Kick Up The Tabloids


Elections to the European Parliament have never really caught the public’s imagination and turnout tends to be low. But I do think it is important that we vote; these could be our last-ever European elections.

If we vote Yes in the Referendum, we will then be immediately thrown out of the European Union, according to David Cameron and many others in the Better Together campaign. This is one of the more credible scare stories which have been trotted out in the right-wing press since the start of this year. At one time or another most of the following claims have been made. One or two, I’ve made up. See if you tell which is which.

1: If Scotland vote Yes, we could see a return to piracy within British waters, as ships are ambushed on lawless seas. This claim was made by David Cameron no less. So, if anyone is thinking of voting Yes, don’t be surprised if the Arran ferry is regularly hijacked by gangs of cutlass-wielding one-legged ne-er-do-wells with parrots on their shoulders.

2: In the event of a Yes vote, Universal Care for the Elderly will be Unsustainable, a claim recently made by the UK Government. This totally ignores the fact that we already have universal care for the elderly and it is sustainable now. Furthermore, this is Scotland we’re talking about. Very few people live to be elderly.

3: If Scotland votes Yes, an Independent Scotland Will Face a Pensions Black Hole. If this claim was not made by Vince Cable, it was made by some other member of the Coalition cabinet. And my reaction to it is similar as to the last claim. Anyone lucky enough to live beyond retirement age in Scotland is going to be coining it in. There has to be some advantage in living beyond 65 in country with the lowest life expectancy in Western Europe.

4: If Scotland votes Yes, we will no longer get the Gulf Stream, so our winters will become even colder. So, if anything, life expectancy will be even lower after independence. Well done if you spotted that I made this one up, but then it is only slightly more more ridiculous than this;

5: If Scotland votes Yes The Royal Bank Of Scotland would leave Scotland. This is according to Vince Cable, so obviously it’s complete bollocks. The RBS is a multi-national corporation which owns banking operations in thirty-eight different countries. So maybe Vince does have a point, as it is almost inconceivable that they would want to operate in as many as thirty-nine.

6: If Scotland votes Yes, we will have to be in a different time zone from England. This claim was made as long ago as 1997, just after we had voted for devolution. It was made by Jeffrey Archer, and indeed, it is still widely regarded as his best work of fiction to date. Archer said that Scotland should be forced to be one hour behind England, until it was pointed out to him that Thurso was already thirty-five years behind England.

7: If Scotland votes Yes, you will be more likely to die of cancer. Believe it or not, this claim has been made on a pro-Union website.

8: If Scotland votes Yes, Scotland will still be at war with the USA. Yes, that’s true. The treaty which ended the American War of Independence was signed by the whole of the UK. So, depending on whether we became independent, we could be fighting a war of independence against a country that is already independent. That’s according to The Independent.

9: If Scotland votes Yes, Edinburgh Zoo will have to hand back the Pandas to China. OK, I made that one up, but it’s no more ridiculous than this one:

10: If Scotland votes Yes, no-one in Scotland will be able to win the Lottery, as UK Lottery tickets will no longer be on sale in an independent Scotland. This has been claimed, despite the fact that we can currently buy tickets for the Irish Lottery. Furthermore, the idea that Camelot would voluntarily give up 10 per cent of its profits is ludicrous.

11: If Scotland votes Yes, we will no longer be able to access large sections of the internet, as we will not be able to connect with websites or e-mail addresses ending in Well done if you noticed, I did make that last one up. However, I got the idea from this claim made by Better Together:

12: If Scotland votes Yes, you won’t be able to receive phone calls from England as the rest of the UK will not know the international dialling code for Scotland.

13: If Scotland votes Yes, over six-hundred-thousand people will immediately leave the country. I read that claim in the Daily Express. What struck me unusual was that the Express should write a scare story about thousands of people flooding out of the country. They usually tend to warning us about thousands of people flooding in.

14: If Scotland votes Yes, women all over the World will be more likely to be raped. Believe it or not, someone actually made this claim. Indeed, the person who made this claim happens to be the Lib-Dem spokesperson on Overseas Aid.

You may have thought some of the claims you have just read are ridiculous, and many of them are indeed barmy. Implausible as it may sound, I have the best until last:

15: A Yes Vote Could De-Stabilise Northern Ireland. You did read that correctly. According to the Financial Times, “If Scotland were to become independent, its borders withy Northern Ireland would be a nightmare to patrol”.

Geography was not my best subject at school and national boundaries can be redrawn, but the last time I looked, Scotland’s border with Northern Ireland was quite a big bit of sea.

So do you use your vote in the Euro elections. Just don’t vote for any of the people whose ideas are quoted above.