Hoots mon the noo and all that Scottish twaddle which is so apposite to Alex Salmond’s reaction to questions about an independent [loose use of the word ‘independent’!] Scotland.
Taxed by former Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling in their recent televised verbal joust about the ‘new’ Scotland’s exchange currency, Alex could only repeat that the pound does not belong to England but also Scotland and Scotland would continue to use it. Confronted with the reality of an unqualified refusal by the three main Brit unionist parties (Conservative, Labour & Lib Dems) to countenance a currency union with a separate Scotland, Salmond could only cling to his denial mode. [Oh, how some of us hoped for a clever, profound answer rather than the usual smart, slick reaction, but alas . . . ]
Alex Salmond SNP Leader
Only this morning (8th August) on BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme, Salmond’s finance sidekick [John Swinney, the Scottish Assembly’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth to give him his full, wordy title!] ducked James Naughtie’s question about ‘Plan B’ by plaintively asserting that “it is in the interests of both Scotland and England to share the pound”.
Politically crucial was the question about state pensions to be paid in a separate Scotland. Salmond adopted his customary pose of insouciant confidence, stating that much state pension administration is already carried out in Scotland (in Motherwell and Dundee, if I recall correctly) and that it includes administration of state pensions for England. In short, there would be no problem.
Alistair Darling, former Chancellor of the Exchequer
He made devastating responses!
To my mind, Alistair Darling’s reply was devastating. He pointed out that state pensions are not paid from a fund [Shame on British politicians!] but from income ie the annual Budget. This was to say that state pensions in Scotland would (initially at least) need to be paid from the budget of an independent Scotland. Of course, without a firmly established plan for a Scottish exchange currency, Scottish state pensions are also problematic.
Pride in being Scottish is one thing (however overweening), but it is definitely trumped by any doubt about the continuance of state pensions at the level presently being paid. Without convincing details of how a separate Scotland is proposing to conduct its finances, many pensioners and prospective pensioners in Scotland are unlikely to vote ‘Yes’. [Conversely, who would deny that, in the event of Scotland’s secession, significant numbers of Scottish state pensioners would find it convenient to decamp to England (or Wales) in manifestation of the Law of Unintended Consequences.]
In short Alex, you have severely damaged your ‘independence’ campaign. No matter, the main Brit parties mentioned above are queuing up to transfer yet more powers (or responsibility) to Scotland!
From England’s position, one may well wonder why we should want a currency union with the nation which master-minded the Darien Project in 1696 and Darien Mark II in 2008. The Scottish banks of RBS and HBOS are responsible for some £800billion [yes, £800,000,000,000] of the current UK National Debt, something which has yet to be publicly acknowledged by the Brit parties for their various reasons! Moreover, the British Government has propped up those banks to the extent that Scotland is unable to discharge those debts and, perforce, they must remain in ownership of England.
Moreover, posts presently in Scotland administering state pensions for English citizens are likely to be re-located in England should Scotland secede, which is another problem Mr Salmond seeks to ignore until after 18th September 2014.
As an English nationalist, I regret that the SNP has mounted an incompetent campaign. Messrs Salmond & Swinney would have been better advised to plan on using a new Scottish pound as their currency. Attacks from their opponents would have been more likely to bolster support from fellow Scots in a ‘circling of the waggons’ reaction. As it is, demanding to use the pound sterling together with accusations of bullying hardly sit well with assertions of Scottishness and Scottish pride.
Perhaps the SNP will support the English Democrats in our campaign for an Independence Referendum whereby we will achieve what they cannot?