03 February, 2014


The referendum on Scottish Independence is this year and the papers have got into several flaps about it. What astonishes me is that everyone seems to have made their mind up.

I confess that if I had a vote I should find it very difficult. Scotland has the critical mass to manage its own affairs, with a population around that of Denmark, which doesn't have any hydrocarbons, just a lot of contented pigs and sensible people, which latter resource the Scots may be lacking. But if I were voting principally with my heart I should vote for Independence: the Scots are different to the English, and whatever vicissitudes the new state might undergo, it would be something new, a concentration of Scottishness.

Against that I am quite sure that Scotland will not be able to manage its own affairs with the politicians it currently has. At a time when public expenditure needs to be tightly controlled, Scotland has a choice between the socialist spendthrift Scottish National Party and the socialist spendthrift Scottish Labour Party. Individually or collectively these two are capable of turning the new nation into a basket case. Still, cometh the hour, cometh the man (or woman) and it may well be a leader will emerge who has the courage and intellectual consistency to take the country forward. I see no such person at the moment.

So if I were voting principally with my head I should vote against independence. But of course I don't have a vote, and I don't really object to that. We didn't offer the Scots a vote on joining the UK.

What I do object to is the latest proposal that the Scots and the rest of the UK (RoUK) should have a currency union. I really ought to have a vote on this: after all Britain has kept out of currency union with the rest of the EU madhouse and is generally against the principle. It would carry constitutional implications, forcing RoUK, for example, to bail out Scottish banks if they got into trouble again.

I really think I would need a vote on this: we couldn't just let RoUK politicians give in and commit us to such dangerous uncertainty.

And it really wouldn't be good for Scotland, either. It would find itself, like Italy and Spain, with a grossly overvalued currency, damaging exports and jobs. Of course that would still be the case if it simply adopted sterling as its currency, without the formal currency union, although it wouldn't affect us too much.

The Scottish National Party celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, and you would have thought it would have given just a little consideration to this important point. Scotland needs its own currency, to float up or down according to the economic management of the country (likely to be disastrous, see above) and of course the oil price.

The opinion polls are still pointing towards a vote against independence, though the Nationalists seem to be gaining ground. If they have conducted this debate honestly, and discussed all relevant matters with the people, then good luck to them.

No comments: