Protempore – Issue 98

Posted by in November's Magazine

As I write this, Hallowe’en has just evaporated into the winter sky and if we’re to believe the myths and legends, we should have by now, rid ourselves of all the evil spirits and bogeymen who float around trying to find a place to rest. One of my favourite folk stories is a Celtic tale associated with the jack-o’-lantern which is said to represent a soul who has been denied entry into both heaven and hell…

On route home after a night’s drinking, Jack encounters the Devil who tricks him into climbing a tree. A quick-thinking Jack etches the sign of the cross into the bark, thereby trapping the Devil. Jack strikes a bargain that Satan can never claim his soul. After a life of sin, drink, and mendacity, Jack is refused entry to heaven when he dies. Keeping his promise, the Devil refuses to let Jack into hell and throws a live coal straight from the fires of hell at him. It was a cold night, so Jack places the coal in a hollowed out turnip to stop it from going out, since which time Jack and his lantern have been roaming looking for a place to rest.



That wee tale and the whole Hallowe’en shebang got me thinking about how easy it is for us to become petrified by things which either don’t exist or have been implanted in our minds with the explicit purpose of paralysing us and keeping us in check. This in turn got me thinking about the independence referendum and the never-ending tumult of scare stories which have been emanating from the UK Government and the Better Together (i.e. No) campaign, which are designed solely to frighten and confuse people living in Scotland prior to the vote in September 2014. It’s often said in politics that once one side begins to realise that they’re losing the arguments, they panic and that panic becomes visible in their propaganda. This is certainly true of the No campaign. And before anyone thinks that I’m not going to analyse the Yes campaign’s proclamations, well I am but unlike the No campaign, I’m going to wait until the White Paper on independence is published on 26 November. So until then, here’s some of the guff that has been seeping out of the No campaign’s self-titled Project Fear.

Hague as turnip
Not long ago, the Home Secretary Theresa May put on her witches hat and screeched that should Scotland become independent it would be more susceptible to terrorist attacks and security risks. Her logic? The rest of the UK and its allies in Europe and the USA would only share high-level intelligence if Scotland could prove itself to be a ‘unique contributor’ in terms of strategic intelligence operations. What tripe. Does she really believe that the Americans wouldn’t want to co-operate on intelligence matters with a country that enjoys a unique geographic strategic position with the Iceland Gap to the north, the Atlantic to the west, and the North Sea as a gateway to Europe to the east? Of course they would. And in whose interests would it be for the government of the rest of the UK to refuse to share intelligence with a country on its border? No-one’s and May knows it. It’s hokum of the most pernicious kind.

Another bogus scare story came from the distinctly ghoulish William Hague. This numpty (who, now that I think about it, looks quite like a turnip), suggested that Scots would be deprived of their European Union citizenship if they voted for independence. This is, quite frankly, a bizarre claim for anyone to make because nobody knows what would happen in relation to EU membership should Scotland become independent because it would set a precedent which has never been dealt with before. David Grant-Lawrence, a former Director General of the European Commission, stated that Hague was “whistling in the wind” with his outrageous remarks. He also stated that anyone who holds a British passport is automatically a citizen of the EU making it inconceivable that a UK government would advocate taking passports from Scots should a yes vote materialise. Essentially more bunkum from Hague. The irony here is that Hague actually supports taking Britain out of the EU entirely. So let’s get this straight – he’s frightening people in Scotland by telling them that they’ll lose their EU citizenship if they vote yes; but vote for the Tories at the next general election and he’ll campaign to get you out of Europe completely. Barking mad doesn’t come close.

And finally, the UK Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin has stated that should people in Scotland vote to become independent, the country would need to adopt a different set of colours for its traffic lights. This is based on his assertion that the current red, amber and green sequence is a uniquely British set of colours which could not be adopted by an independent state.

Ok, I made that last one up but don’t be surprised if the No campaign pick it up and run with it. Nothing is beneath them except very shaky ground.

– Protempore

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