Alex Massie Alex Massie

Who are the real bullies in the Scottish independence debate?

Stewart Hosie, the SNP’s finance spokesman at Westminster, said something unwittingly revealing last night. Taking part in the latest of BBC Scotland’s referendum debates (you can catch it here), he observed that:

There is a plan from the Scottish government and the Yes side… What we don’t have is a plan a from the No people about what happens in the event of a No vote. So I want them to explain to you today when are they going to cut £4bn from Scotland’s budget?

[…] There is precisely nothing from the No camp to explain what they’re going to do to Scotland in the event of a no vote.

Give Hosie marks for honesty. You don’t often get it as clear as this. I don’t think Hosie mis-spoke here. Not when he’s inventing a phantom threat to the Scottish block grant. Not when he’s suggesting that the Unionist parties wish to punish Scotland for having merely the temerity to discuss its own future.

True, some backbenchers think the Barnett Formula needs re-examining (they are right, by the way) but David Cameron has made it perfectly clear that tinkering with Barnett is “not on the horizon”. Of course Cameron cannot bind future parliaments and this allows the nationalists – the keenest sophists in British politics – to pretend that Cameron has “let the cat out the bag” and secretly hankers to scrap Barnett.

In any case, who’s scaremongering now? Vote Yes, otherwise Westminster is going to do any number of nasty things to Scotland. Just to put the uppity Jocks in their place. A reasonable person might conclude this is, rhetorically, a form of bullying.

And since Unionist parties wish to punish Scotland it follows, quite clearly, that no proper patriot could in good conscience support a No vote.

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