Feel the Fear

Frightened yet? You should be. They’re all piling in now – assertion upon allegation, horror upon hazard, claim upon calumny – from Brussels and London and even from the heart of our democracy at Holyrood where Danny Alexander opened his maths jotter and pointed to the page where the teacher had written Mortgages UP…

(This appeared to be a lick-the-pencil-tip exercise where you add suggestion to supposition – remember to carry the one – add it all up and add a nought…devised by a bank no-one’s heard of. Happily, it means we will all pay a nice round £5000 more for our mortgage, said Danny proudly, winking at the reporters – there’s your headline, boys. )

Danny-Alexander-005

The heat is being turned up, if you think Hermann von Rompuy qualifies as a heat source. Even an unrelated decision by a bank, which used to be Scottish, to base a division in London, is interpreted by the Telegraph propagandists as a snub to independence. Who’d want to base a bank in a small, independent, out-of-the-way country with funny habits…like Switzerland…or Monaco…or Hong Kong…Singapore…or Malta…or the Caymen and Bermuda…or…I give up. No, wait. I count 31 non-indigenous banks operating in Ireland – remember the basket-case economy that Jim Murphy laughed at in the Commons? GDP per head 2012: Ireland – Euros 35,700…UK- Euros 30,300 (source countryeconomy.com).  I make that one of Danny’s nice round 5000 numbers that makes a good headline. So here is one I made earlier.

IRISH €5000 A YEAR RICHER THAN BRITS AFTER SIX YEARS OF ECONOMIC FAILURE

It rather depends who and what you want to believe, does it not? Danny’s Treasury-written composition paper was based on how lenders would treat a country that failed to pay its debts. (Flaw alert incoming). Lenders – our altruistic, morally-minded “markets” are gentlemen to a fault, apart from the ones who are ladies and are regularly treated like Page Three slappers in City firms. Therefore they would view anyone with a bad credit history as a bad risk. But what if you didn’t default? What if you had no debts in the first place and someone else had publicly declared their intention to pay off those debts which they, not you, had incurred and to do so in all circumstances? If a lender sees a profit opportunity with low risk, sees a gleaming and industry-approved asset backing up the loan and a borrower with a low annual deficit, a net exporter, does he a) decide it isn’t fair that the borrower’s offer to help with someone else’s debt had been spurned and he should be punished for his audacity by being sent packing or b) give him the cash at a reasonable rate and watch how he performs?

If, on the other hand, another borrower appears with debt more than 100 per cent higher than income putting it 13th from the bottom of the world league table with the debt rising at £7000 a second, whose borrowing capacity is stretched to breaking point and buying in more products than it sells, shouldn’t it be liable for an interest risk surcharge, if it deserves any loan at all?

And, if you’re minded to believe the European Commission, (antidote pills are available), their estimate is that for the UK to come out of the EU, the cost would be £3000 each, proving that when it comes to scaring people, Westminster may have met its match.

But don’t think this kind of stuff doesn’t have an effect. In the Guardian today Martin  Kettle  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/19/alex-salmond-acting-spoilt-children turns what is a reasonable swipe at the SNP’s failure to quell doubts about currency into a rant ranging over the EU and pensions. His starting point has validity because, whatever the misgivings, a convincing alternative must find its way into the minds of the voters or a water-line leak will expand and lead to a flood. SNP protestations about synthetic politics from the Unionists are genuine and, as soon as an alternative emerges, will be revealed for what they are – a campaign gambit devoid of honesty. But there is no disguising the need for something definitive, otherwise the gambit wins. Kettle stretches the point beyond the reasonable, or even the logical, but the fact that he has given up on what little respect he had for the independence tactics, is a straw in the wind. He repeats the McTernan line about the SNP response. “It felt like a reputation destroying performance. For if anyone is guilty of bluff, bluster and bullying with which Salmond loudly charged his much better argued critics, it is Salmond himself. I’d be pretty confident that voters would see it that way too.”

Salmond can’t afford to let this caricature take hold because the trick of politics isn’t really what you say, it’s what people want to believe. If they’re minded to back independence, they will listen sympathetically to the case and if you tell them you have been obliged to seek an alternative because your opponent has acted unreasonably, they will understand. Don’t Knows who are weighing it up will appreciate the dilemma and perceive a pragmatic response – and will be much less sympathetic to a second round of attack from the opponents. In the course of the change, Salmond is seen as reasonable and accommodating in the face of intransigence and if he pulls off a clever trick with a neat solution, such as using the pound regardless, he wins again. But these decisions must be made within days, if not hours. The idea that there is no alternative takes hold quickly and an eventual reply looks grudging.

(This is where I diverge from Kettle whose lack of detailed understanding is betrayed by his unquestioning acceptance of the Barroso (latest) intervention. There simply are no independent observers who take this seriously and a journalist can’t complain when the SNP don’t either. Barrosos’s assertions are so far off the wall there is only one answer which is that he is taking us and the EU for fools. The same goes for Kettle’s belief that Gordon Brown has raised important questions on pensions. There IS clarity on pensions in the White Paper but there are remaining questions over the EU requirement on funding cross-border schemes but this is exactly where the civil service comes in – to engineer solutions, perhaps by negotiating a 10-year period over which full funding can be achieved. As this was raised initially by the Chartered Institute of Accountants, you’d think they would propose an answer – isn’t that what we pay them for? I’m afraid Kettle can’t get away with blaming the SNP for going for the man not the ball in the case of Brown. As I said yesterday he is responsible for destroying the pension value for millions of people, despite being warned of the consequences and if you don’t have a final salary scheme today, blame Gordon. Whatever the arguments over pensions, Brown has brass neck pretending to have a solution. Kettle may respect Brown, but he is in a minority).

Kettle uses a phrase that made me gape wide-eyed at the ipad. “I know a serious argument when I hear one, and Osborne and the others have been making serious arguments in the past few days. It is simply mischievous to pretend that they are not dealing with major issues which, if mishandled, could be seriously destructive to ordinary lives, communities and standards of living. Yet, faced with genuine intellectual and political challenges on big subjects, Salmond and his colleagues act like children who scream as loudly as possible in order to avoid listening to a message they do not want to hear.”

Destructive to ordinary lives? I was listening to the news on Radio Four at the time. Here are two stories run one after the other. One: “An increasing number of under-18s with mental health problems in England are being treated on adult psychiatric wards, it has emerged. And many children are having to travel hundreds of miles across the country to receive hospital treatment. Treating young people in such units should happen only in exceptional circumstances. The Department of Health had promised this would stop by 2010….‘Sometimes we have to make 50 to 100 phone calls around the country looking for a bed. They [young people] shouldn’t be shunted around into inappropriate facilities, however much the staff there try to help them,’ said Dr McClure.It may be the first time they’ve had a breakdown. They need to stay in touch with the people they know and love, and if they’re having to move 200 or 300 miles, it’s very difficult for the family to stay in touch.’ He said funding for mental health services had been cut, particularly for child and adolescent services in the community.”

A mother told of having her daughter dragged out of her arms and hearing her screaming out of a window: “Mummy, don’t leave me…”

Two: “Forty-three Christian leaders, including 27 Anglican bishops, have signed a letter urging David Cameron to ensure people get enough to eat. They argue that cutbacks and failures in the benefits system are forcing thousands of people to use food banks. The End Hunger Fast campaign called the situation “truly shocking”. It wants a national day of fasting on 4 April. But the government said it wanted to help people “stand on their own two feet” by cutting welfare dependency.

The letter comes after Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, warned last weekend that welfare reform was leaving people in “destitution” and labelled it a “disgrace”.

Those two routine items on the UK national news are what I call destructive to ordinary lives and if Martin Kettle imagines an independent Scottish society would permit those offences when money was available, he isn’t keeping up. It is exactly that kind of brutish, despicable, community-shredding blindness that we want to escape. People across Britain are recognizing that they don’t want to live in a society that has lost its heart and only counts money not blessings. What is the Guardian’s solution? Vote Labour? Back Ed Balls? Or is Kettle the one  putting his fingers in his ears and humming?

Our currency will be sorted out, and the debt, as will the EU, and we will keep our pensions. Britain and Scotland will never prosper by listening to Brown, Balls and Osborne. The truth is that, no matter how hard it is for southern commentators to take on board, Britain is finished. It may run on in London and the grab-it-all south east but even there insane house prices are killing communities, and everywhere else there is a powerful sense of abandonment and imprisonment in a Britain we don’t remember ever voting for. It may be at the other end of Britain but it is difficult not to feel real pain for the flooded people in the south west whose homes are ruined, who face uncertain futures and limits to insurance and whose flood defences were never rebuilt as they were promised. Three hundred of them were meant to be replaced but weren’t. This too is a symptom of a top-down, cynical political system to whom people are customers to be lured, hoodwinked and fleeced. This is from an item in Social Europe by Simon Wren-Lewis: “Cuts in flood prevention are a small part of austerity, but there are close parallels with the macroeconomic case… Just as some in government never believed in all this climate change stuff, others thought that this Keynesian idea that austerity might be a bad idea…was fanciful. (Some, like George Osborne, appear to have thought both.) When these mistakes became evident it was, with the floods, the Environment Agency’s fault, and also the last government, while with the recession it was all down to those Goddam Europeans, and of course the last government. Yet whereas the links between austerity and prolonged recessions may appear mysterious to many, the links between lack of flood prevention and flooding are all too obvious. And the real danger for the government is that perhaps others may begin to see these parallels.”

What is being called the SNP’s fit of pique is partly an expression of this deep frustration, that when you come up with promising solutions, perhaps a way out, a better way forward, the forces of authority and a complaint media work their hardest to destroy it. They are currently in full defence mode, backs pressed against the wall, realizing that they have gone for broke by legalizing the referendum and refusing a second question and are now in the hands of the Scots. As is their economic future. A decision to split would be a severe blow to hopes of closing the deficit, of shifting some of the mountainous debt, of keeping their borrowing costs low, avoiding an almighty nuclear weapons headache and diminishing them in the eyes of the world. And still the polls tighten. http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-news/8765-worries-for-no-campaign-as-currency-threat-halves-lead

The latest thistle in their pants is the game-changing warning that liabilities are equated with assets, a fine principle in law, and the reason they are now working overtime to suggest Scotland will suffer if it declines their invitation to load up the national credit card with their borrowings. I don’t see it. Salmond has offered to pay. They have in effect declined the offer. They are stuck with it, palms getting sweaty.

There is of course now no easy solution, they having painted themselves into an ever-reducing box. The offer should be to negotiate but they’ve thrown that one away. They can’t make soothing noises because they blew that one too. All that’s left is what they’re good at – threatening and warning…assuming you are intimidated by Danny. But a deal will be needed. London must acknowledge an agreed deal and Scotland’s negotiated departure before most of the world will accept us. So it may be that some share of debt is accepted even if they stick to the refusal to share sterling and we will begin our new relationship as we began it all those years ago, in resentful and grudging acceptance of our one-sided relationship with the grabby neighbor.

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55 thoughts on “Feel the Fear

  1. Smell the fear. Excellent retort to poor nonsense article by Kettle.

    • The following is a reply from Martin Kettle to my email below.

      I’m sorry you think that is what I think, because it absolutely isn’t. And I hated that G2 piece today.

      Best wishes

      Martin K

      On 20 February 2014 13:22, James McLean wrote:
      Dear Mr Kettle,
      You are absolutely correct about Salmond’s response to Osborne, Balls, Alexander and Barroso.
      He should just have agreed with them as they know best. He should also accept the sincere apologies listed in the G2 for including Lena Zavoroni and James Watt as co partners in the Industrial revolution? He is an ungrateful Jock.
      Thank you,
      Jiim McLean
      Muswell Hill
      (I took Dr Johnson’s advice a number of years ago)

  2. Derek, is that similar to the nice round £500M that the FM pulled out of his hat in response to the currency statemend by GO? You accuse GO of arrogance,yet our FM is telling English and Welsh and NI what is best for them – don’t you see the irony in that? It seems that anyone not supporting your view is immediately talking nonsense. Emotion and passion have replaced reason in this “debate” which is fast descending into a bitter, shrill squabble. I am surprised and saddened that you have fallen into this trap too with the emotive language. Waving Braveheart flags or shoutnig “Yes we can” is fine for the battle ramparts, but doesn’t tell me what happens to my economy, the value of my “currency” abroad, my pension, how we pay for NHS and welfare state, and so on. Less vitriol and more reason pls. I simply cannot believe for one minute that Independence will not bring problems or any “downside”. It does the Yes campaign no favours at all to continuously churn out the spin simply decrying the other side. I’m a grown up. Honestly, I can handle bad news. What i can’t tolerate is not being told there are any bad bits of opting for independence, but that everything will be wonderful. So that I am fully informed, pls tell me the bad bits of opting for Independence? No “whataboutary” pls and no more about how bad the No voters are. No deflection, no “how bad it will be if we stay”. Tell me the downside of independence please. Trust the voters so tell us the whole truth pls and not just the bits that suit your own view.

    • @Colin Your reference to Braveheart would indicate that you are a diehard unionist. You then mention things like the NHS and Welfare. The NHS in England has been privatised by the Tories. The Welfare state is being dismantled by IDS and his rich Tory chums. The Royal Mail has been privatised. The Scottish NHS in its present form will not be able to survive a No vote. This is because many unionist politicians over the years have said that the Barnett formula is going to be scrapped. Therefore, if we vote No the NHS in Scotland will also be privatised, tuition fees of £6000-£9,000 a year will be introduced. This is because our block grant is going to be severely reduced in the event of a No vote. Only the threat of independence has prevented these things from happening. Remember also that the devolved powers can be taken away from the Scottish Parliament at will. A No vote will see the wholesale privatisation of Scottish public services. You say you want the downsides of independence? Your bringing up of Braveheart suggests you are not interested in the idea of Scottish self government, whether it be the advantages or disadvantages of it. It strongly hints that your mind is already made up, and you are only posting to take the piss out of independence supporters. If you are as grown up as you claim can you kindly drop this childish Braveheart nonsense that is typical of diehard unionists?

    • Colin, you have said:

      “So that I am fully informed, pls tell me the bad bits of opting for Independence? No “whataboutary” pls and no more about how bad the No voters are. No deflection, no “how bad it will be if we stay”. Tell me the downside of independence please. Trust the voters so tell us the whole truth pls and not just the bits that suit your own view.”

      Can’t you make any effort like the rest of us do to find out about things for yourself – obviously you have access to a computer – there is plenty of information out there if you try.

      Ask yourself honestly, if you can, is your ignorance wilful because of your own blind prejudice? Do you simply want to be spoon-fed information like a child? Don’t you have a mind of your own? You really have to examine your motivation and make sure that blind prejudice and wilful ignorance is not what is driving you.

      You are surely getting all the “the downside of independence” you want from Better Together. Don’t you believe any of it, doesn’t it convince you? Can’t you see the saturation levels of negativity in the “No” campaign not only by the politicians but also by the media? Do you really want any more of that, and do you want it from the very people who are trying to find a positive way forward not only for Scotland but for the rest of the nations in these islands?

      Look at the mis-governed mess the UK is in where even the churches are driven to challenge the system for example. How could you possibly think that iScotland can not do better than that, or don’t you see the mess?

