If Scotland votes “Yes” blame the bedroom tax

There is an episode of “The Simpsons” (9F01 “Two Cars In Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish”) where Mr Burns runs for governor. His spin doctors tell him “there is a burning issue that we need to neutralise”. He thinks he has – but he hasn’t and it comes back to haunt him, sinking his campaign for governor. My fear is that this could happen in the Scottish independence referendum.
Since I last posted on this issue two events have happened. First the campaign has got nasty – pro union Labour MP Jim Murphy has been pelted with eggs and branded a “Traitor” and a “Quisling” while former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray has said “it is not possible to be a decent person and vote no” – which is a disgraceful smear which in my opinion should cost this guy whatever job he is doing now – while secondly the polls have tightened with one poll for YouGov giving the “No” side just 6% ahead – down from 22% – meaning a 3.5 % swing would lead to the unthinkable – the break up of Britain. So how did we get to this position when the “Yes” side’s arguments are full of holes?
There is one big reason for this. Welfare reform – and especially – the “bedroom tax”*- which is hated in Scotland. Alex Salmond has called it “the most ludicrous tax of all time”. Alex is being too kind. It is the most evil measure passed by a UK government for at least 25 years. To cut people’s benefits for having a house too big for them is a joke. The Government wants them to move into one bedroom houses – which don’t exist. There is an estate agents in the main street of my home town. Since this tax became law in April last year I’ve spotted three one bedroom houses for rent. No more need be said. It is so hated that the Scottish Government is paying the people who have suffered from this tax the benefit that has been taken away from them. However they can only do this until March next year. It is so hated that even Sir Tom Hunter – a rich entrepreneur who if he was English would probably be donating money to the Tory party – has called it “an abomination hitting the poorest hardest”.
So why is this tax a threat to the union? First of all Alex Salmond is being very clever. He is able to claim that if Scotland was independent the bedroom tax would never have happened as we would never have voted Tory in the first place. To show how hated the Tories are in Scotland former Scottish Tory leader (since deceased) David McLetchie said after the 2010 UK election that “we are destined never to get anywhere as long as people believe the Tories’ main policy is the slaughter of the first born”.We now know their main policy is to pass a tax that mainly affects disabled people and had them fearing eviction.The current Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has even said Scots can vote no because her own party will lose the 2015 election. While opinion pollster John Curtice thinks Prime Minister David Cameron should ” accept he should rely on others to fight the battle for him” Yes the UK PM is so unpopular that he is a liability to the campaign to save his own country.
Secondly opinion polls have shown that the “Yes” side is more popular in poor areas where they are terrified that a re-elected Tory Government in 2015 would mean more cuts to their income. I know people who are scared of a “No” vote for fear of what the Tories might do to them and are not prepared to take a chance that Labour win next year’s election. Yes UK people are actually scared of their own country staying together. The Tories should be ashamed of themselves.
So what should Cameron have done? He should have sacked Iain Duncan Smith – the man “credited” with thinking up the bedroom tax. Every time this man opens his mouth he costs the “No” campaign votes. He should have given the Scottish Parliament the power to block both the bedroom tax and the 2012 Welfare Reform Act – which they would have done. This would have neutralised an issue that has made the Tories even more unpopular in Scotland than they already were.
I still think “No” will win. However the bedroom tax even in the best case scenario will cut down the margin of victory. If the “No” victory is less than 60-40 we could end up like Quebec was after the 1980 referendum – with the issue unresolved and the nationalists wanting another referendum (in Quebec a second referendum happened in 1995. The “No” side won by just 50.5 to 49.5). The worse case scenario is that the nationalists could win. If that happens David Cameron should feel like Mr Burns did. He could have neutralised the bedroom tax. He didn’t. I hope this mistake does not result in Britain breaking up. But if it does he has no one to blame but himself.
*The Tories want it to be called the “spare room subsidy”. I want to be a billionaire .Neither will happen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s