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George Osborne gives Alex Salmond a lesson in power politics

12 February 2014

3:26 PM

12 February 2014

3:26 PM

Politics is about power. It is surprising how often this is forgotten. Power and the application of power. Sure, there’s policy too and noble aspiration and all that happy-clappy stuff but, in the end, politics is a question of who gets to wield the big stick. Lyndon Johnson knew this; so does George Osborne.

In the long and sometimes unhappy history of these islands that has more often than not meant power has resided with the English. As Osborne is reminding us, it still does.

Osborne, who has little to lose in the popularity stakes north of the border, is being quite brutal. The idea, much insisted upon by Alex Salmond, that an independent Scotland could enter a currency union with the remaining parts of the United Kingdom is fanciful. Poppycock. Daft. Not happening.

This is not merely Osborne’s view but that of Ed Balls too. (And, for that matter, the opinion of many of the country’s more respected economic commentators.)

The Scottish government’s response? Whining, chiefly. According to a government spokeswoman:

“This is nothing more than an attempt by the Westminster establishment to bully Scotland, now that they have started to lose the argument on independence.

“It is a sign of panic that will backfire badly.”

This is humiliating stuff. Scotland, poor wee Scotland, being bullied? And all because the nasty English won’t play ball or agree to the rules imposed upon them by Alex Salmond. Come off it. Nowhere does it say that Mr Salmond or even Scotland has the sole right to determine the outcome of post-independence negotiations. The other party has a right to its opinion too.

So the other ploy is to pretend that Osborne and Balls don’t really believe what they are saying. You see, according to the Scottish government:

 “No one will credibly believe these threats.

“People know that the Westminster establishment will say one thing before the referendum but behave far more rationally after a yes vote when it’s self interest will lie in agreeing a currency union with Scotland.”

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Oh really? Those lying bastards –  who hate Scotland and have it in for us, remember – are lying now but will change their mind – and do everything to accommodate us – after we’ve put them to the sword on referendum day. Because, well, because obviously it will be in their interests to do so.

But what if their estimation of their own best interests differs from yours? What will you do then, Jock? Well, we’ll cock a snook at them and adopt sterling anyway. It’s our currency too, you know. And we’ll no’ be taking on any share of the national debt either. See how they like that. 

Which is fine. An independent Scotland could take that approach. It is worth observing, however, that this is hardly a risk-free alternative. There are, after all, reasons, why the Scottish government has rejected an informal sterling zone in which Scotland simply adopts sterling in the same manner as Montenegro uses the euro.

Over to Ronald MacDonald, Adam Smith Professor of Political Economy at Glasgow University:

It seems the Scottish Government’s response to not being allowed to participate in a formal sterling zone, which as we have shown would actually be ruinous for an independent Scotland, is to say that it would not accept responsibility of its fair share of rUK liabilities and particularly its fair share of UK public debt. 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? Perhaps the answer would be by borrowing from foreign countries.

But who is going to lend to a country where its political leader has already said that it is going to renege on a substantial and significant portion of its debt? Such a statement means that an independent Scotland would only be able to borrow on international capital markets at penal interest rates – if at all – with the consequences that that would have for an independent Scotland’s fiscal deficit, public spending and taxes. One wonders how the Icelandic public feel about the governments of both the UK and the Netherlands currently seeking reneged debt that amounts to about around two thirds of Iceland’s GDP. And of course Argentina is still being pursued in international courts for debt it reneged on many years ago and is highly restricted in what it can borrow in international capital markets. The unpleasant arithmetic of reneging on ones share of debt is it seems long lasting and profound in terms of its economic consequences.

Aye. These are rather more than technical fripperies. What happens if England says no is, whether we like it or not, an important and awkward question.

So is Osborne sowing fear in Scotland today? To an extent, yes. He is reminding Scots where power really lies. This is annoying, even exasperating and the kind of thing that stirs the blood, but it is also an unfortunate reminder of the way things are.

Because the obvious truth is that Scotland would have much more to lose from post-independence negotiations than would the rest of the UK. (Yes, yes, yes: oil and balance of payments and submarines. Not enough, old boy.) That is, the downside to negotiations going badly is vastly greater for Scotland than for the rump UK. Scotland’s position is relatively weaker.

I would hope that common sense and good will would, more often than not, prevail. It would indeed be in both party’s interests to reach sensible accords on any number of matters (pensions, for instance). But common sense and good will may not always be enough.