      There are none so blind as those who will not see.

      • Could not have put it better myself! Although, I do believe there are a lot of genuine folks out there who only have access to MSM for their information. Clearly it is an uphill battle to gain positive traction through these channels but YES needs to maintain the positive campaign and continue, although more “aggressively”, to fully react to all the major negatives. This is critical. Fully agree with Derek’s point about reinforcing on the currency issue soon.

    • Check out Economic Facts by Ivan Mackee .A short video using gers data from UK depts.
      Yours, roberto

  3. I don’t think Westminster can be this daft and I keep thinking as to why they are reacting this way. Are they being nasty because we are effectively going to relegate them to being a non nuclear state and threaten their seat on the UN security council. When you think of it, these are big things for the big nobs darn sarf. They could be baiting Salmond to refuse a share of the debt then they can retort no defence assets such as ships, planes etc. That would give them a wee defenceless indy Scotland scare. No there’s something more to this and Salmond needs to be careful regarding his plan B, if he wants one, and this debt thing. I smell a trap!

    • Bunter

      Why do you think that there is no Plan B enunciated?

      Because Plan B, whatever it is, pivots on Plan A, which is that we wanted to take out fair share but, they told us to “go away” (I paraphrase)

      Plan B is a card to be played in the real game of independence poker and one which could well be worth a great deal.

      that is why they tried to force Salmond’s hand?

  4. ‘Grabby’ is right. It reminds me of a conversation I had with a US-educated Russian academic a few years ago in Denmark. She was trying to come up with a term to describe her overall impression of the UK over the previous few years. ‘Scrappy’ was the work she found. She was thinking mostly about our leaders’ fondness for military adventuring but the word hits home in a number of ways. And it also fits, as you illustrate here, a fair proportion of UK journalism.

    Grabby and scrappy… Let’s (all) move on.

    Great article!

  5. I think I’ll trust Mr Salmond’s political instincts over a guy who didn’t think the BBC was biased, if that’s all right.

  6. Great article

    I agree that the Scottish Government should outline their method for dealing with the currency issue. I think they should say that they will go into negotiations with RUK on a formal currency issue but if that cannot be completed before independence day then they should state that upon independence Scotland will continue to use Sterling in an informal union (as per every other country that has gained independence from the UK). It would then be up to the newly elected government of Scotland to determine the long-term currency option, e.g., a Scots Pound pegged with Sterling.

    On the matter of the UK debt, if the rUK decides unilaterally that it does not want to negotiate the division of the assets then the Scottish Government should unilaterally determine the fair and reasonable debt that they think Scotland is required to pay. This I believe should entail looking at the revenue and expenditure of Scotland for the last thirty years. Business for Scotland has already undertaken analysis that shows that Scotland has paid £68bn in debt payments as part of the UK which it would not otherwise have had to do. A quick calculation, which favours the rUK, would give the following

    UK debt £1300bn
    UK debt owned by Bank of England £ 375bn
    UK debt to non UK institutions £ 925bn
    Scotland’s share of UK debt (8.4%) £ 78bn
    Previous overpayment of debt by £ -68bn
    Scotland
    —————————————————————-
    Scottish fair share of UK debt £ 10bn

    Now, if you factor in the other assets- foreign embassies, facilities, UK reserves (£45bn net), Trident, the odd aircraft carrier etc) you quickly get to the situation that the UK actually owes Scotland money!

  7. ‘a complaint media” third last paragraph.

    A freudian slip?

  8. Reblogged this on scotsvote2014 and commented:
    I would have to agree on the need to get something else in place to explain the policy in the event the UK does indeed scupper a currency union. Should be a pragmatic and viable solution that people can start to digest, it is not enough to simply say we will get it our way.

  9. If Westminster still wants to keep some sort of control over the situation,it probably only has a couple of options.
    1. Tear up the Edinburgh Agreement and refuse to recognise the outcome of the referendum if it is Yes.
    2. Pass a bill in Westminster,giving Holrood the right to exist in perpetuity and full fiscal autonomy within the UK structure.
    In the first case,they would lose all credibility around the world for any future agreements signed and would create a huge amount of ill will in Scotland.
    In the second case,I doubt they could get anything like that through parliament,too many vested interests and Little Englanders.
    They could,of course,just wait for the outcome and hope to negotiate a share of oil/gas revenues etc and other guarantees around currency and so on.
    They are the ones with the problems and we will have the options.

  10. Another excellent post. I too found Martin Kettle’s rant a bit strange, and have posted about it here, http://abrutherford.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/why-does-martin-kettle-act-like-a-spoilt-child/. Says more about Kettle’s limited vision and knowledge of Scotland than anything useful about Salmond.

  11. I thought Alexander originally said that independence would cost Scots a £1? Now that the hysterics of the referendum has reached England the ugly side of this rotten union is being laid bare. You can see how right-wing those who call themselves ‘left’ in England have become. They wheel out anybody now, even David Bowie on the front pages. There is real desperation and a real lashing out going on, so something must be happening that they don’t like 🙂

    But of course the plan could be that after a NO vote there will be so much hostility towards Scotland that certain motions will be put to Westminster guaranteeing a vote will go a certain way, rolling back devolution, cutting the Barnett Formula, by-passing Holyrood in favour of local authorities, in fact gutting out Scotland to a feeble husk, all decided upon by a Westminster ‘democratic’ vote with Scottish MPs being complicit. They will destroy Scotland in the process of trying to destroy the SNP.

