Former Bank of England governor Mervyn King has contradicted the central claim of the UK government on Scottish independence. The surprise intervention will come as a major blow to the campaign to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom.
‘Project Fear’ vs the Bank of England
In 2014, Scotland voted narrowly to remain in the UK, with 45% voting ‘Yes’ (to leaving). But even The Telegraph admitted that ‘Project Fear’ [paywall] won the referendum. This refers to the strategy deployed by the media and political class opposed to independence. Namely, to blast voters with scaremongering stories until they voted ‘No’.
Two of the deciding factors in the referendum were Scotland’s place in the EU, and keeping the sterling currency. At the height of the campaign, then-Chancellor George Osborne told Scottish voters that they risked losing the pound if they left the union. Also, EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso claimed it would be “extremely difficult” for an independent Scotland to gain membership to the EU. These are both demonstrably false.
During an interview with BBC Newsnight, former Bank of England governor Mervyn King confirmed this, stating:
Scotland certainly could be an independent country – there are plenty of small countries the same size as Scotland. Scotland has both the people, it has the capital city, the history and culture. It could be an independent country.
The question is, does it want to be, given the consequences of it?
Now, I myself don’t think there are any major problems in terms of currency – that was the thing that ‘Project Fear’ focused on last time.
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) March 20, 2017
What were the potential consequences Scotland would need to prepare for? King argues that the newly independent nation would need to focus on issues of borrowing, budget deficit, and interest rates. But that none of these are an impediment to independence.
Following the Brexit vote, support for Scottish independence has reached its highest ever levels. This has triggered a second referendum, during which Project Fear will likely be deployed again. But memories may be fresh enough to weaken its impact this time round.
Whether you’re for or against Scottish independence, there is one thing we should all agree on. And that’s that voters should not be scared into voting against their preference by propaganda. Already, Project Fear is going after potential independence voters.
On 13 March, the BBC‘s Laura Kuenssberg tweeted that “sources” had confirmed Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon would ask Scotland to “vote blind” on independence. This means they would have to vote without knowing the terms of the UK’s Brexit deal. The tweet became a popular story in the Westminster media. And it echoed the allegations of Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May.
It was also entirely false. Sturgeon has already confirmed the referendum would take place in 2018 or 2019, saying:
the vote must take place within a time frame to allow an informed choice to be made – when the terms of Brexit are clear but before the UK leaves the European Union, or shortly afterwards.
It later emerged that Kuenssberg was sharing the view of a single, anonymous source. Also known as gossip.
As readers pointed out, May appeared to have confused the proposed Scottish independence referendum with the Brexit vote enacted by her own government.
It’s time for Scotland to choose freely
The argument from Downing Street claims the choice Scotland faces is the union or death. This isn’t true. As King states, Scotland can survive, and thrive, as an independent country. The question for Scotland is whether its people want to. Each voter should make that choice freely, based on the best and most accurate information available. And not the scare stories of a terrified Westminster establishment.
– Join the legal campaign for a Brexit for the 100%.
– Contact your MP and make your voice heard on the issue.
– Support The Canary if you appreciate the work we do.
Featured image via Twitter
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?