Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Better Together's Tory Gold for Activists

The anti-independence "Better Together" campaign, an alliance of Labour, the British Government, the BNP and the Orange Order, have struggled to attract support since it was  launched into a sea of unquestioning BBC adulation, waved off by the Cuts Cousins, Johann Lamont and Ruth Davidson, and captained by Alastair Darling, the privately-educated, London-born former Labour finance minister (oversaw the first run on a British bank in a century and a half) who was voted Britain's most boring politician for two years in a row. 

Lamont (l) and Davidson (r). Or Davidson and Lamont. I can never tell them apart.
stolen from Stuart Campbell

It ran into problems from almost the very start. Already tainted by its chairman's apparently fraudulent expenses claims (Flipper Darling paid the money back and wasn't prosecuted), the campaign embroiled itself in criminality from the start, when it tore up the national data protection laws for political gain, exposing Darling and his cronies to yet more risk of criminal prosecution.

With this background, it wasn't a surprise that the Squadrone Volante failed to catch light. On its "national day of action", it published dozens of photos of its "successes". Some of those photos had one, perhaps two voters (in stark contrast to the hundreds of members of the public cramming into rooms the length and breadth of the nation to found and support local Yes Scotland groups), but most of them showed only politicians. 

Someone called Gemma Doyle (no, me neither) positively fighting off voters desperate to hear the Anti message

Unionist politicians, elected to councils, Parliament, the British parliament, the European parliament, or appointed to the British upper chamber in defiance of normality, equality and democracy.

Paid Unionist politicians - people for whom the survival of the Union between Scotland and England means the survival of their livelihoods. 

Payroll Unionist politicians - people for whom the end of the Union between Scotland and England means the end of their job or sinecure. The end of the flipping of second homes at taxpayers' expense. The end of being paid hundreds of pounds a day to turn up at the Palace of Westminster for ten minutes; reward simply for never voting against the British administration of a bygone day. 


Is it any surprise that these payroll pollies are out straining every sinew, telling every untruth they can think of, scaremongering to the ignorant? You can't blame them. They're looking after Number 1.

But it's not enough. 

The public apathy towards the Antis is seen in that they refuse to release any membership figures, any supporter figures. The last I saw published was in the Helensburgh Advertiser, which claimed "hundreds have already joined".

In contrast, the pro-Scotland campaign is quite open about its support:

  • Over 140,000 people have signed the YES Declaration (that's more than 13% of everyone who voted for all of the Unionist parties combined in the 2011 General Election) with around 21 months still to go until Referendum Day
  • In Scotland's 32 areas, there are more than 100 local YES groups
This is, in other words, A Big Problem for the anti-independence campaign.

from Scottish Political Archive

Having seen that almost every elected Unionist politician supports the anti-independence campaign (because they're paid to), what wheeze have the Antis hit on to get some support amongst an apathetic public? 

Pay them, of course!

Now, while the payment or inducement of people to canvass or vote for a political party in an election period - or "treating" - is illegal and rightly clamped down on by an angry electoral authority, it is not illegal for an organisation which is not a political party to "repay expenses" for "volunteers" during a campaign which is not an election campaign. 

The Squadrone Volante yesterday published an advertisement on the popular w4mp jobs page. This is used by professional people involved in politics to find full-time paid employment with individual parliamentarians and political parties, as well as positions as lobbyists and so on. 

The adverts state that "volunteers" will be paid for their lunch and travel. It does not - tellingly - geographically restrict these volunteers (who are to be "based in [the] Glasgow HQ", and not meeting Scottish voters concerned that the Anti-independence campaign is dominated by the London political scene. Handy!) and is an open invitation to unionists and loyalists from across the United Kingdom to come - free - to Scotland to "volunteer" in our referendum. 

Kensington, from where Better Together will tell people from Glasgow we scrounge from them
With the news that the Conservative Friends of the Union fundraiser is to be held in Chelsea, and that the anti-Independence campaign has refused to sign up to a proposed code of conduct restricting significant donations to those on the Scottish electoral roll, it is becoming clearer and clearer that not only is the Squadrone Volante funded by non-Scottish political parties, but that that dirty money is being used to pay people to come to Scotland and campaign for them. 

They will raise money at millionaire's row in Kensington. But what will they spend it on? They don't need advertising - they have every newspaper in Scotland backing them, as well as the BBC.

It removes any financial restraints on unionists coming to Scotland. Those nice chaps we saw burning chapels and attacking families in Belfast after the Union Jack was taken down from the mast this week will be able to come over to Scotland in the knowledge that they'll have no food expenses and no travel expenses. 

Labour Party parade in Glasgow
The Orange Order, which has threatened to become a pro-British terrorist organisation in the event of independence, will be able to begin repaying its debt to the Labour Party (the Labour Party in Glasgow funded every Orange Order celebration in Glasgow for the anniversary of queen Elizabeth Windsor's taking of power this summer) in manpower, in the full knowledge that it will incur no cost at all, and earn them and their sectarian, fascist parades the backing of a grateful Labour Party in Glasgow and beyond. 

There's no guessing why the Antis think we're better together with George Osborne and his Tory toffs. 

But the dirty little secret of their funding and manpower shows exactly why the people of Scotland must not trust this campaign one iota.

The Yes campaign seeks an inclusive, diverse, progressive Scotland, and its popular support and grassroots operation reflects that. 

The anti-independence campaign is funded by Tory money from Chelsea soirĂ©es, led by people employed by the British state, and the groundwork is now laid for it to be peopled by Orangemen from Belfast and BNP thugs from Burnley. 

The Scottish people will see through it.