by Colin Campbell
INVERNESS MP Drew Hendry went up against the London School of Economics last week over a report they’d produced on the costs of independence.
He’s no brain of Britain but he partly compensates for that with his brash willingness to appear on television and radio these days to argue the case for the cause. And he’s not fussy about who he takes on.
The LSE, in a report compiled by economics professors over several months, concluded independence would lead to the equivalent of a wage cut of between £2,000 and £2,800 per person.
Hendry took just a few hours to conclude this extensive, detailed economic analysis was completely wrong and appeared on LBC to say so.
He has grown increasingly fond of the media limelight and then posts little clips on his Twitter site as a look-at-me update for those who have missed it. The scenario of a glorified ex-councillor trying to trash the in-depth research of top economists at the LSE was however risible. His feeble “rebuttal” was full of the usual “ifs” “but” and “maybes”. But such arrogance and stupidity runs right through the SNP.
On the day the report appeared, the vile National presented a “fact check” on its website which denounced it as “false”. This appeared two or three hours after the study was published.
Again, detailed analysis carried out by top economists with absolutely no axe to grind either for or against independence was dismissed out of hand.
The only fact check of relevance here is that elements within the SNP are not remotely interested in seriously addressing awkward questions about the costs of independence, which is why someone like Drew Hendry feels free to fill spare airtime with denial and drivel.
They think they’re on a roll because opinion polls – many of them junk polls funded by pro-independence groups – have shown a majority in support of breaking away from the rest of the UK.
And they think they can wing it to the May Holyrood elections without answering any among a host of difficult questions that should be put to them.
The pandemic, rightly, is consuming public attention. But there’s no doubt that the SNP right now are getting an incredibly easy ride. The hierarchy may be fighting among themselves like ferrets in a sack. But they are still managing to dodge those awkward questions on currency, pensions, mortgages, the EU, the deficit, the inevitability of a hard passport controlled border with England that independence would bring about, and so much else.
Or to put it another way, why are these questions not being asked by the BBC and other media outlets? Are they all now running scared of the SNP?
This situation, however, would not last if there was any serious prospect of another referendum being held. At some point well before any appointment with a ballot booth many people would start looking very closely at what independence could mean for their financial situation, and they would not like what they’d see.
At all levels it seems the SNP have just given up trying to address difficult questions, because they have no answers. They just brush them aside or pretend they don’t exist. Last week one of their most prominent activists, Lesley Riddoch, who earlier in her career was a serious and well respected BBC TV reporter, had a passing stab at their currency problem. That is, six years after the last referendum, not one of them is able to even say what currency an independent Scotland would use.
Currency is still an issue that needs to be resolved, she conceded. “But lockdown has seen a wholesale switch to online payments, undermining previous worries about changing bagloads of notes at the border.”
And that was it. And isn’t that somewhere beyond pathetic? Didn’t Lesley Riddoch after she wrote that bother to have a glance at it and realise how truly inane it is to suggest that the trend to making online payments in sterling detracts in any way from the SNP/nationalists cluelessness over currency. Apparently not.
Too many of their leading voices don’t care about awkward questions or critical analysis from organisations like the LSE or even in trying to provide any serious answers about how independence will affect people financially.
Well they may partly get away with that now but it wouldn’t last if there was any serious prospect of independence actually happening. Their childlike failure to address these awkward questions gives credibility to those within the SNP who believe that when push comes to shove, they don’t want another referendum because they know they would lose it.