Tag Archives: Daily Mail

Everything would be shite in an independent Scotland

FT story supermarkets 9.12.13

Adversarial politics is annoying, and people are bastards, but there is something particularly stupid about a debate that produces people gloating about how shite things would be in an independent Scotland. We might normally expect some critical analysis about stories coming from vested interests, but not if there is a line to maintain. Today’s example comes from the Daily Mail (which specialises in bile and breasts) and Financial Times (which, today, is held up as a provider of the truth carved in stone): supermarket prices will go up in an independent Scotland. Fuel and production costs will push up food costs (kept artificially low, and spread across the UK, by supermarkets just now) and Scottish Government public health policy will keep or push up the cost of tobacco and alcohol. So what might a more critical analysis of this news produce?

  1. In almost any other case, the story would be about multinational companies protecting their profits at the expense of the consumer. As with energy prices, this would normally feed into the debate about the cost of living. Yet, in this case, one side of the independence debate is forming a coalition of convenience with those companies.
  2. We should not necessarily see the food/ booze & fags argument as separate. The supermarkets have form here, signalling to the consumer that they don’t like restrictions on their trade because they would otherwise make decent profits on cigarettes and alcohol (Sainsbury has even produced a leaflet blaming the Scottish Government for a restriction in sales), and prepared to fight the Scottish Government to protect it. In this case, we should not be surprised that some of it spills over to the independence debate.
  3. Prices differ in different parts of the country anyway. It is felt particularly in rural stores which effectively keep price differences by offering only a selected range of (more expensive) products in smaller stores. Your shopping will likely be more expensive in the smaller store in Montrose than in the megasupermarket in Dundee.
  4. There is a big difference between some senior staff in supermarkets giving non-quoted scoops in the papers, or named people giving vague comments, and named chief executives actually speaking out in public with substance and subjecting these arguments to critical analysis.

Of course, this is grist to the mill for people who claim that the Yes campaign is ridiculously positive, with no room for anything going wrong. But it usually ends up with people appearing to gloat that everything would be that bit shiter in an independent Scotland.

Update 1: by the end of the day, this (oh dear) might be the story instead

compare with the more sensible:

https://twitter.com/KevinJPringle/status/410135761728847872

Update 2: other coverage is available (I’ve just clicked on any ‘related content’ on my wordpress thing)

Update 3: one of the big bones of contention for supermarkets has been resolved, which is presumably enough for them to stop intervening in the #indyref http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-25676222

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Filed under alcohol, alcohol policy, Public health, Scottish politics, tobacco policy

The Daily Mail has form

Today’s Daily Mail has this brilliant piece by Simon Heffer in which he argues that “Since the mid-Nineties I have been convinced  that England and Scotland would benefit from a divorce, or at least from a trial  separation. Many Scots don’t much like the English and appear ungrateful for  everything that England does for them in showering them with money”. There hasn’t been a storm as such – perhaps because if people spend their time calling each other arseholes they won’t pay much attention to someone calling them scroungers – although there is a reasonable-in-comparison reply on the blog of the Yes campaign.

Some people on twitter have pointed out that this piece appeared on the front page of the main London edition but not at all in the Scottish edition:

All I’d like to add is that the Daily Mail has form in this area. I like to show my students this example from 2007, entitled Scots to axe prescriptions – leaving England to pick up the bill which argues that free prescriptions represent “the last straw for English taxpayers forced to pay for a huge range of public  service handouts for Scottish citizens” and gives you a great cut-out-and-keep list of the Scottish advantages and English disadvantages, accompanied by their respective flags (it also gives you a timely link to the pilots for free school meal in Scotland). As it turns out, it was only the penultimate straw (perhaps because 89% of prescriptions in England are free and the Daily Mail has enjoyed a few recent wins – for example, there are drugs you can get in England, not Scotland).

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Filed under Scottish politics, UK politics and policy