We’ve pilfered the files of the tremendous Scottish Political Archive before (you’ll have seen one here, for example), but in the light of today’s earlier post and a comment on it from an alert reader directing us to this fantastic piece about the 1979 No campaign, we’ve been rummaging around in there again. We particularly enjoyed this image (click to enlarge) and its contents, from a campaign group called “Scotland Is British”.
There’s pure gold in almost every line (we particularly enjoyed the description of independence as “ultimate separation” in section 4, and how everything predicted as a dire consequence of devolution in section 3 happened anyway without it), but the most familiar of the many top-drawer zingers was in section 6.
“The claim that North Sea Oil belongs to the Scottish people alone has no stronger basis in international law, than that the major fields east of Shetland belong exclusively to the Shetlanders.”
We suspect that most people in 1979 knew a lot less about “international law” than they do now in the age of near-universal internet access and social media, so it’s understandable that the anti-devolution movement would reckon it could probably get away with such blatant lies. What’s amazing is that 34 years later various Unionists, journalists and supposedly impartial “think tanks” still regularly suggest that an independent Scotland might only get a “population share” of “UK” oil.
Modern-day lying is a much more subtle art, of course. It’s rarely stated that a population share is a likely outcome of independence negotiations – the figures are just thrown in casually alongside the proper geographical ones to sow a seed of fear, uncertainty and doubt. But the underlying strategy is exactly the same now as it was three-and-a-half decades ago, and it’s six words long. Too wee. Too poor. Too stupid.