By Anne-Marie O’Donnell
Comparing its attacks on independence with a wartime bombing campaign which left hundreds dead is “reprehensible” and has exposed the UK government’s rhetoric over key independence issues, an MSP has said.
The Herald newspaper yesterday quoted sources close to the UK coalition boasting of a “Dambusters” approach to the independence referendum.  The term was coined after a second world war air-raid which led to the blowing up of German dams leading to the drowning of 1600 people.

The comments came after it emerged earlier this week that Standard Life had begun taking steps to make a transfer of business to England “if necessary”, and last week’s announcement from Chancellor George Osborne that Westminster would try to prevent Scotland from keeping the pound should Scottish voters choose to vote Yes in the referendum.

However, linking the anti-independence campaign to the war time bombing raid has led to claims that the No campaign’s “project fear” has now gone into overdrive, and that the Dambusters comment showed the Coalition Government was operating a deliberate strategy of scaremongering people into a No vote.

“These comments are a shocking example of the No campaign’s attitude towards Scotland,” said Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford.  “Political strategy is one thing – but for the UK Government to happily admit that it is actively trying to undermine confidence in the Scottish economy is totally reprehensible.”

Mr Osborne’s decision to rule out a currency union with Scotland was met with both criticism and scepticism by voters.  Strathclyde University professor of politics John Curtice said that move had “backfired in spectacular” fashion after voters reacted angrily to Mr Osborne’s attitude.  Then, in an embarrassing moment for the Chancellor, the deputy leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, Jackson Carlow, distanced himself from the claim, agreeing that it would be “rational and sensible” to keep the pound and that if Scotland voted Yes, he would help “man the barricades”.

“The fact that the UK Government has admitted that George Osborne’s Sermon on the Pound was simply the opening salvo in a pre-meditated campaign strategy shows the Chancellor’s intervention for what it was – campaign rhetoric designed to bully people in Scotland into voting No and not a realistic description of what will happen after a Yes vote,” Mr Crawford added.

The news from Standard Life comes on the back of the continuing fallout over the currency union claims from Mr Osborne, with the Royal Bank of Scotland – which this week reported £8.2bn in losses – now warning that its business could be “negatively impacted” by a Yes vote in the Scottish referendum.

However the boost for the No campaign was short lived when yesterday two leading figures from the air industry both signalled backing for the Scottish Government’s stance on key independence issues.

British Airways boss Willie Walsh said that Scottish independence would be a “positive development” for the industry.

Asked in a BBC interview if a Yes vote would be damaging for the company, Mr Walsh replied: “No, because we’ll continue to fly to Scotland.

“If anything, it might be marginally positive because I suspect the Scottish government will abolish air passenger duty, because they recognise the huge impact that that tax has on their economy.

“So no, it’s probably going to be a positive development, if it does happen, for British Airways.”

Mr Walsh’s backing for a Yes vote was then followed by similar comments from Ryanair Chief Michael O’Leary who told BBC Radio Scotland’s Newsdrive programme that he supported the plans for reduced Air Passenger Duty, a currency union and Scotland’s continued membership of the European Union.

The Ryanair boss told BBC Radio Scotland: “There’s no doubt that most airlines would support the position of the Scottish Government in relation to the abolition of the APD (air passenger duty), which does untold damage to Scottish tourism.”

He added that the drop in APD will mean: “business numbers to Scotland double over a 5-10 year period” benefiting “job creation in tourism”.

First Minister Alex Salmond said there was “substantial evidence” to show that an independent Scotland would be a competitive place to do business, and said the SNP’s proposal for a currency union was “exactly the sort of thing Standard Life have been calling for”.

He added:  “Standard Life will find Scotland a good place to do business as it, indeed, does business in 10 countries around the world.”

Chief Secretary to the Treasure Danny Alexander said that the news from Standard Life highlighted “the consequences of the SNP’s dangerous, risky and unclear plans for independence”, but was criticised for his stance on the subject.

Bruce Crawford added: “The barely concealed joy that the Westminster establishment is taking in attempting to create threats to Scottish jobs is completely outrageous – and Danny Alexander and the No campaign should be ashamed for their part in it,”

The Better Together campaign has been accused by some within its own ranks of using scaremongering tactics in a bid to frighten voters into a No vote instead of stating a positive case for the union.

Former Conservative defence secretary Michael Portillo echoed the view on this week’s edition of This Week on BBC One when discussing the referendum on the European Union, saying:  “If we did get a referendum, David Cameron’s government would use the same tactics they’re using in the Scottish referendum, in other words they would try and scare people rigid about the consequences of leaving the European Union.”


2014-03-01 10:55

Unionists dearly want to “bayonet the wounded” but end up skewering their own clod-hopping feet.
2014-03-01 10:59

Thanks to Michael Portillo we now have it official – ‘Project Fear’ writ large and to make it worse – a la Lord George Foulkes – “they’re doing it deliberately!”
2014-03-01 13:03

Agreed. Portillo’s proximity to Westminster means his brave admission leaves him dangerously wounded in the enemy trenches. He’ll have to watch out for bayonets now.

2014-03-01 11:34

So as a legitimate target for bombing, Better Together rank Scotland beside Nazi Germany? Wow.

Can I inquire whether this message ‘bombshell’ was delivered by an Aussie like Les Knight, Norman Barlow, Dave Shannon or Micky Martin? A Canadian like K W Brown, L J Burpee or V W Byers? A Kiwi like Les Munro? Or J C McCarthy from the USA? (All frightfully ‘British’ Lancaster pilots on the Chastise raid).

