Socialist Worker

Fear and loathing in Scottish referendum campaign

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2420

The newspapers have carried a range of scare stories

The newspapers have carried a range of scare stories


In one of the most coordinated and brazen campaigns in recent times, business, politicians, the media, multinational corporations and international bankers have united in order to bully Scottish voters into voting No in the independence referendum.

They are using the social power of money and capital to twist and distort the supposedly “free democratic choice” on 18 September.

According to the Financial Times, “The prime minister – together with Alistair Darling, George Osborne and Danny Alexander – has been telephoning senior business figures across a number of sectors in recent days in a ‘man marking’ exercise orchestrated by Downing Street.

“He also issued a ‘call to arms’ to save the union at a Downing Street reception and dinner in Monday attended by business figures.”

As a result businesses have issued a string of announcements about job losses and price increases if Scots dare to vote yes.

BP, John Lewis, B&Q owner Kingfisher, Asda, Next, Lloyds TSB, RBS, Standard Life and the Weir Group all set out to cause panic and warned of job losses combined clothing and food price rises.

The International Monetary Fund helped out No by saying independence would “lead to market turbulence” and deeper crisis.

Imagine what would have been the reaction, and the ruling class’s readiness to use all means at its disposal, if their system itself was at stake!

Much to Cameron’s ire, Tesco and Sainsbury declined to join in because so many of their customers are Yes voters and might be outraged.

Cameron and his coterie have backed the intimidation with a recognition that the Tories are toxic in Scotland. He agreed that people might use the referendum as a chance to give a kick “the effing Tories”.

But all this pressure is not guaranteed to succeed. The Yes vote is drawing on deep reservoirs of feeling for radical change.

Fraser Nelson, the editor of the No-supporting Spectator, visited Scotland and reported, “About nine in every ten people I spoke to in Glasgow were for Yes. And not for starry-eyed reasons, but because of a deep exasperation – married to a clear sense of hope, aroused by the Yes campaign.

“The driving force behind Yes is a loathing of the ‘Westminster elite’, a phrase seemingly on everyone’s lips. A former soldier told me he has a Union flag tattooed on his arm, but is voting Yes to get rid of the Westminster lot. People in Manchester and Newcastle may well be just as fed up with the political elite, he said, but Scotland has this chance–this one chance–to get rid of the lot of them. He sees the chance to press a reset button on an entire country, and the “eject” button to jettison an entire political class.”

The Yes campaign has to keep being bold, radical and rooted in working class issues to have a chance of winning next Thursday.


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