Moreover, the Scottish government’s expectation that, having been rejected by the Scots, the rest of the UK will, far from smarting at this rejection, do everything they can to help the Scots on their way out the door is, shall we say, an expectation that defies the accumulated evidence of a million marriage break-ups.

Perhaps this divorce would be different. We should hope so. But it seems odd that the SNP think a Westminster establishment incorrigibly hostile to Scotland will suddenly accede to Scottish demands after independence. Perhaps they would! But I would not wish to wager too much on that proposition.

So, yes, this demonstration of power – or reminder of the reality that a currency union is not Scotland’s to guarantee any more than Dublin could, hypothetically speaking, promise the Irish people it would be welcome in a sterling zone – is designed to sow uncertainty and apprehension. Not just on the currency question but, implicitly, in other areas too.

That is: if the Scottish government’s promises on something like the currency unravel how much value should be granted to their other commitments? Could it really all be as easy as they suggest or might it just be more complicated than they suggest?

This is the problem with elephants. Even the nicest of them can squash you.


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Show comments
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  • Desyduk

    “The Emperor’s New Clothes”

    The Plot: “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is a short Scottish tale about two weavers called Alex and Nicola who play to the pride and vanity of The Scots in promising free welfare for all based on plenty of oil, Secession from the Union, the Pound Stir-ling and Union with Europe. All these promises are of course like so much will-o’-the-wisp to those who are either unfit for their positions, stupid or incompetent, the English or mainland Europeans.

    After years of spinning and weaving Alex and Nicola parade their tale before the people of Scotland and a child cries out:

    “They’ve no got the wherewithal at all”

  • Daniel Maris

    The involvement of the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury is the most outrageous act of politicisation of the civil service. The fact that a senior civil servant connived in it, tells you everything you need to be told about how low the civil service has sunk under the attentions of this and other governments (not excusing New Labour and the egregious Campbell).

    • Richard T

      Is it your opinion that the civil service should have no view on the desirability or otherwise of any given monetary arrangement?

    • flippit

      Its the Treasury’s job to advise the Chancellor. It’s just that this is the first time that advice has been made public in this way. Osborne did that so Scot would understand the context of his unequivocal statement.

  • Angus McLellan

    Just as well the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury isn’t commenting on the Speccie. He’d get slated for writing – much as I did yesterday – that “debt is one of a number of issues which would have to be settled post-independence”. POST-INDEPENDENCE. Thank you Sir Nicholas Macpherson KCB.

  • Herman_U_Tick

    I think the Scots should vote with their hearts and let the economics
    sort itself out. Absent a currency union there would need to be a
    new Scottish dollar.
    If the country does badly it will fare like the old Irish punt;
    if the country does well it will come to be regarded like the Swiss franc.
    If there are cogent technical reasons why this cannot work even with a
    fair wind, then independence should not have been sought in the first place.

    But perhaps Mr Salmond knows this and his motive for seeking a
    referendum lies elsewhere
    Anyways I wish the Scottish people well.

    • Angus McLellan

      “The old Irish punt”? That’ll be the one that had a 1:1 peg with sterling for 50 years or so? That’s almost unbearable uncertainty and risk surely.

  • Malcolm McCandless

    Sir James Mirrlees, Nobel Prize winning economist, begs to differ from George Osborne. He says, “A continuation of sterling in its present area, which would be a benefit for all parts of the UK, is surely the most logical option.”

    • Richard T

      He’s perfectly entitled to differ from George Osborne (and from Ed Balls, and Danny Alexander, and the Treasury, and Jim Sillars, and the Scottish Greens, and Mark Carney, and Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all).

      He doesn’t speak for the UK government, and it isn’t his decision.

  • Richard T

    Well.

    That’s that.

    Currency union is not going to happen.

    I hope and pray that Salmond, Sturgeon, Swinney et al are going to accept this and come up with a coherent, rational response, rather than attempting to maintain the idiotic fiction that the entire UK political and economic establishment is bluffing.

    But I’m not 100% confident.

    • dewisa

      I dont think theyre playing the bluffing card this time, I think they picked the ‘its not fair’ card with a second card of ‘I want I want!!’

      • Richard T

        It looks like they are, unfortunately, if Sturgeon’s abject stonewalling on the Daily Politics just now is any guide.

