Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The more things change ...

I hope that amongst those whose enthusiasm for Scottish independence has more than a passing resemblance to support for a football team, some will take time to consider the issues before they vote.  I won't be holding my breath.

Those who make out a reasoned case are capable of entering into reasoned argument.  Those who behave like football fans are not.  I speak as a football fan.  There is no one who will ever convince me of the superior merit of an alternative team to my own.  I was born to support my team and it never occurs to me to waver. Whether we are bottom of the league and regularly thrashed or masters of all we survey, we are who we are.  That's why I refer to my team as 'we' and, as everyone knows, 'we' are permanently in opposition to 'them'.

I can afford to be so illogical because, fortunately, my livelihood is not at stake in matters of football. In matters of politics mixed with economics the issues are, hard though it may be to accept this, more weighty.

These are some of the issues that I wish to see resolved:

1) It is claimed that Scotland needs independence in order to lay hold of the important levers by which our economy is to be directed.  It is simultaneously claimed that we shall immediately hand back all of the monetary levers and a large proportion of the fiscal levers to The Bank of England and the rest of the UK. The Governor of the Bank of England seems to have confirmed this. Question: remind me again what is the point?

2) It is claimed that a currency union is in the interests of the rest of the UK because of the way it will simplify trade. Problem: it also makes the RUK responsible for the debts of the Scottish government, banks and public institutions and gives the Scottish government a say in UK monetary and fiscal policy.  There are quite good reasons for their refusing to accept this. Please explain to me why they will do it.

3) It is claimed that we shall automatically continue as members of the European Union, despite the claims to the contrary of, amongst others, the President of the European Commission and the government of Spain.  Bad news; this has to be unanimously agreed by EU members and the Spanish have a vote.

4) It is claimed that we could be added to the existing membership of the EU without having to accept the rules normally applied to new members, such as signing up to the Euro and the Schengen free travel area and that for some reason we would be entitled to a share of the UK's current budget rebate. Problem: in return for all their concessions, we are giving the other members what, exactly?

5) It is claimed that we shall continue to enjoy a common travel area with the rest of the UK, whilst adopting a radically different immigration policy from them.  Question: exactly how do we stop them setting up border checkpoints to enforce their immigration policy?  How much would consequent delays cost us?

6) It is claimed that we shall be able to go on financing our universities by charging fees to students from the RUK, despite the fact that EU law forbids discrimination against other member states.  Right.  So we think that they will let us get away with charging the English provided we don't charge the Bulgarians?  Seriously?

That's to be going on with.  When I hear the answers to these I'll start on the rest of the questions.