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The UK and Irish betting company Betfair just pulled off the publicity stunt of the year by paying out early on the “No” vote in Thursday’s Scottish referendum. The move even got credit from Bloomberg for boosting the pound a touch higher.
The English are without a shadow of doubt the world leaders in snobbery and the ballsy move from this bookie will restore a bit of the swagger than has been snuffed out so badly at every World Cup for a generation. The man on the street can now more-credibly claim to have never been worried — “Oh that little trifle in the North, I’d almost forgotten about that.”
The dent in the pound over the last two weeks betrays that kind of talk and shows the leaders and businesses were in near-panic mode. The money will stay on the side-lines until after the votes are in and then it will return For Queen and Country.
You can bet some eyes rolled at British Parliament when Betfair made the announcement. It will embolden some soft supporters of the Yes side who wanted to offer a symbolic vote for independence without a thought to the consequences. That might make the vote closer than it needs to be.
When the votes are in you can bet the London tabloids will have a heyday mocking Salmond and Scotland; it will be even worse on the football pitch. Like the move by Betfair, it will be good for short-term business but it’s another alienating barb for the Scottish. They would be wise to remember that this won’t be the last push for Scottish independence.
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