What Alex Salmond must say on Plan B when he next debates Alistair Darling

301723-salmond-and-darling-the-debate-graphic 3

Alex Salmond must say the following:

  1. On behalf of Scotland’s negotiating team, he believes a shared currency is the best option for the Scottish people, and that as they have been investing in the assets of the Bank of England for generation, this is a shared asset that must be up for negotiations. Scotland will pay a fair share of the national debt on condition we are not kicked out against our will.
  2. In the event of our being excluded from the shared asset that is the Bank of England, the people of Scotland would be absolved of the entirety of the United Kingdom’s national debt, a fact that is clear in international law.
  3. Negotiations over the shared currency would determine both the rights and responsibilities of the Scottish state vis-a-vis the Bank of England. Sovereignty over borrowing limits and interest rate policy would necessarily be ceded to the central bank, with Scots, English Welsh and Northern Irish voters having representatives on the board of that bank in proportion to our respective populations.
  4. The level of debt the Scottish state would be willing to accept would be negotiated after the books were opened up to Scotland’s negotiating team.
  5. While borrowing limits,, and interest rate policy too, would be shared with non-Scottish institutions, tax and spend policy would become a matter for the Scottish people, and the Scottish people alone.
  6. Scotland proposes a shared currency because we believe it would be mutually beneficial for an independent Scotland and for the remainder of the United Kingdom. Indeed, it strikes us as self-evident that a shared currency is a much more unequivocal gain for the people of England and Wales than it is for Scots: being kicked out of the Bank of England writes off a lot of debt, while lumbering English voters with that debt. There are gains and losses for Scots, but nothing but losses for the English if they do not negotiate with Scots in good faith over shared assets. Both parties would gain from eliminating wasteful transaction costs. This is why we feel the leaders of all the parties of Better Together are obviously bluffing when they threaten to veto the shared currency without putting this veto policy to the English, Welsh and Northern Irish voters to decide for themselves. Nevertheless, maybe pride will force George Osborne, Danny Alexander, Ed Balls and co to stick to their, regardless of how counterproductive this is. Perhaps they are relying on the British Establishment’s broadcasters to cover their arses by continuing to tell porkies about how bad a deal they would have ‘won’ for the English voters.
  7. Since no Scot would be prepared to bet their life savings on the leaders of the Tories, the Lib Dems and Ed Miliband’s Labour Party not being total imbeciles, Scotland does have a Plan B. But our Plan B is not the personal property of Alex Salmond, nor of his party. Scotland’s Plan B is to put national self determination into action by letting the voters decide the long term future of our currency.
  8. In the short term, ‘Sterlingization’ would allow Scots to ‘keep the pound’. But such a policy is like climbing aboard a life boat to keep our heads above waters until something more permanent comes along. Being permanently buffeted atop a restless ocean is not hardly what the people of Scotland want. We will eventually need some kind of central bank, with a lender of last resort.
  9. The Scottish electorate – not the team that negotiates independence in the first place – will weigh up all the options available to us (and they are several), and we, the voters, will make our own decision. While that could be a Scottish currency, that does not have to be how things turn out. There could be belated negotiations with the remainder of the United Kingdom. Scotland does have options, just as the voters of the UK will also have options – including voting out a gang of charlatans. The United Kingdom’s government could easily come crawling back to the Scots. Scotland won’t necessarily tell them to go away. Nevertheless, having written off Scotland’s debt, begging us to renegotiate a shared currency at that point would lead to a significantly worse deal. Worse for the rest of the United Kingdom, that is.
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Never mind the bollocks. Here’s John Pilger

JOHN PILGER GOING UNDERGROUND

Anyone who hasn’t seen this wonderful interview with John Pilger should watch. At any rate you should watch if you are interested in the degradation of ‘journalism’ in the United Kingdom today. Channel Four News and Newsnight don’t escape criticism, quite rightly. The role of NATO in the rise of ISIS is exposed, as is the tippexing of these facts out of the picture by Channel Four News with every bit as much enthusiasm as it is from James Harding’s BBC and Rupert Murdoch’s SKY News.

Whistle-blowers within all the mainstream news networks should be encouraged, and they should use the NUJ to provide collective resistance to their British Establishment editors and proprietors. They have to cooperate across networks, protecting each other, and appealing to viewers and citizen journalists to get the facts across, using anonymous twitter accounts to spread the word when their bosses put words in their mouths that they don’t support, words they know to be propaganda from the Confederation of British Industry and British Intelligence, or some other out-of-control corrupter of the democratic process.

