Discussing Scottish Independence and the demerits of a Sterling Union on KPFA Radio (Berkeley, CA)

ScotlandHere is a 25 minute radio interview on KPFA Radio (Berkeley CA) on the Scottish Independence question that will be decided by  Scottish voters on 18th September. (Click here and jump to 32’50” for the interview). The points raised are further supported by two previous posts: (a) Scotland Must Be Braver! and (b) If Scotland, why not Greece?


  • The way I see the issue is as follows:

    1. Scotland can separate but without the pound.
    2. Have the Scots been told of this and other economic consequences?

    If so (and they have been told and weighed the facts properly) then their referendum decision (whichever it might be) stands. Otherwise this whole referendum seems to be illegal on the basis of false information. You can’t ask people to vote on erroneous issues which have not been researched and/or substantiated.

  • As a good friend pointed out here is the pure political math for the Scottish referendum.

    1. If the Yes vote for independence wins then 59 Labour party seats are wiped out.
    2. This in turn means that the U.K. Labour party becomes permanent opposition with no prospects of ever winning UK-remainder elections (unless there is a future landslide issue we don’t know about/or possible could have known at present).
    3. On the other hand, if Scotland is lost under Cameron’s watch then he is history as the Tory party leader.
    4. Which in turn means that the next party in power would be the Tory party with a new leader (maybe Boris Johnson, maybe another).

    Therefore the whole political art in dealing with the Scottish elections outcome as a conservative is how to look concerned when in fact the whole thing is playing to your advantage.

    As far as Scotland is concerned it will only achieve freedom and independence after a very long and laborious process way beyond the 18 months of negotiation), while all privileges currently enjoyed would be under suspension. In other words for Scotland is a “lose, lose” proposition. I fail to see where or what is the object of independence. Independence from what? the very thing that is intertwined into you daily life in unseen ways that you don’t even know about?

    Despite the fact that is very hard to oppose independence as a concept of unquestionable public value, this Scottish effort looks very poorly put together and more like a PR campaign rather than a drive for true independence.

    BTW, if Scotland is lost then for certain the remainder of UK will reject the EU and will permanently withdraw from it via a future referendum. To me this whole fiasco looks like a well played checkmate, heavily titled towards the Eurosceptic camp.

    What was Salmon thinking when he started this effort? That the rest of U.K. will say no? or the Queen will publicly protest? This is a disaster from the “get go”.

  • Once again, you had to explain your (dubious 🙂 position that Greece should not leave the Euro, although staying in is the wrong thing for the medium and long term! Why not? Because (a) it is hard technically and (b) … TATIANA*

    Yet, to our great misfortune, TATIANA is equally hard technically. It astonishes me that you so much underestimate the political impossibility of TATIANA. If the elites of the surplus nations were, after an epiphany about the looming darkness ahead, to consent to TATIANA, they would find themselves overthrown in short order by their electorates who would be righteously crying “you are turning all of us into PIGS”.

    Thus, even if the surplus countries’ elites were (are) enlightened, they would be (are) waiting for the deficit countries to make a move. But what could that move be? It cannot be TATIANA, because TATIANA requires bilateral consent, which cannot be given. It has to be “TATIANA or else abandon the Euro”.

    Refusing to insert the “or else” in your argument, effectively you propose that “Cowardly, fatal and spineless at the same time, we expect, maybe a miracle”**

    And, alas, you are being heeded.

    (*) TATIANA = “That Astonishingly There Is AN Alternative” I like this acronym for the Modest Proposal from your previous post

    (**) “Δειλοί, μοιραίοι κι άβουλοι αντάμα, προσμένουμε, ίσως, κάποιο θάμα!”*

  • I really don’t know what is behind the curtain.
    Scottish people are not privy in these kinds of situations like Greeks or Spanish are.
    They are claiming that they will keep the GB pound.
    I believe that they do not know the risks of having a currency without controlling it.

    • I think you are missing the point. The decision to keep the pound or not is not up to the Scottish people. It’s up to the remainder of the UK and the answer is already a resounding no; that an independent Scotland can not keep the pound.

      Therefore it’s not what the Yes campaign claims what their intentions are. Their intentions seem to be irrelevant to those who will execute such an arrangement.

      Which in turns point to a very bizarre process bordering amateurism. How did the Yes campaign people come up with the conclusion that keeping the pound was possible? This does not look like a very competent process, more like a PR campaign of sorts. Everyone who knows something about constitutional law knows that the next 5 years would be a constitutional nightmare for Britain which also has to undergo an EU referendum.

      Salmon looks to me as an extreme opportunist with very little practical ability to deliver on his promise. He just wants his name to be known in history that he lead the first campaign of Scottish independence but without the tools for such campaign to be credible or doable. You don’t have to be of the legal profession to see at least a 100 constitutional lawsuits lining up the next day after the vote.

    • Dear Dean,

      Of course they can adopt the GB pound. They could even use US dollar if they want. Like Panama adopted the US dollar as legal tender after independence. You can adopt but you can’t control.
      The EU referendum will be a walk in the park for the rest UK without Scottish. The Scottish are the only EU friendly voice here in UK.

    • Dear George K:

      In theory you could adopt anything you want but in reality adopting a foreign currency strips you of your independence. Therefore the Scottish situation becomes a case of clear misinformation campaign. The Scots are told that they could break away from England/U.K. but in reality they are signing up to an even more pronounced servitude of a different kind.

      And since you mentioned the EU there is no way that Spain, Belgium et al would ever admit Scotland into the union and thus amplify their own disintegration process.

      Finally and more importantly there is the issue of national debt. If Scotland refuses to shoulder its proportionate share of the existing UK national debt then the rest of UK will make a move towards claiming the North Sea oil revenue to satisfy such debts. With North Sea oil revenues declining and becoming obsolete within the next 15 years I am not quite sure of how Scotland plans to support its social services and a decent way of life for the Scots.

      As I said before I am really surprised how little thought has gone into this. The so called “drive for independence” is a euphemism for more severe servitude of a different kind. And if so, someone (see Salmond) is not being honest with the Scottish people. Promises + appearances do not equal certainty and reality.

    • They won’t have to ask the UK whether they can retain the pound or not.
      They can simply create a new currency and peg it to the GBP…
      Would they be dumb enough to do that is a more interesting question.

  • I believe the currency options were outlined in the document available from here: http://www.scotreferendum.com/reports/scotlands-future-your-guide-to-an-independent-scotland/
    The referendum campaign has been running for the best part of two years, and that guide has been available since the end of last year. It’s not as if someone suddenly decided to go for independence in the last week, despite the impression left by the recent flurry of activity in the British broadcast media.

    • Scottish are very clear in this.

      “What currency will an independent Scotland use?
      Answer: We propose that the pound Sterling will continue to be the currency of an independent Scotland.”

      So, Scottish want to be like Greece or Spain (or Panama in the worst case scenario). Greece uses euro without Europe having a banking or political connection.
      I believe this is not a serious campaign.
      Ask Greeks how “Independent” they feel.

    • Forget about media and emotional manifestations of any kind. Let’s focus on the facts and nothing but the facts. There are certain undeniable truths which can’t be ignored.

      •There will be no currency union with the remainder of the UK
      •An independent Scotland will not automatically be a member of the EU
      •An independent Scotland that does not have a central bank, but instead uses the pound sterling without a currency union, will be forbidden by EU rules from joining the EU
      •An independent Scotland that does not have a central bank, but instead uses the pound sterling without a currency union, will see the departure of almost all its current banks
      •An independent Scotland that reneges on its share of UK debt will not be welcome to join the EU
      •An independent Scotland that joins the EU will be obliged to commit to joining the euro and making efforts in good faith to do so at the earliest convenient opportunity
      •An independent Scotland that joins the EU will not have the UK rebate, but will instead (if the rest of the UK remains in the EU) have to pay to fund the rebate for the rest of the UK

  • The real question is this: Do the Scots want their independence from the UK or not? To my mind this question has not been put yet. All the process of a country’s independence is not a condition in which someone only wins. The Scots separatists want a soft divorce. They want a new house, their own state, without losing anything of their previous rights. This, it will not be happened! A great Greek poet, who lived at the age of Greek revolution, Andreas Kalvos said that “freedom needs courage and daring”. If Scotland wants her independence, she should be prepared to have her own Central Bank and her own currency. In my opinion, it will not be a disaster for Scotland. In any case, if they really voted for “Yes”, they would be ready to take the responsibility of their future. They have to sacrifice something for the independence of their country, aren’t they?

    • Ilias this not a issue of courage. Scots are plenty courageous. This is a case of poor planning and lack of forethought. It’s along the same lines of ill-prepared and dubious statements we hear from Syriza that upon seizing power they somehow will engineer an MOU renegotiation with Merkel and the Brussels clowns. They can’t because there is no one on the other line to take the call let alone sit down with Syriza because Syrisa thinks they have a pseudo-mandate. The EU is pure evil and you can’t fight evil by democratic exercises because to put it simply you can’t compel evil to be either democratic or reasonable.

      That the Scots, Greeks and others are all attracted to propositions/appearances of greater democratic depth/character is not an accident. It’s the logical manifestation of this umbrella of democratic deficit which overshadows everything in the European continent; this dark cloud we call the EU and the unholy Eurozone. It’s the same principal of thirsty people attracted to anything that appears or tastes like water. People yearn for what has been so deliberately denied them, namely freedom.

      We have all watched Braveheart and we all are with the Scots all the way. But not like that brothers and sisters…if you want to win your freedom please think first. Think, think, think. Use your effing brains for crying out loud.

    • Definitely, there is no doubt about Scots’ brave and courage. If somebody just take a look in Britain’s military history or the history of all great explorations, he will understand a lot of things about Scots’ spirit and braveness. It takes thinking , planning and hard work to ensure the progress of a country. But to change the history, to make the jump to another level, it needs endless faith and a well-defined dream. In these circumstances, Scotland needs tremendous amount of courage. I’ve just agreed with Yiannis Varoufakis, that the Scottish leaders of ‘yes’ ignored the biggest lesson from the history of mankind. The new independent states always fight for their identity and their own currency is used as a proof of their existence and sovereign. Whenever a country uses a foreign currency in which it is not able to intervene in any way, it seems like an independent country but in fact it is a satellite country. I think that many Scots feel that it is true.

  • This talk about Scottish independence is funny. More than half of the land in Scotland is owned by fewer than 500 people. Yeah, right, “independence.”

    Leaders of Quebec’s separatist party are over in Scotland encouraging the Scots to vote “Yes.” These separatists who get heart palpitations when they see English words side-by-side French words probably have no idea that the official language of Scotland is … English!