OK, Mr. Salmond won the second debate (not the first), but this fragment of an editorial by The Guardian demolishes the arguments of his last attempt to change the forecasts:
"Mr Salmond’s tactic in recent days has been to present Scottish
independence as the bulwark against attempts to privatise the NHS.
Logically the argument is a nonsense, given that the only person who
could privatise the NHS in Scotland is Mr Salmond himself. Nevertheless
his attempt to wrap himself in the NHS flag is not, from an emotional
point of view, a stupid move for a politician who needs every vote he
can get. It embodies an argument at the core of the centre-left case for
independence – that the English-dominated UK is bound upon a wheel of deregulatory fire at
the behest of global corporate power. Against this Anglo-juggernaut,
many yes voters believe, Scots have only one option – an independence
that would enable them to protect, in one part of these islands, what
remains of the postwar Labour settlement.
If Mr Salmond can persuade enough voters that institutions and
principles like those of the NHS are at risk from the union – and would
be protected under independence – he may yet manage to ride a wave to
victory next month. Even now, with all the polls still pointing to a no
vote, and while acknowledging that public opinion tends to swing towards
the status quo in the final weeks of most referendum campaigns, this
cannot be ruled out. The welfarist desire to protect the people’s social
gains, incarnated above all in the NHS, is rightly emotive. But social
gains are also issues of material self-interest for millions of people.
Such issues rightly matter to the voters, as the general election of
2015 is certain to show.
Yet the inconvenient truth for the pro-independence Scottish
centre-left is this is as true south of the border as north of it. There
is a myth in the yes campaign which casts the Scots as unusually social
democratic, fair and inclusive in ways that the English and Welsh are
not, in a Britain that has otherwise bent the knee to corporate
interests. The trouble with this is that it is not true. On issues such
as the NHS, there is little significant difference between Scottish opinion and English or Welsh. Even more significantly,
an independent Scotland would have to face the problem of protecting
the NHS and other social gains in conditions very similar to those that
confront the UK.
The reality for modern nation states is that they all face a global
economic order in which corporate power is in the ascendant, threatening
the livelihoods of the poor and averagely well-off with no respect for
borders, and against which most elected politicians can only deploy
limited authority. This is what modern politics is fundamentally about.
The NHS is caught in the crosshairs of that conflict, needing ever
larger amounts of taxpayers’ money at a time when demands for public
austerity remain strong. That would be as true in an independent
Scotland as it is in the UK.
And not just in the UK. Today in France, President Hollande attempted to relaunch his presidency with a new government from which the Socialist party’s anti-austerity left would be excluded.
It is a reminder that a similarly tough battle between politicians and
corporate power is being fought out even in France, with its
traditionally strong central state. There may be other arguments for
Scottish independence, but the illusion that an independent Scotland
could somehow escape these unavoidable contemporary policy dilemmas
should not be one of them."