John Pilger could be picked up for the use of a phrase that seemed to underestimate the potential of ISIS to create so much havoc. But these monsters have been created by NATO bombing and corruption, indifference to civilian casualties, so-called collateral damage. Treat people like animals and don’t be surprised if the respond in like manner. Those in control of ISIS are psychopaths, just like Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge. The genocidal rampage of both groups can be traced to NATO’s illegal bombing, and more illegal bombing won’t cure this disease.

Refuge crises are what we have in Iraq and Syria, and elsewhere. These victims of NATO’s illegal wars are the responsibility of those who created this mess. “If you broke it, you own it” is an excellent principle. But what NATO now owns is responsibility to rehouse those driven out of their homes by these ISIS monsters, responsibility to give them jobs, to give them security.

In Britain, the United States and elsewhere, we need to provide safe havens for refugees. What these people do not need is ad hoc refugee camps set up on the border of Syria and Iraq that simply allow them to die a slow death from starvation, lack of clean water and medicine, with disease finishing the job for ISIS. We do not want humanitarian volunteers looking on totally impotent to do anything, due to lack of resources. That situation would simply allow the British Establishment editors at Channel Four News, SKY News and the BBC to turn off their cameras, once more distracting British voters with stories about cats stuck up trees, Royal babies smiling, a lottery winner’s good luck which ‘proves’ that any of us can be winners, or maybe George Osborne making a ‘wonderful’ speech that proves why we need another Tory government.

There may be the recall of parliament before too long. Part of me dreads this because the most likely proposals put to MPs are going to be awful. Ed Miliband’s front bench is liable to call for more military action because Obama wants that. They are liable not to think through the consequences of what they are saying, since almost everything Labour’s Shadow Cabinet says these days is calculated to take advantage of what they perceive are problems in whatever the Tories say. This is not serious politics. Playing devil’s advocate has a cost if you end up reinforcing others in an even worse position.

Despite the weakness of the Shadow Cabinet, I think parliament should be recalled. It should be recalled to tie the hands of David Cameron who wants to do what he wants when he wants. Voters cannot trust him not to launch a war for no good reason other than to get him out of a hole, to distract voters from everything else that is going wrong, with British soldiers and the Iraqi people mere puppets for this deluded Prime Minister.

Parliament should be recalled to allow the best MPs to make the case for humanitarian aid, and for ending George Osborne’s balancing the books by selling weapons to dictators and to those who impose apartheid in Palestine.

Parliament should be recalled to allow the best MPs to make the case for humanitarian aid taking the inevitable form of welcoming refugees. The sooner the better.

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Alex Salmond is Scotland’s good cop, Jim Sillars our bad cop. Together, they’ll get the job done.

An Scotland will be the only independent state with a national anthem, a national currency AND a national Selfie.

Scotland will be the only independent state with a national anthem, a national currency AND a national Selfie.

It may not have come to your notice that Alex Salmond and Jim Sillars are united that ‘Sterlingization’ is not Scotland’s Plan B. If you rely on the BBC for news, politics and current affairs, then there is probably a lot you don’t know.

Alex Salmond and Jim Sillars are, nonetheless, not united on everything. So what? Both are playing a very important role in Scotland’s immanent self-determination. And both should resist any provocation to descend into public and acrimonious infighting: we are better than that. Both need to work as part of a team, each reaching the parts the other cannot reach. This could not be more important as Scotland’s day of destiny looms on the horizon.

Why is Alex Salmond right to dismiss ‘Sterlingization’ as Scotland’s Plan B? Why does Jim Sillars do this also, but for very different reasons?

So-called Sterlingization cannot possibly be designated a ‘Plan B’. Plans have destinations, implying stable, agreed goals for all time. In reality, Sterlingization – at least for many of us – acts as a bridge, or stepping stone, not at all an end in itself.

Sterlingization is a stop-gap solution around which six million Scots can unite for years to come. It would provide Scotland with a breathing space, an invaluable opportunity for the people themselves, through democratic debate, to decide what exactly we wanted. We would all have weighed up the pros and cons during debate, which would be settled at the end by a decisive vote. Such a vote may take the form of an all Scotland general election; possibly there would be a referendum.

‘Sterlingization’ is a process of wading towards a Scottish currency, as Jim Sillars wants, alternatively, a shared currency with someone else, or the indefinite extention of ‘Sterlingization’, which is not necessarily a bad thing so long as the economies of Scotland and the remainder of the United Kingdom do not diverge too much, and/or the Bank of England does not collapse under the weight of its own debt.

