After church services in Balmoral, the Queen broke her silence on Scottish independence when she publicly told her fellow parishioners to think “very carefully about the referendum.” As the Telegraph reports:
With only four days to go to the polls and the contest on a knife edge, the monarch made a hugely significant intervention by stating she hoped Scots would consider closely what their “important” votes would mean.
Buckingham Palace insiders insisted her remarks were politically neutral but on Sunday night they were being viewed as the clearest sign yet she hopes for a No vote on Thursday. Henry Bellingham, a Tory MP, said Royal observers would be “in no doubt about her views.”
The Queen’s comments were made after she broke her usual protocol and spoke with well-wishers outside the church she attends near Balmoral Castle.
One of the prayers struck listeners as suggestive:
In an extremely rare move, police invited press to observe the exchanges after she and other members of the Royal Family left a service that had included a prayer asking God “to save us from false choices”.
Walter Russell Mead predicted in his recent piece on Scottish independence that the Queen wouldn’t speak out on the referendum, and she didn’t, exactly. Nobody from either side can say she “interfered”—there is nothing objectionable in her comments. She spoke in circumstances that were as non-threatening as possible, as grandmotherly lady in the churchyard speaking with her friends.But it is an effective, pro-Union message, as in the context of all the doubt and uncertainty hanging over the prospects of an independent Scotland, there is a presumption that the more carefully voters think, the more they will be inclined to vote “No.” Better yet, the “Yes” supporters can’t complain about what she said. If they complain that urging voters to “think carefully” is a pro-Union intervention, they are conceding the point that independence is a risky prospect that looks less attractive on careful thought.And further arguments that independence would be very risky indeed are emerging all the time. According to Business Insider, Deutsche Bank’s chief economist says that “A ‘Yes’ vote for Scottish independence on Thursday would go down in history as a political and economic mistake as large [as those that] brought on the Great Depression in the US.”While that’s what could happen after the vote, what’s happening before it is alarming enough. During the past month, investors have sold off about $27 billion in UK stocks, bonds, and other assets in the past month. The Times of London says it is “the biggest sell-off of British investments since the collapse of the Wall Street bank Lehman Brothers in 2008.”
Meanwhile, oil giants Shell and BP have thrown their weight behind the “No” vote. BP says it stands by another gloomy prediction, this time about Scotland’s oil reserves:
BP’s chief executive Bob Dudley also said that he supported Sir Ian Wood’s predictions that North Sea oil reserves had been overestimated by the Scottish Government by up to 60 per cent.Sir Ian, one of the oil industry’s most respected figures, has taken issue with Scottish Government predictions, which claim that 24 billion barrels remain in the North Sea. Sir Ian believes the true figure to be around 16 billion barrels.
If this is true, independent Scotland’s financial position would be even worse than currently projected.A new poll shows a nearly even split, with “No” slightly ahead. There are good reasons to heed Her Majesty’s words. Will Scotland?