BY EFFIE DEANS
I have been writing lists of SNP scandals and lately I began a list of SNP lies. But part 2 is not another list. There are already enough lies and scandals. This is not our problem. The problem is communicating the truth.
There is little doubt that support for the SNP has increased lately. Support for independence has increased too.
- In the 2010 General Election the SNP won 20% of the vote and won 6 seats
- In the 2015 General Election the SNP won 50% of the vote and won 56 seats
- In the 2017 General Election the SNP won 37% of the vote and won 35 seats.
- In the 2019 General Election the SNP won 45% of the vote and won 48 seats.
Now the SNP is predicted to win more than 55% of the vote which would give it a majority in the Scottish Parliament.
Support for the SNP has gone from a significant but small minority of 20% to 55% in ten years.
If the SNP get 55% of the vote, then tactical voting will be pointless. The SNP will win anyway. It won’t matter very much how many seats are won by opposition parties, because they won’t be able to oppose. Of course, the campaign may change things and opposition parties must fight for votes and ideally work strategically together, but as things stand now the SNP will have an overall majority.
How did 20% become 55%?
The main reason is the independence referendum. By making a vague possibility of independence into a real chance the referendum gave rocket fuel to Scottish Nationalism. This was the main idiocy of granting it. David Cameron was the idiot.
The SNP has been in power in Scotland since 2007 and in something approaching absolute power since 2011. This has given them control of education and has meant they can influence all aspects of public life. It has enabled the SNP to promise good things will happen to influential people in Scotland if they say nice things about the SNP and has enabled them to threaten bad things if they don’t.
The result is that the SNP has turned much of Scotland into an SNP propaganda machine.
When I was at school there was minimal obvious politics and the subjects that were studied were not dominated by Scotland nor indeed by the UK or any other country. We learned the biology of human reproduction and nothing more. We learned about important historical events because they were important, not because they were Scottish. We read great Scottish literature because it was worth reading not because it was Scottish and read non-Scottish literature for the same reason.
It was this that subtly or not so subtly changed when the SNP introduced its “Curriculum for Independence”. The SNP used its power as a Government to attempt to turn Scottish pupils into Scottish nationalists. It succeeded.
The people least likely to vote for against SNP or independence were older people. Each year sadly they become fewer. The people most likely to vote for the SNP and independence are the young who cannot remember what Scotland was like before the SNP became powerful. The Pro UK argument is being squeezed in a demographic pincer movement.
The second major change since 2010 is the EU referendum in 2016.
There is little doubt that had the SNP won the 2014 independence referendum then Scotland would have had to leave the EU at least for a while. Only independent sovereign nation states can apply to join, not parts of nation states that intend to secede. But the SNP was able to portray itself to Scottish voters as pro EU in 2016 even though more SNP voters chose Brexit than anyone else in Scotland.
Brexit divided Britain in a completely unexpected way into Remainers and Brexiteers. Before 2016 it was a fringe issue, after it became the only issue.
Sturgeon campaigned for Remain and was treated by the overwhelmingly Remainer British media as one of the good guys.
Whereas in 2014 the SNP were treated with scepticism by the British and indeed sometimes the Scottish media from 2016 they were treated gently and sympathetically.
Imagine the feeding frenzy if the former Conservative leader was tried for sexual assault and his successor refused to release information to an inquiry about it? But things are different in Scotland.
The SNP has been portrayed by much of the British media as a benign sensible mildly left-wing party that runs Scotland well. The subtext has been if only Labour were like the SNP. Wouldn’t it be great if Sturgeon was Prime Minister? Can’t the SNP stand in England too? This sort of coverage meant that SNP policies are rarely if ever discussed and critiqued in detail on TV. The SNP is not held to the same standard as the Conservatives, Labour or the Lib Dems.
But until this year Sturgeon and the SNP didn’t get any more media coverage than anyone else, because public service broadcasting has a duty to be impartial and without bias.
But since the beginning of the pandemic we have had the Nicola Sturgeon show on TV nearly every day. The questions are usually gentle, and rumour has it Sturgeon has a chance to prepare answers in advance. No wonder people believe her. What they believe is false.
The SNP has relied on UK money to do keep Scots going this year. The rate of infection and the rate of death is no better than other parts of Britain and in some respects worse. The tough choices have been made in London. Sturgeon has followed on. We are getting the vaccine because London ordered it, helped finance it and the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency MHRA approved it. Sturgeon gets credit for tinkering with lockdown and tiers, but this has fundamentally changed nothing. But the Scottish electorate do believe in Sturgeon and because they trust her on Covid they trust her on everything else too.