    • Daniel Maris

      This government performed 37 u turns before they gave up on trying to govern. Who’s to say there won’t be another one? If big business wanted it, they’d probably change their minds.

  • Two Bob

    He gave him a pounding!

  • Factman

    This is too late.

    In reality the heart went out of the
    British idea with the long reign of hard right English nationalism
    under Margaret Thatcher. She destroyed Britain.

    Year ago I asked a Scottish friend what all the fuss about breaking away from Britain
    was. Was it not good enough to be British, like the rest of us?

    He asked me, Do YOU like the callous suet faced mean souled poor-bashing
    Tory thugs whom the English vote again and again and again into power?

    I said, No. Well then, my friend said. You have no alternative, but we have: We can clear out. And are doing so.

    He told me Scotland underwent a terrible experience of sheer despair in
    the 1980s as the Labour Party and socialism were repeatedly humiliated
    and destroyed by English voters. The sheer gloating nastiness of English
    voters burned into Scottish souls.

    Scots decided after that bitter ordeal that the only way forward was to get out of the Union.

    I wish Thatcher were alive to see it die. So much for her effing patriotism.

    You Tories destroyed our country. Amen.

    The last minute bleating is not worth a tinker’s cuss.

    Only a kindly, inclusive economic policy could have kept the Scots in.

    Too late now.

    • Two Bob

      Well we feel the same about what Scotland has done to England. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown for example?

    • mightymark

      “He asked me, Do YOU like the callous suet faced mean souled poor-bashing Tory thugs whom the English vote again and again and again into power?”

      But did (does) he realise that it is precisely those “suet faced etc thugs” whose power will be solidified by Scotland’s exit from the union, with whom a weaker independent Scotland will have to agree all kinds of cross border issues as AM implies above (“Not just on the currency question but, implicitly, in other areas too”).

      • Wessex Man

        We in the Consituency in which I live have a Scottish Tory MP who was happy to support Glasgow Celtic and a small Club called ‘the Rangers’ barge their way into The English Premier League, whilst having ‘no thoughts about Scittish Independence.’

        • Jambo25

          Don’t vote for him then.

          • Wessex Man

            never have!

    • FOARP

      You posted the same comment on the Guardian website. Could it possibly be that the Tartan Troll army is actually smaller than it appears, and is just the same dozen or so guys touring all of the main websites discussing the independence issue?

  • R Khan

    Preamble I love the Scots and Scotland and want them to stay in the UNION.

    I speculate
    a) Independent Scottish currency will be shorted into bog roll.
    b) All major Sottish Plc’s will be shorted no matter where they are listed.
    c) Shorting will crash Scottish land prices.
    d) The first time in 300 years the international wolves will be able to reach and short every element of the Scottish Economy.
    The Scottish distilleries will be up for grabs at 10% of their current value like everything else via hostile takeovers.
    e)All mortgages will become prohibitively exorbitant and the homelessness of pensioners resulting from it.
    f) All the Scottish Oil pipelines will flow directly to Jadeweserport and a new German oil Industry will be born.
    g) Germany now an Oil producer gets the Security Council seat it wants.
    h All Scots living in England will require visa and work permits
    i) why leave the Anglo-Saxons in England then crawl to the Saxon and Teutons in Germany, I don’t get it, will they treat you better.. How much blood and treasure have you shed for them?

    Should I go on, and I am only an uneducated moron…

    Don’t believe Alex “the Ego” Salmond… he will ruin all you poor Scots for his own Ego.

    We love you, stay with us please..

  • Craig

    It’s very interesting the usual posts of “F off”, “We won’t miss you”, “We will be better off without you” have all but been replaced with “You must take your share of the debt”,” You can’t do that”, “You need to take your responsibility for the debt”

    • FOARP

      You posted exactly the same comment on the Graun. It was rubbish there as well.

  • Terry Field

    The English establishment is running very scared indeed.
    It is absurd to suggest that Scotland cannot use the pound. It can use it if it chooses so to do.
    Likewise the UK could use the Euro today if it so chose.
    The Anglos would welcome scotland rather than have an enhanced Euro area to complicate life. And they know it.
    And the Scots know it.
    That really is perfidious Albion. As for shared sovereignty, if Scotland reference the pound as its reserve currency of choice, that would force a degree of pooled sovereignty – but on the English.
    Economics is a simple business, and it is high time the liars in Westminster realised their games were well understood -and appropriately discounted.
    So – how has Ossy been so clever – do tell????????