‘Sterlingization’ cannot be designated Plan B by anyone because it is the stepping stone to all the other potential Plan Bs. Alex Salmond is right to point-blank refuse to tell Alistair Darling, Johann Lamont, Ed Miliband and everyone else where he personally sees ‘Sterlingization’ leading. Why is that?

All the leaders of ‘Better Together’ – including their chums at the Confederation of British Industry, and their glove-puppets who edit BBC Scotland and their United Kingdom equivalents – just don’t get what Scotland’s independence referendum is about. They want voters to think it has something to do with how much we like or trust Alex Salmond as an individual. These people see politics through the prism of charismatic leaders, with voters merely part of the audience who have to sit and take it, with no power of our own, to, for instance, heckle, maybe storm the stage of history ourselves. No, that is not what the people of Scotland want. This is the wretched right-wing nightmare that advocates of Scottish independence want us all to wake up from.

Alex Salmond would be betraying Scottish self-determination if he told voters where ‘Sterlingization’ would necessarily lead. He would be dividing Scots who want independence. At least part of the YES Campaign would turn on him. Do we want that? No. Rupert Murdoch wants that. James Harding wants it. Scotland won’t fall for this divide and rule bullshit.

The divisions between Alex Salmond and Jim Sillars on Scotland’s currency should be put to bed in a manner that unites the YES Campaign. This matters because unity is a very attractive force, one that will help us reach the kind of critical mass that will turn more and more undecideds into our camp, and in the process switching some so-called NO voters from their individual ‘spectrum of indecision’ out of it and into the YES camp also.

Alex Salmond is walking a particularly precarious tightrope on Sterling, and I am more sympathetic than Jim Sillars has been. That is why I am not making a big fuss about him wobbling in one key debate. For whatever reasons, Alex Salmond seems to have over-prepared, was probably badly advised (if so, it was by people who should remain nameless, as the buck does stop with the leader), was clearly given too many notes and not necessarily the right ones. To top it all off, he forgot to be himself, leading to have an off-day. Fine, let’s move on.

But Alex Salmond needs to move on by accepting that while George Osborne, Ed Miliband etc are beyond a shadow of a doubt bluffing, it is a bluff that is working. It is working if only because of the power of broadcast and print media. The media is owned lock, stock and barrel by the British Establishment. The BBC, SKY News and Channel4 News act as a megaphone for Better Together. Alex Salmond needs to blow out of the water the implication by ‘Project Fear’ that an independent Scotland would be reduced to a barter economy, one that inevitably would crash overnight. That is why something has to be said about where ‘Sterlingization’ could go, not where it would necessarily go.

Jim Sillars doesn’t want a Scottish currency to be Plan B. That is because he wants it to be Plan A. He is not going to get his wish, and has to reconcile himself to that. I unequivocally stand alongside Alex Salmond on this. Why?

This is entirely about strategy and tactics. The YES Campaign since Tuesday’s Scotland Decides debate has been moving ever more clearly towards the position that we do have alternatives to Scotland sharing the pound. And all of us accept that Alex Salmond is right to try to negotiate over the assets and debts of the United Kingdom’s central bank.

If the Scottish people are kicked out of the Bank of England against our will because the leaders of the rest of the UK refuse to negotiate, then fine: under such circumstances, the we are absolved of any share of the UK’s debt. International law will stand alongside us on that. And the markets will follow suit, whatever nonsense Glenn Campbell, Brian Taylor, Sarah Smith, John Beattie and their deluded ‘experts’ pretend.

Jim Sillars’s enthusiasm for pulling out of negotiations is a serious tactical and strategic mistake. Such an approach allows George Osborne to trick us into accepting debt by the oppressors of the Scottish people. They would have trapped us into this loveless marriage, rather than dividing up the assets equitably, then letting both of us get on with the rest of our lives. Thanks, but no thanks.

Alex Salmond can’t walk away from Sterling as that would lumber us with a significant share of the debt. But he has to do more than insist George Osborne is bluffing. He has to make clear that ‘Sterlingization’ could certainly lead to the kind of Scottish currency that Jim Sillars advocates, and that such an approach has merits. He has to explain that the Scottish government is exploring all options in the event of the leaders of the Better Together parties being daft enough to absolve an independent Scotland of all debt when we are ready and willing to negotiate over this.

