There is no charge that the Scottish Yes side is fonder of deploying against its opponents than that of “fearmongering” (as if concerns over what currency Scotland would use, the sustainability of its public finances, and the stability of its outsize banking sector are fabricated). The irony is that as voting day has approached, it has indulged in precisely this form of politics itself. First there was Alex Salmond’s claim that the survival of the NHS was threatened by Westminster (one yesterday demolished by the IFS), despite health policy being a devolved matter.
Now, to mark Nigel Farage’s visit to Scotland, the Yes campaign is warning that Scots risk being ruled over by a Tory-Ukip coalition if they vote No. It does so on the basis of a new Ipsos MORI opinion poll with the Tories on 34 per cent, Labour on 33 per cent, Ukip on 15 per cent, and the Lib Dems on 7 per cent (two others published today have Labour four points ahead). With 49 per cent of the vote between them, Cameron and Farage are depicted entering Downing Street together next year.
It’s nonsense, of course, and it’s remarkable that the official Yes campaign (rather than one of its less responsible surrogates) is prepared to indulge in such propaganda. Unlike Scotland, which uses the proportional AMS system for Holyrood elections, Westminster still uses first-past-the-post, meaning that even with 15 per cent of the vote, Ukip would be lucky to win more than a handful of seats. In fact, were these figures replicated next year, the most likely result would be a hung parliament with Labour as the largest party (try the seat calculator for yourself on our excellent new election site May 2015). As Harry wrote earlier, Labour continues to benefit from the UK’s unchanged constituency boundaries and from differential turnout (fewer people vote in working class areas than middle class ones); its votes go further than the Tories’ do. But try explaining all of that to a Farage-fearing voter on the doorstep.
With the polls so tight, the Yes side is understandably desperate to ensure that fear of the status quo outweighs fear of independence. But that’s no justification for preying on ignorance in the manner of this poster.