    It can only be a YES vote.

    • I think it will be a Yes, not just because the Survation poll shows a distinct narrowing but because the TNS survey before Osborne’s intervention showed a distinct difference in determination to vote: 84% of Yes supporters in their survey said they were determined to vote vs only 75% of No supporters. This equates to a 5% uptick in Yes support on referendum day, all other things being equal and honest. Only 67% of DK’s were determined to vote. Suggesting more apathy in that group, unsurprisingly.

      With all the boots on the ground Yes have there is absolutely no reason as the polls stand that we can’t win on the day. The only question in my mind is by how much. Don’t worry though I am not in any way complacent.

  12. It suits the No campaign very well that no one seems capable of pointing out that the Yes campaign is NOT all about the SNP. I’m a member of the SNP, but know that the SNP don’t have all the answers – a YES vote should open up a Scotland of possibilities, and not necessarily mean SNP government into the forseeable future according to the White Paper. Also, unfortunately, AS and NS are divisive figures and easy targets for the No brigade.

    • “AS and NS are divisive figures”

      I disagree with this. I think both are very competent politicians and that is exactly why the No crowd are desperate to smear and belittle them. AS and NS are the two politicians they fear because they are strategists and excellent performers who can get through to people. To destroy Yes, the No crowd know they must destroy AS and NS. One of the reasons people say they hate Salmond but are unable to provide a reason why.

      I remember my father telling me that the best orator by far that he heard in the House of Commons was George Brown. The establishment unfortunately didn’t have to try over-hard to destroy him as he did it himself. But the same applies. Destroy the leaders that people listen to and find persuasive, and remember both AS and NS have high approval ratings compared to all other politicians, and you are well on your way to destroying the movement. One of the reasons Yes people must remain supportive of them and the other Yes main figures. The wrangling about who we vote for comes later. If we can’t be supportive of tYes leaders now, we might as well give up.

      • I know AS and NS are as you say they are, but many undecideds are wary of them. FACT.

      • My point is they have been made wary of them by the Unionists, and rather than go along with that we should be pointing out their standing as politicians compared to…well compared to any of the others. It is they who have protected our NHS and mitigated much of the stuff, including the bedroom tax, emitting from Westminster. These don’t like Salmond people who have been feed nonsense about them, have in fact much to thank them for. And that’s a fact we should be pushing.

      • Agreed Jings – remember what happened to Mo Mowlam when she started to outshine Tony Bliar in the popularity stakes?

    • @Gordon Hastie

      I do not agree that Nicola Sturgeon is divisive. In her younger days as a politician she was more fiery, but I would put that down to lack of experience as a politician. I cannot remember Sturgeon being aggressive or abusive towards an opponent for a long time. Sure she took Carmichael apart in the STV debate recently, but we were told by the media that Carmichael was a bruiser!

      In terms of Salmond being divisive, it is more complicated. He is effectively the leading figure in the Yes campaign, and was always going to get more abuse from the No campaign/MSM. The dictator stuff is out of order though. I believe that the idea of Salmond as being a confrontational figure is exaggerated somewhat. He can be aggressive, but he also takes a lot of abuse as well (just watch FMQs every week). I believe that if Salmond was in SLAB, then the MSM would have built him up big style, instead of abusing him. Instead Salmond is a massive threat to the British state and establishment, so they hate him.

    • That is why Yes should be putting up wider Yes figures like Dennis Canavan to show the haters that it is not just about AS and NS. I know Canavan was on the box recently but he needs to be there more often now. He is old Labour too and still has much respect in that community. We need to force these people on the media.

  13. Daily Mail poll shows that George Osborne’s gambit has failed. No’s lead down to 9% from 20%.

    I think such poll figures will blow a cold wind through editors’ offices. The ‘I hate Alex Salmond rants’ so peculiar to the London media and the daily trailing of ‘bad news for separatists’ line has seen its day because it is having an opposite effect on Scots.

    The negativity doesn’t work.

    The viceral anti-independence rhetoric doesn’t work.

    The ad-hom attacks on Alex Salmond in the media doesn’t work.

    The daily scaremongering so evident in the media doesn’t work.

    The love bombing doesn’t work.

    The threats certainly don’t work.

    Power politics has been been a bruising experience for Scots over the past week, but the ugly side of British unionism has been revealed and any fear there may have been has simply turned into anger. The route to the YES side is a one-way trip for most, many who have changed their minds over the last few days and weeks will not re-consider and return to NO side.

  14. This assets and liabilities thingy is perceived up here as a divorce with one party having the clever lawyer who says his/her party gets to keep the house and by the way you will still have to pay the ongoing mortgage. However after the filtering by the hacks and TV your average Southern Briton only sees the Bank of England as english ( oh how I wish in 1946 after nationalisation it had been named Bank of the UK or such like ), and a facilitator rather than an asset. Carney did say in December it had £370bn or so in gilts alone, but this type of statement seems below the MSM radar.

