Merryn's Blog

We need us: the story of the last Scottish referendum

The 'No' campaign material from the last Scottish referendum may seem out-dated, says Merryn Somerset Webb - but the issues remain the same.

A letter arrives from a Scottish friend. It contains some materials from what you might call "the last Better Together campaign", the referendum of 1979.

There are some little stickers which read "Good Girls Say NO on 1st March". There are some car stickers with a pretty clear message: "Disintegration? After two and a half centuries?"

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Become a smarter, better informed investor with MoneyWeek.

But best of all there is a leaflet from "Scottish Customs Controls". This was knocked up by the 'No' campaign and then given to groups of students who were sent up and down passing them out on the London to Edinburgh trains.

It's a brilliantly terrifying document.Here's how it starts. "When you enter Scotland you will pass through customs. A valid passport must be shown. All goods in excess of the duty-free allowances which you have obtained outside MUST BE DECLARED. There are strict limits to the amount of money in Sterling Notes (£) or Pounds Scots (Sc£) you may take in and out of Scotland. Excess cash and undeclared goods in excess of the allowances are liable to forfeiture."

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

It then goes on to outline what you may and may not bring in the way of tobacco (not more than 200 cigarettes and "Scottish residents and nationals are entitled to the above allowances only on production of official receipts to show that the tobacco was obtained more than 60 miles from the frontier post"), and alcohol ("the re-importation of Scotch whisky purchased more cheaply in England and elsewhere in the EEC is currently forbidden").

Then on other goods, there is talk of "an equalisation surcharge" on anything bought cheaply in England as well as a note that "the importation of firearms for sporting or any other purpose is forbidden."

Finally, at the end of the document there is a "special note" to motorists pointing out that only the "main frontier posts" are open all year and day around. Try crossing anywhere else and you "may be diverted or turned back."

It is easy to say that some of this sounds ridiculous to the modern ear. Maybe it does. But the point still stands. If Scotland is independent, Scotland is a foreign country. And if Scotland is a foreign country it has borders.

It is also worth noting that while the 'Yes' campaign says that it would like to be in the EU, but keep free movement between Scotland and England , it is hard to see how this is possible.

To be a member of the EU now you have to be inside the Schengen Immigration area, which the UK isn't. So, as it stands, there would have to be a real border and crossing of some kind or another. Here's The Scotsman on the matter.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

There is one final thing in my envelope of 1979 goodies. It's a little banner with the slogan from that campaign on it. It's a good one. It is "WE NEED US."

Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/516758/beyond-the-brexit-talk-the-british-economy-isnt-doing-too-badly
Economy

Beyond the Brexit talk, the British economy isn’t doing too badly

The political Brexit pantomime aside, Britain is in pretty good shape. With near-record employment, strong wage growth and modest inflation, there is …
17 Oct 2019
Visit/investments/property/house-prices/600638/uk-house-prices-may-be-heading-for-a-boris-bounce
House prices

UK house prices may be heading for a Boris bounce

The latest survey of estate agents and surveyors from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is "unambiguously positive" – suggesting house pric…
16 Jan 2020
Visit/520591/are-uk-house-prices-really-on-the-rebound
Property

Are UK house prices really on the rebound?

The latest house price data from the Office for National Statistics paint a picture of a housing market that is showing signs of rallying. That's not …
15 Jan 2020
Visit/520584/weak-inflation-data-may-gives-the-bank-of-england-an-excuse-to-cut-rates
Economy

Weak inflation data may gives the Bank of England an excuse to cut rates

UK inflation is edging lower, and is now well below the Bank of England’s 2% target rate. That could mean even lower interest rates. Here's why. 
15 Jan 2020

Most Popular

Visit/520525/currency-corner-how-high-can-the-pound-go-against-the-euro-in-2020
Currencies

Currency Corner: how high can the pound go against the euro in 2020?

In the month in which we should finally leave the European Union, Dominic Frisby takes a look at the pound vs the euro and asks just how high sterling…
13 Jan 2020
Visit/520575/20-predictions-for-the-2020s
Investments

Where will markets be in 2030? Here are 20 forecasts for the 2020s

A lot has changed in the last ten years – stockmarkets soared, technology transformed our lives and politics has changed beyond measure. Here, Dominic…
14 Jan 2020
Visit/520338/how-much-the-state-pension-will-rise-by-this-year
Personal finance

How much the state pension will rise by this year

While Boris Johnson promised to hold a full budget within 100 days of his election victory, many of the details of next year’s state pension increases…
10 Jan 2020
Visit/520553/money-minute-wednesday-15-january
Economy

Money Minute Wednesday 15 January: UK inflation and house prices

In today’s Money Minute, we look ahead to the latest UK inflation and house price figures, plus we have Germany’s GDP data for 2019.
15 Jan 2020