Jekyll and Hyde


The week started well, with Rory wanting to find 100,000 people to man the border hills with flaming torches and David Cameron urging a constitutional orgy of inter-national love messaging.

Unfortunately by Wednesday the No campaign had descended into a “declaration of economic war”, as Iain Macwhirter put it on Radio Scotland. This strange case of Dave as Dr. Jekyll and the hideous Gideon as Mr. Hyde with a reckless use of mad potions of economic chemistry threatens to plunge the referendum campaign into a different unrecognisable form.

It’s as if Cameron has unleashed his inner Osborne. In a few days the No message has transformed into something more menacing and primitive looking. Unlike Cameron, the Osborne variant has no conscience, no restrictions, no boundaries; he is free to do what he pleases.

Gideon and UDI

Gideon and Ham’s botched threatening posture risks the campaign descending into a more extreme phase, as panicked Unionists descend into naked threat-mode. One response, not so far considered, is that such an abandonment hastens a declaration of UDI after the vote.

Without the Edinburgh Agreement functioning as a behavioral restraint mechanism and the softening orthodoxy of conventional negotiations, relations could sour to the point of departure.

What does that look like? Nobody really knows, but if people get their knickers in a twist about a few brickbats on Twitter I don’t think they’re going to like whatever’s next.

As Stewart Hosie told us today Westminster Hall: Currency in Scotland £60 billion trade sold from the rest of the UK into Scotland is more than South Africa, Russia, China, and Brazil combined. If British Ministers really want to de-couple debt from assets it does set an entirely different precedent. As Nicola Sturgeon has said:

“It would cost their own businesses hundreds of millions of pounds, it would blow a massive hole in their balance of payments and it would leave them having to pick up the entirety of UK debt.”

Whether the UK is genuinely risking the loss of North Sea Oil revenues or not is a good question. As are those raised by Ronald MacDonald, saying, in essence, if we do not accept responsibility of our fair share of rUK liabilities and particularly our fair share of UK public debt, then: ” Presumably in that case it would not be given the share of assets relating to the sterling monetary union, such as, crucially, its share of the foreign exchange reserves held at the Bank of England. How then would they be able to operate a sensible foreign exchange rate policy absent foreign exchange reserves? Where would these come from?”

One neat answer is: £1.5 trillion of oil assets.

A less negative view comes from the Adam Smith Institute who see it as some sort of liberatory moment.

Certainly if the British Chancellor has decoupled debts and assets he could be making a transformative mistake, releasing us from an obligation to take some responsibility for up to £150b of British debt.

The Consequences of Threatening iScotland

Whatever the technical merits realities and claims of the economists, it remains an extraordinary moment in British politics, where the true nature of the relationship between Westminster and the Scottish society is starkly revealed. Anybody witnessing the debate in Westminster Hall called by Ian Murray (Labour, Edinburgh South) on Scottish Currency would see little more than a mob in suits.

There wasn’t much decorum, and there wasn’t much debate. But it’s wider than that.

As Derek Bateman, the Beeb’s newly feral journalist puts it (‘We Love you You Bastards’):

It is a statement – by all the main Unionists – that Scotland has no stake in the UK. We have, according to them, contributed nothing to the pound, made no impact on the UK’s finances, the reserves and fiscal policy and as a result deserve nothing out of it. Is it £300 or £400 billions in oil revenues and they count for nothing. How much in corporation tax from Royal Bank alone over the years? We have been taken for a ride, if they are right. What they are saying is that Britain belongs to them, lock, stock and barrel and more fool the Scots for thinking they were really partners.

It is difficult to see how they can pretend now to love Scotland with more melancholic sub-Wordsworth fancies when they unite behind vindictive John Bull obduracy. Even at risk to their own interests they will resist the economic logic.

This is Better Together gone all Miley Cyrus. A potential wrecking ball to the economies north and south of the border, and several consequences become clear:

1. The ‘there will be no ‘pre-negotiations’ line, now looks to have been abandoned.

2. The co-ordination and unity between the three parties is now explicit and undeniable as moves become more and more desperate. The idea of ‘two campaigns’ is left looking increasingly stupid. It’s really just the Better Together campaign and Gordon Brown’s side-project.

3. As a moment to decide to ramp-up the debate it’s badly chosen. In a few weeks both Cameron and Salmond will be a few miles away near Aberdeen. The pressure to meet and debate will become irresistible.

4. It will require some quite nifty footwork from Alistair’s Carmichael and Darling to explain away their on the record statements on the currency. They are both bound as one and separated by what they have said.


There is a possibility that this all stems for last months announcement from the Treasury that all the debt belongs legally to the rUK Treasury. Perhaps they realised too late that we can’t default on debt that’s not legally ours. Maybe that was just a terrible tactical mistake they re now rushing to patch-up?

This is being spun as a terrible blow to the Yes campaign and the indy movement and I have seen sombre and dread uttered by several indy commentators. That’s not how I see it at all. We should be asking ourselves instead: what on earth do people in Scotland make of these politicians threatening the Scots by denying them access to their own currency? At some point there will have to be a reckoning for the lies, distortions, culture of threats and intimidation carried out by these people.

If we are being told that Scotland has no stake in the UK that’s a powerful and clear message. If we have to think more deeply about how we run our economy and our currency systems, given the chaos of neo liberal deregulated Britain, that can only be a good thing.

Comments (13)

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  1. Paul Wilson says:

    Project fear is about to come back and bite them on the bum.

  2. Abulhaq says:

    In Switzerland the franc, euro, dollar and no doubt yen, renminbi or even BofE pound may be presented and accepted in many shops. After all it’s money, it’s business. In England tender a Scottish pound and we all know what happens. This trio of nay-saying Toryboys are acting like spoilt brats overturning the monopoly board.

  3. muttley79 says:

    The day of reckoning is on the 18th September. A Yes vote allows us to be sure that we always get the governments we vote for, the expulsion of Trident from Scotland, a written constitution, and a real chance to build a new society and economy. A No vote leaves us with absolutely no protection from Westminster and the Tories. For decades the MSM/Unionists have been telling the people of Scotland that we are equal partners, and an integral part of the Union. The events since 2011 must surely shatter this propaganda once and for all. Scotland is merely a possession of the British state and establishment. We have to know our place, and not get ambitious for Scotland. Time to reject this bankrupt, self serving ideology forever on the 18th September.

  4. bearinorkney says:

    “At some point there will have to be a reckoning for the lies, distortions, culture of treats and intimidation carried out by these people”

    I see no “treats”.

    I want “treats” and I want the now! ………….fat chance.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Did you not get your treats? Everybody else did.

  5. Andy Anderson says:

    Ronnie Morrison and I have a new book with the printers now called “Moving on ..The economic case for Scottish independence” in which we urge Scotland not to get involved with sterling other than to negotiate a way out. It seems that in their stupidity the Unionist parties have given us their support and offered to take full responsibility for the UK national debt as well what’s not to like about that.

  6. If this ‘no agreed currency union’ threat does indeed come to pass (and BBC Scotland News is finished if it doesn’t), I have a funny feeling our FM will be as ‘gutted’ as he was when Westminster insisted Devo Max was taken off the ballot paper.

    There is, after all, absolutely nothing to stop us continuing to use Sterling pro tem without agreement. Likewise Sterling without Scotland would have a debt to GDP ration of something over 110% and Scotland would be debt free. How long till it would be 2 £RumpUK to the £Scots?

  7. mackisimul says:

    “At some point there will have to be a reckoning for the lies, distortions, culture of threats and intimidation carried out by these people.” – Indeed there will.

  8. I’m trying to remain positive but I do fear that this announcement – bold lies just to turn the tide or not – will do unimaginble damage and ultimately cost us the yes we so desperately need.

    Most people are not as sure as we are, many are scared of change and what it means. Despite the fact we could continue using the Sterling inspite of this, the media spin implies quite strongly that this isnt the case and that will be whats absorbed.

    I worry we have become a little complacent lately, the battle is far from over and this kind of dirty move is just the tip of the desperation iceberg.

  9. A repeat of 1707. Threats, trade and economic warfare. Will the torchwavers at the border really be a repeat of the English army of 1707 ready to invade if we “vote the wrong way”?

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