Alex Salmond should do nothing to imply the Scottish government has Scottish currency plans ready for day one of independence: that would imply he and his team are only going through the motions when it comes to negotiating over the Bank of England’s debt. Nevertheless, Alex Salmond should work constructively with Jim Sillars, and others, to explore where Sterlingization could lead in a few years time. If Scotland is kicked out of a shared currency, a Scottish currency could rapidly become the favored option, but only after the people of Scotland get to express our views at the ballot box.

Alex Salmond is absolutely right not to offer a straight answer as to his ‘Plan B’. Alex Salmond is unable to do that for the same reason that I have set out my position as a blog entry, rather than a 140 character tweet. Soundbites are incapable of teasing out every part of an extremely complex question. And the likes of Sarah Smith of Scotland 2014 and John Beattie of Crossfire notoriety want a simple answer to the question of what Alex Salmond’s personal preference is on a Plan B is because it is all about tricking Scots into thinking the referendum is about what one man wants. No, it is not. It is about six million Scots, and Alex Salmond knows that.

What Alex Salmond should negotiate over is the rights and responsiblities of an independent Scotland if there is a shared currency. Alistair Darling pretends that that would cedes all sovereignty to a foreign country. What nonsense. Some sovereignty would inevitably be shared in such circumstances. Scotland would, for instance, lose its ability to set borrowing limits. But within those, tax and spend provides Scotland with plenty of powers.

An independent Scotland would have to have the right to carefully examine the books. Why does Ed Miliband not want to negotiate? Is he scared that Alex Salmond might get to see that, as Labour’s last chief secretary to the treasury, Liam Byrne, ‘joked’, all the money has been frittered away by Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling? Can it possibly be true that the Bank of England has no assets left over which to negotiate? Only toxic debt? The vaults of the Bank of England contains no more gold, merely an unlimited supply of I.O.U.s?

Alistair Darling’s previous boss, Gordon Brown, sold off much of the United Kingdom’s gold reserves at knock down prices. That is financial recklessness that every voter is paying for. Is the situation even worse than we have been lead to believe? Might it be that George Osborne and Mark Carney have not been delivering for the British people some kind of economic miracle? Is this dynamic duo merely as powerful as an infinite number of monkeys? But, instead of writing the complete works of Shakespeare,, they have merely been busy printing an infinite amount of worthless bank notes that represent nothing in the real economy?

Is Ed Miliband simply terrified that Alex Salmond will see the books, and then act as a whistle blower, explaining to the people of an independent Scotland that the Bank of England in the twentieth century is nothing more than a glorified ponzi scheme, wrapped in a pyramid scheme, camouflaging a menagerie of Hurray Henry posh-boys, swilling champers, gorging themselves on caviar, snorting cocaine, while paying corrupt cops to raid the homes of the women they abused in the past as prostitutes, taking a baseball bats to hard drives of investigative journalists when they threaten to expose the corruption at the heart of Britain’s MI5, MI6, Special Branch, GCHQ, Metropolitan Police, and their chums in the NSA, CIA and Mossad?

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What Alex Salmond must say on Scotland’s currency if he wants to win Scottish independence

Alex Salmond's soundbite to turn everything around.

Alex Salmond’s soundbite to turn everything around.

This is the answer in a nutshell. It is what Alex Salmond and all his team should hammer home at every opportunity until the polls close, putting these points today to Ed Miliband before he scurries back over the border, scared of being scrutinized by the likes of Bernard Ponsonby.

The Scottish currency is not something that would be set up in a day. Transitional to it via the other options makes perfect sense. This is all Alex Salmond has to say. It is what Alistair Darling, Johann Lamont, Ed Miliband will find impossible to answer.

It is what Sarah Smith won’t be able to squirm out of. It is what will have John Beattie crawling away, pretending he didn’t hear the question. Brian Taylor, Glenn Campbell, Andrew Marr, James Harding et al are desperate to lie on behalf of Better Together about what the real, perfectly credible alternatives are.

Alex Salmond has to do more than insist the leaders of all the parties of Better Together are bluffing. Just because political activists, anoraks, members of the Scottish government, know George Osborne et al are bluffing, knowing precisely why they have to be bluffing, that doesn’t mean it is not a bluff that is working. Face facts, comrades: it is working.

Possibly this bluff is not working at the public debates. There, the YES Campaign is wiping the floor with the BBC stooges, their partners at the Confederation of British Industry, the politicians in Washington who say America has to wade in to stop Scottish self determination because it is an attack on the USA’s ‘national security’, in other words, remit of the NSA, the CIA, and their counterparts in British Intelligence, MI5, MI5, Special Branch, not to mention the Israeli’s MOSSAD, kidnappers and secret police for Benjamin Netanyahu, the notorious war criminal of Gaza.

The problem for the YES Campaign is all those who fail to make it to these public meetings, those with family commtments, can’t make it, or don’t want to make it, to public meetings. They, alas, in the main rely on the broadcasters. These voters are, disgracefully, being denied access to the truth.

‘Experts’ trump the airtime the YES Campaign gets. And when BBC Scotland’s editors let us get any airtime at all, often the so-called ‘objective’ chair (Sarah Smith of Scotland 2014, or John Beattie of Crossfire) abuse their power, not letting us address the key issues, changing the subject when things start to get uncomfortable for the themselves, or the Better Together representative, or the BBC’s so-called ‘experts’.

And Sarah Smith, John Beattie etc often misquote us, they let us get shouted down by the BT liars, then, they present a totally inaccurate summing up of what both sides said, not letting us pick up on one, two or even dozens of hostages to fortune left scattered around the airwaves by the BT side..

Every bit as important, the BBC Scotland editors (and their United Kingdom equivalents) select as ‘our’ representatives many people who do us no favors. Not all of as are equally strong. And often the BBC makes sure we are ‘represented’ by some of our biggest Achilles Heals, on one or two issues, sometimes on almost all of them.

Alex Salmond, and Alex Salmond alone, has the power to put an end too this abuse by the BBC. He can do this by summing up the alternatives to a shared currency in an easily digestible soundbite. Any ‘adviser’ who has been telling him to pretend an independent Scotland can force Better Together party leaders to let us keep the pound in the sense of a shared currency is making him look incompetent, untrustworthy, and arrogant by denying the English people their right to self determination also. The ball is  now in his court. He can easily turn this around, and must do so immediately. By doing that he will set the tone for the closing weeks of the debate. We will all be singing from the same hymn-sheet, and it will be the CBI and NSA stooges who will descend into their default ferrets-fighting-in-a-sack mode.

This is my response to The  Point’s Facebook status update: https://www.facebook.com/DGS.network/posts/821964514502649?comment_id=822131324485968&offset=0&total_comments=2

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What about Gloria Gaynor’s “I will survive” as Scotland’s national anthem?

Scotland's National Anthem?

Scotland’s National Anthem?

Even if George Osborne, Danny Alexander and Ed Balls succeed in stealing Scotland’s currency, the Scottish people will survive. Let’s be clear that if the parties of Better Together are not bluffing, and if they carry out their idiotic threat to refuse to negotiate over the joint asset that is the Bank of England, the Scottish people will live on. Indeed, many of us believe we will prosper much better without the dubious assets of the United Kingdom’s central bank.

Scotland does have options if we are denied access to Sterling. I have been very critical of how Alex Salmond dealt with questions about the currency on Tuesday, and I make no apologies for that. He did get it wrong, and sent out, at least subliminally, a message to his spin doctors, and no doubt to many rank and file YES Campaigners to parrot a line that simply does not make sense.

Having said that, at First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood this afternoon, while he started off as bad as he left off at STV’s Scotland Decides debate with Alistair Darling, his second response hit many of the right targets. Almost all of them. Almost all, but not quite.

Alex Salmond for a moment even had me doubting if all my criticisms had been misjudged. No, not quite. Alex Salmond hammered home the point of the costs to the rest of the United Kingdom should they carry out their threat to refuse to negotiate over a shared currency. When I thought about this, for a brief moment I thought this solved all our problems. I even wondered if Alex Salmond had not been terribly clever by pretending he had nothing to say, when today proved that clearly he had. Was he even giving his Better Together adversaries enough rope to hang themselves, letting them have a day or two thinking they had everything sown up, getting more and more careless in what they said, leaving behind massive hostages to fortune in the columns of newspapers, on social media, political talk shows. There has been a lot of that. This is dead groovy.

The problem is… Well, to be frank, there are several problems. I don”t believe Alex Salmond was being clever the other day by pretending to be incapable of answering the question. That doesn’t really make sense. Because that is how it looked to his own supporters, who felt very deflated, made worse by the other side celebrating because we were now stuffed.

Regardless of why Alex Salmond didn’t answer the questions, the reality is it still looks like he is mixing up the alternatives to a shared currency. That is not good. The undecideds are going to be shifting, and when they finally make their minds up, it is unlikely they will shift back again if it looks like answers that could have been offered long ago turn up at the last minute. This will strike some as deviousness, and may seem cynical if not suspicious, potentially downright dishonest. Voters need to be given a little time to weigh things up. And time is running out fast.

