Last year, Better Together claimed that leading supermarkets would increase food prices in the event of independence and were waving around a figure of 16%. I’d actually started researching the food industry and was half-way through drafting something up when Tesco said they were talking shit, so I had a day off instead.
Yesterday they decided to rehash one of their finest moments of lying and getting caught, only this time, they claimed food prices would increase not by 16% but by 30%. The basis for this claim was comparing a “random shopping basket” from Tesco bought in the UK and Ireland (which is independent by the way). They could of course have compared UK prices to those in any independent county; your weekly shop in an independent Norway is substantially pricier whereas in independent India or Swaziland, it will set you back a bit less.
What effect would independence have on food costs? The answer of course is that this will depend entirely on a range of factors over which governments have varying degrees of control: global production, the extent to which we prioritise agricultural investment, the emphasis we place on food standards when considering public procurements, transport infrastructure and most importantly, reigning in the supermarkets. But that doesn’t make a very scary meme, so the No campaign just plucked a 30% figure out their backsides.
Speaking of backsides, the keen observer may note that this “random” shopping basket contains precious little food yet there’s space for almost unwieldy amounts of tissues, baby wipes and nappies. It would appear the No campaign are stocking up for 10 days of shitting themselves and crying. Perhaps because the referendum is more likely to rest not on the price of fish but on whether the No campaign will be made to pay a suitable price for this constant stream of pish.
If I was to put a number on how Better Together are feeling today, I’d say it was about 49%. For the first time in the entire campaign, an opinion poll released by YouGov suggests that 51% of voters who’ve made up their minds now back Yes. Before we get out the buckie, today is not that day. If this poll is true, in two weeks time we’ll probably still be up celebrating the birth of our nation but this is not the time for complacency. This is 1 poll, this is 1 percent, this is 1 day.
But there is a feeling of a turning tide that’s been going on since this campaign began, a clear direction of travel. Even when polls put us nowhere, it was always still slightly less nowhere than the last time. Whether this is the actual moment of breakthrough or merely a statistical hiccup (which just coincidentally follows a clear pattern), the next 10 days will undoubtedly be one of the most important periods in our political lifetime.
We shouldn’t assert that the Yes case is won nor that the game is over, if anything the games are just about to begin. So far though, it’s not the Yes campaign who’ve been losing the rag over this poll – what’s (almost) been beyond parody is how absolutely batshit the whole political class now seem to be going. Yes Scotland were laughed out the political playground during the summer when they said they predicted they would win their first poll with 2 weeks to go, Better Together decried that as an admission of defeat, claiming it was a step away from saying people would walk into polling stations as No voters and walk out having just voted Yes. With less than 2 weeks to go, here we are.
The London media and even the Westminster Parliament who’ve been completely ignoring what’s happened up until this point, treating it is a joke that’s not even worth making, now realise they have 10 days to try to figure out what that bit to the North of the North is and how they can keep it quiet since their “to hell in Salmond’s shopping basket” strategy has gone tits up. The opinings of people who’ve just realised we exist and now wish to dictate our shared future at us will not be in short supply but I’d question how beneficial any of them will be to the No cause. The celebrity circus seem only capable of shadow boxing: telling us not to be nationalists when we aren’t, telling us not to go away when we’re staying where we are, telling us they’ve always loved us when we don’t even know who they are. Behind the scenes, the long knives will be out in Team No as Jim Murphy, Anas Sarwar and Boris Johnson pace up and down their bedrooms practising their “leader who lost Scotland” speeches from their forthcoming attempts to topple their respective leaders.
One already done/now probably undone backroom deal seems to be splashed across all the papers. While exact details are expected to be announced this week, the suggestion seems to be that the unionist parties will pinky promise some sort of federalist convention to negotiate a wee bit more power for Scotland, although it’s also been suggested they could simply collate the promises of the pro-union parties and present them as something new. The potential for some sort of hastily constructed peoples’ assembly is the last throw of the dice for “the 49%” who will surely struggle to play the underdogs who’ve always longed for a better tomorrow they’ve only just decided to tell us about. The independence movement must make sure their temporary tent city is blow away by the prevailing winds of real political change. The British state has had 4 decades to realise that we are in a state of political and constitutional crisis and a good couple of years to explain what Scotland might look like if we vote No. Suddenly going from UKOK to setting up the Eton/House of Lords branch of the Occupy movement reeks of the desperation of a political class who realise their PR spin machine may not be enough to defeat the biggest mass movement in modern Scottish political history.
Yesterday, Better Together didn’t think Scots were capable of going for the messages without a full-scale fiscal crisis yet today we’re being promised federalism and ponies, like that was the plan all along. We already have a plan to involve Scots in drafting a new nation, with lots more powers. Our plan is independence and it can only happen if we win a Yes vote. We’ve never lied about our intentions or wheeled them out at the last-minute so they couldn’t be properly scrutinised. Our vision to make Scotland a fairer place wasn’t chucked together in desperation by an arrogant political class in an attempt to cling on to their ill-gotten gains but developed, debated and hotly contested in every household, school and workplace in the country.
This morning, like many people in Scotland, I woke up to the feeling that this needn’t be just another time we can say we’re proud of how hard we fought, how much ground we made up against our much bigger adversaries, to lament our spirit, our passion, our effort and the dignity and humour with which we got royally humped. The Yes movement has an opportunity to rewrite this familiar story for ourselves; we have a chance to win and a responsibility to take it.