The Shifty vs the Shirty

August 7, 2014 at 9:35 am (Rosie B, scotland)

Well, the debate between Salmond and Darling has been covered everywhere, with the consensus that Darling did pretty well and Salmond badly. There’s too much to link to but Reuters summed it up:-

In Scotland, pro-independence leader flunks TV debate

Some of what he did was downright embarrassing, such as reading out cuttings of silly jokes from the No campaigners about how Scotland will be driving on the right and repeating the rusty old catch phrase of more pandas than Tories in Scotland. He looked like the father of the bride who had written his speech in the hired limo.

Darling had him pinned down and wriggling on the currency question, until the audience booed.

Darling: “Any 8-year-old can tell you the flag of the country, the capital of a country, and its currency. Now I presume the flag’s the Saltire, I assume our capital will still be Edinburgh, but you can’t tell us what currency we’ll have. What’s an 8-year-old going to make of that?”

Salmond: “Aw, I can’t … Alistair, we’ll keep the pound because it belongs to Scotland as much as it belongs to England. It’s our pound as well as your pound.”

He recovered and did his visionary thing. But spin it as they could, he made a bad night for the Yessers. Their twitter feeds were subdued, their Facebook feeds silent. Many of them aren’t SNP and Salmond supporters. The official Nats are the road to the rainbow nation of diversity, vibrancy, equality that will be an independent Scotland but they expected Salmond to do a decent job at giving dry old Darling a rhetorical send off. However Darling performed like an Edinburgh lawyer at a Burns night, where a bit of passion is deemed to be appropriate.

The next day the Yessers were solving the currency question by linking to articles which drew parallels with Ireland post independence or the Isle of Man now. To which the only answer is, if you can think of an alternative to currency union, why can’t Salmond, who the same people vaunt as a clever economist. More, why can’t he express an alternative, instead of holding to the line that rUK must do what he says they must.

Salmond says that there will be a currency union and Westminster can’t stop him, since it’s Scotland’s pound as well as England’s. However, this is what the lawyers say:-

We welcome the statement, published on the Lawyers for Yes website last month and written by its steering committee member Brandon Malone that “the politico-legal reality is that the rest of the UK will be accepted as the continuing state”; that “it is therefore true to say that the public institutions of the UK would become the public institutions of the rUK”; and that “the Bank of England is a UK body and the pound is the UK’s currency, and as ‘institutions’ of the UK they would stay with the UK”.

This is what the UK Government and No campaigners have been saying for months, but it has still not been accepted as the legal reality by the Scottish Government, which dismisses it as mere “assertion”. We call on the SNP and Yes Scotland finally now to be candid with Scottish voters on what the implica­tions of a Yes vote would be:

1. Scotland would become a new state and the rUK would be a continuing state;

2. The UK’s public institutions would become those of the rUK;

3. This includes the Bank of England and the currency, as well the UK’s extensive network of consular and international representation.

Bella Caledonia sees this inability to answer a fundamental question of how an independent Scotland would operate as a cunning plan by Salmond not to commit himself in a game of bluff and risk, when there are a variety of options.

He didn’t look like the master of bluff though or express these options in simple terms at the debate – just blustered on about currency unions. And people don’t like thinking their economic future relies on moves in a game of chess or poker.


I’ve heard it said from both those for and against an iScotland that the SNP leadership do not in fact want independence. They have reasonable careers in a devolved Scotland with the luxury of blaming things that go wrong on Westminster. They have had plenty of time to prepare the practical questions of how an independent Scotland would operate and yet treat questions on this as bullying and scare-mongering. They are in a cleft stick, at one time reassuring the more conservative voters that familiarities like the currency and the monarchy will stay less the same, while offering the vision of a free, equal, independent Scotland to their idealistic followers. The two don’t join up.

The door-chapping Yessers picked themselves up and have vowed to get back to their grassroots campaigning. Fair play to them for their willingness to do hard political graft. I only wish it was in a better cause.

Update:- good piece here about the SNP’s post-modern idea of an independent state.

“the Nationalists’ version of independence became what has sometimes been described as ‘post-modern statehood’.  I’m not sure how satisfactory this term is but I take it to represent an awareness that in the late 20th century and into the early 21st, you don’t get to be ‘independent’ after the pattern of states formed in the 19th century but rather the choice has become what kind of interdependence you want.  The Nationalists embraced the idea of inter-European dependency even more enthusiastically with the introduction of the EMU.  ..  Why look to Westminster to represent the interests of Scotland in Europe when it could do that directly?  Disengagement was made simultaneously safer and apparently more outward-looking.  Membership of the EMU would free Scotland from the ‘millstone’ of Sterling membership and access to European markets would be secured by the treaties of the European Union.

Naturally, after the Euro-crisis membership of the EMU is impossible to sell to the Scottish electorate, even if Salmond thought it was a good idea, which he probably doesn’t.  This is the background – and the explanation – to the mess that Salmond and Yes Scotland have got themselves into over the currency issue.  The Nationalists are still arguing for ‘post-modern statehood’ but the problem for them is that what they are now arguing for is ‘independence within the UK’.  Both versions of post-modern independence required the agreement of other parties (something the Nationalists never seemed to have grasped) but the new position has two additional problems.  One is that it the continuity-UK currency union has no precedent, whereas EMU obviously did.  The other is that Salmond and the Yes Scotland camp have taken an extraordinarily belligerent attitude to the successor state with which they hope to make mutually-agreeable monetary and fiscal arrangements, which they never did with Brussels in their ‘Independence in Europe’ phase.  Discussion of how any such currency union might work is entirely superfluous when you have the leader of the Yes campaign who thinks it’s a reasonable proposition that 55 million people in one country are obliged to enter an international monetary arrangement because it is the‘sovereign will’ of another country of 5 million that they should do so.”


  1. The Shifty vs the Shirty | OzHouse said,

    […] Aug 07 2014 by admin […]

  2. Lamia said,

    Due to the refusal of the Yessers to be honest with themselves and others, there is a possibility that enough people will go along with their amateurish, “Don’t worry, just be optimistic,” poker-playing. Unfortunately, that will mean Scotland getting a rude shock when it turns out it really can’t keep the pound under the aegis of the Bank of England anymore. It could by all means start up a Scottish Pound and try pegging it to Sterling, but it would not have the B o E as lender of last resort.

    As for the Isle of Man, that is not a constituent part of the UK, it is true, but it is a Crown Dependency. Crown Dependency status is not what the Yessers have been demanding. It would mean Scotland still would not count as an Independent nation at international level. It would also still allow for the UK government to impose legislation on Scotland against its will. And Scots would, like other Crown Dependency citizens, remain British Citizens.

    The questions are: would ‘Independence’ Scots even want such an arrangement, and what sort of a deal would they actually get from the rUK?

  3. februarycallendar said,

    I’m sure others have said this where I haven’t been looking, but if this had been ten years ago – say, if the SNP had won power in the first Scottish Parliament election, which they might have done had Labour not had as inspirational, fatherly a figure as Donald Dewar (and indeed you wonder whether the SNP would have got where they have had Dewar lived) – they’d have been openly calling to go into the euro, and they could more easily have won on it than on any realistic option now.

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