by Rab Bruce’s Spider

In political terms, two of the UK Establishment’s greatest achievements must surely be to convince the bulk of its population that the British way of doing things is superior to the way other countries operate, and that the way things are is as good as it is going to get.

This first achievement lies at the root of much of the xenophobia displayed in recent months. It implies that Britain is superior to other countries, and that our way of doing things is both normal and correct.

As far back as my school days, I can recall one oft-repeated lesson from my Modern Studies class. This was that the UK electoral system of First Past The Post produced strong Governments and that Proportional Representation as used by foreign countries produced weak Governments. This way of thinking is so ingrained that many people still cling to it, despite the obvious iniquities of FPTP. Indeed, I was recently speaking to a Unionist chum who simply could not understand how a PR voting system might work. He could not comprehend how individual MPs might be elected under a PR system. When I pointed out to him that PR may well have flaws, but that it clearly isn’t impossible to operate since many countries have PR electoral systems, he merely subsided into a disdainful silence, as if it must be obvious that PR might be good enough for those countries, but it couldn’t possibly work in the UK, and why would the UK need it in any case?

This way of thinking covers so many aspects of political life that it is difficult to see how some people will shake it off. Of course, many of them never will, partly because they don’t want to, and partly because they are unable to comprehend that the British way might not be the best way, and have been taught not to question this fundamental belief.

As for the conviction that things can never be better than they are, this is what Project Fear plays on. People are so afraid of losing what they’ve got, even if they haven’t got much at all, that they are scared to take a risk on changing the status quo. This is precisely what the Establishment relies upon, and why they use scare stories so frequently.

The big question is what scare stories the UK can possibly use to terrify Scots into voting No in the next IndieRef (whenever it comes along). Pretty much every claim they made last time has been demonstrated to be a lie, so they are going to struggle to come up with anything particularly new.

You’ll be out of the EU!

So what, we’ll be out anyway if we stick with the UK.

The Banks will move their Head Offices!

They are already planning to leave London in light of Brexit.

The oil is running out!

No, it isn’t. There have been record finds in the past couple of years.

You need the UK’s broad shoulders to protect against oil price volatility!

Yes, that worked well recently. How many jobs were lost?

You need the UK’s military to defend you!

How many military jobs have been cut? how many bases are closing? How many ships does the Royal Navy have and do any of them work in warm water?

There will be no shipbuilding contracts awarded!

How many ships did you promise last time?

Jobs in Government offices like HMRC are only safe with a No vote!

You mean the 5% you aren’t shutting down? Along with Job Centres and DWP Admin centres.

You won’t be allowed to use sterling!

We probably wouldn’t want to. Even if we did, you can’t stop us. Anyone can use sterling.

Your relatives in England will become foreigners!

Ah, got me there. We all hate foreigners, don’t we? No, hang on. We don’t.

You won’t be allowed to watch the BBC!

Not much loss, to be honest, but it’s a total lie in any event. People in Ireland regularly watch the BBC.

There will be a hard border between England and Scotland!

Yes, there might be, but it works both ways. It will also mean that Scotland will be protected from having goods and foodstuffs which don’t meet EU safety standards, so it won’t be all bad. Besides, sticking with the UK will, initially at least, give us a hard border with every other country in the world.

Scotland is too poor to be independent. You’ll face years of Austerity!

Whereas staying with the UK means we’ll face ….?

There are plenty more I’ve probably missed, but with all these scares having been addressed already, will Project Fear have anything left?

Sadly, yes. I suspect they will change tack slightly and play on people’s fear of change.

It is well known in both business and political life that most people dislike change. We all get accustomed to doing things the way we have done, and any change can throw us off balance. When it comes to major change, people are naturally uncertain and apprehensive, and this is where Project Fear can aid the Union cause.

Take currency as one major potential target. There can no longer be much doubt that an independent Scotland will need to adopt its own currency. This is a fairly major change and Project Fear will no doubt home in on it as a source of concern for voters. Will it mean new bank notes? What about our bank accounts? What about pensions and salaries paid by Companies based in England? What about Direct Debits to English-based Companies? What happens when you cross the border?

Of course, many countries have adopted new currencies and many people cope easily with cross-border travel. Look at Ireland for an example close at hand. Issues over notes and bank accounts are logistical matters which all major banks are perfectly capable of handling, and so are things like direct Debits. Any organisation operating across borders with different currencies is accustomed to using accounts in those currencies, so the change should not prove very difficult. People quickly get used to new situations as long as there is plenty of explanation available in good time. The trick for the Yes movement will be to get those explanations out there because you can be sure that the media will pump out the scares like an avalanche of doom. Facts don’t matter much to Project Fear, and this will be one of the great challenges for Yes in the next IndieRef.

We can expect similar scares over other issues such as Driving Licences, Passports, Pensions, etc. All of these are, of course, practical issues to be addressed, but they are surely not insurmountable hurdles for a modern country. Daily life is full of hassles in any event, so a few changes to the way things work are certainly not reasons to ignore the far greater issue of self-determination and the normalisation of our country.

And, amid all the scaremongering we can expect, our main argument must surely be that the changes which will come if we stick with the insular, xenophobic and austerity-obsessed UK will damage us far more than anything we might expect from standing on our own two feet. Instead of accepting that the British way is best, and that things might be worse if we don’t listen to our betters, we really ought to have enough self respect to say that we are capable of running our own affairs and establishing our own processes and systems just like any other country.