    If you keep this quality of article up Derek you have my vote for a heid yin in the SBC.

  15. Wanderer of the Wastes

    Excellent article. It was a little surprising the number of journalists who seemed to accept the government’s bond scaremongering (or at least its plausibility). I am curious to see how many stories of the same type they get to pump into the headlines before they start facing the criticism they deserve on this.

  16. It almost feels as if the campaign is running too fast. From months of endless debunking and constant arguing over minutae, until a couple of weeks ago and now it’s difficult to keep up with the positives!

    I know it’s probably me being overly cautious, but it’s a little scary…in a nice way of course!

  17. I go along with the view that the Scottish Government hold its line of being committed to fair and equitable negotiations. They have adopted their Sterling currency position in the belief that they will ultimately be negotiating with another party who are also grounded in reason.

    However, you cannot negotiate if one party is out to achieve the unconditional surrender of the other, or to seek to seriously damage the other party’s economy while unnecessarily harming their own.

    The tipping point will be when voters widely perceive that one party is simply not committed to reasonable negotiations. I would take the signing of the Edinburgh agreement as a kind of ‘year zero’ for reasonableness in the independence debate. Two democratic parties working towards transparency and mutual respect in a democratic outcome – a score draw in reasonableness if you like.

    What factors will impact which side will increasingly be seen as being unreasonable?

    When MPs like Jim Hood state on the record that they would vote ‘No’ even if it were obvious Scotland would be economically better off independent?
    When George Osborne continues to ignore or not discuss in detail the currency transaction costs incurred by business? Repeated vague Westminster talk of the costs of bailing out the Scottish economy (whatever that means) as if it’s a mathematical certainty?
    When New Labour MSPs appear on national TV and state they would not change anything with regard the current devolution model, i.e. they accept Tory imposed bedroom taxes, poll taxes, or any other attack on the vulnerable?

    The Scottish Government need to keep calm. Time and the direction of polls are on their side. I suspect the time to disclose Plan A(i) will present itself.

  18. I think that the game that is being played is pretty straightforward.

    The White Paper offers a currency union as the preferred alternative, much like the earlier devo-max on the ballot paper offer. The Unionists reject them both. It is almost Pavlovian, ring a bell and get a No!

    In both cases the Unionists are cutting the grounds for a ‘no’ vote from under their own feet.

    And they, apparently, can’t stop themselves.

    Ring a bell and they give an answer that most of Scotland goes ‘hmmmm….’ to.

    The more they reject reasonable offers, the more the polls, if today is anything to go by, reject them.

    Long may it continue!

    • Think you are right Douglas.
      I also sometimes think of their reaction being similar to a boxer who has been 11 rounds getting punched silly and comes out for the final round staggering and flailing around.
      Can they go the distance ?

  19. Danny (cost Scotland £5Billion+ in increased Oil tax and Barnett cut – unaffordable) Alexander, thank for the broadband. People in Scotland can afford their mortgages, they can’t afford Danny. ‘Mortgages will be £5000 higher according to Jeffrey’s Bank’. Who’s Jeffrey? Danny’s invisible friend.

    ‘ Scots are spoilt children’. It’s quite adult to take responsibility for your own country. Who do these London Luvies think they are? Spoilt millionaires.

    The Telegraph readers are supposed to be AB1 readers? Most are the ignorant, arrogant, thick as mince. They have absolutely no idea of the financial sector or the history. Thatcher deregulated the banking sector and demutualised the Building Societies owned by their members, reduce leverage from 25% to 13% and caused the Banking crash. The Tory bankers have had £80Billion in bonuses, enough to pay off the deficit.

  20. UK debt is £1.2trn. The deficit is £100Billion +. Total taxes raised in Scotland £60Billion (Scot gov official wed site Search GERs P36) total spending £60Billion. Pensions/Benefits £17Billion.. Block Grant £28Billion. Scotland could save not spending on Trident/redundant weaponry. Defence/Admin jobs being based in Scotland, adding to the economy, instead of London and elsewhere. An increase tax on ‘loss leading drink could save £1.5Billion.

    Total taxes raised in the UK £600Billion. Total UK gov spending £700Billion. The rest of the UK borrows and spends £100Billion more. (Pro rata £10Billion). The rest of the UK raises £540Billion in tax revenues and spends £640Billion. The interest on the deficit is £40Billion. They have to borrow £40Billion (included in the £100Billion) to service the debt. They have not paid off the Deficit (since 2008) and are reported to be borrowing more. Tory bankers bonuses £80Billion could have paid off the Deficit. They have cut taxes, especially for the wealthy. Sold off Royal Mail £30Billion, taken over the Pension Fund (with £10Billion liability). ConDems elected to protect NHS/Education cut funding. Get out.

    • What worries me slightly (not enough to prevent me voting Yes mind) is that a currency union or pegging a Scottish pound to Sterling yokes us to this sick, debt addicted, warmongering, Empire dreaming entity in dire danger of going south. I just trust it won’t do so quickly and we can transition to a Scottish pound in ERMII before it all implodes in rUK.

