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The Power of Negative Thinking (Scottish edition)

There's a lot of keech, as they say in Scotland, bring spouted on both sides of the indyref debate. No, Scotland will not slide into catastrophe as an independent nation, and nor will it be a megarich socialist utopia with unicorns giving out free prescriptions. It probably will thrive and become wealthier in the long run, but the birth pains of getting there could well be pretty painful and I am certain that there will be some who will regret, in the short term at least, voting Yes. Conversely, it will probably see a rebirth of the sensible centre-right in Scotland, and some right-leaning No voters will quickly embrace and love the possibilities offered by independence.

Weirdly, though, it appears that about half of No voters want an independent Scotland to fail. I have been looking at the data tables for Sunday's Sunday Telegraph ICM poll that showed 'Yes' 8 points ahead. Martin Boone of ICM gave an interview last week to the BBC in which he expressed concern that the pollsters could get the result completely wrong, as they did in 1992. That tells me that even he isn't entirely comfortable with the results of ICM's own poll. It should be noted that the sample size was also smaller than usual (700), and it was online rather than by telephone (ICM's own telephone poll a few days earlier gave No a 2-point lead).

Anyway, I digress.  A big part of the No campaign has been that they believe Scotland having its own currency and central bank would be a disaster for the country in the short term (and they are probably right), to the extent that it's not currently even on the agenda: the plan is for a currency union with the rump UK (rUK). The No argument contends further that even a currency union with rUK would be bad for Scotland, even were rUK to agree to one.

Fairly logical so far. Where it starts to get weird though is that according to the ICM poll, half of No voters believe Scotland shouldn't be allowed (by rUK) to have a currency union ().  Now, I accept that it is possible that a section of No, having given thought to the economic and monetary policy implications of a currency union believe that, actually, a new Scots pund would be preferable. But so many? I find it unlikely.

That leads to the conclusion that a very significant minority of No voters, believing that an independent Scotland keeping the £ sterling would be the lesser of two evils, also believe that Scotland should not be able to keep it in any case. Or to put it another way, having convinced themselves that Scotland won't be allowed to keep the £, or alternatively believing that Scottish independence and a currency union will damage the economy, they want to see Scotland not being able to keep the pound to vindicate their opinion and how they voted.*

I believe that psychologists call this cognitive dissonance. You and I are more likely to call it cutting off your nose to spite your face.

*(There is also the possibility that they believe that it would be unfair on rUK to allow this to happen; I can't see that equating with No's claims to also be 'Team Scotland').