BY EFFIE DEANS
The SNP has a relationship to truth which is at best overoptimistic and at worst downright deceitful. Sometimes the SNP is wrong because it claims to be fact something that it is merely predicting at other times it becomes a first rank member of the “big lie” school of politics. Make it big. Tell it often. Keep a straight face. But at the heart of Scottish politics there is a rotten untruth that is beginning to poison everything else. This is a long list, but by the end you will begin to wonder what living a lie does to a person’s soul.
The independence campaign
1. During 2013/2014 the SNP lied that Scotland would be in a currency union with the former UK. Even SNP don’t believe this now.
2. Organisations such as Women for Independence and Lawyers for Yes were supposedly genuinely separate from the SNP, but prominent members of such organisations immediately became SNP MPs and MSPs afterwards.
3. Scotland would remain in the EU because it would be able to negotiate membership during the transition period. But only independent sovereign states can apply for membership of the EU and every member state up until now has had its own currency or has been using the Euro.
4. A border is just a line in a map and would not be noticed after independence. But we now know that if Scotland has a different EU status to the former UK there is every possibility that the border between England and Scotland would be hard.
5. In Scotland’s future the SNP predicted Offshore Receipts of £6.8 to £7.9 Billion in 2016-2017 the true figure was £266 million.
6. SNP said UK would pay a commensurate proportion of the £300 Billion in tax receipts which it received from North Sea oil in decommissioning the oil rigs in the North Sea. But if that argument were logical a future Scottish Government would have to pay back the money it received from the UK Treasury over the same period. Moreover, why would the UK Government decommission Scotland’s rigs if the SNP refused to pay a proportionate share of the UK’s national debt?
7. Nicola Sturgeon claimed Scotland would be a member of the Common Travel Area. This ignored the fact that joining Schengen is a prerequisite for joining the EU. Ireland and the UK had opt outs. But membership of Schengen is now mandatory. It would not anyway be up to the SNP if the former UK allowed Scotland to be a member of the Common Travel Area.
8. The SNP claimed that in an independent Scotland there would be increased childcare costing £700 million which would be funded by increasing women returning to work. But if it were this easy to fund childcare why hasn’t the SNP implemented the policy since then?
9. SNP claimed post-independence Scots could be dual Scottish/British citizens, but the British Government said this would depend on Scottish Government policies. The decision to allow dual nationality would be up to the British Government alone. The SNP were promising something that would not be in its gift. We have learned subsequently that leaving the EU meant losing our EU citizenship and the rights that went with it. Why should this not apply to Scotland leaving the UK?
10. The SNP said there would be no border controls because it planned for Scotland to be a member of the Common Travel Area. But this would be incompatible with EU membership and once more was not in the SNP’s gift. It now looks ever more likely with the UK out of the EU that there would be border controls because Scotland would have different immigration policies to the former UK and would be part of a different trading bloc.
11. After for decades maintaining that Scotland would not be in NATO the SNP suddenly changed its mind and claimed that it would join NATO. However Scottish independence would lead to the refusal to allow Trident submarines in Scotland. It would also break up the British Armed Forces forcing the former UK to either unilaterally disarm or moor them elsewhere. This all suggests that NATO would welcome Scotland about as gladly as it would welcome Russia. Scotland would have just done more harm to NATO than the Warsaw Pact combined. How anyway could anti-nuclear SNP be part of an alliance that depended on nuclear weapons for its strategy, without crossing its fingers. Planning to join NATO was merely a dishonest attempt to appease voters concerned about defence.
12. The SNP claimed that it would rely initially for cooperation with the former UK on security matters, but the UK Government maintained that Scotland would lose access to UK intelligence and with it access to the intelligence of the five eyes (USA, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand). Once more the SNP were promising a degree of cooperation that was outwith its control.