  21. Thatcher was taking the equivalent of £Billions out of Scotland, and secretly cutting the Scottish budget to the core. Lang was her henchman. The Gov Papers were released recently. Thatcher cancelled a pipeline wasting the equivalent of £Billion of Gas. One of her Ministers resigned because of it. The McCrone Report kept secret for thirty years.

  22. I was driving my wife to the hospital this morning, and listening to the Radio Scotland phone-in (grrrr). The theme was, who influences you in the referendum debate? This because a New York-residing Engishman had his proxy say something about Scotland at an awards show.

    By the way, happy for anyone to have an opinion, freedom of speech is precious.

    Anyway, the phone-in show had as a guest The Sun sportswriter Bill Leckie.

    Bill duly advised us that though he has no political loyalty one way or the other, disliked them all, has no beliefs in this, no beliefs in that, is completely and utterly and perfectly neutral, he would be voting No.

    His reason for voting no, he said, is that the negativity from the Yes campaign was just too much.

    Let’s just say I spluttered, thoroughly, at this little piece of pantomime.

    That’s not the genuinely funny part though. The host then said to Leckie, do you realise that as a writer in a newspaper (!) making such an opinion known can influence people?

    And I thought, crikey, if you are influenced by Bill Leckie you shouldn’t be allowed to vote in the first place.

    • Yes, his argument didn’t make a lot of sense. He was fed up and would therefore be voting no. Or so he said, or seemed to be saying. I’m really not sure why he was there. He seemed unfairly boring at that time of the day. At least the amazingly obtuse Aberdeen woman who came on was, well, amazingly obtuse. Perhaps she should be writing for the Sun. Perhaps she does. But otherwise I enjoyed the programme, and thought Louise White (if it was her?) was plucky. I kept thinking she was going to say something silly and Naughtie-like. But she didn’t. Thank goodness. It made me wonder what it would be like to have a Scottish media.

  23. There are certainly people out there working hard to stir up frightful stories about the myriad disasters and bear-traps which wait for the benighted Scots as they stumble into the dawn of independence, but exactly how scared are the voters? Someone is trying to find out;
    http://thescottishscaremonger.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/scaremonger-opinion-poll.html

  24. It’s not ideal being in a currency union but having control over taxation and spending makes such a large difference that it almost becomes irrelevant. No illegal wars etc. Westminster would also have to control it’s spending and borrowing. It might actually make Westminster more fiscal prudent. It would definitely show up different patterns of borrowing and spending. Instead of the secrecy that has existed up to now. It could only be for a limited time or transitional. Either create a new currency or join the Euro, when the conditions are met. There could be a vote in what course to take.

    The whole of the EU is in a currency union and for the majority of the members it works well. The £ has devalued against the Euro. The Euro has kept it’s value. The ECB has not been printing money. The US/UK has been printing money devaluing their currency.

    What wasn’t reported in the Press was John Swinney reply, ‘ that smaller countries similar to Scotland have lower borrowing rates than the UK’. There must be a site that compare borrowing rates. Denmark? 1.9% UK 2.8%. After Beaker gave the misleading ‘Headlines’. All the Press cleared off. Job done. They did not wait to see what John Sweeney and Nicola had to say. John Sweeney has a swipe at Sir Nicholas McPherson.

  25. One ‘No’ voter gave not being able to access the Internet as a reason for voting No. Better rip up those cables, especially the ones just being installed all over rural Scotland. Tell the Internet companies their services are no longer required.

    Telephone and TV were invented in Scotland, without them there would be no internet.

    • I’m all for Scottish exceptionalism, but better to say invented (though as the lead among many competitors and contributors) by Scots. The Bell invented his telephone in America and Baird his television in England.

  26. Professor John Curtice states on the BBC website regarding the Survations poll (Feb19) on Scottish Independence that ( para:9) ” However, there is an important difference between the way in which this poll was conducted and analysed and the way in which Survation’s previous poll was undertaken” – He does not explain what that difference is – or what it might be.
    Without explanation his next paragraph goes on to state “That difference probably accounts for most if not necessarily all the apparent swing in favour of independence”

    His bias is ongoing yet he is the BBC’s main and trusted commentator/analyst on these maters.

    As a so called ‘expert’, this man wants to take a close look at himself. He makes spurious assumptions and does dot back them up with fact, reason or insight. A Professor? I find his ‘analysis’ and commentary insulting. Do professors profess to enlighten with truth or do they just cash the cheque?

    Any first year student on writing a similar critique would rightfully be ‘corrected’. In Curtice’s case…

  27. If you have thoughts about anything other than a currency union;

    Keep your friends close
    and your enemies even closer.

  28. Scotland should adopt the Euro as plan B.

    Alex Salmond has expressed a desire to join the Eurozone so why not?
    It is considered all eurozone countries will one day use the single currency, so that would include Scotland.
    It is my opinion that in the future adopting the single currency will become an entry requirement to the Eurozone if not the E.U itself.

    One of the proposed changes to Europe would see most of the countries of Europe politically and financially integrated within the Eurozone and only countries not using the single currency like Britain would not be part of this integrated “inner tier”.

    If this integration of the Eurozone is being considered for the future it would make sense that a single monetary policy over a single currency and exchange rate would apply to all countries of the Eurozone, and all countries will adopt the single currency as part of that policy.

