Grievomax, or how to lie your way to ‘independence’

Grievomax, or how to lie your way to ‘independence’

by Jill Stephenson
article from Monday 17, April, 2017

IT IS A COMMONPLACE that politicians tell lies. We could probably identify important or trivial porkies told by a range of politicians from different political parties. One party, however, stands out as different from the others. The SNP lies on an industrial scale. Its campaign for the 2014 referendum was based on lies. Most people remember those about currency union and about oil allegedly making Scotland rich. But there were many others, for example: an iScotland would remain in the EU; staying in the UK would mean that the NHS would be privatised; the Royal Navy would – Salmond ‘guaranteed’ it – build complex warships on the Clyde after a yes vote; Scottish universities would be able to continue to claim a share of the UK Research Councils’ funds after a yes vote.

These and other lies contradicted reality: that the EU Commission had said that an iScotland would automatically leave the EU and have to apply for membership, if that was what it wanted; that the NHS in Scotland is fully devolved and under Scottish government control; that the UK does not build warships in a foreign country; that Research Councils UK posted a disclaimer on their website saying that the current system could not continue after a yes vote.

It was on the ‘Wings over Scotland’ blog, which does its utmost to denigrate the UK, that in November 2013, one Paul Kavanagh (who writes as ‘wee ginger dug’) posted the now-infamous claim that

Every penny that is spent in a Scottish supermarket belonging to one of the large UK chains…generates VAT revenue for the UK Treasury that is identified as originating from the company’s head office, which is most often in London or the South East of England. It doesn’t count as Scottish revenue, despite the fact it’s a tax paid on sales in Scotland.

Mr Kavanagh estimated that, on the basis of his false information, Tesco would pay the tax collector in an independent Scotland ‘well over £140 million’ that currently, according to him is not credited to Scotland in the GERS. But he’s wrong: it is credited to Scotland. Nationalists will have to look elsewhere for the bonanza they thought this kind of ‘new’ and recovered income would bring.

Mr Kavanagh’s coup de grâce, however, was ‘whisky export duty’. According to him, duty paid on whisky exports is assessed at the port of exit, and so ‘Billions of pounds of Scottish revenue is magicked away in the official statistics, and doesn’t count as Scottish revenue. It masquerades as revenue from other parts of the UK, most commonly as revenue from London.’ There is only one flaw in this claim: there is no such thing as export duty, on whisky or anything else. The monies that Mr Kavanagh suggested were likely to be larger than North Sea income, on which a separate Scotland could be based, do not exist. That did not prevent Joan McAlpine, SNP MSP, from using her column in the Daily Record in October 2015 to lament dishonestly the iniquity of Scotland being denied its rightful revenue from ‘whisky exports’.

Since the 2014 referendum, the lies have continued. In October 2014, there was the little list tweeted by Margaret Ferrier, SNP MP, which claimed that ‘Scotland’s Union Dividend’ included Scots paying £300 million for the refurbishment of London’s sewers and £420 million for London’s Crossrail. These were rather precise figures. In fact, however, the London sewer refurbishment is paid for by customers of Thames Water and by private investors, not by taxpayers of any kind. Further, Scots have made NO contribution to Crossrail. These falsehoods are routinely repeated on social media by SNP supporters.

More recently, in March 2017, Philippa Whitford, SNP MP (pictured with Nicola Sturgeon), invented a narrative entirely at odds with the truth over the important issue of the state pension and how secession from the rUK would affect it. Contradicting the SNP’s own 2013 White Paper, she told a constituent that, in the event of separation, the UK would be responsible for paying the pensions of existing pensioners while future pensioners would increasingly be paid by the Scottish government. This is entirely untrue. The rUK would not pay the pensions of anyone in iScotland. At the point of separation, responsibility for paying the pensions of those residing in Scotland would transfer to the Scottish Government.

On 30 March 2017, Paul Monaghan, SNP MP, gave yet another interview to Putin’s tame RT station, where SNP MPs such as himself, Philippa Whitford and Alex Salmond like to go to disparage the UK. He told a series of lies in that broadcast, for example that iScotland’s ‘membership of the EU will be seamless, there will not be a break’. That is not what members of the EU Commission have said; indeed, it is at odds with it.

Again, according to Dr Monaghan, Scottish exports are ‘passported through England, through the UK, and that balance is added to the UK’s balance of trade, not to Scotland’s balance of trade’ - another airing for Paul Kavanagh’s lie. Monaghan continued: ‘Scotland’s growing market is the European Union, it is not the UK’. That is factually untrue. Scotland’s trade with the UK is rising while its trade with the EU is flatlining. All Scotland’s economic problems are the fault of UK mismanagement, he says. Scotland ‘has no borrowing powers whatsoever’. Wrong. Some borrowing powers were devolved to Scotland in 2015. How many lies can one man pack into a two minute interview?

The falsehoods mentioned here now have a wide currency, especially on social media. They have been spread like wildfire by SNP activists and appear on some SNP branch leaflets. They are parroted by large numbers of gullible people who believe any grievance the SNP peddles. Grievance is what it is all about, and MPs and MSPs take a lead in denigrating the UK, claiming that it ‘steals’ Scotland’s wealth and asserting that all that wealth, when rightfully restored to Scotland, will make an ‘independent’ Scotland rich beyond our dreams. The purpose of all of the dishonesty is to propagate a vision of an ‘independent’ Scotland where riches will abound without anyone having to make any effort whatsoever, and where the financial and economic problems raised inconveniently by pro-union people will not be an issue because they were only ever an integral part of Scotland’s ‘exploitation’ by London, Westminster and the Toarries. This opportunistically feeds into the victimhood mentality that afflicts too many Scots.

These and other lies are firmly embedded in the psyche of large numbers of Scots. Undoing that damage is the union’s biggest challenge.

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