What about the Euro? No, Scotland can’t make that work. It is important to remind Scots that David Cameron’s newly appointed Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond , the man who blames the Palestinians for Israel’s war crimes in Gaza, and Michael Gove, the man just given the job of Tory Chief Whip, intend to drag all six million Scots out of the European Union whether we want that or not. And if Scotland subsequent to the United Kingdom being dragged out of the EU becomes independent in order to get back into the EU, Scotland will, in such circumstances, have to accept the Euro. There is nothing in the constitution setting rules on Scotland’s currency if we break from the UK.

Alex Salmond need not spell out massively detailed plans if Scotland is kicked out o Sterling. It would be counterproductive to do that. Indeed, Alistair Darling and the rest of the Better Together leaders, including all their parrots at the BBC, SKY News and Channel4 News may be trying to trick Alex Salmond into being a closet supporter of withdrawal from Sterling. That, of course, is a trick. The moral authority for writing off the debt, and our case in international law is tied inexorably to our having this asset removed against our will. Nevertheless,…

Nevertheless, Scotland’s negotiating team have to reassure Scottish voters that we can survive should we find ourselves outside Sterling. Alex Salmond and all supporters of a YES vote need time to dismantle all the lies of the BBC et al. We cannot do that in the closing hours of 17th of September. We need a little time to offer reassurance that we will survive. The clock is ticking.

 

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When is bluff not a bluff? [Scotland Decides]

250px-Call_my_bluff_boardgame

When is a bluff not a bluff? When it’s working, of course. Alex Salmond insists that Alistair Darling and his chums are bluffiing on the shared currency. That I agree with. The problem is Alex doesn’t notice that this bluff is working.  His response to questioning during Tuesday’s Scotland Decides debate – questions from Bernard Ponsby and the audience as well as those by Darling – were not dealt with as they should have been.

It was bad enough that Alex Salmond mishandled questions about the shared currency, but the problem was made a hell of a lot worse by his spin doctors later that night simply sticking to the line. This made them look like Blairites unable to think of their feet. This will have encouraged rank and file supporters to dig in their heels with the line handed down to them from central command. And it is a line that is not, and cannot work. When you’re in a hole, please stop digging.

Alex Salmond and all the YES Campaign official leadership have to do several things. Firstly, it would not be a bad thing to fess up to past mistakes. Nicola Sturgeon made a self deprecating joke about her own shouty experience, and that makes her look human. Facing reality, and accepting that Alex Salmond didn’t deal with questions about the shared currency correctly will help him. Nothing wrong with accepting a mistake. The question now is what was his mistake, and how to fix it.

Alex Salmond needs to spend a fair bit of time in his next debate(s) to fix the problems we all now have. If he screwed up as a consequence of his hands being tied by his team (which is what I am assuming), he need not blame others. Indeed, it would be best not to do that. After all, the buck stops with him. If he signed off on a policy he didn’t think was right, the fault is as much his as any collective group that outvoted him. If it turns out that some of his team refuse to budge from the position he advocated on Tuesday, and threaten to resign from his team if he changes tack, then that is fine by me. He should let them go.

The position today has many voters worried that Alex Salmond is happy with reducing the Scottish people to a barter economy. This is the extent of the problems that he now has. Alex Salmond, Blair Jenkins and other simply repeat the line that the Pound will be Scotland’s currency. That begs several questions.

Firstly, there is nothing wrong, as a temporary measure, for an independent Scotland to use a currency over which it has zero control. Sterling is the obvious choice. But that is the Panama option that Alex Salmond ruled out. If he had accepted it, this would be a problem as it is not sustainable in the long term. It could only be a transition to something else. Unless Scotland would embrace the Euro, it has to be an independent currency, or a joint currency with someone else. The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) global economic powerhouse may set up an alternative to the dollar, and new financial institutions built around a new currency backed up by gold, can’t be too far off now, a currency liable to work in tandem with crypto-currencies like Bitcoin. Using such a currency may be the best, but that is for the future. Transitional to that, conceivably in parallel with it, a Scottish currency would work fine.

But Alex Salmond and his supporters insist that the Bank of England can be kept as Scotland’s bank of last resort under totally untenable circumstances. Sovereignty over borrowing limits would be zero if an independent Scotland anchored itself to the BOE. I don’t have a problem with this. But some SNP MPs and MSPs imply this is not the case. That makes them look economically illiterate. What needs to be stressed is that losing total power over borrowing is fine so long as power over tax and spend accrue to an independent state.

