the decision is one that voters have to decide for themselves. In a referendum on an irreversible decision like withdrawing from the UK,  the decision is taken very seriously by voters.

When that decision has the potential to impact on their cost of living, jobs, mortgages and savings, the demand for information on which they can base that decision grows.

This was the background to Better Together’s preparations to the annually published GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) public accounts earlier this week.

Such events are normally a “he-said-she-said” battle between the pro-devolution and anti-UK parties. Those inside the Scottish political beltway get very excited but the debate rarely penetrates into the consciousness of normal Scots.

The nationalists pick the best years for North Sea oil receipts and extrapolate into the future. The pro-UK voices point out that the decision to leave the UK is a long-term one and so we must look beyond short-term and simplistic analysis.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today. 

23 Responses to “The case for Scottish independence is based on a short-term, simplistic analysis”

  1. Peter A Bell

    I’ve a wee tip for Blair McDougall. When you mention “simplistic analysis” in the title of article it’s probably better to avoid such sweeping generalisations as the one about the SNP blaming “every problem” on the UK. Probably as well also to avoid statements of the gob-smackingly obvious such as the inane observation that “voters have to decide for themselves”.

    And having made the almost as glaringly obvious observation that “a referendum isn’t an election”, you are inevitably going to look more than a little foolish if you then go on to avoid any mention of the Yes Scotland campaign and instead couch your whole “argument” in terms of a party political contest between the SNP and your (former?) employers in the British Labour Party.

    It might be best to draw a discreet veil over the stuff about voters not taking elections seriously, Although I suppose we should be grateful for the insight McDougall offers into the degree of contempt in which he and his fellow British nationalists hold the Scottish electorate.

  2. cynicalhighlander

    Consultant says claims over cross-border patient care after independence are scaremongering

    Dr Khan spoke out after Jackie Baillie, Labour’s shadow health spokeswoman and a director of the Better Together campaign, claimed that a Yes vote in next year’s referendum would lead to reciprocal patient treatment becoming mired in red tape and complex regulation.

  3. Brian S.

    I’m afraid you’re wasting your breath, Peter.
    This site is a one-way sphincter for anti-independence negative propaganda, and they don’t respond to comments.

    I think the intellectual rationale around here is that there is an item of dogma amongst some socialists that any independence movement is A Bad Thing, as it moves in the direction away from a planet, nay, a universe, with no countries, no borders, no bosses, and the workers of the world sitting down amongst the butterflies making daisy chains.
    You can see that the words “intellectual” and “rationale” are superfluous.

    However, there >are< some socialists who are fighting for an independent Scotland, and probably hoping for, eventually, a socialist government (and why not? It'll be a free country).
    The crew on this site are not of this ilk.

    I presume the Editor (see the 'About' page), James Bloodworth, has much to do with this. Strangely, his blog claims he is only the Assistant Editor. From his picture he is only a wee laddie, so has much to learn.

    I had a look at this site's 'About' page in order to divine further the motivations of this lot.
    Unfortunately, if you click on any the hyperlinks in the list of noble ideals under the heading "We are fighting For" you find that they go nowhere.

    Amusingly, if you roll your mouse over the hyperlinked item 'media integrity' the address that appears end in the words 'media manipulation' (….own goal), and the address that appears for 'A Britain We Call Home:' (which is the bucket where they store all the anti-independence trash) is 'racist-extremism'.

  4. Bill Cruickshank

    You folk don’t have a clue why an increasing number of Scots want independence. It has nothing to do with oil, Alex Salmond, Braveheart, Flower of Scotland and all the rest of unionist smears. It is simply about the self respect of governing ourselves. That is why we will win.

  5. Newsbot9

    Why, because it’s true of the separatist posters here?

    Thanks for the collectivism which you use like the good Party Man you are!

  6. Newsbot9

    Yes, let’s see. The people who will set it up, or a Consultant. Hmm.

  7. Newsbot9

    A decreasing number. But keep failing to read the polls.

  8. Newsbot9

    Yes, you keep calling everyone who doesn’t uncritically support your Separatism and anti-British jingoism a racist. Thanks for admitting you’re not a socialist, btw – and yes, it’s called internationalism – your oh-so-Tory dismissal of this…

  9. Anne toms

    Do you think its democratic or left wing or socialist to foist on the Scots Nuclear weapons which over 75% inc their govt, their STUC their churches have rejected? It is linked with cancer clusters, MOd say they can’t have it in England due to number of deaths in event of accident. (BTw iTrident failed 13 out of 15 safety tests. It is leaking radiation into the Clyde) Also whilst you are arguing for free prescriptions in England (which I support) your labour colleagues in Scotland are arguing against them! Its about priorities. If you were truly socialist you would have voted against trident that costs billions, and we could all afford free prescriptions! Ask yourselves Why Scots are rejecting labour and uK politics instead of condemning us for it. (I’m an ex labour voter)

  10. soppygit

    Presumably for every separatist there is an Uncle Tom?

  11. Old Codger

    Has anybody every stopped to wonder what it would be like to be governed by lying, backstabbing, illerate nationalists from top to bottom.

  12. Old Codger

    Has anybody every stopped to wonder what it would be like to be governed by lying, backstabbing, illerate nationalists from top to bottom.

  13. Old Codger

    Has anybody every stopped to wonder what it would be like to be governed by lying, backstabbing, illerate nationalists from top to bottom.

  14. Old Codger

    Has anybody every stopped to wonder what it would be like to be governed by lying, backstabbing, illerate nationalists from top to bottom.

  15. Old Codger

    Has anybody every stopped to wonder what it would be like to be governed by lying, backstabbing, illerate nationalists from top to bottom.

  16. Old Codger

    Has anybody every stopped to wonder what it would be like to be governed by lying, backstabbing, illerate nationalists from top to bottom.

  17. Old Codger

    Has anybody every stopped to wonder what it would be like to be governed by lying, backstabbing, illerate nationalists from top to bottom.

  18. Old Codger

    Has anybody every stopped to wonder what it would be like to be governed by lying, backstabbing, illerate nationalists from top to bottom.

  19. Old Codger

    Has anybody every stopped to wonder what it would be like to be governed by lying, backstabbing, illerate nationalists from top to bottom.

  20. Old Codger

    Has anybody every stopped to wonder what it would be like to be governed by lying, backstabbing, illerate nationalists from top to bottom.

  21. Old Codger

    Has anybody every stopped to wonder what it would be like to be governed by lying, backstabbing, illerate nationalists from top to bottom.

  22. Old Codger

    Has anybody every stopped to wonder what it would be like to be governed by lying, backstabbing, illerate nationalists from top to bottom.

  23. C. R. McBride

    I would just like to say that it is inspiring to hear people speaking with such passion and belief.

Leave a Reply