    If it is inevitable that all Eurozone countries will adopt the single currency would it not make more sense for Scotland to adopt the Euro now rather than later?

    It would at least provide option B for the SNP since it appears to have no other, and i’m sure at least the promise of having a workable currency arrangement after independence, and would go along way to reassuring undecided voters that currency may be an issue for.

    It would also have an added bonus in regard to European membership should Scotland not be granted automatic entry to Europe.
    Adopting the single currency would mean that Scotland through the single currency and its monetary policy would already be partly integrated into European regardless of membership status.
    This may aid if not speed up the entry process and would act as a safety net in the event of non automatic membership.

    Scotland would undoubtably enjoy some of the Euro member privileges and the financial security of the measures designed to protect the single currency and would not be going it alone should it not qualify for automatic membership.

    It is widely understood that a currency union between Scotland and Britain would require some degree of political and fiscal integration in regard to the pound that would defeat the purpose of independence.
    If Scotland is to politically and financially integrate in a currency union it would make more sense to do so with the Eurozone it will one day become a part of, rather than the Britain it is gaining independence from.

    It is also considered that such a currency union without a political and a financial union would be risky to both Scotland and Britain and is the reason the Chancellor ruled out such a union.
    This position is supported by the proposed political and financial integration of the Eurozone to that is designed to prevent further risks to the single currency, proving that Europe also believes currency union without political and financial union is a risk they are not willing to take.
    A currency union with the “too big to fail Euro” would in fact be a greater guarantee of financial stability for Scotland than a potentially risky union with the U.K.

    Adopting the Euro is a far sounder strategy than trying to use the pound on Scotland’s own terms as it will like all single currency countries be allowed to print Euro’s and one day have an input into its regulation something it will not have with the pound outside a currency union.

    Even if Scotland were to enter a currency union with the rest of the U.K what after 2015?
    Ed Miliband may well be Prime Minister and has not ruled out Britain using the single currency, where would that leave Scotland in a currency union with Britain?
    The single user of the pound, and with Scotland virtually the only country in Europe and the Eurozone not using the single currency.
    How long would this continue for before Scotland adopted the single currency also, or would Scotland continue indefinitely to be the pariah of Europe in not using the single currency?

    The voting intentions of the British could well make a huge difference to the proposed plans for the SNPs currency union, and it would be a viable question to ask the First Minister what Scotland would do in the case of a Labour government adopting the single currency? something that Ed Miliband has not ruled out.

    In fact since Scotland has according to the nationalists, enough oil to make it one of the richest countries in the World, and the only currency that oil can be traded in is the U.S dollar it would make more sense to use the dollar, as Scotland’s main income will be in U.S dollars that will have to be exchanged for British pounds later.
    All exchange for oil rather than by electronic transfer would be payed in new U.S issued dollars to solve the problem of Scotland printing dollars something the federal reserve would never allow.
    This is Plan C

    It is true that Scotland can use the pound after independence, just like Ecuador uses the U.S dollar, but the rules on using a foreign issued currency will be the same for the pound as they will the dollar.
    In this regard joining the single currency may be the same thing but is a preferable option to being bound by the rules of foreign issued currency.

    I’ve got a plan B and C, if the people you are asking to vote for them are coming up with solutions should the SNP not make some effort to do the same?

  29. The currency you use has to be maintained for a period because it is only after Independence, that Scotland can decide by vote which way to go. The SNP are right to say we will be using the £, because for a period that is the only currency that can be used. The SNP are not deciding for the electorate what will happens. The electorate will decide by vote. They are acknowledging the electorate will decide. Alex and Co have acknowledged that fact.

  30. The overall form that the public debate has taken is a function of the path that the SNP-led Yes campaign has chosen to take.

    On the (quite reasonable) assumption that the key to the result is the pragmatic, relatively conservative middle ground, the decision was taken to reassure, to stress continuity and to minimise the perception of risk. This has the advantage of reaching beyond the solid, unconditional Yes voters. It has the disadvantage of being based, essentially, on a false premise, ie on the ability to deliver on a series of constitutional and administrative settlements which are simply not in the unilateral gift of the SG or of anyone else negotiating on behalf of Scotland.

    There was never the remotest possibility that this sleight of hand would go unchallenged.

    Had the campaign been framed differently – eg “Obviously there are real risks to Independence, particularly in the short term, and the negotiation processes are going to be laborious and protracted, but we’ll get through all that, and it’s worth it because…..” – then we’d be seeing a different and probably more interesting public dialogue. As it is though, if you choose to slap a 650 page document on the table and say “the answers are all in here”, it’s a bit rich to complain when people take you at your word, forensically examine it and start pointing out that quite a lot of important answers are in fact partial, misleading or missing entirely.

  31. This the end play in a game of poker.
    Keep your eyes on your cards and the face of the other players; not a miss-type re one face .

    Forget the Press and BBC etc, read what is said by the principals, think why they said that, look at your defences and wonder they mean by what they said. Not what they actually said but what is the underlying meaning and what is it that they want or need.

    Give them the Golden Bridge, but only after we have extracted what we need.

    They are finished.

  32. Telephone and Television were invented by Scots!

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