Friday, February 3, 2012

National Institute of Economic and Social Research report on Scottish independence flags up problems relating to keeping Sterling, SNP need plan McP

Dear All

An independent Scotland is achievable, but like many ideas, it isn’t worth a jot if the work to put it into reality hasn’t been done.

In a nutshell, the task of convincing Joe Public to vote for independence requires not a leaflet, not a crib card for activists but rather more information than the Library of Congress.

Because independence isn’t a PR exercise, it can’t be won by spin, it can’t be won by gimmicks and it can’t be won by a retreaded ‘Alex Salmond for First Minister’ slogan accompanied by hugs and kisses, and a few balloons.

The SNP found out the hard way in 2010 what the public thinks of them on reserved issues.

Just because it is trusted by the public who have faith in their ability to ‘emptying the bins’ as the Government at Holyrood, it doesn’t mean that they are trusted with the big issues:

Constitutional matters
foreign policy
defence and national security
fiscal, economic and monetary System
immigration and nationality
energy: electricity, coal, gas and nuclear energy
common markets
trade and industry, including competition and customer protection
some aspects of transport, including railways, transport safety and regulation
employment legislation
social security
gambling and the National Lottery
data protection
abortion, human fertilisation and embryology, genetics, xenotransplantation and vivisection
equal opportunities

The vision in 2010 was for 20 SNP MPs to walk the corridors of power as a Celt block, in the end, the same six who were previously elected returned, not dancing a Scottish jig.

Or getting anyone else to either!

In short, people make a distinction at Holyrood and Westminster elections.

As an SNP Member, I was shocked and amused during the Greenock by-election which the SNP thought was a possible win, despite the fact that usually if the sitting elected member dies it goes to the incumbent party.

David Cairns was an excellent MP.

During a lively political exchange, the SNP Candidate Anne McLaughlin on STV, lost the election in my opinion, when she was nailed on defence and in particular aircraft carriers.

She said that she wasn’t an expert on aircraft carriers, for her information, it’s a ship with a runway on top carrying planes and helicopters.

If she had asked me, I could have got her someone who builds the fuckers to speak to her; the guy’s dad owes me a favour.

When asked what the defence requirements for an independent Scotland, she sat unable to answer in a coherent way.

The answer to that question was simple, Scotland would retain all current military establishments until the first Scottish defence review was carried out by the new independent government of Scotland.

At Greenock, the SNP brought in the Chief Exec Peter Murrell and his team to run the by-election; it was well run, well laid out and up to a decent standard.

And they also had plenty biscuits, the tea wasn’t great but what do you expect when it isn’t freshly brewed, Morrisons across the road was also a big help.

Defence isn’t a SNP flagship policy, if someone asked me what is the SNP defence policy, I wouldn’t have a clue and that is pretty much the same on all reserved matters.

And I don’t think handing me a crib card to parrot off a piece of meaningless tat as policy will convince anyone else either.

For all I know SNP Defence policy is kicking someone in the balls while screaming ba*tards.

It worked at Glasgow Airport!!!!!!

Anyway another aspect of the independence debate is what currency will Scotland has if it becomes independent.

This is just as serious and more important to ordinary voters, what will the currency be and if entering a monitory union, who with.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research have popped up to state that Scotland could be more constrained on economic policy than at present.

Although their report says that retaining sterling would be "sensible", it flags up that a currency union could restrict fiscal policy.

The Scottish government said the report "validates" its aim to retain sterling and insisted Scotland would be in a "healthier" financial position.

But what if Westminster doesn’t want monitory union with Scotland?

Entering the Euro isn’t an option as Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney has said he cannot envisage the economic conditions being correct for the euro "for some considerable time".

John Swinney is pretty smart, this is guy who has a real grasp of his brief, but ‘sometime’ should be altered to never.

The Euro is a doomed currency; it cannot function properly because the Union is so big and so diverse.

Europe has to sort out a whole range of problems and finance is one of them.

The debt problem hasn’t been solved and things are going to get worse.

It’s a house of cards waiting for a light zephyr.

Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy are all unstable, the rest are on their knees as well, except Germany who have a manufacturing base, but high youth unemployment.

Angela Merkel is mindful that across Germany, people aren’t happy bailing out other states while their lifestyles slide.

So, what is the problem for monitory union with England, well the report argues that it is "doubtful" whether the Bank of England would extend lender-of-last-resort facilities to Scottish institutions.

First Minister Alex Salmond has argued for this, but what is in it for England bailing out Scotland if things go tits up?

Shared values?

Shared values go right out the window when large sums of money are involved.

Report author Dr Angus Armstrong said fiscal balances would be volatile because of heavy reliance on oil, and that Scotland would be open to the threat of default.

Seems plausible!

The report adds:

"With a pro rata transfer of existing UK public debt, Scotland would enter independence heavily indebted with no insurance from fiscal risk sharing or fiscal transfer mechanism with the rest of the UK.

"Even with a favourable settlement on future oil revenues, its fiscal balances are likely to be volatile with large deficits in some years as a result of its dependence on oil revenues."

The report continues:

"An independent Scotland is therefore likely to find the implicit constraints on economic policy, especially fiscal policy, are even more restrictive than the explicit ones it faces as part of the UK."

The SNP need to stop thinking that others will simply go along with what they want just because they want it.

They have to plan for the logical step which is a Scottish pound.

We can’t enter the Euro that is financial suicide; the English won’t want the risk of Scotland damaging them if there is a Scottish default.

So, if we are to go it alone, then it means we have to prepare everything.

So far, I have seen nothing of substance to convince the public that they should be placing a big X for a yes vote.

And I don’t think a plastic card to activists to reel off a few maybe’s will cut it.

As the old saying goes, ‘assumption is the mother of all fuck ups’!

Maybe someone should click to the idea that in the next 1,000 days, the campaign will become meaningless if questions are asked by the public and then not answered.

A few questions:

Has the Scottish Government entered into discussions at Ministerial level with Westminster over Scotland retaining Sterling?

Has the Scottish Government entered into discussions at Ministerial level with Westminster over Scotland entering a monitory union?

Has the Scottish Government entered into discussions at Ministerial level with Westminster as using the Bank of England as the lender of last resort?

And an aircraft is still a ship with a runway on top!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for human Rights at Glasgow University

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