On the anniversary of the 1979 devolution referendum, the SNP has accused the anti-independence parties of adopting the same discredited scare tactics for the 2014 referendum as they did then.
More than three decades ago on March 1st the people of Scotland took part in the ballot now remembered for its infamous forty per cent rule that meant Westminster ignored the majority Yes vote.
However the vote is also remembered for the campaign which took place before the days of the internet, at a time when the electorate relied on more traditional means of news provision.
In Feb 1979 the Daily Express ran an editorial which asked:
"How much of Scotland's economy will be left intact if a Scottish Assembly gets the go-ahead on March 1? Will our coal mines go gaily on? Will Ravenscraig or Linwood thrive? Will Bathgate flourish and Dounreay prosper?”
Prior to the 79 ballot, Scots were promised a ‘better form of devolution’ in return for a No vote. Despite losing by 48% to 52%, the forty per cent rule saw the No campaign prevail and Scots then endured 18 years of Tory rule.
In a statement issued today the SNP has highlighted what it describes as the “fiction” peddled in 1979. Despite the ballot result which saw devolution shelved, many of the plants and mines said to be under threat from a Yes vote, eventually closed anyway.
The SNP has said similar scare stories currently being peddled in the run up to next year’s independence referendum, have already been discredited. The triple A downgrading of the UK’s credit rating was particularly embarrassing for the Better Together campaign which had been distributing leaflets boasting about the billions the rating was saving Scots.
The Better Together campaign’s 10 points against independence included the misleading "Scots save billions on the cost of mortgages due to the UK's AAA credit rating."
Other claims the nationalists point to include:
• The UK Government's own academic expert, Professor James Crawford, agreeing that the Scottish Government's timescale for achieving independence is 'realistic'.
• The Treasury’s support of a currency union with an independent Scotland using Sterling, contradicting the Better Together ‘keep the Pound’ campaign.
• Ludicrous scare stories such as that the giant pandas would be removed from Edinburgh Zoo with independence.
• Scare stories that an independent Scotland would not be able to continue to build ships were blown out of the water by Vice-Admiral Andrew Mathews who confirmed the Clyde would continue to win and complete contracts.
• Anti-independence parties have long claimed an independent Scotland would be worse off but this backfired after the Treasury estimated independence would cost just £1 each for the period 1999-2011. The most recent official GERS figures show that in 2010/11 Scotland was financially stronger than the UK as a whole to the tune of £2.7billion, or over £500 per person.
• No camp politicians have frequently claimed an independent Scotland would need to renegotiate 14,000 treaties that the UK is signatory to but Westminster has admitted that it has no idea how many treaties the UK is a party to – but many of the 14,000 treaties previously highlighted have terminated or were concluded on behalf of former colonies.
SNP MSP Bruce Crawford said:
“On the anniversary of the 1979 devolution referendum, we are seeing similar scare stories being peddled by the anti-independence parties today.
“Despite everything in 1979, Scotland voted Yes - we saw through the scaremongering - but Westminster's iniquitous '40% rule' turned a narrow Yes into a No. Thank goodness the independence referendum is being organised and run in Scotland – not by Westminster.
"After the 1979 referendum, Scotland suffered 18 years of Tory rule we didn't vote for, and then 13 years of a Labour UK government during which inequality increased. It was 20 years after 1979 until Scotland achieved a Parliament.
“Scotland was conned in 1979 but we will not be conned again. The referendum next year gives the people of Scotland the opportunity to be in control of our own destiny – instead of being subject to the vagaries of Westminster.
“Let's not have a repeat of history – we know now the only way to build on the achievements of the Scottish Parliament and have the strong economy and fair society we all want – ensuring that Scotland always gets the governments we vote for – is to vote Yes in the referendum next autumn. The No parties want to roll back the achievements of devolution, such as free personal care for older people and free tuition for young Scots.
“Scotland has the resources, ingenuity and people to prosper as an independent nation. We must grasp this opportunity to improve the lives of people in Scotland.”
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