"All things are wearisome, more than one can say." - Ecclesiastes 1:8

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Madness of King Alex

In the event of a Yes vote in September, I've favoured a currency union with the rest of the UK for three reasons, two of them (or all three, depending on your point of view) for entirely selfish reasons:

a) Saying a currency union 'would work' is not the same as saying that it carries no risks nor that it would work better than the system we presently have.  The answer to these points is that it would and it wouldn't respectively, Rather it would be the least bad option because while it carries risks, these would be borne disproportionately by the rest of the UK and not Scotland.  This is congenial to me because I live in Scotland.

b) If Scotland launched its own currency, it would undoubtedly see an increase in the cost of borrowing - to a degree that is unpredictable if  the (admittedly extremely unlikely) event that King Eck carried out his lunatic threat to walk away on Scotland's share of the national debt.  I don't like this idea because I have a mortgage and credit cards.

c) Currency union is the option post-Yes vote that looks the least like actual independence and I don't believe in independence.  I'd put it more bluntly: if Scotland and the rest of the UK agreed a currency union, Scotland wouldn't really be independent.

This is me.  Why others should favour it is more of a mystery.  Two groups within the British Isles spring to mind:

1) Scottish Nationalists.  At this moment in time their behaviour is tending to reinforce the impression I've always had; there's a fair chunk of the SNP high command that don't really believe in independence.  How else can we explain their behaviour in the last few days?  We should be clear about this: the 'threat' by George Osborne can only be considered a 'scare-tactic' to the extent that, not 'the peepul', but the nationalists are scared of what independence means.  Currency union was the flagship of the 'independence by stealth' campaign.  Vote independence and you'll hardly notice the difference.  This has been holed below the water-line, hence the rage and the pathetic accusations of 'bullying'.

2) The rest of the UK.  It has repeated endlessly, apparently to no avail, that a currency union requires the agreement of both parties involved.  The truism that nationalists care about no country other than their own is illustrated in this case.  Is it not significant that at no point have the nationalist even given the faintest clue that they realise the rest of the UK needs to be persuaded to join this arrangement?  The madness of Salmond and the SNP lies not in their economic analysis but in the assumption that everyone else is under some kind of obligation to agree with it.  Even if they were so inclined, I'm not sure they could persuade anyone.  It's not just the fact that the rest of the UK would be obliged to bail out Scotland but Scotland would never be able to reciprocate - there's also the political dimension.  Mark Carney clearly said that a monetary union would require both parties to surrender some of their sovereignty.  It was all text-book 'optimal currency area' stuff but the nationalists missed the both parties bit.  One wonders if any nationalist could tell me how a democratically elected English or Welsh politician would be able to sell the idea that the rest of the UK should surrender a part of their sovereignty to a country that has just rejected them?  Because in the unlikely event that they were so disposed, the most recent evidence would suggest that they would receive a hostile reception.


Simon Fawthrop said...

If my mild mannered, apolitical, wife is anything to go by then the Scots Nats are really starting to wind up the English. On listening to the latest discussions on R4 here comment was along the lines of - I wish they'd f-off so we can spend more money on helping the people of Somerset (I'm in North Dorset so its front and centre). I suspect, without any evidence, that the sentiment is being echoed around England.

This means that not only are they messing up the chances of a Yes vote but also making their position more difficult for follow up negotiations on devo max or whatever the next step in devolution is called.

Shuggy said...

Uh huh. Independence is a choice people are entitled to make. Anything short of that - such as further devolution or a currency union (devo-max in drag) - requires the agreement of all parties involved. That pointing this out can be seriously classed as bullying is pretty depressing.

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