Friday, February 28, 2014

Salmond vs Independence

Alex Massie was surely right to say that George Osborne's ruling out of a currency union with the rUK would polarise the debate?  Hardcore Nats would become even more inclined to accuse their opponents of treachery than they already are whereas the unionists would be increasingly convinced that Salmond and the SNP are a bunch of dangerous lunatics.  This has certainly been my experience.  On seeing Salmond's address to 'business leaders' in Scotland where he went all Obama, I genuinely wondered if he wasn't losing the plot.    "Yes we can!", he said.  Yes we can what?  As an independent country of around 5 million people impose on 55 million people a currency union, even if they don't believe it to be in their interests? "Man's lost his damn mind", I thought - yet the response, depending on whose interpretation of opinion polls you believe, is a slight boost to the Yessers.

Whenever anyone points out the obvious problems with King Eck and his back of a fag-packet plans, nationalists frequently say that the Yes Scotland campaign is not about Alex Salmond.  This is technically true in that not all nationalists are SNP.  But the question remains: why then are so many of them prepared to defend his strange contortions over the issue of currency?  We should be clear that a currency union would not mean full independence.  The SNP's ideas lacked credibility anyway, as if you can pull a few fiscal and monetary levers and - hey presto! - you have a Scandinavian social democracy.  Salmondites have too much faith in government for my liking but the point is that under 'plan A' Scotland wouldn't even have control of these 'levers'.

This story in the Scotsman today is, I suppose, a logical extension of Salmond's weird notion that the government of the putative rUK would in some way obliged to agree with the opinions of his 'Fiscal Commission'*.
"In the event of Scottish independence, people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland should not be given a formal say on whether Scotland enters a currency union with them, according to First Minister Alex Salmond."
Here's something else we should be clear about: a currency union would require both parties to cede some of their sovereignty, as the governor of the Bank of England said. You might ask why English, Welsh or Northern Irish voters would agree to surrendering this to a country that has just rejected them but Salmond is clear that it is not necessary to ask them.  It also might be worth pointing out that any set of rules for a sterling zone that limited government borrowing and so on would be something that George Osborne would not be able to operate within at the moment.  No matter, according to the Nats - he doesn't get a say in this.

There is an honest case to be made for Scottish Independence but it is certainly not being made by the Yes campaign.  As it is, the 'debate' is becoming an increasingly futile and angry one because it is being conducted, not between nationalists and unionists, but between those who know what 'independence' means and those who do not.  The twist Salmond has introduced is that there is also a distinction to be made between people who are entitled to it.

*Bunch of economists employed by the Scottish Government who agree with the Scottish Government, although not as much as Salmond would like.

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