Toxic drip of lies and distortion masks the grim reality of the SNP’s purpose
THEY have always professed to loathe the Brexiteers, but privately the Nationalists envy them – after all, they did actually win.
And they did so without giving much away about their pitch for dissolving our ties with the EU, apart from the odd dodgy slogan.
Or at least that’s what the SNP tells itself – and so the new tactic is to say as little as possible about independence, and how much it might cost.
You’ll find out soon enough, is the usual answer, and we’ll show you our workings when we’re good and ready.
That accounts for Nicola Sturgeon’s tone of exasperation whenever anyone asks her about something trivial, like the Border, or what currency we’d have.
These are footling concerns when you’re building a new nation – stick to the broad brushstrokes, and don’t frighten the horses.
For much of the last seven years, there have been many more questions than answers, but a new report shows that this cynical tactic has paid rich dividends.
The economic think-tank These Islands commissioned a survey which found ‘widespread fact denial’ and ‘deep confusion’ over the SNP’s independence plans.
Nearly 60 per cent of independence supporters agreed with the statement that the official figures used to calculate Scotland’s deficit are ‘made up by Westminster’.
They believe that the intention behind this fabrication is to ‘hide Scotland’s true wealth’, and 90 per cent of those who adhere to this tripe said that it was an important or very important factor in their decision to back independence.
These are known as the GERS figures, produced by the Scottish Government, and each year they prompt a collective meltdown among SNP activists.
That’s despite the fact that last year they showed Scotland’s place in the UK is worth nearly £2,000 to every man, woman and child in the country.
But it’s all part of a wicked Unionist plot, you see, cooked up by , er, the Scottish Government, which publishes the figures – an unlikely conspiracy.
Miss Sturgeon is no fan of conspiracy theories, as she made clear during the Salmond saga when she rejected her former mentor’s claims of a vendetta against him led by the First Minister’s inner circle.
Yet, as These Islands notes, she is a ‘gifted communicator’ – why does she remain ‘strangely reluctant to nail this corrosive myth’?
Strange indeed, and yet its report outlines other findings that are equally concerning – for example, 54 per cent of independence supporters agree that ‘Scottish tax revenues are understated because of Scottish exports leaving via English ports’.
And two-thirds of them agree that Scottish tax revenues are ‘understated’ because taxes generated by the whisky industry are ‘not properly allocated to Scotland’.
Some 55 per cent of independence supporters agree with the statement that Scotland’s deficit – estimated at about £41billion – is so high because some costs ‘outside of Scotland like HS2 [the rail project]… are charged to Scotland’.
But all of these claims are bogus – while only a fifth of those who want to break up Britain are aware that total public spending north of the Border is more than the amount raised in taxes – which is true.
How often do we hear Miss Sturgeon or her ministers combating this nonsense, which is endlessly recirculated in the giant swill-tub of half-truths, distortion and outright lies that constitutes social media?
Early in the campaign, Miss Sturgeon said she wanted to help clean up public debate – but she has failed to rein in the legion of trolls who spread poison online.
They serve a purpose as protectors and promulgators of the lies which, as These Islands discovered, have taken root among large swathes of the electorate.
Now we have a nation. in denial – or at least a large part of it is – and it’s the part which could help Miss Sturgeon to win the majority her party craves on Thursday.
The lies don’t have to be sustained forever – just long enough to secure that longed-for result, providing a launch-pad for a fresh call for ‘indyref2’.
Sturgeon: has she done enough to clamp down on lies?
During the vibrant celebration of democracy that would ensue in the event of another referendum, we’re told all of our outstanding questions will be answered.
One of them is currency – the SNP’s official line, and it can be hard to find it – is that we should keep the pound until a new Scottish currency is adopted.
Only 17 per cent of the electorate are aware of this position, and no wonder – the party hasn’t been keen to talk about it, for obvious reasons.
Busking it with Sterling, without Treasury consent, is the kind of ramshackle policy you’d expect to find in an impoverished Latin American dictatorship.
And it would be a prelude to the euro (backed by just 25 per cent) – because, in defiance of all logic, the SNP wants to drag us back into the EU (undeterred, it seems, by the tragic farce of its Covid vaccine rollout).
The only option which finds favour with the electorate is to ‘keep the pound indefinitely’, which, as These Islands notes, is ‘inconsistent with Scotland becoming independent’.
It’s also a pipe dream because we know the UK Treasury won’t stand for it – it rejected the idea of currency union last time round; why would it change its stance now?
Yet these findings tell us beyond all doubt that years of unrelenting spin, obfuscation, evasion and indeed rank dishonesty have worked wonders for the separatists.
And they demonstrate that when a poll indicates that a majority of Scots favour independence – and now and again they do come along – some careful analysis is required.
They might well say they want it, but plainly they’re basing their opinion on, well, not very much – but largely on the torrent of misinformation on their Facebook or Twitter feeds.
It’s not just social media to blame for this gargantuan deception – ministers must also carry the can.
When almost every act of government is calculated to create conflict with ‘Westminster’, there must be consequences – and one of them is that a lot of people buy into the bilge.
Scottish politics, as this interminable campaign has shown, is played out to an incessant drumbeat of division – and that shapes a toxic and highly circular ‘debate’.
It’s no real surprise that over time this poison has seeped inexorably into the nation’s consciousness, or large swathes of it – one falsehood or baseless assertion after another.
But it’s unforgivable that the SNP Government has been responsible for that drip-feed – or has turned a blind eye to it over a period of years, for its own narrow ends.
It can’t win by levelling with voters about the trade-offs and the financial pain that separation would bring, so it stays quiet or makes comforting noises – amounting to nothing more than ‘don’t worry – it’ll be all right on the night’.
But the silence speaks volumes about a party and a movement that long ago gave up on the truth in favour of a con trick that would take us all on the road to economic ruin.
*This column appeared in the Scottish Daily Mail on May 4, 2021.