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The Foreign Office, the Russians and the Scottish Referendum

January 14, 2014

The Scottish independence referendum is getting a fair amount of attention in England but a lot more in Scotland – people outside Scotland often don’t realize that the Scottish media sphere is quite autonomous from the London centric version that we get in England.   On Sunday a Scottish paper The Herald carried a story headlined Cameron’s Plea to Putin: Help Me Stop Salmond – that is Alex Salmond leader of the Scottish National Party.  According to this story someone from Cameron’s office had approached Putin’s office for unexplained assistance.  The source for this report is Itar-Tass which the Herald report points out is usually seen as the Kremlin’s mouthpiece.   The authors of the story then simultaneously question the reliability and sources of the Itar-Tass story (which I haven’t been able to find) while shopping it around to supporters of independence from Alex Salmond down to denounce the underhand interference of the UK government in the referendum campaign.

Given the usual state of British-Russian relations you couldn’t rule out a bit of troublemaking from the Kremlin but from the context given in the Herald piece the story maybe more about trying to make Russia look good in advance of it being chair of the G-8*

In pursuit of unmasking the evil machinations of the British state the [Scottish] National Collective of Artists and Creatives (I couldn’t quite believe that there are still organizations with names like this) has done a freedom of information request to uncover what instructions the FCO has been sending to British embassies which it describes as ‘global lobbying against independence’  (The full set of briefing documents is here). The bulk of  most of which appear to set out the lines to take if anyone asks – but they do show that the FCO is concerned about the potential impact of Scottish independence on the way that they UK is seen.

*Though there does seem to be some questioning of what Russia is doing in the G-8 at all

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