The UK Government is reputed to have spent over £750,000 putting together a small booklet entitled, "What Staying in the United Kingdom means for Scotland", delivered to every household in the country. There was a considerable outcry when the Scottish Government published the White Paper, about the "waste of taxpayers' money", "use of government employees on SNP propaganda" etc. but as always, with the No Campaign, there has been not a single word raised in protest at the "waste of taxpayers' money" for the dissemination of UK Government propaganda. The White Paper produced by the SNP Government in Holyrood, has been widely condemned as being a propaganda exercise and no more than a campaign manifesto for the SNP. There is no doubt there is some justification in the criticisms made but they are as nothing compared to the blatant propaganda which has been produced by the UK Government, in the alleged guise of "public information".
There is a distinction between misinformation and out and out lies and, every political party and every government is guilty of disseminating both from time to time. Supporters and opponents will adopt whichever stand they deem to be appropriate in each case, with each highlighting those statements of the opposition, which are most obviously untrue. As an opponent of the UK Government's and Better Together's campaign for the Union, I regard it as an obligation to point out the most blatant attempts by both to mislead the Scottish people, by providing deliberately misleading information or, as in the case of their latest booklet, deliberately lying. The booklet starts by stating, "It's for you to decide and you should make your choice knowing all the relevant facts". Unfortunately, much of the content is far from being either relevant or factual.
"By staying in the United Kingdom, our economies grow together" That is no more than a statement of the obvious but what is not stated is that over the past thirty years, the Scottish economy has grown by at least 0.5% each year less than the rest of the UK, ensuring that Scottish economic progress has been greatly disadvantaged as a consequence of government policy. The current boom in London's property market is creating even greater imbalance, leading to speculation that interest rates will have to be increased much earlier than expected. Increased interest rates are the last thing Scotland needs at the moment. "Staying within the UK is the only way to keep the pound we have now" That is a lie. The UK Government may refuse to have a currency union but there would be nothing to stop an independent Scotland from using the pound sterling as its currency of choice. There would be disadvantages in doing so and it would not be the best option for an independent Scotland, but that would be up to Scotland, not the UK Government to decide.
"Putting up an international border with the rest of the UK would slow growth". That is not necessarily true as borders, of themselves, do not slow growth. In any case, who is talking about putting up economic borders? English jobs rely on Scottish trade just as much as Scottish jobs rely on English trade, why would either government put up borders? "By staying in the United Kingdom, your money is safe and goes further". Is that meant to be a joke? Did the banking crisis of 2008 not happen? Did the frauds of PPI and CPP not take place? Did RBS alone, not pay out £9 billion in compensation and, unlike the Icelandic Government, did the UK Governments of both Labour and the Tory/Lib.Dem Coalition fail to prosecute a single banker for the billions they cost the UK economy? Wonga and Barclays - AGAIN - are both currently under investigation for financial fraud. Is it just a coincidence that 51% of the Tory Party's total funding is provided by the City of London, that over FIFTY financiers donated over £50,000 each to the Tory Party in 2012?
"The United Kingdom's financial standing helps keep interest rates low. That means cheaper loans and mortgages." That is no more than a snapshot of the current financial situation. If the London property market is allowed to continue to distort the UK economy, the cost of consumer borrowing will rise much sooner than expected. The UK already has a massive balance of trade and balance of payments deficit and, as that gets worse, as it will do, the pressure on sterling will increase, raising the cost of borrowing. The above claim is a total distortion. "Staying in the UK would keep future energy bills for Scottish households up to £189 a year lower" That is an out and out lie. Scotland's energy situation is far healthier than that of the rUK and the greater the development of Scottish resources, the greater the advantages will be for Scottish consumers. Energy companies in the UK are ripping off consumers at the rate of £101 each year for every family in the country, an increase of 1,000% in five years. Ofgem has ordered a full-blown inquiry into the conduct of energy companies and for the UK Government to make such a claim beggars belief.
"State Pensions are more secure because costs are shared by 31 million people." this is another out and out lie because the security of State Pensions rely on a great deal more than the size of the population. Taking the rUK Government's argument to its logical conclusion, China's State Pensions would be the most secure in the world and Norway would struggle to pay any kind of pension at all. It is a measure of how little regard the UK Government has for the intelligence of the Scottish people, and the stupidity of their own advisers to advance such an argument in the first place. State Pensions are determined by not just the resources of a country but the way in which those resources are used. Spending £100 billion on Trident, a weapon system that will never be used, ensures UK pensions will never be as good as they could be. Scotland's defense expenditure is only ONE example of how a change in the use of resources can make a difference in the size of the State Pension.
"In 2008, we were able to provide Scottish banks with support worth more than twice Scotland's national income" Had we not been in the UK, would our banks have been in the disastrous position they were in? UK banking de-regulation in common with those in other western countries, caused the financial disaster, allowing the banks to almost destroy the entire economy. The money to bail out the banks was BORROWED, creating the biggest debt mountain for the UK taxpayers, the UK has ever faced, which is hardly something about which to boast. The banks have learned nothing, they still commit fraud, pay out ludicrous salaries and bonuses to bankers, some of whom should have been jailed, instead of being given seats in the House of Lords, which has become the biggest standing joke of a second chamber in the Western World.
"Staying in the UK is worth £1,400 every year to each person living in Scotland". Why not £1,600 or £1,900 or £2,500 or any other fictitious figure, in fact, why not just pick a number, double it, then treble it, subtract a banana and add an orange? This nonsense does no more than debase the debate to the point where the majority of people will simply switch off. We are being asked to decide the future of our people and nation on the basis of a piece of tawdry and meaningless arithmetic, presented be even more tawdry politicians who can't even be trusted to count their own expenses. "Scotland benefits from public spending that is around 10% higher than the UK average". Scotland receives an annual grant from the UK Government, a grant that is being reduced, and chooses to spend that grant on public services to a greater extent that the rest of the UK. The fact Scots choose to spend our own money on items such as free prescriptions, is then used by the UK Government to suggest that is another reason to stay in the UK, despite the fact the same UK Government denies those advantages to the people in the rUK. We are to be bribed by our own money.
"An independent Scotland would need to create new public institutions, which would be complex and expensive" This ludicrous argument has already been shown to be a pack of lies created by The Treasury, by Professor Dunleavy of the London School of Economics, the man on whose research the arguments were supposed to be based. The figure of £2.5 billion produced by The Treasury has been admitted as being a figment of some official's imagination and a more realistic figure has been set at £250 million. Many of the departments already exist, others would not be needed and none would be as expensive as those used by the UK Government.
"The UK is more able to protect Scottish interests in areas like agriculture and fisheries". Surely the biggest lie of them all. The Scottish steel and fishing industries were sacrificed by Ted Heath as part of the entry fee to the then Common Market. Previous blogs have given far more detail but the fishing industry alone has lost over 100,000 jobs as a consequence of the Common Fisheries Policy CFP, to say nothing of the tens of thousands of tons of fish which have been dumped at sea in order to meet quotas that do nothing to either protect fish stocks or create a healthier industry. The Scottish steel industry was one of the best in Western Europe and Ravenscraig Mill, at the time of its closure was the most efficient and largest mill in Europe. Its workforce had been reduced from 13,000 to 770 and its closure led to the closure of another four steel factories in the Lanarkshire area, with the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.
This ridiculous piece of government propaganda is currently being pushed through every door in Scotland at the cost of £750,000 of taxpayers' money. It is a tissue of lies from start to finish and an insult to the intelligence of the Scottish people.