Ed Balls, Alistair Darling, Johann Lamont, not to mention their Tory and Lib Dem allies obfuscate the distinction between sovereignty over borrowing limits, on the one hand, and tax and spend, on the other. That is because all three of these parties are indifferent to radical wealth and income redistribution, universal benefits, and collective provision of socially necessary public services.

Alex Salmond has to concede how much sovereignty would be ceded to the UK if an independent Scotland had a shared currency. It would not be insubstantial, but there would be a cost-benefit analysis for Scotland’s voters to weigh up. One person, one vote basis could determine if it is in Scotland’s interests. Jim Sillars and Patrick Harvie may vote one way, Alex Salmond another. I don’t know how I’d vote. It is a judgement call.

Alex Salmond as an individual, and his party, won’t get to determine Scotland’s currency because we are discussing national self-determination. Scots may disagree with his negotiations. But just as he can’t write a blank cheque on behalf of six million Scots, neither can George Osborne, Danny Alexander and Ed Balls. Not even when the leaders of their party and all their MPs sign up to this. The English voters have a say in this too, and they may not agree with Better Together’s leaders on the shared currency. Not when it is spelt out to them what precisely this means.

Kicking Scotland out of the shared currency is an abidcation of rights to impose any part of the United Kingdom’s debt onto the people of Scotland. A free Scotland then gets off scot free. Free of all the debt a profligate, privatizing, war-mongering, champagne swilling, snouts in trough British Establishment have accumulated over the last half century while simultaneously frittering away Scotland’s North Sea Oil in bailing out their civil war with the mining communities and breaking the backs of the trade union movement, selling off the family silver, even gold reserves at knock down prices. It’s all gone? Scotland doesn’t deserve to be held responsible for any of this profligacy. And if our centuries of paying into the coffers of the Bank of England has bought us no share in their assets, nothing to negotiate over, then we bare responsibility for not one brass farthling of their liabilities neither.

This arguments needs to be spelt out to Scotland’s voters in time for the referendum. It has to be done forcefully well in advance. This should have been hammered home on Tuesday. But it wasn’t. Maybe in passing. But it was not explained as forcefully as was necessary. Furthermore, it is not just important to stress this to get out the vote; it is as important to see to it that the English voters know what is at stake also. They don’t realize that this is what makes it essential that they keep the pound with Scotland. The shared currency has no downside for the English. They need it. Frankly, it is us for whom it is a double-edged sword.

To return to my original thesis: a bluff that works is as effective as a position that is not a bluff. And Alex Salmond must know he cannot impose his will on the English people, unless he is proposing Scotland goes to war with England over seats on the committees at the Bank of England, those that determine interest rates. Unless he is proposing war, he needs to accept that if the rest of the United Kingdom reject a shared currency, we can’t have one. Negotiations are key. Each side has something to negotiate with. And we both have alternatives. But it is an independent Scotland that has the stronger hand. If we explain precisely why that is, the Better Together Parties can rapidly be persuaded to drop their bluff and agree to negotiate in good faith. Then, and only then, can this entire distraction can be put to bed. And Scotland’s YES Campaign can return to the real issues of substance.

 

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The Wisdom of Alex Salmonomon on Scotland’s shared currency

wisdom of solomon

Is Alex Salmond as wise as King Solomon on how the two parts of the United Kingdom should divvy up the kids in the divorce settlement? I would humbly suggest he is not. I would further suggest that those sent out on behalf of the Official YES Campaign to sell Alex Salmond’s debating tactics last night on the shared currency are damaging us.

Blair Jenkins, Alex Neil and everyone else who insists that Scotland will ‘keep the pound’ regardless don’t seem to realize that they are coming across as clueless spin doctors, the kind that lead to the collapse of Tony Blair’s entire administration, not before time. This does not look good for any of them.

It should not be forgotten that I am saying this as someone who greatly admires Alex Salmond as a world-class orator and debater, skilled politician, tactician and strategist, someone who should be grateful that not all his admirers are yes-men who will tell him he walks on water, even when he has just been caught falling on his arse. His two hours outing last night was not his finest hour, and anyone who pretends otherwise is not helping the YES Campaign. He had so many open goals and failed to score. His performance was so off I am scratching my head in search of answers as to what went wrong. I have a few tentative theories.

