I am blogging today because I don’t have a Plan B. I asked myself what else I would do right now if I opted not to blog and couldn’t come up with a convincing answer – no Plan B. I imagined Jim Naughtie asking me…’Derek. Bateman. You say you’re going. To. Blog. But what if. You don’t. What will. You do instead? Plan B, Mr Bateman! What it is. Your Plan B?’
Basically, I end up admitting that I have no Plan B. Oh yes, I could lay more tree bark under the garden swings or I could take the girls to the pool. But I don’t actually have a real Plan B at all, just this – my Plan A. Now I have tears in my eyes. There’s only so much interrogation a man can take. Keep asking the question and everybody agrees – he has no Plan B.
(You can hear a Gilbert and Sullivan chorus in this, can’t you?
We all agree…He has no Plan B…he has no currencee…
Britannia, hoist the flag!…the referendum’s in the bag….
BBC voice: ‘That chorus formed part of the overture to The Pirates of the Union…’)
Now I’ve harassed a few politicians in my time and I have no sympathy for public representatives who don’t tell the truth (or journalists either, come to that). But I also know how an issue forms into a trail of blood that turns the hounds mad. The hounds aren’t following for the fun of it, they’re driven into a frenzy by the primal urge to rip the weakened beast to pieces until its whimpering ceases.
So with journalists. They form a horde, a collective pack, and drive each other on. ‘I’ve got the trail’, says the Record. ‘Over here’, shouts the Times. ‘Got him now’, echoes the BBC. They can’t help it. Like the hounds, it’s in the DNA. That’s why it takes good or even exceptional journalists to think differently and stop running and panting. They ask themselves…Is this worth it? Who set us running? What if we chase after different prey?
You could, for example ask the now notorious Plan B question of any side and any scenario. Let’s try.
The No side ignores David Cameron’s plan for in In/Out referendum on the EU – quite rightly because it complicates their message and throws up questions they can’t answer. If Britain votes to leave the EU and Scotland votes to stay in the referendum, what’s your Plan B?
What will you say to Scots whose jobs depend on membership and wish to continue as EU citizens? What will you tell the SNP government with a Scottish majority behind it and which insists on remaining inside the EU? Where will the trading partnerships come from to replace the UK’s biggest market? What is your Plan B?
That’s fair, isn’t it? It’s based on the current government’s declared position and the known stance of the SNP which will likely still form a government in 2016. It is credible position which may arise. And it scares the daylights out of big business. But is the media asking that question? Is every Unionist pursued on it? Do the words Plan B ever arise? Of course not. And if it is ever asked the answer is simple: ‘We don’t believe that will happen.’ Exactly the words of Salmond on the pound.
Simpler still…the UK government famously will not pre negotiate (although a currency refusal is exactly that). But they can only guess at the outcome of the referendum. So if Scotland votes Yes, Minister, what’s your Plan B? You have no plans for example to deal with Trident, what you call the rock of our national defence, therefore what is your Plan B in the event of a Yes? The people are entitled to know, are they not? How will they be defended if Scotland gets rid of the subs. Answer, come on.
The only answer is, again, that they don’t believe that will happen. Exactly the same as Salmond’s answer on currency. So where is the questioning and pursuit? It isn’t there because the media bought the Union line from the outset…they loved it, absolutely loved it when the three parties said No to the pound being shared and haven’t stopped to question it since. Almost everything said in the referendum is a negotiating stance calibrated to be acceptable to either side’s main support. Even the pound itself is causing severe difficulties for the UK by depressing exports (and manufacturing) which the country as ever badly needs to increase but the poor exporting record of Britain is not made a referendum issue while volatility of oil prices is.
All this is the consequence of an Establishment and an Establishment media which treats a desire for democracy as a threat to the country. In the Express this is explicit and is portrayed as a battle for Britain like taking on the Nazis (that’s you and me) so that even the BBC should not be impartial…
At the same time, like Alex Salmond in the debate, you cannot permit yourself to be portrayed as weak, or weaker, than your opponent. The public couldn’t care less about the Fiscal Commission, and just wants a simple explanation on currency. The case has not been strong enough that London is uniting to rob the Scots of their rights over the pound, the effect of Scotland’s contribution has not been spelled out powerfully and while any alternative is open to attack, what’s wrong with giving an alternative preference? Any and all answers are pulled apart no matter what, so what’s the problem in this case? No central bank for example means tighter discipline is necessary in tax and spend – what’s wrong with that?
Why not say…we will be asking the Scottish people if they would prefer their own currency after independence and are examining that option.
We can do whatever we like as a free country. What has happened is that we are in a Westminster snare now and what that tells me is that I and others were right back in February to say we want nothing to do with the pound and with Whitehall. I want no British Treasury oversight of anything in Scotland. To put it bluntly, they are liars and spivs who have cheated Scotland for decades over public spending and oil receipts and who will never act in our best interests. The SNP have been far too soft and indy lite on this issue and far too charitable.
I would have made a declaration that we will have our own currency and have no plans to share what is the UK’s national debt – first because it is theirs not ours and second, we’ve been paying for it for years anyway without any benefit. The line that the money markets will punish us for being debt free is laughable.
Small, highly educated, economically diverse western EU country with vast oil and gas reserves free of all debt would like a long term loan – any takers?
The reality here is the crippling debt and balance of payments deficit of the UK may finally crush the Unionist rump if Scotland goes and they can’t allow that to happen. They are saving themselves. If we said no deal on currency and no deal on debt, the boot is on the other foot and they would have to make the case to us for sharing the pound and the debt.
I want the full array of currency options laid out with the SNP government being open to a change of policy as they will have to be in negotiations. It is all on the table – everything from assets, borders, defence, nuclear, energy, shared services as well as currency so the pitch to the voters is that which ever way we go they still benefit and Scotland will still be successful. If the UK doesn’t want to deal, then we find another route. That’s what independence does – gives you freedom and flexibility. And it couldn’t be clearer from the gleeful threefull of Osborne, Balls and Alexander that we can never trust London and the UK on anything. The top civil servant weighed in with his own political statement in support. And remember John Jappy who worked there for years tells us how they lied to make Scotland out to be poorer than we really are. They are mendacious by instinct, threatening by demeanour and unprincipled by default. The MPs and the Treasury civil servants are not and never will be Scotland’s friends. Let’s stop pretending we can count on them because in the Treasury they can’t even count on their own fingers and get it right.
This episode proves the point – Scotland needs to get out of this stranglehold and set itself free of their corrupt interference. That’s why I want independence in the first place.by