Then of course there’s the Battle of Britain, with Stuffy Dowding, (Scot), Keith Park, (Kiwi), and Sailor Mallon, (South African).

There’s a lot more where that came from Better Together, especially when we get around to the Scots … But I happen to respect the memory and integrity of our military veterans, wherever they come from. Suffice to say, I find your ‘Dambuster’s analogy crass, ill informed, and in very poor taste. In other words, fairly typical Better Together stodge of which only Dr Goebbels might feel proud.
2014-03-01 12:23

Well said, but a minor typo: It’s Sailor Malan – see

I didn’t spot that BBC have added the Ryanair story to their BA boss Willie Walsh ‘positive’ about impact story at…/… and neither, at the time of writing have News Sniffer, but the most important O’Leary quote strikes me as his:
It’s not a narrow or small issue. Traffic in Scotland has declined in the past five years since travel tax has been imposed.

O’Leary is buried near the end of the article after the predictable No Better Together response but deserves much greater prominence.
2014-03-01 12:42

Tsk! Knew it didn’t look right. Thank you.

2014-03-01 11:56

Amazing to think only 18 months ago we were being lambasted by all the UK media about the voting day being close to Bannockburn’s centenary – of course that turned out to be a fiction, polling day is closer to the start of WW1 by some months.

Since the Unionist parties and their friends in the press have been promoting brand ‘GB and Empire’, we haven’t heard a peep of ridicule from any media outlet accusing them of distasteful promotion.
2014-03-01 17:22

Let them continue to promote Britain and the Empire. Many, many Scots, like me, have no grudge against England or its people, but no longer relate to Britain. If they think they have found the answer they are barking up the wrong flagpole.

Tam Glen
2014-03-01 13:22

This week the Courier had a picture of the Defence Secretary Hammond aiming a rifle with the strap line; Defence Secretary targets Yes campaign.
The image was not used in the online story,it was ok for Scotland but not for worldwide perusal.
2014-03-01 13:24

Lets put Danny Alexander out of a job by voting Yes in Sep
2014-03-01 14:36

The “Dambusters” analogy is just the latest in the unionist politicians’ lexicon of bellicose and pugilistic language. “More clout” and “punching above our weight” in both the UN and EU negotiations, added to Iain “Separashun” Davidson’s “bayonetting of the wounded” after a NO vote, all being typical examples.
Welsh Sion
2014-03-01 15:08

I do believe that with all these metaphors deriving from human conflict, that Westminster is now at war with you, Scotland – if ‘only’ a media one at present.

And we all know what the first casualty of that man-made conflict is …

Dirty tricks, disinformation and state-led propaganda are the order of the day – and officially sanctioned.

Nor is it surely a coincidence that the Londonian elite are also ramping up their ‘1914 celebrations’ for this year, and pushing the likes of that offensive £2 coin with Lord Kitchener on it, on all members of this ‘Disunited Kingdumb.’

Your country needs you – Indeed. To remind whining, subsidy-crazed Jocks of their place; and for the rest of us to ‘fight’ (a militaristic metaphor, yet again) to preserve the ‘Union’ – and deny Scotlandshire her freedom.
2014-03-01 16:06

The £2 coin could prove a double-edged sword, to continue the conflict analogy, as it can only help Scots to determine which country needs them.
2014-03-02 00:28

By pure coincidence, I have just noticed a 2007 £2 coin in my pocket bearing the thistle and the rose and two portcullis obviously celebrating the 1707 Union,but as a statement of Unionism,its design has past me by for 7 years without me knowing it was ever minted.
It’s a nice looking coin to be honest, but who really looks at their loose change for political direction?
Welsh Sion
2014-03-02 11:51

This £2 coin was the idea of one Gordon Brown, spinster, late of this parish. If you look around the edge it says UNITED INTO ONE KINGDOM.

Say no more.
wee folding bike
2014-03-02 12:20

And Airdrie Morrisons self scan tills don’t accept them.
2014-03-02 12:28

Ach! Too late to check. Spent it. Didn’t look at the rim.

2014-03-02 02:09

To me, the dam is the British establishment trying desperately to hold back the flood of people in Scotland who want to leave the UK.

So to bust the dam seems to be a ridiculous analogy, conveying exactly the opposite of unionist intent.
2014-03-02 11:15

Bang on topic target, Iain Macwhirter is withering to the No Better Together cause in the Herald with his “Forget the dam busters … iScotland would be oil rich and creditworthy even without the banks

Those who have used their “free” views can read it at

Some excellent comments too, especially this quote provided by Peter Piper:
Quoting RBS Annual report page 202:

Furthermore, the Group’s borrowing costs and its access to the debt capital markets and other sources of liquidity depend significantly on its and the UK Government’s credit ratings which would be likely to be negatively impacted by political events, such as an affirmative outcome of the referendum for the independence of Scotland.

call me dave
2014-03-02 12:18

Just about to post this too.

Iain Macwhirter writes well and can rise to the occasion when it is required.

Better together calls what has happened in the last week as ‘Operation Chastise’ and it will continue for many weeks.…/…

2014-03-02 17:00

England for YES! My family had a get together and two English family members made it clear they wanted to join Scotland post indy. Not only that but they wanted county Durham to join Scotland too! They know all about the indy debate as they are frequent visitors here. Maybe love bombing could blow up in the faces of the Unionists as the assumption is that everybody in England is anti indy. The opposite could well be true.

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