13. The SNP claimed that there was a democratic deficit in the UK. Scotland sometimes voted for one party, but another party won the General Election. But this would be the same in an independent Scotland. Shetland might vote for the Liberal Democrats but be ruled by the SNP. Scottish nationalists typically reply, but Shetland is not a country. But it is precisely whether Scotland ought to be a country that they are trying to prove. If we accept instead that it is feature of any democracy that some parts do not get the Government that they voted for, then the SNP’s claim that there is a democratic deficit in the UK is a lie. Alternatively, if we accept that all constituencies must get what they voted for, then any constituency that didn’t vote for independence ought to be allowed to remain in the UK and not be dragged out against its will.
14. The SNP predicted that by 2016-2017 Scotland’s deficit would have fallen to between 2.5 per cent and 3.2 per cent of GDP in fact it was 6.5 percent. In 2019-2020 it was 8.5% and this year is predicted to be 26-28%.
15. The SNP said that “An independent Scotland will comply with EU rules to provide a deposit guarantee of a minimum of €100,000 (£85,000)”, but amusingly it only made this guarantee on the basis that the Bank of England would remain the lender of last resort. But this required that the UK agreed to this, which it didn’t.
16. The SNP argued that it would be possible to join the EU even if it did not have its own currency, but former European Commissioner Olli Rehn stated that Scotland would be unable to meet EU entry requirements if it did not have its own independent central bank. Neither currency union nor using the pound informally would be consistent with joining the EU. So, if Scots had voted yes in 2014, we would have remained outside the EU for the foreseeable future, which makes SNP support for the EU hypocritical at best.
17. Alex Salmond said in 2014 that Scotland would retain tax and spending powers if it remained in a currency union with the UK, but whether Scotland used the pound in a currency union or unofficially it would have no control over monetary policy which would instead be set by the former UK chancellor and the Bank of England. Scotland would be unable to set interest rates or expand or contract money supply. In economic terms it would scarcely be independent at all.
18. The SNP claimed that currency union would be in the interest of the UK after independence. But this is to suppose that it would be in the interest of the UK to emulate the Eurozone where there was monetary union without political union. It’s like saying Britain should join the Euro, which even the SNP don’t want to join.
19. The SNP claimed that each Scot would be £1,000 better off per year under independence by 2030. By 2020 the price of oil had turned negative and Scotland was running the biggest deficit in Europe. No doubt the SNP had predicted Covid in 2014 and had taken it into account. Alternatively, they just made up the figure.
20. The SNP maintained that Scotland joined the EU in 1973. Why then were there not 29 EU member states prior to Brexit and why didn’t Scotland remain a member when the UK left?
21. Yes Scotland in 2013 said that UK plans for an EU referendum had caused economic uncertainty in Scotland. Unfortunately, the SNP was found to have a beam in its eye which prevented it from noticing the economic uncertainty in all the years subsequently due to continual campaigning for separation from the UK.
22. The whole SNP argument in 2014 depended on the UK remaining in the EU, but an EU referendum bill had already been approved by the Commons in 2013. The SNP thought that it was possible for Scotland to leave the UK but unthinkable for the UK to leave the EU.
23. The SNP argued that they would provide “health and social care in a way that reflects the founding principles of the NHS” but the fundamental principle of the NHS when it was set up was that it would provide free healthcare to all British citizens in whichever part of the UK they lived. But there is no guarantee that Scots post-independence would have free access to the NHS in other parts of the former UK or vice versa. Far from protecting the NHS and reflecting its founding principles, the SNP instead would be destroying it and breaking it up just as they wanted to break up Britain.
24. The SNP argued that we would keep our close links of family and friendship through an ongoing social union after independence, but it is hard to think of a social union existing between any other states which have separated from each other. There is anyway little evidence of SNP supporters showing much friendship towards England and if the SNP really thought we were family why would they be seeking separation. This was just another lie that somehow we would retain the union while breaking it up as if someone could be both married and divorced to the same person at the same time.