I have tweeted a great deal about my take on what went wrong. Will write a more substantial blog entry later, pulling the threads of my ideas together. For now, I’d like to focus on one or two key issues. Anxieties over Scotland’s currency is an Achilles Heal. Ignore this at our peril. Ignore it and the British Establishment implication Scotland will reduced to barter grows. Pretending Scotland cannot be deprived of the pound by the remainder of the United Kingdom is fooling no one. Of course we can.

What Scottish independence gives Scotland is a divorce. We have a loveless marriage and want an amicable divorce. We need to negotiate over our shared assets. Sterling is part of that. But it is part that can’t be shared if either of the parties to the settlement refuse. This is the heart of our dilemma. Solomon called the bluff of both parties to see who was prepared to see ‘their’ child cut in half, therefore murdered. This is the bluff Alex Salmond is being offered. Telling the British Establishment to “Make my day, punk!” plays badly with Scotland’s undecideds.

It is not enough to ‘know’ that the British Establishment is bluffing. That doesn’t matter so long as the bluff convinces most of Scotland’s undecideds, and we clearly know it IS working. This is why Alex Salmond cannot pretend we can’t be kicked out of Sterling. It may be Mutually Assured Destruction for George Osborne and co to stick to their guns, but I would have thought a convinced unilateralist understands that warmongers are often MAD.

What Alex Salmond has to do is explain two things. Firstly, he has to explain that the shared currency is not merely as necessary for the English as for the Scots, but infinitely more important. Why is that? Transaction costs are as important for both sides. However, kicking Scotland out of the Bank of England absolves every Scot of 100% of United Kingdom debt. This is why Osborne, Balls and Alexander are without a doubt bluffing. The problem is the British Establishment are tippexing this fact out of the public consciousness. Why on Earth is Alex Salmond not bringing this to the forefront of debate? Time is running of. Yesterday was the best opportunity he had, and he forgot? Very dispiriting.

When the upside of being kicked out of Sterling is explained to Scotland’s undecideds, most will want to leave. However, that is a Catch 22 trap for us. If Scotland voluntarily walks, then the benefit of debt absolution vanishes. It only works if Scotland is the innocent party. So, with that in mind, maybe Alex is just keeping all of us guessing. But this is dangerous. It is dangerous because it will have lead to considerable demoralization on the part of many, if not most, supporters of independence. And the YES Campaign spin doctors are digging themselves further into the trenches of the shared currency we may have to do without, the shared currency we may be better off without.

International law will stand behind Scotland if we are kicked out of Sterling. Money markets won’t punish Scotland for having its debt written off by George Osborne, Danny Alexander and Ed Balls. Scotland would start with a blank sheet, and massive natural assets when Russia is turning of the gas in retaliation over sanctions, and Libya, Iraq etc are going into meltdown. Energy prices are set to rise, as paper money at the UK, Euro-zone and USA threatens collapse. Scotland has immense bargaining power.

An independent Scottish currency won’t be set up overnight. However, using Sterling without any currency is not a sustainable position. We can’t rely on Sterling not collapsing, due to debt. If Scotland did negotiate our way into Sterling, that would cede much sovereignty to a multinational body. Interest rate policy is gone. Borrowing limits would be set outside Scotland. SNP leaders imply that is not true. But that is fantasy economics. A shared currency does have advantages. While borrowing limits would be in the hands of the UK, tax and spend rests with Scotland. And this brings us back to Alistair Darling’s most uncomfortable moment: will 100% of taxation be ceded to Scotland if we vote NO? Ruth Davidson and David Cameron say yes. They do that as they know they can always break their promise.

Alistair Darling, Ed Miliband and Johann Lamont can’t accept 100% of income tax being devolved to Scotland’s Holyrood Parliament. That is because they know that this would be unacceptable to English voters, and to English MPs. It is the West Lothian Question raised to the power of infinity. I have explained this argument in detail here: http://derekthomas2010.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/michael-forsyth-lets-the-cat-out-of-the-bag-tory-devolution-promises-are-lies/

Tories and Lib Dems could accept income tax being devolved to Holyrood by removing Scottish MPs’ right to vote on English income tax. But Labour won’t accept it under any circumstances, as this would destroy all their Westminster ambitions as effectively, in their eyes, as would independence.

In other words, all three of the Better Together Party leaders have their prepared excuses in the bag for their inevitable breaking these referendum pledges: each will say they all did their best, but the MPs from the other parties refused to see sense. That is the precise nature of the betrayal of the Scottish voters that the editors of the BBC, SKY News and Channel4 News are aware of, but refuse to tell the voters about. It is an outrageous kick in the teeth to the people of Scotland.

 

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