Another bombardment of tough love is already skyward and heading our way this week as the independence-haters – what else can they be with such irrational, self-harming persistence – seek to hammer home their orchestrated line on no currency sharing. (I get images of Osborne astride a descending bomb like the major in Dr Strangelove)
It would have been arm-round-the-shoulder week, like the boozy wincher, angling for a stolen kiss, no doubt turning nasty on rejection. Instead, through their own ineptitude, they are obliged to bludgeon us with ever more shrill insistence that they meant it all along. I notice, by the way, that Mark Carney has been quietly recruited by some as saying there would be no currency deal. He didn’t and wouldn’t.
We will laugh at their growing desperation but remember they aren’t listening to us, they are hitting the same target every time – the worried Don’t Knows.
I think there could be a problem in all this though and it’s already been hinted at by a senior Tory. Constantly telling anyone what they can and can’t do, especially on dubious moral authority, is the same mistake Margaret Thatcher and her nutty Scottish acolytes like Michael Forsyth made. They simply couldn’t grasp that free citizens – supposedly Britain’s real Tories – won’t comply with authoritarianism and lose their respect for their tormentor.
I think that’s what lay behind Jackson Carlaw’s open admission that he would fight for currency union, if and after the Scots voted Yes. But he is rare. The rest of the party are repeating historical mistakes by assuming the position of master over servant. The effective declaration that ‘It’s our currency, our bank and our country, so fall into line’ is the message of the Thatcher years. Forsyth forced the idea of privatisation and the dismantling of local representation (‘municipal socialism’) on an unwilling population in the wide-eyed belief he knew better than those he represented. He even split and nearly destroyed his own party on Thatcher’s behalf. His bête noir was devolution which he opposed to the end – 1997 – when it was the only way his party was able to survive. No Parliament: no Tories. Fascinating to learn that the No Pound wheeze was promoted by the very man who worked with Forsyth and Thatcher on the Poll Tax, the Scot, since decamped to Sussex, Andrew Dunlop. See what I mean about never learning? And what do those Labour voters make of their new friend, Dunlop, those anti-independence, Labour folk who will never forgive the Tories for the Poll Tax? Their main ally in Number 10, the man who got Ed Balls to share the platform, is the architect of the same tax. How much of this can real Labour people take?
Unionists need to beware. They may egg on the sterling coalition for the sake of the campaign but what lies beyond the vote? What kind of Union is it that makes explicit the disempowerment of one partner and the total dominance of the other? The currency issue has become emblematic of future difficulties. Like redundant miners and steel workers, the combined British No Pound declaration will be an historical icon and a constant reminder of our true role in the Greatest Union in History ©.
Now of course, again by ham-fisted campaigning, they have created a longer-term problem. By telling the world that there will be no currency deal, they face an uphill task implementing one if there is a Yes. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are confronted by demands for a commitment to a UK-wide referendum on currency sharing, a commitment demanded before September.
Frankly, English voters would be quite right to demand direct input into this. After all, they’ve been told by their own government – and the opposition and the civil service – that this is against the UK’s national interest. If there are wobbles in government, as the leak clearly confirms, why shouldn’t the rest of Britain seek reassurance from a referendum? Their own ministers have made it a big deal and if the Scots have a referendum on independence and there is one promised on Europe, why not on currency? Yet, this is the last thing the Whitehall Mafia wants. They are more aware than anyone that they need currency union to keep a grip on the balance of payments and borrowing and to present a business-as-usual face to the world. But their electioneering has created a firestorm of opposition to the very idea they will be anxious to implement. A second, completely contradictory campaign explaining the virtues of union will be needed to convince an English audience this is, after all, the right thing. Why not just tell the truth in the first place? I know…it’s politics etc, but really, if they know it does make sense and helps retain a functioning part of their sacred union AND hands over a proportion of their stellar debt, doesn’t it beg the question? The outcome of their incompetence may well be no shared currency by default. Personally, I would welcome it as would many others and would make clearer than anything that Scotland tried for a deal and wanted to share the debt but democratically beaten by the sterling flag-wavers. I’m not sure this is a battle worth fighting.