One of the challenges that we face, as advocates of an independent Scotland, is communicating the opportunities, benefits and positives of self-determination clearly and well to our fellow Scots, particularly in the face of the well-established institutionalised propaganda machine that is interwoven through British society. Propaganda designed to marginalise and undermine any threats to the establishment maintaining power in the UK, or stymie any movement to dilute that power by removing a component part from the direct control of London (devolved power being on the whole simply, in real governance terms, the cosmetic exercise that it is, the Sewel Convention having been shown by lawmakers during Brexit challenges to be hardly worth the stating).
We, the thousands of grassroots campaigners, are not expert public communicators, we are not trained in targeting audiences, making sure we are pitching our case at the right levels, and answering awkward questions with clear, concise positive responses. But we do our very best with the skills that we have, with enthusiasm, energy and commitment, and my goodness, didn’t we learn a lot on the hoof in 2013/14,and in the time since, about responding to spin, factually incorrect news reporting and tackling negative propaganda.
That is why it is crucial that the output of the likes of The National, Newsnet Scotland, Commonspace, Bella Caledonia and others, articles, policy papers, and podcasts, designed to address a lack of balance in UK reporting, to correct mainstream media falsehoods, over exaggeration and Project Fearty tactics, is as widely disseminated and absorbed amongst the independence movement as possible. It is essential to our goal of self-determination that these news and Scottish cultural outlets are there, and continue to thrive. They are the feeders of the independence spirit, they provide the facts and positive vision to share, we provide the motivation, shoe-leather, and keystrokes, to do the sharing. This relationship, and a renewed relationship between us and whatever manifestation of an official Yes Campaign arrives shortly, must continue to be fostered honestly, free of barriers or factions.
One such great example of clear, concise positive information about self-determination for Scotland is the excellent series “Journey to Yes” produced online by Phantom Power. If you haven’t come across this I would highly recommend that you do. I watched episode 16 (twice) over the weekend, a commentary from prominent tax reform guru and political economist Professor Richard Murphy. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a clearer presentation of the reality of the UK’s economy and financial (mis)management as it is applied to Scotland as this half hour discourse.
Murphy covers areas like currency, taxation and the financial reporting suite designed and introduced by Westminster to make sure that any attempts by devolved administrations to break parts of the UK away to govern themselves always will look, on the surface, to be more than hazardous, GERS. He describes how the premise of how this report is prepared is wrong, How almost all of the financial assessment made is based on estimates, approximations, how basing what an independent Scotland’s financial position would look like simply by allocating a percentage share of the UK’s debt, liabilities and assets is flawed, how assuming that an independent Scotland would have the same financial commitments or limitations as it currently is allocated, or has limited access to ,under the control of the London government, is plainly wrong (withdrawal of Trident, reduced contribution towards defence costs, retention to Edinburgh of oil tax receipts etc) and interestingly he explains a bit about the “ levers of financial control” that are retained by the London Treasury, and why the fact that these are not devolved makes any attempts by the Scottish government to grow the Scottish economy very difficult.
Further to retaining the levers of financial control at Westminster, and I hadn’t really appreciated the extent to which this is the case, the Scottish government is denied vital financial information about its own economy by London. How can a devolved government make meaningful strategic financial decisions, or take steps designed to grow the economy, without knowing how much VAT is collected in Scotland, how much Income Tax is collected in Scotland, how much National Insurance contributions are made in Scotland, how much Corporation Tax is collected?
How good would it be if more Scots understood that the Scottish government are doing the best they can, and doing it well, economic growth currently being four times better than the rest of the UK, whilst hopping up and down on one leg, blindfolded,and with one arm tied behind their back, instead of believing all of the scaremongering baloney the union vested interest media feeds them?
This information, in this episode of the series by Phantom Power, is presented in a clear articulate way by Murphy in a style that us non-macroeconomic types (me) understand. Check it out if you haven’t already, and the other excellent episodes of “Journey to Yes”.
This is the sort of material that will help enormously in the coming days as we work towards the persuasive engagement of more of our country-folk, positively promoting our vision of what Scotland can achieve when its people at last once again are charged with the responsibility for their own destiny.