The arrogance and ignorance of British Unionist politicians was there for all to see last Thursday (February 13).
Gideon (call me George, it makes me sound tough) Osborne dropped into Chilly-Jocko-land to tell the oiks that he wasn’t for letting us use our own currency if, as looks increasingly likely, we vote to re-establish Scotland as a normal independent nation.
The position adopted by the Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer was fully supported by his opposite numbers in the British Unionist coalition - Ed Balls for Labour and ‘Tame Jock’ Danny Alexander for the Liberal Democrats. On the British state broadcaster, the BBC, one Labour MP on the panel of Question Time went as far as blasting the Scots for “wanting their independence, but they want us to allow them to continue using the English pound”.
Throughout the day last Thursday, television news programmes did their very best to portray the British Unionist’s latest version of an old scare-story as a devastating blow to “Alex Salmond’s strategy for a currency union” after Scotland retakes its independence. In reality, it was nothing of the kind.
Contrary to the British Unionist position - and the slavishly-loyal British media - there is absolutely nothing to stop an independent Scotland using the pound as its currency. It is also in the interests of the (rest of the) United Kingdom to enter into a currency union with an independent Scotland, principally in terms of balance of payments figures and cross-border trading costs.
The pound (sterling) is an asset of the United Kingdom, as is the Bank of England. These assets are owned and used by the four current component parts of the United Kingdom – Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If one component part leaves the British Union, then it must either be compensated for the loss of assets it helped fund while a member or another arrangement could be made, such as continuing to share the asset. The SNP position is that, after independence, it would be in everyone’s interest to continue sharing the Bank of England and the pound.
The other side of the ‘deal’ regarding agreement on assets is, of course, liabilities – the debts run-up by the United Kingdom. The SNP has stated it is willing to accept a proportional share of debts accrued while Scotland was a member of the British Union.
However, what the British Unionist triumvirate of Osborne, Balls and Alexander said last week is that an independent Scotland must take its share of the UK’s debts but would not be allowed continued use of shared assets. If that was to happen, then the (rest of the) United Kingdom would have to stump-up massive compensation to Scotland to offset the fact they were retaining an asset Scotland had helped fund while it was a member of the UK.
In fact, if the (rest of the UK) decided to play hardball in such a way as described by Osborne, Balls and Alexander, then an independent Scotland would be well within its rights to point out that UK debt is the responsibility of the UK – a position already accepted by the UK Treasury – which means a newly independent country, like Scotland, need not accept liability.
In reality, the British Unionists are simply getting desperate as polls show the direction of travel in the independence referendum is from ‘No’ to ‘YES’. The Unionists are losing the argument, so they have decided to ramp-up the scare-stories. There is no positive case for Scotland remaining a part of the British Union, so the Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are reduced to describing Scottish independence as an apocalyptic land where absolutely everything goes wrong.
We are back to being told that alone amongst all the peoples on Earth, only the Scots are incapable of successfully running their own country. Independence is the normal status of virtually every nation in the world, but if the Scots achieved that status we are so stupid and so incompetent we would turn it into a disaster. The British Unionist message is: ‘Listen up, Jocks – you are too wee, too poor and too stupid to govern your own country’.
David Cameron’s ‘love-in’ with the Scots (albeit in a speech delivered in London to English journalists and English Tory activists) lasted barely a week before the British Unionists reverted to type and re-engaged in attacks on the intelligence, abilities and skills of people living in Scotland. As polls continue to show the ‘YES’ vote rising and the ‘No’ vote falling, expect those attacks to get stronger and more vicious – and expect every distortion and lie to be reported as fact by the loyal British media.
Meanwhile, the so-called ‘Scottish’ Labour Party continues to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the toxic Tories and their Lib Dem lapdogs as they hammer Scots with the Bedroom Tax and other savage cuts to essential services and benefits. In addition, the so-called ‘Scottish’ Labour Party continues to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the toxic Tories and their Lib Dem lapdogs as they launch attacks against the people of Scotland. In fact, ‘Scottish’ Labour politicians are often amongst the most vitriolic in disparaging the abilities of Scots.
Thankfully, more and more Labour members in Scotland are distancing themselves from the party’s British Unionist coalition with the Tories and Lib Dems. Ordinary Labour members can’t stomach the Tories and their policies any more than the rest of us, which is why the campaign group ‘Labour for Independence’ continues to grow, and why many traditional Labour supporters will be voting for independence in the referendum on September 18th.
Independence is simply being a normal country, where those of us living in Scotland elect a government to represent our interests and deliver policies to meet our needs. In an independent Scotland we will always get the government for which we vote, and it won’t be Tory. Never again will we have Tory governments or policies imposed on us, and never again will posh-boy millionaire Tory MPs swan into Scotland for the day to tell us we are too wee, too poor and too stupid to govern our own country.