Oh dear! That headline is bound to rouse the tedious conspiracy theorists convinced that the 2014 independence referendum was ‘rigged’. Only the other day I was subjected to a wee rant from one who insist that he can prove the referendum was ‘rigged’, but declines to do so. Things threatened to get quite heated when I pointed out that, in terms of the end result, there was effectively no difference between being unable to prove something and refusing to do so. There is no meaningful distinction between having no evidence and having evidence which you cannot or will not share.
Not that absence of evidence is any impediment to a conspiracy theorists conviction. This is simply absorbed into the theory. The fact that there is no concrete evidence of anything becomes proof of the power of those concealing the conspiracy. The ‘logic’ seems to be that, if there were no conspiracy, there would surely be at least some evidence of one.
The count-rigging conspiracy theorists have an additional problem in that, not only are they unable (or unwilling) to show how the rigging was done, they can’t even explain how it might have been done. They can’t even demonstrate that it was possible to methodically interfere with the count in such a way as to significantly affect the outcome in a predictable way. Were they able to satisfy even this basic prerequisite of credibility perhaps the term ‘conspiracy theorist’ wouldn’t be quite such a pejorative epithet.
The vacuousness of this particular conspiracy theory is easily exposed. Simply ask a few obvious, if awkward, questions of those propounding the theory. How many people would need to be actively and knowingly involved in the plot for it to succeed? How would these people be recruited? How would confidentiality be ensured? How would they circumvent all the checks and safeguards in place to prevent errors or tampering?
The most irksome thing about all this tinfoil-hattery is, not the profoundly ill-informed inanity of the claims about the referendum having been rigged; nor even that the claims can never be substantiated; nor yet that there is absolutely no possibility of the result being formally overturned, but the fact that it is all such a totally pointless distraction. In practical terms, it just doesn’t matter.
Granted, proving that people associated with the British Nationalist cause rigged the count would disgrace the collaborators. But the No campaign is already disgraced. It is difficult to see how the architects of Project Fear could be further shamed. All the blatant lies and empty promises and contrived scaremongering of the British establishment have been exposed. That they are quite unabashed at all of this strongly suggests that they are impervious to embarrassment. Further revelations of wrongdoing and misconduct would simply be shrugged off like all the rest. Proving conclusively that they rigged the count would have no effect on them.
For all practical purposes, whether or not the referendum count was rigged is irrelevant. Because the outcome cannot stand anyway. It cannot stand for reasons which are already proved. No further reasons are required. While the Scottish Government had to accept the result under the terms of the Edinburgh Agreement, the matter of Scotland’s constitutional status could not possibly be regarded as settled because the No vote was won on a totally false prospectus.
There was always going to be another referendum. There will be another referendum. All indications are that there will be a new referendum in September 2018. That is what we should be focused on.
Obsessives will latch onto even the most tenuous and insubstantial ‘link’ between the scandal du jour and their favourite conspiracy theory. Let them. Ignore them. The fight Scotland’s Yes movement faces in the coming weeks and months will demand all the resources we can muster. We can’t afford to squander our energies fighting battles of the past.
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