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Wednesday, March 26, 2014 

Stratchclyde Partnership for Transport gives you wings.

It's fair to say that I am yet to be convinced by any of those arguing in favour of Scottish independence. Apart from how I find it extraordinarily difficult to separate narrow nationalism from short-sighted political chauvinism, being constantly reminded of Renton's outburst in Trainspotting, I simply don't follow the case made by the radical independence people.  Should Scotland vote yes it certainly won't mean that the SNP will be in government for perpetuity, but the idea this will open a gap for those further to the left just doesn't tally. The SNP is fundamentally an authoritarian party, albeit one closer to social democracy than Labour has been in two decades. It's made the exact same compromises though, as evidenced by Salmond's sucking up to Murdoch and pledges on corporation tax and air passenger duty.  Imagining that giving them their greatest ever victory will in turn result in a triumph for those opposed to neoliberalism is just wishful thinking.

This said, it's difficult not to be slightly overawed by the efforts of some on the Yes side, as epitomised by Wings Over Scotland. Having already crowdfunded two opinion polls, Stuart Campbell's last appeal for cash to keep up the site's campaigning brought in over £100,000, a sum which astonished everyone. With some of this extra money, Campbell booked an ad to run on the Glasgow subway, a simple yet bold design pointing out that not a single national or daily paper supports independence.

Almost entirely predictably, within hours of the ad appearing it was being pulled.  The reason? It's difficult to tell, as the advertising contractor Primesight and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport have now taken to blaming each other, but it seems as though the justification remains that the ad is "political". Except, as should be clear to anyone even passingly impartial, it's not. While you can quibble over the exact number of papers that are Scottish owned, with Campbell accepting he forgot about the Greenock Telegraph, no Scottish paper does support independence.  The Wings advert is no different from a newspaper declaring what its political affiliation in the same way; how anyone could claim that makes the advert itself political completely escapes me. If anything, it reminds of the Guardian's well known advert from the 80s, which also advocated taking a wider view.

Whether the decision itself was political, and it's difficult to shake the feeling it might well have been, the knock on effect has been just as predictable: news articles on the controversy mean that thousands more people than would ever have seen the ad on the tube are now aware of it and Wings Over Scotland (Wings has also had its money refunded).  It also shows the Tube operators in an extremely poor light, especially when the newspaper distributed on the network today carries an advert attacking, err, the Yes campaign and directs readers to a website. Even if the Yes campaign does fail, and while I suspect the end result will be far closer than most polls suggest you'd have to be a brave man to bet against an No, the Scottish media and their friends in power have been shown up as never before.

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