Monday, 21 April 2014

Scottish Independence - A Dialogue of the Deaf

Recent triumphalism from separatists claiming to be winning the argument is frustrating to people actually trying to think through the problems of independence. Rational discussion has not even begun. To date the so-called debate has been an emotional pantomime in which every claimed disadvantage is met by cries of "Oh no it isn't!" and little else.
To stress the risk of losing what we already have is not negativism. We have obtained certain advantages through the union. It is for separatists to explain either why we shall not be putting these advantages at risk or why it is worth it. Yet all we hear is flat denial of troubling claims such as those made by:
1. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the economic spokesman of the Labour party, who say that there will be no sterling currency union because it isn't in the UK's interest;
2. The Governor of the Bank of England who says that a sterling zone would require some ceding of national sovereignty in order to avoid the sort of financial instability that has hurt the Eurozone;
3. The Prime Minister of Spain and the President of the EU Commission who say that Scotland will not be an automatic member of the EU and will have to apply;
4. Economists who suggest that a refusal by Scotland to accept its share of the National Debt would lead to downgrading of our credit rating and a rise in our interest and mortgage rates;
5. The Institute for Fiscal Studies which says that oil revenues have been overestimated and Scotland cannot afford even current levels of public spending;
6. Financial institutions which have indicated that they may have to move south because regulations require their headquarters to be in the same jurisdiction as their largest market;
7. The Defence Secretary who says there is no guarantee that future UK contracts for warships etc. will be placed with a foreign country;
8. The former Secretary General of NATO who doubts that Scotland will be enthusiastically welcomed into the organisation whilst evicting Trident, an important part of NATO's defence strategy;
9. The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland which has warned of major uncertainties for pensions after independence;
10. The Home Secretary who says there will have to be border controls and passport checks because continued free travel is incompatible with Scotland encouraging immigration whilst the UK discourages it.
These are just ten examples of warnings to which the standard response has been denial and accusations of bluff or bullying but not facts.
Let evidence now be brought forward. Let us hear detailed reasons why all these well-informed people are wrong. Until such time we may reasonably doubt that a rational, unemotional argument for independence has even been made, let alone won.