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KEN HOUSTON looks at one-sided campaigning in the referendum – by both the Yes and No camps...

Well, the die has been cast and we know the outcome. But whatever result last Thursday would have produced, personally my vote had little or no appeal to either side in the campaign.

That particular penny finally dropped about 48 hours before the polling stations opened when it became clear that the two sides were not targeting the spectrum of Scottish society but focussing almost exclusively on the Central Belt Labour vote.

It was then the realisation struck that I had a vote but did not have a voice.

This feeling was, I am sure, shared by that minority, but substantial minority, of the Scottish electorate (perhaps 20 cent) who would describe their political stance as centre-right or right-wing (in a democratic and not fascistic sense).

If they all elected to vote that would probably account for around 800,000 people but as far as either the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ campaigners were concerned, they might as well have lived on planet Zog.

‘No’ took them for granted, presumably on the basis that those of a small ‘c’ conservative persuasion would, by instinct, prefer the status quo and therefore almost certainly vote for retention of the Union. Certainly, there seemed little or no attempt to ‘shore up’ this vote.

As for the ‘Yes’ lot: for example, to the best of my knowledge no senior Yes figure came out and said (at least not to any mass public audience): “Look, under the Union the Tories will remain lame ducks in Scotland for forever and a day. But with independence, and a major realignment in Scottish politics, a Tory revival could start almost immediately and it is not impossible even to think of a new party (possibly an alliance of Conservatives and SNP rightists) winning a majority of seats at Holyrood in little more than a decade.”

Apart from the oft-repeated promise of a  3 per cent reduction in corporation tax, Yes had little to offer Scotland’s constituency of right-wing voters lest it damage their touchy-feely, lefty-liberal credentials because that, so conventional thinking goes, is the ‘Scottish way’.

By nature, Scots are a caring people but this contention that as a nation we are anti-Conservative because we put communal issues before the direct interests of ourselves and our families is at the very least ‘not proven’, to use a term unique to this country.

In the last century Scotland returned vast Labour majorities because so many of its people believed the Labour party best protected their housing tenure, income levels and jobs, and not on the basis of wanting to live in some socialist Shangri La.

Maggie Thatcher may have been “hated” here (if you believe the political/arts/media establishment) but Scots had no problem taking up her offer of buying their municipally-owned houses at huge discounts.

My late mother-in-law successfully resisted attempts by the family to buy her ground-floor council flat (located in a highly-desirable small commuter town) on the basis that the property “belonged to the community” but I suspect she was a rare exception.

More recently, when I take a holiday charter flight out of Edinburgh Airport to the Canaries or the Balerics, the aircraft is invariably packed. And whenever Apple launches a new iPhone (the latest appeared last week) there are usually long queues outside the Apple store on Buchanan Street in Glasgow.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with these two consumerist scenarios. It would help if the Scots – or rather those who affect to speak on our behalf – would be more honest about it.



The ‘Yes’ campaign always claimed that an independent Scotland would make a seamless entry into the EU but the ‘No’ majority ensures that Scotland’s membership (as part of the UK) will continue without a blip.

Uninterrupted EU membership will be greeted warmly by big business but perhaps not by self-employed tradesmen like plasterers and plumbers who have faced increasing competition as a result of the ‘free movement of peoples’ within the EU and its resultant dampening effect on wages. (The national minimum wage does not affect the law of supply and demand above the threshold).

The financial scale of the consequences of free movement was revealed earlier this month by Traian Basescu, the president of Romania, when he declared that his country benefited greatly from the ruling because Romanians working abroad meant less unemployment at home.

But he went further, saying that the money expatriates sent to families back home “practically kept our foreign trade balance calibrated”.

So there we have it. Not only does large-scale immigration dampen UK wages but a substantial part of the money earned by the millions of foreign workers is being wired abroad rather than spent in the shops and showrooms of our cities, towns and villages.

Put another way, for mature EU countries like Britain, the ‘free movement of peoples’ is a massive exercise in the export of capital.

But full marks to President Basescu for his transparency and honesty, unlike many politicians and special interest groups in this country who in the face of mathematical facts continue to promote mass immigration as a positive benefit, both financially and socially.

Among those apparently blind to the negative consequences, the supine attitude of the Trades Union Congress is perhaps the most bewildering of all.

For the TUC, any problems related to immigrants and jobs revolve around semi-criminal ‘gangmasters’ or unscrupulous employers who operate under the radar in terms of the national minimum wage and decent working conditions. That a massive influx of adults of working age from overseas was bound to produce a negative effect on the job prospects of the TUC’s traditional membership seems not to matter a whit.

In the opinion of President Basescu many, if not most, of his countrymen currently working in Britain will eventually return to Romania once wages in the latter catch up with the former and there is greater equilibrium in the standard of living between the two countries.

But don’t expect that to happen anytime soon.

In fact, it seems reasonable to predict that  parity in wages and living conditions between Britain and Romania will take at least a generation to achieve, if at all.

Of course, proponents of the ‘free movement’ principle argue that the system works both ways. That sounds fair enough – in theory, at least.

In the year to March, an estimated 28,000 citizens from Bulgaria and Romania moved to the UK. So tell me, how many people born and raised in Scotland, England and Wales moved in the opposite direction to live and work during the same period?

I’d be surprised if the number amounted to three figures.

‘Free movement’ effectively means that for the next 25 years British workers will be used as guinea pigs in the Great European Experiment. An experiment perceived by the Brussels hierarchy whose jobs, salaries and pensions are, of course, inured from any of the market-led consequences brought about by a policy they are so determined to impose on others.


Twitter: @PropPRMan