Who the fuck is Malcolm Offord? It’s a question a lot of people are asking today. Everyone except the BBC, that is, despite them spending most of Friday running a three minute puff piece all about him and his shiny new, fully formed and definitely credible “grassroots” organisation, No Borders, which recently registered as an official No campaign group for September’s referendum.
“No Borders” is a surprise late entrant to the indy debate, and funnily enough has absolutely nothing to do with resisting border controls, migrant rights or cross-border solidarity, despite stealing their name from the long-established network of the same name which does exactly that (I suppose anarchists have never been very big on copyright law, but they have responded here). The new campaign does, conversely, have everything to do with British nationalism, scaremongering and fear of the unknown, cloaking it all in vacuous marketing rhetoric about it being a “people’s campaign” full of “ordinary Scots”.
Ordinary Scots like Malcolm Offord, a “City fund manager” of over 20 years, ardent proponent of austerity and £100k+ donor to the Tory party. He’s such a man of the people that in 2009 he gave Michael Gove a direct donation of £2500, ’cause that’s just the kind of thing that ordinary voters do!!! Not to mention the charming Fiona Gilmore, head honcho at the Acanchi consultancy firm, tagline “country brand capital development”. Previous clients include Israel, Bahrain and the UAE, and we’ll have much more on her soon!
Of course, it couldn’t all be stale Tory hacks so, no doubt with one eye on National Collective, RIC, Yestival, Generation Yes, Lady Alba, Scotland Yet and the rest of the grassroots, popular and creative surge on the Yes side, No Borders have craftily roped in a few young faces/session musicians too in the form of boaktastic’ Britnats “Flowers of the Union”. And there we were thinking that the absence of twee hipsters doing spoken word was about the only thing the No campaign had going for it!! (I jest). It’s unclear which PR mastermind came up with their song but if the rehearsal featured on the BBC clip is anything to go by, expect some sub-Amy McDonald screeching and catchy chorus “why build another wall?” It’s the sound of the summer! (as it happens Flowers of the Union had their website registered in December from Acanchi’s trading address… in London)
On a more serious note, there’s something deeply sinister going on here. As it became clear, following the rapid u-turn from the CBI, that Better Together were literally the only organisation registering with the Electoral Commission on the No side, up popped No Borders, with a website, rolling coverage on BBC News 24 and £143k already met in their £500k fundraising target. Given that they’re only allowed to spend £150k during the regulated period, which starts at the end of this month, how they plan to spend £350k in 4 weeks remains a mystery. Then there’s their page of videos, “the voices of the people”, a highly recommended compendium of nonsense, fearmongering and sheer ignorance, most of whose participants seem on a mission to outdo Ryan and his wee dugs and sausage rolls in the total WTF stakes.
The final word should really go to Offord, who neatly sums up his entire case for the union in this promo video:
It’s for people who want to put their hands up and say ‘you know what? I don’t want to leave the union. It works for me. In fact, I rather quite like it. It’s rather like a cup of hot chocolate and I’d like to keep it.’
Vote No for Hot Chocolate, nice things, nae borders and Fortress UK. EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE.