Plan B, UK?

I woke this morning and found myself in bed with Alastair Darling and Jim Naughtie and decided to vote No if only they’d leave me alone. Alastair is now heavily into gabbling mode where every question is an excuse to launch into a tirade of slaisters which goes on incoherently until he dries up. Somebody should tell him he sounds increasingly desperate, as if he’s pleading a forlorn case when surely the drill is that he should be the statesmanlike voice of the runaway winners. I’m going to stop making this point from now on because I think it is helping the Yes campaign that the leader of the opposition sounds like a loser.

I’m also beginning to think the thick layer of complacency may also be working to the Yes advantage. I did my duty listening to Radio 4 and while I enjoyed Jim Naughtie’s forays into our wee homeland it was striking to me that he didn’t seem to find anybody in the entire north east who wanted independence. This seemed to be underlining his thesis that the area – from whence he came – is “different”. Therefore while it is the centre of the oil industry which is representative of the nationalist movement, the “reality” seemed to be contradictory because when it comes to independence, the locals aren’t having it, despite voting SNP. This maybe bolstering Jim’s own thesis about the debate and that, in a campaigning way, is all to the good. The more airily relaxed they are in assuming they know the mind of the Scots, the less observant they will be of what appearing on the radar.

But what has been emerging recently is the major flaw in the No campaign argument over currency. They have chosen this ground because they believe it is a weakness, obviously, but they have based their case on the UK saying no to currency union. The trouble is – they haven’t. And it is becoming clearer by the day that they won’t say it. Interviewing Darling, Jim ended with the killer question. Why don’t you just say No?

Alastair dodged it and said something about it being  “a decision for the Scots”. Eh?!  I think that’s what he said and quickly moved on into his stream-of-slurry mode which Jim allowed to spray the airwaves until he dried up. Why didn’t Naughtie stop him and demand an answer: What credibility can you have on this topic without ruling out a currency union? We all know the answer – they will want a shared currency if the Scots vote Yes and will look stupid if the say no now. I also think a definitive statement would shake the currency markets. If the polls begin to pick up so independence becomes more likely AND the UK government clearly states Scotland will be excluded from sterling, they will immediately begin factoring in the consequences, i.e. a fall in the pound’s value. It would also encourage business leaders with revenue to lose in the Scottish market – not to mention Scottish businesses exporting south – to speak up and express worries for their business costs  and employment. They might begin to blame the Treasury not the Nats.

So next Jim interviewed Nicola and while it was a perfectly acceptable effort, he followed throughout a Better Together agenda, namely doubts over currency union and finally the apparent need for a Plan B – straight out of Alistair Carmichael’s mouth. When she said effectively there wasn’t a Plan B because there was no realistic chance of Plan A failing, he went on demanding until she said the flip side of being denied access to our own currency would mean no requirement to take a share of UK national debt which is the real dog in the Scottish economic case. Oh! Oh! yelped Jim, refusing to pay your debts, eh? when all she was saying was that, if refused by London, there was a response at Edinburgh’s disposal. I followed her logic but would an English audience? I’m not sure. They would think she had no follow up for refusal of sterling except cheating on paying Scotland’s share of the bills. (I think London should be careful what they wish for as turning down a currency union means Scotland starts its own and leaves them in a mess).

What a shame Jim didn’t take the opportunity to put the Plan B question to Alastair. If it were me, I’d take the gist of one side’s argument and turn it round on them. It is common journalistic practice. “You say the SNP has no Plan B, Mr Darling. What’s yours? If the Scots vote yes, what’s your Plan B?” To which he would say there is no need for Plan B because No will win which the interviewer points  out  is exactly the same answer as his opponent gave.

And what is Plan B? The UK government is not making any contingency plans, despite being criticised by Westminster committees. It has no readiness plans despite the imminent vote. It will not enter talks despite the Electoral Commission urging it to do so. Whole sections of industry and commerce want clarity but the government won’t provide it. The people demand answers to questions on EU membership – and indeed on currency – the government refuses to give it. What Naughtie should have pointed out is that the UK has no Plan B and is sleepwalking into catastrophe. If the vote is Yes, it won’t just be that Cameron lost Scotland, he didn’t even have a strategy to deal with the loss and didn’t have the guts even to stand up for Britain against the nationalist leader on television. As the opinion polls begin to rise, that will become the pressing issue and then we’ll see how Dave – and Jim – react.

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0 thoughts on “Plan B, UK?

  1. Just watched the presentation and Q&A . Professional, competent , confident and real pressure on No campaign now. Fielded every question and left them all struggling to find more negatives.
    They’ll try no doubt but this sort of exposure of Yes position is what we’ve needed- much harder for No to keep up the disinformation

  2. Great man with a brilliant mind. I still miss his Saturday morning programme. Here’s to the day he’s back there on a genuine Radio Scotland!

  3. Too true, Derek. Come next year and the opinion polls change, the markets are going to be taking a very keen interest in George’s utterances on just chucking away the massive assets that underpin the pound. Who’s to bet that next year, the hoo-ha around Sterling will be quietened down to avoid spooking the markets, in favour of, oh let’s say, the inability of Scotland’s new army to defend us against North Korea.

  4. Very good article. However, it was difficult to get the image of yourself in bed with Alastair Darling and Jim Naughtie out of one’s mind…

  5. It is becoming very clear that a Yes vote will be Scotland’s gain and England’s loss.The No Scotland campaign is more concerned with the latter than the former,hence their phoney slogan of being Better Together.
    As things progress it will become evident to Scottish voters that this is where they are coming from and nothing really to do with looking after our interests.
    Better Together (socially) but only after independence.

  6. The currency issue is going to bite them on the bum.

    There is not only a plan B, but also C. They simply aren’t as mutually beneficial or cooperative. B as Nicola stated would be leaving all debt behind and probably peg ourselves to the pound regardless. C would be the creation of our own central bank and currency. The catastrophic effects though of no sterling zone on rUK economy and even our own would last a long, long time as outlined by George Kerevan recently and highlighted by yourself Derek.

    Bottom line is we are next door neighbours and wish to continue as good friends with all on these isles in a common travel area. We are shareholders in the BoE it is part of those transferable assets after all and last but by no means least our own hard assets/resources help underpin the UKs balance of payments. You know I cant think of one government and central bank world wide that would react well to losing 9.9% of its annual budgetary contributions or £1.5tr of asset base. Common sense dictates that for all the sabre rattling there would indeed be a sterling zone in the interim. A transition period whilst Scotland finds its feet, and in the future? Well I’d look forward to the flotation of a Scottish pound, merk, groat call it what you will, but a Scottish currency.

    The problem facing an exchequer and in fact a Westminster government which has yet to define their solid position on anything (as per the ECs recommendations) is they increasingly look hopelessly outmatched in performance and lacking in substance.

  7. I heard Carmichael being interviewed on Radio Scotland this morning. No complaints about the way he was interviewed other than letting him talk out the interview when he relised he was going to be questioned about what would happen in the event of a no vote.
    However the interviewer missed an open goal when Carmichael said that Scots would be taxed an extra £1,000 a year and then seconds later claimed that if Scotland did share a currency then taxes would have to be set from London.
    Does that mean Westminster plan to raise taxes by £1,000.

  8. Whom was on your right? Naughtie, Darling!

  9. Roibert a Briuis

    BUT when you said James darling…was there an echo or did they both just start spouting nonsense as per usual….curious interested people would love to know 😉

  10. No change soon at the BBC by the looks of it then. Are we surprised? It’s up to us to get the message out as they are sure as hell not going to do it.

    I do think, however, that the unionists were not looking quite so smug today. In fact more than just a few looked panicky. They know they have no answers so can do nothing but trot out the same old rubbish.
    Iain Gray must surely get the prize for the best question, though, when he asked at this afternoon’s Q&A session in Holyrood:

    ‘Where is the money coming from for an oil fund?’
    I must say that made my day!

  11. An independent Scotland will have its own Balance of Payments, as will rUK.

    Even if denominated in Sterling, they will be counted separately for each country.

    Our sterling reserves will be ours and theirs will be theirs.

    France and Germany both use the Euro, but that doesn’t mean that either country’s Balance of Payments situation is better as a result.

    We will use sterling for the short term only and it will be in the interests of both countries to do so. But in the long term, Scotland’s economy will be much stronger than the rUK economy and we will need our own currency.

    I am fed up with Darling talking of the Euro and Independence without being challenged. Can a reporter or YES member please ask him on a TV discussion if he thinks the sharing of the Euro by France and Germany means they are not independent countries.

  12. Can someone tell naughtie to stop showing signs of excitement whenever he gets the interviewee to follow the better together line he wants. He could at the very least have the decency to pretend he is neutral I actually feel embarrassed for him

    Isnt the main streams media in scotland having a 100% leaning to unionism a story in its self

  13. It is always telling when a campaign begins to rely on misrepresenting their opponents to make their case rather than just honestly stating their own case as clearly as they can.

    So we see the YESnp campaign from top to bottom claiming that Alistair Darling said that the YESnp plans for a currency union were logical and desirable. He said no such thing of course but Mr Salmond on telly last night claimed he did.

    And no wonder, for the SNP contention that it is in the best interests of the UK to enter into a currency union with a country who is committed to undercutting it on corporation tax and who intends to diverge on other fiscal policies is quite clearly nuts.

    There could well be a currency union in the unlikely event of a yes vote but the conditions set by the Bank of England on fiscal and monetary policy will take those economic levers so coveted by Messrs Swinney and Salmond and put them firmly in the hands of the UK Treasury.

  14. I think Scotland will need to have its own central bank in place ultimately – maybe not at the moment of independence – but to take a seat at the top table in the EU (Council of Ministers) it would be seen as one of the prerequisites. Otherwise we may just appear to be a federal chunk of the UK. Every country of any weight in Europe has its own central bank and we should aim to do the same and for the same reasons as every other European country.

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