If Scottish voters knew the truth about the SNP and what they wish to do to Scotland, a majority would not vote for it. A minority want independence come what may. But most people in Scotland vote for the SNP and support independence because they think:
1. Scotland would be wealthier if we were independent.
2. Scotland pays more into the UK Treasury than we receive back.
3. We would continue to be able to use the pound just like now.
4. The United Kingdom would continue to exist and the things we like about it would continue too.
5. Scotland could join the EU easily.
6. We could continue to be British even when we gained our Scottish passports.
7. We could be genuinely independent in the EU.
8. We would continue to be part of the Common Travel Area and there would be no border checks.
9. We would have the same rights to work healthcare and benefits in the former UK as we do now.
10. Things would be more or less the same in Scotland after independence only better.
None of these statements are certain. There are at least reasonable doubts about each of them. Most of them are certainly false.
When SNP voters or independence supporters are convinced that Scotland would be poorer if we voted for independence, they frequently cease to want independence and don’t want to vote for the SNP. They are genuinely shocked that they could have been misled.
The Pro UK arguments are very good indeed. I am certain that leaving the EU has made Scottish independence undesirable economically and socially. It would lead to consequences few if any Scots want including a hard border. But SNP supporters simply do not believe any of these arguments. It isn’t that they have better arguments. They cannot prove that Scotland would be wealthier after independence. But Pro UK arguments are met with blank eyes and closed minds.
The problem is not with the arguments, the problem is their inability to convince opponents. They prefer to believe whatever Sturgeon says.
People like me can write frequent articles which try to use reason to explain the issues involved, but I am simply dismissed by SNP supporters. If they bother to read at all, they just accuse me of lying. It doesn’t matter what arguments or logical techniques I use nothing can break down the wall that Sturgeon has built between her supporters and the truth. We are dealing with a phenomenon never seen before in British politics.
What we need is for public service broadcasting in Britain to look honestly and objectively at the issues involved.
The British state is under threat from the SNP and it should mobilise all its influence and all its power over organisations like the BBC. A French broadcaster would not be allowed to promote the breakup of France. No other state broadcaster in the world would be as dismal at promoting the interests of its own country as ours is.
It is important that the BBC should be genuinely impartial, but we did not expect it to promote German propaganda during the war, nor did we allow German propagandists prime time broadcasting slots every lunch time. When you are defending the very existence of the United Kingdom you should not give aid and comfort to those whose sole aim it is to destroy your country.
The SNP must be treated as an existential threat to the United Kingdom. Each of the lies that are the foundation of support for the SNP must be examined by academics and international experts so that the truth of the matter can clearly be communicated to everyone in Britain. If we could make the World at War in the 1970s, we can make Britain Today in the 2020s.
Let it communicate the economic situation in such a way that everyone can understand it. Let it explore dispassionately, but clearly and obviously objectively what would happen to all British citizens if Scotland chose to separate. Let it describe a vision not merely of a great past but a great future. What we need is a truly great Television series that sells Britain not merely to ourselves but to the world.
Not merely Scottish politics but politics in general depends on a lack of understanding about basic economic issues like debt and deficit. It would be a service to Britain if the BBC fulfilled its public service remit by informing as well as entertaining us. That way the voters would no longer be fooled by the lies of the politician.
The BBC in particular must realise that Scottish independence is an existential matter for itself. There would be no British Broadcasting Corporation if Britain were broken up, just as there would be no British Army. There would be no United Kingdom, but rather a divided one. It is therefore in the interest of everything and everyone who is British to defend Britain.
But so too if the BBC fails to defend Britain, why should there be a tax on television ownership? The BBC would have no public service remit left to fill if it failed in its fundamental task of promoting the welfare of the British people and our country.
Those Scots who think Scotland would be wealthier after independence would get a shock when they discovered it was poorer. They might regret their decision to choose independence if it left them paying higher taxes for poorer public services. But it would be too late by then. There would be no going back. Better by far if they were told the truth as objectively and clearly as possible. Let the British Government devote billions to this campaign. Let our best minds and best communicators see it as their task to convince those who have succumbed to SNP lies that what they believe to be true is instead false. There is no pot of gold called independence at the end of the SNP rainbow.
We spend billions on defence but almost nothing on self-defence. But what is the point of defending ourselves against external enemies if the most dangerous threat is from within? The most dangerous threat is the persuasive liar. It has been that way since the Garden of Eden.
The excellent Effie Deans writes at Lily of St. Leonard’s here.