By John Mcternan for The Scottish Daily Mail
What now? How do we save the union? As Ronald Reagan used to say: ‘It’s simple, but it’s not easy.’ There are five simple steps.
The biggest single point to make is that this is an existential decision. A referendum is a binary proposition. Either you are in the UK, and hence in the EU, or you aren’t. It’s as simple as that.
Either you are Scottish and British and European, or you aren’t. Vote Yes and you can never be British again. And you will leave the European Union too.
SNP Scottish Government estimates have had to be revised harshly downwards in recent years and there is a technical term for Alex Salmond's current projections on revenues - that word is fantasy.
No one has ever accused the EU of being fast-moving – the journey to being a member is approximately five years, we are told.
With no guarantees about keeping the UK’s privileged position – in fact the very opposite, no rebate, no opt-outs – the euro and Schengen are pretty well guaranteed.
This is the very first point of any successful fightback – facts. As Joe Friday said in Dragnet: ‘Just the facts, ma’am.’
They are stark – often brutal – but they are real. And facts to the SNP are like garlic or holy water to a vampire – fatal.
Just the other day, Paul Krugman – Nobel Prize-winning economist – wrote in the New York Times: ‘I have a message for the Scots: Be afraid, be very afraid.’
He goes on to say: ‘Everything that has happened in Europe since 2009 or so has demonstrated that sharing a currency without sharing a government is very dangerous. In economics jargon, fiscal and banking integration are essential elements of an optimum currency area.
‘And an independent Scotland using Britain’s pound would be in even worse shape than euro countries, which at least have some say in how the European Central Bank is run.
‘I find it mind-boggling that Scotland would consider going down this path after all that has happened in the last few years. If Scottish voters really believe that it’s safe to become a country without a currency, they have been badly misled.’
Former special adviser to the Labour party John McTernan, pictured, says that facts about the referendum must never, ever be ignored
That is not some product of Project Fear, it is a consequence of Project Fact. No one who lives in Scotland or the United Kingdom should be in any doubt about the fundamentals.
It is one of the many fantasies of the Yes campaign that you can leave the UK and still have everything you enjoyed when you were British, even though you have opted to only be Scottish.
Scots have always been an empirical nation, the facts matter to them – and they must never, ever be neglected.
But there is a second front too. This is a battle of heart as well as head.
If you love Scotland – as I do – you don’t want to see it torn away from the UK. We’ve given so much over 300 years – from Adam Smith and James Boswell to Billy Connolly and Alex Ferguson.
If your heart swells with pride when you think of what makes Britain great – then say it loud, say it proud. If your heart sinks at the thought of a Little Britain without Scotland, then say it even louder.
We shouldn’t be ashamed to celebrate the emotional side of the union. England gave Scotland bigger markets – an Empire indeed – in 1707.
Scotland gave England a greatness – in thought and in deed – that had never been anticipated. As they said of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, he gave her class, she gave him sex appeal.
Third, let’s understand that we are not one nation but many. As Hugh MacDiarmid once said: ‘I contain multitudes.’ We all do. That means we need all the voices we can get to make the case.
Alistair Darling reassures the east coast middle classes while Jim Murphy and John Reid pluck the heartstrings of the west coast working classes. We need Ming and Charles Kennedy and Jim Wallace for remote and rural Scotland.
Jim Murphy, pictured having a heated exchange during a campaign stop yesterday, and John Reid pluck the heartstrings of the west coast working classes on behalf of the Better Together camp
Different politicians have different audiences and they should be criss-crossing the country making the case for the UK. But we know from our own lives that on issues where we have a strong view the only people who can ever change our minds are family and friends.
There is a huge ground war to be fought and won. All across the country people have taken a view but not yet cast a vote.
Many voices are needed to make the case for a United Kingdom including Alistair Darling, pictured, who reassures the east coast middle classes
Talk to friends and family, find out what they’re thinking and if they are swayed to Yes, then talk them out of it.
It’s time consuming, of course, but it’s time well spent too. Their reasons for being tempted are many, and they are not ignoble, but there is no dream for an independent Scotland that cannot be fulfilled within the United Kingdom.
This is the Who Wants to be a Millionaire strategy – let’s all phone a friend.
Finally, we have to tell the truth about what Scotland would be like if it were independent under the SNP.
Their central economic project simply does not add up. There will be tax cuts for business which in itself is a quixotic idea – you would have to search very hard to find any Scots who think that big business in Scotland is overtaxed.
Be that as it may, it will lead to reduced revenue for the government. On top of that we know that oil and gas revenues are not just projected to decline, they are falling already.
SNP Scottish Government estimates have had to be revised harshly downwards in recent years and there is a technical term for Alex Salmond’s current projections on revenues – that word is fantasy. A dangerous one at that, given that oil and gas make up between 10 and 20 per cent of an independent Scotland’s GDP. Despite tax take being predictably down, the SNP have promised massive spending. A higher state pension at a younger age. Free universal childcare. You name it – they’ll spend it.
If the offer that Alex Salmond and SNP Deputy Leader Nicola Sturgeon, pictured campaigning in Glasgow earlier this month, are making seems to be too good to be true - it's because it is
And they want an oil fund, too. They can’t take it out of taxation because that’s falling, so they’ll borrow to build it up – all at the perilously high borrowing rates the markets will demand if an independent Scotland were to default on its debt.
It’s the economics of the madhouse. But there’s one thing even madder than that – everything will be made to balance through immigration. Nearly a million new Scots by 2050, or 25,000 a year. A city the size of Dundee every six years.
Given that all 420million people in the EU can already live here, but have chosen not to, all those migrants will be coming from Africa and Asia. And will be mainly unskilled economic migrants – taking more from the country than they give back economically.
Scots have always been canny folk, unionists need to play to this characteristic above all.
If the offer that Alex Salmond is making seems to be too good to be true – it’s because it is.
We must strain every sinew between now and September 18 to win the fight for the UK.
But passion and pride, the facts and the truth and the power of personal persuasion can – and will – win the day.
Scottish tax receipts for 2012/13 were £48.1bn.
Scottish spending for 2012/13 was £65.2bn.
For a deficit of £17.1bn.
And, keep in mind that Salmond & Co have promised to INCREASE, exponentially, the welfare state and pay for it with (declining) oil revenues.
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