Dave’s Big Adventure


Dave’s Big Adventure yesterday has the Tory right and far-right dancing with glee. He’s being compared to Churchill for walking away from Europe (as far I remember Churchill stood by Europe but let’s not quibble it’s the action they’ve been ganting for for decades). For some this is a great bat to beat the nationalist movement. But to the Twitter question ‘Why would Scotland want to join an unelected superstate?’ the answer quickly came, ‘We’re part of an unelected superstate, called Britain’.

Angus Macleod of The Times was ‘rubbing his hands at the deafening silence’ from SNP HQ, but we reckon that he and  Kenny Farquharson of SoS have got this one far wrong. Even the struggling mega-bland Eddy Miliband has it right: “We should be under no illusions about the import, the impact or the reasons behind the decision. The significance is that we have chosen to let 26 countries make crucial decisions without us. The prime minister’s apparent warning at the meeting that they “couldn’t use this building for their meetings” would be laughable if it was not tragic.”

This is a terrible decision for Britain but potentially good news for Scottish independence. A reconstituted eurozone could offer a safe haven from the crazies of big business Bullingdon and hedgefunds represented by British Govt PLC. As news seeps out (shock horror) that RBS boss Fred the Shred will escape ‘further’ (sic) sanction, what Cameron’s antics expose is a reckless xenophobic ideologue posturing as Tory New Man. Gone are the Huskies, Sam Cam and Hug a Hoody, back are the Same Old Tories.

What Cameron has done is protect the City of London and throw out prospects of a progressive Tobin or Robin Hood Tax. This is a disaster celebrated by the tabloid loons and the likes of Bill Cash and Nigel Farage. So what exactly is the murky Square Mile Cameron & Cronies are so exercised by? There’s no better source to turn to than Nicholas Shaxton, author of Treasure Islands. Here’s the background to the Tory parties opt-out that some have celebrated as ‘self-determination for England’:

“On 7 October 2002, an Anglican priest, William Campbell-Taylor, and an English-Jewish academic, Maurice Glasman, came to the law lords to challenge a parliamentary bill. It was the start of an episode that anyone worried about tax avoidance – or, for that matter, about the fate of the NHS, about economic inequality, about student loans, about capital flight from Africa, about global financial deregulation or about the political might of the financial sector – ought to know about. Yet there was little media interest.

The bill concerned the City of London Corporation, the local-government authority for the 1.2-square-mile slab of prime real estate in central London that is the City of London. The corporation is an ancient, semi-alien entity lodged inside the British nation state; a “prehistoric monster which had mysteriously survived into the modern world”, as a 19th-century would-be City reformer put it. The words remain apt today. Few people care that London has a mayor and a lord mayor – but they should: the corporation is an offshore island inside Britain, a tax haven in its own right.

The term “tax haven” is a bit of a misnomer, because such places aren’t just about tax. What they sell is escape: from the laws, rules and taxes of jurisdictions elsewhere, usually with secrecy as their prime offering. The notion of elsewhere (hence the term “offshore”) is central. The Cayman Islands’ tax and secrecy laws are not designed for the benefit of the 50,000-odd Caymanians, but help wealthy people and corporations, mostly in the US and Europe, get around the rules of their own democratic societies. The outcome is one set of rules for a rich elite and another for the rest of us.”

Where does this leave the Liberal Party? Whatever happened to ‘I agree with Nick’? As Marina Hyde writes they are imploding into a powder puff of yellow dust: “Cleggs story arc is like some Westminster version of Trainspotting, featuring grotesque scenes of personal degradation in pursuit of what must surely now be an ever-diminishing high. Perhaps a physicist would care to get in touch to explain whether there is a theoretical point at which a being has switch-backed on so many positions that he might simply atomise, leaving nothing but a thin coating of yellow dust and a pair of shoes he never grew into.”