25. Alex Salmond argued that after independence Scotland will continue to participate fully in the Union of the Crowns. This was another attempt at deception because to suppose that there would be a Union of the Crowns after independence is close to supposing that there would be a United Kingdom after independence. The truth is that one of the first things an independent Scotland would do would be to hold a referendum on abolishing the monarchy.
26. The independence referendum question was deliberately dishonest not merely in that it gave one side the benefit of campaigning for a positive Yes. The question itself was dishonest. To ask Scots “Should Scotland be an independent country?” is to ask them should we become what we already are. Most Scots consider that Scotland is a country now. The question was designed to invite the response Yes of course we should become a country, because we already are. Look we already play international football. We’re a country just as much as France.
27. The whole SNP argument amounts to Scotland is a country, countries ought to be independent. Therefore, Scotland ought to be independent. But this argument depends on the subtle conflation of country with sovereign nation state. It is primarily by using this linguistic ambiguity that that the SNP continually makes claims about Scotland today which would only make sense if we were already independent. It acts as if Scotland is independent in order to justify that it ought to be, which is obviously both circular and deceptive.
28. If Scotland had become independent in 2014 then former UK students would have been in the same position as students from the EU, i.e. they would have got free tuition. But the SNP argued that the present arrangement would continue even if Scotland were independent, because the EU allowed for exceptional circumstances. Jan Figel a former commissioner for education disagreed as did the Law Society of Scotland. Who then would have paid for the free fees for Scottish students?
29. The SNP argument depends on denying and discrediting its own GERS figures each year.
30. The SNP does not admit clearly that Scotland receives more from the UK Treasury than we pay in taxation, for this reason large numbers of Scots are convinced that Scotland is a cash cow that funds England.
31. The SNP gives no credit whatsoever to the Treasury for exceptional funding such as the bailout of Scottish banks in 2008 or the financial support in 2020. It blithely suggests that an independent Scotland could do just as well without explaining how.
32. A few days before the independence referendum there was a “vow” in the Daily Record suggesting that the Scottish Parliament would receive extensive powers if Scots voted No. A few months later there the Smith Commission, which included SNP involvement debated these powers and they were later granted. Nevertheless, the SNP and many supporters still maintain that the vow was not fulfilled. More powers were promised more were given. It is simply a lie to suppose “the vow” was broken.
33. The Edinburgh Agreement which led to the referendum said that it would “deliver a fair test and decisive expression of the views of people in Scotland and a result that everyone will respect” The SNP lied about respecting the result and immediately campaigned to overturn it. How then was the referendum decisive? If it wasn’t decisive, i.e. if it didn’t decide the issue, the SNP lied about that too. It would only have been decisive if Yes had won.
34. The SNP’s white paper Scotland’s future described the referendum as “A once in a generation opportunity to follow a different path” The Yes campaign continually emphasized this, but as soon as the referendum was lost a generation become a day or was it merely a few hours.
35. The UK joined the EU as a whole and voted to leave as a whole. There was nothing in the question “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” about Scotland. The whole SNP argument about Scotland being dragged out against its will was founded on a lie that Scotland had ever been a member. It no more mattered what Scotland thought than it mattered what Aberdeenshire thought or indeed what Cornwall thought. To suppose that it does is to suppose that Scotland were already independent. Alternatively, if each part of a country must vote the same as the whole there could only be one party otherwise there might be dissent. The SNP’s model of electoral fairness would require a one-party state.
36. The SNP campaigns as Europhiles, but SNP supporters were more likely to vote for Brexit than anyone else. The truth is that the SNP does not care about the EU. It spent more money campaigning in a by-election in Shetland than the whole EU referendum campaign. The EU is merely an issue that the SNP uses to recruit Remainers and to cause ill feeling between Scotland and the UK as a whole. It is also unlikely that an independent Scotland would join the EU because it would cause a hard border between England and Scotland. Rather an independent Scotland would attempt to remain as closely aligned with the UK as possible. The SNP is deceiving Remainers too.
37. The SNP continually argues that Scotland has the right to independence, but when the UK voted to leave the EU it did everything in its power to prevent the Brexit vote being implemented. The right to vote to leave only applies when the SNP agrees with it. Unfortunately for the SNP it also set a precedent that if there were ever indyref2 no one would accept the result and would fight in the courts to overturn it. But most importantly the SNP showed it is lying about supporting democracy. It only does so when it wins, not when it loses. If it is democratic to overthrow the EU referendum result it is certainly democratic to deny the SNP a referendum on independence.
38. The SNP presents itself as a supporter of devolution, but the only serious threat to devolution is Scottish independence. But the SNP never admits that it wishes to abolish devolution.
39. For years the SNP argued that the reason it wanted independence was that Scotland voted Labour while the rest of the UK voted Tory. Having used that argument to destroy Labour in Scotland, they then argued that we shouldn’t vote for Labour because it isn’t really a left-wing party. Labour were really “Red Tories”. But if Labour were Red Tories, why were the SNP complaining that Scots did not vote for a Tory Government. We did, because we voted for Red Tories. If there is no difference between Red Tories and Blue Tories, why had the SNP complained previously.
40. The SNP say that Brexit, or Boris or a Tory Government or No Deal justifies independence. But they would right now be campaigning for independence if we had voted for Corbyn or Remain. No matter what we do, it will always justify independence. The SNP are lying when they say we should have vote for the SNP to avoid Boris and his Brexiteers. They would want us to vote for independence even if the SNP ran England.
41. The SNP lied about a Covid outbreak connected with Nike in Edinburgh and ever since it has lied that Scotland has outperformed the other parts of the UK in Covid deaths or Covid cases. Scotland in fact has done no better than England and much worse than any other European country of a similar size.
42. The SNP claimed the EU left a light on for Scotland, but it was the SNP that paid for the stunt.
43. The rumoured super injunction covering stopping the Scottish press and anyone else telling a certain story about a very senior SNP politician suggests that he or she may be living a lie.
44. Alex Salmond spent £20,000 of taxpayer’s money trying to hide EU legal advice that did not exist. Pretending something exists that doesn’t is clearly lying.
45. If Alex Salmond did nothing untoward or illegal during the 2013-2014 independence campaign then the witnesses and those in the Scottish Government who made them go to the police to accuse him of committing a crime were lying.
46. If the witnesses and the Scottish Government were not lying, then it follows that Alex Salmond must have done something though perhaps there was not enough evidence to convict him or perhaps what he did was not criminal. But his story is incompatible with their story. Someone must have been lying.
47. If Alex Salmond misbehaved regularly and badly enough for his behaviour to justify a court case, it is impossible to believe that senior SNP politicians did not hear about these rumours at the time. They all knew the witnesses and worked in the same building. We don’t know the truth, but we know that persons unknown, possibly very senior in the SNP were lying during the most important year in the SNP’s history and have been lying ever since.
48. Nicola Sturgeon denies conspiring against Alex Salmond. Everything we have learned since the trial suggests this is a lie.
49. Nicola Sturgeon promised that her Government would cooperate fully with the Alex Salmond Inquiry. If that wasn’t a lie when she made it, it certainly is now.
50. Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of lying about when she found out about the accusations about Alex Salmond. She initially claimed to know about them in April 2018 only for it to become clear later that she knew about them in November 2017. This is a serious lie and should merit resignation. If she cannot be trusted about these sorts of dates, how can we trust her about anything in the case. But really does anyone seriously suppose that she knew nothing in 2014? If she did know, or even if she merely suspected but kept silent because speaking out in about sexual assault would have irreparably damaged the Yes campaign, what would this tell us about Sturgeon’s values, about her supposed progressiveness and concern for women’s rights? If it could be shown that Sturgeon knew about the Salmond allegations in 2014 it would ruin her reputation beyond all repair. She would be gone that very day. This is the lie that is at the heart of Scottish politics. It rots and it festers, and it isn’t going away.
The excellent Effie Deans writes at Lily of St. Leonard’s here.