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  1. David Smeall says:

    What currency does the SNP suggest we use – UK sterling,Euros or Scroats ? Is it the stock answer ‘we’ll wait and see’ and/or ‘we’ll have a referendum on it’ – it’s not a credible position

  2. Michael says:

    What currency will the rump state of EWNI use? The present £ is the currency of the present UK and property of all. Will EWNI join the Euro leaving the Scots with the £? Will the rump state issue a new currency? The Cameroon perhaps?

  3. Dave Coull says:

    Who has a better right to the pound Sterling than an independent Scotland? It was an independent Scotland that originated the pound Sterling. The Royal Mint of independent Scotland was situated in Sterling. Oh, okay, Stirling, if you insist on giving the place its new-fangled spelling. But you know where I mean, it’s in a very central position in Scotland, it’s got a castle on a rock, and a royal palace, and because it’s in such a central position both William Wallace and King Robert Bruce fought battles there. The pound Sterling meant the Scottish pound. When James the Sixth of Scotland, after forty one years as King of Scots, became king of England also, and travelled down to London, the concept of the pound Sterling went with him. Mind you, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll keep the pound as Scottish currency indefinitely. But these things take time. In Libya, despite having a new regime, they are still using banknotes with Muammar Gaddafi’s face on them. And of course Ireland kept the pound as its currency when it became independent. And in the early USA notes with pictures of King George continued to be more acceptable than those worthless continental dollars. But change will probably come eventually. As for what currency we eventually use, well, that’s for us to decide.

    1. Tocasaid says:

      Interesting answer.

      Anyway, in response to the first post, surely it would be for a Scottish govt post independence, to decide on its currency? I can’t think that the ‘currency question’ has put off any other small nation from declaring independence – any of the recent ex Soviet states? Nah.

    2. MacNaughton says:

      Excellent post…

  4. Rather boring party political sneering disguised as analysis, this. Zzzz. Down here in England, many of us would like to see something a bit smarter. I am an English Eurosceptic of the left who dislikes the Tories and supports self-determination across the UK nations. Could someone direct me to a site than can analyse current developments without resorting to standard left-nat boilerplate? Or am I being naive? Perhaps this site serves mainly to rally existing troops. Looks that way at present.

    1. Tocasaid says:

      So, your better analysis is…

    2. Dave Coull says:

      The section of the above article about the “City of London” being in effect an “offshore” entity, in the sense of not being subject to the laws of the land surrounding it, didn’t read like “rather boring party political sneering” to me. I thought pointing out David Cameron’s defence of this extra-legal “City” was indeed a genuine contribution to “analysing current developments”.

    3. bellacaledonia says:

      Would love to see the Eurosceptic English left in action. All I see is the front pages of the Daily Express and Daily Mail – jubilant and triumphant Paul. This isn’t left-nat boilerplate as BC has been exploring ideas of participation, post-British culture, ecology and decentralisation for four years. Hardly boilerplate.

    4. Since Cameron is defending The tax haven in the heart of Britain which is only 10% of the UK GDP ignoring the other 90% generated in other regions around the UK. In short he is defending London alone just because its financial serves generates 90% of its income and the bankers run the government for their own benefit not ours.

      Robert Fisk: Bankers are the dictators of the West

    5. Dave Coull says:

      Paul Kingsnorth, YOU’re the one doing the “sneering”, in typical posh-school fashion. The above article did make one significant point, about the “offshore” nature of the City of London. And having looked at your blog etc, it’s clear you are far more of a conventional “party political” type than myself. At the age of 70, I have never in my entire life been a member of any political party. During 12 years living and working in London, although I was very active in various non-party-political campaigns, I never once voted for ANYBODY. Since returning to Scotland, I have more often than not voted – but I’ve voted three different ways; and I did NOT vote for the SNP in this year’s election.

      1. ‘Posh school’? Perhaps you’re confusing me with George Monbiot 😉

        Also, I am not a member of any political party. But well done you, for NOT voting for anyone for seventy years. Hurray. (opens bottle in confusion.)

      2. Dave Coull says:

        The article on which we are commenting made a perfectly valid point about the “City of London” being in effect an “offshore” entity, in the sense of not being subject to the laws of the land surrounding it. That point is indeed a contribution to “analysing current developments”; David Cameron has chosen to fall out with the rest of Europe in defence of this “offshore” entity in the heart of the UK capital city. Now, there could be many good reasons for falling out with the EU; but that particular reason is an extremely bad one. Saying so is not “party political sneering”, particularly when, as in my case, it comes from somebody who has never in his life been a member of any political party. On the contrary, it was Paul Kingsnorth’s comments which struck me as “sneering”. Wikipedia says “Kingsnorth attended the Royal Grammar School High Wycombe” and then “went on to study modern history at Oxford University”. The Royal Grammar School at High Wycombe is a “selective” school established by Royal Charter in 1562, which does make it sound pretty “posh” to me; Oxford university is definitely “posh”; and the sneering tone adopted by Paul Kingsnorth in dismissing valid points from other contributors, while himself having nothing either original or relevant to contribute, struck me as being fairly typical of the products of “posh school” .

  5. Barontorc says:

    What’s astounding, is that those who populate the finance world – you remember them? Yes, that’s right, that collection of self-serving torags who creamed it as it all went up in flames, are still protected by a London-centric UK Government, who’ve lost the plot and with it the opportunity to curtail damage from any future shenanigans by imposing a transition tax.

    The unbridled regulation of these financial miscreants is pure and utter folly.

    Now, “UK PLC” is very lonely figure beset in a quagmire of international debt problems, where one skilled observer has ruefully said, “…if you ain’t at their table, your on it!”

    1. J McIllaney says:

      Quite agree Barontorc. Not sure how this is party-political either. What’s happened is the entire political elite being exposed as being in hock to these financial snake-oil salesmen.

      What’s frustrating for Paul – a (very) progressive and (very) enlightened left green English nationalist is an exit strategy.

      But it’s not boilerplate times and it’s not a matter of party politics.

  6. MacNaughton says:

    Agreed, Bella, Cameron picked the wrong fight, for the wrong reasons, at the wrong time, with the wrong people. The momentum is now with the Eusceptics and the UK leaving the EU…

    …this terrible decision offers yet another reason to vote for independence at the referendum: we need to get out of the Union as soon as possible, before Dave and the Euro sceptics have us bricking up the Channel tunnel altogether.

    On the other hand, the new deal will not solve the Euro crisis, and is a bad deal for Europe too, especially the south of Europe.

  7. Justin Kenrick says:

    To be fair to Paul Kingsnorth (re his comment above) his September 26th Guardian article quotes Kohr as saying that:

    “society’s problems were not caused by particular forms of social or economic organisation, but by their size. Socialism, anarchism, capitalism, democracy, monarchy – all could work well on what he called “the human scale”: a scale at which people could play a part in the systems that governed their lives. But once scaled up to the level of modern states, all systems became oppressors. Changing the system, or the ideology that it claimed inspiration from, would not prevent that oppression – as any number of revolutions have shown – because “the problem is not the thing that is big, but bigness itself”.

    Mike’s main point is that the UK is now being run by the City of London, and used by Global corporations and financiers to protect and enhance their wealth. Paul’s main September point was that we need ‘human scale’ societies, and that the global problem is not the lack of growth but the obsession with growth. The question then is how can independence be a stepping stone to real self-determination, to reviving real participation by people in their/ our communities, how can it be a return to ‘human-scale’ societies rather than be a route to yet another growth-obsessed state that is inevitably captured by the same elite running the City of London?

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Justin’s right and I have no quarrel with 98 per cent of Paul’s politics. Kohr’s quote is great, but makes no sense with regard to anarchism.

      1. Justin Kenrick says:

        Fair point – a bit of a logical contradiction there: “scaling [anarchism] up to the level of modern states”!

    2. FrankyB says:

      Your point is well made.

      Given your premise about “bigness” then our problems are inescapable. All civilisations fall because of the way institutions become self-serving within them and it is a certain group of people who run (are) these institutions.

      However, it won’t stop us trying.

    3. Dave Coull says:

      Why on Earth should we “be fair to Paul Kingsnorth” when his snooty-brattish comments were so obviously unfair to other contributors to this discussion?

  8. Indy says:

    I think the SNP are quite right not to start issuing statements and so on because I don’t think anybody knows what is going on now and it would be madness to start making commitments in a context where nobody can really predict any of the outcomes. Personally I think David Cameron might have done something reallyreally stupid which will have very negative consequences. But we don’t really know for sure at this stage, and it is still possible that the situation could change. Nothing is forever.

    But what I do think people need to remember is that although the pound and the euro are separate currencies they are still linked, maybe not in a formal way, but they are linked. The UK economy is tied in to the Euro economy. Having the pound doesn’t somehow mean that the UK economy is not dependent in many ways on the wider EU economy. If the euro crashes the pound will also crash. But if the pound crashes that doesn’t mean the euro will. And that’s something we need to remember as well.

    I agree that in the long term this could strengthen the argument for indepedence immeasurably but we do need a bit more clarity about what the future of the EU will look like before making definite commitments.

  9. James Morton says:

    I think that that Cameron has committed a catastrophic political blunder. The true tragedy in this affair is that it has been done in the name of bloviating demagogic euro-phobic windbags, so they can give Europe a two finger salute. Potentially a very expensive way of indulging and playing to the cheap seats. It will have cost him a lot of influence and bargaining power and could do a lot of damage to this countries economy.

  10. John Souter says:

    The latest developments in the EU have underlined the arrogance of elites – political and financial of both sides – to ignore completely the democratic factor.

    Westminster is intent on protecting the City of London, which, whether it works or not, doesn’t bode well for the glaring need of regulation and responsibility being enforced.

    While the EU has reinforced its undemocratic conventions without positing one idea as to how it will regulate the financial shamans.

    In fact the only strategy adopted by both of these establishments is to apply the axe of austerity which, in effect, is feeding the cancer instead of curing the patient.

    That apart would you really want an independent Scotland to have to send its budget to Brussels to allow the like of Barroso, Von Rumpoy et al to give it, or not, the green light?

    Where then lies sovereignty? With the people of a nation or the politics of self serving obfuscation?

  11. Scottish republic says:

    Great article Mike.

    One has to wonder at the ridiculous behaviour of the Brit nats. It just seems to go on and on and on and on -did the financial crisis caused by their political brothers Blair and Brown mean nothing? Apparently it did mean nothing.

  12. A Scot nat friend of mine recently gave me a very honest reply when I asked him how dumping Westminster but embracing Brussels had anything to do with ‘independence.’ He said that independence was impossible in today’s world, and the choice for small (potential) states was to choose which master they wanted – or which combination. That seems a much better way of looking at things. It’s impossible for any nation to stand anything like alone in the age of high tech connected capitalism.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      True.

      I don’t think anyone’s advocating isolationism or ‘seperatism’, this is the language used by the mainstream media and opponents of any change.

    2. MacNaughton says:

      True, P K, but Brussels hasn’t made a point of starting wars all across the globe, enslaved to a neo-con US foreign policy, nor does it oblige us to house a nuclear deterrent, two of the things which make independence the only ethically coherent response at the referendum as far as I am concerned.

      Brussels is also much more friendly to Scottish culture than London ever will be, which is to say, it is less hostile to it, for example in things such as supporting minority languages across the continent.

      So there is no question in my mind that Brussels bureaucrats are much preferable to Bullingdon toffs.

      The problem about the European Compact of the other day is that it is a pact by neo-liberal governments of nations states which will lead to a Europe even more dominated by the French-Germans and the ECB, as opposed to a moving further down the road to a loose-fitting European federalism, which is the best answer to the globalised scenario you refer to as far as I can see.

      1. Douglas Strang says:

        Well summed up MacNaughton

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