    • allymax bruce

      Although Massie’s article is cretinous, in-deed, a cowardly constant attack on Scotland’s brilliant First Minister Alex’ Salmond, & excellent Scottish SNP Government, Osborne is having a wee bit o’ fun, goading the Scots. Osborne, The Conservative Party, and City of London all want Scotland independent; regardless of what the Scots people want!
      Osborne knows fine well Scotland will vote Yes for Independence, so he’s having a bit of a laugh at the Scots to see how worked-up & scurriless they become when bullied by Westminster. I would believe everything SNP, Alex’ Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon tells us. But, I wouldn’t believe anything Westminster tells us; between the No Campaign scaremongering lies, and this type of Westminster abusive goading & bullying, it’s clear to see the Scots are being ‘riled’ into voting Yes.

      • Wessex Man

        the next few months are going to be no fun for you then.

      • Terry Field

        Is that the case? – is there a real majority for independence amongst the People of the Fried Marsbar???

  • flippit

    It’s funny Alex, I read your article in the times earlier this week about how Salmond was starting to win. Yet today, the game’s completely changed. You’re right it is all about power, I don’t think Osborne wanted to show that, I bet they were hoping that Carneys statements last week would get the message across. But it didn’t, the SNP just interpreted his words to suit their agenda. At least now there is some certainty

  • HJ777

    Note to Alex and Nicola. Advice from your lawyer.

    If you are contemplating a divorce, especially one that you hope would be amicable, you start by agreeing how you would split up the assets and the debts.

    You do not then demand, with threats that you will no longer accept your share of the debt if you don’t get your way, that the other party agrees to a joint bank account after the marriage is over.

    • Craig

      Looks like I am going to have to educate you again. The bank account or should I say credit card is in the name of UK (not Scotland, England, Wales & N.Ireland). As Scotland will no longer be part of the UK and as has been confirmed by the Treasury, the UK is liable for the debt. This has been a common occurrence of countries legally walking away from the successor state e.g. During the breakup of Yugoslavia and Russia. It is also ratified under the Vienna Convention on Succession of States in Respect of
      State Property, Archives and Debts.

      • Wessex Man

        before educating anyone you should get a little education yourself.

      • Richard T

        All debt issued by the UK is a liability of the UK. Everything owned by the UK is a UK asset.

        Scotland can legally walk away from what the SG has repeatedly termed her “fair share” of the debt that Scotland, as a part of the UK, has amassed.

        Legally.

        Morally, it would be interpreted correctly by all observers as a de-facto default. The consequences would be as bad or worse for Scotland as for the UK.

        It’s a pretty stupid threat to be throwing around when the UK assets are yet to be divided, a brand new iScotland has yet to finance its brand new debt, and various international institutions are yet to be convinced of the trustworthiness and good faith of a brand new state with no successor state institutional memberships.

        • Terry Field

          No – there would be no default – since the old UK would exist and would honour the debt – even if its geography had become a wee bit tinier.
          WHY would the scotties accept union debt they did not control in the first place?????????????

      • HJ777

        Educate me?

        You can barely string together a coherent sentence.

        Scotland could secede only under conditions determined by the government in Westminster. Salmond and his cronies have no such power.

        You simply fail to understand the constitutional position.

        • Craig

          Another blah blah blah from you.

          Honestly, in the book of the top 1000 idiots, you get a whole chapter to yourself.

          • HJ777

            Keep up the good work.

            You are ably and publicly demonstrating how many deluded fools there are supporting the “Yes” campaign.

            Fortunately, most Scots are not fools and will see your bluster and insults for what they are.

  • El_Sid

    A currency union does not need to be a formal one, you could do something like Ecuador or El Salvador, adopting a currency without a formal currency union. Given that a formal currency union would almost certainly mean a banking union and the BoE becoming the back stop for the Scottish banks, a formal currency union just ain’t going to happen. Independence means independence, not independence-but-can-Big-Sister-take-care-of-our-banks-please.

    Without the BoE to backstop the Scottish banks, things would have to change. The most likely is that the Scottish banks would move to London, because Edinburgh would have to implement ultra-stringent banking regulations to make sure that the banks didn’t come begging for cash that Salmond simply couldn’t deliver. There is a school of thought that says that would be a thoroughly good thing, but either way the Scottish financial sector would shrink dramatically.

    See this paper from the Atlanta Fed that’s quite keen on the discipline imposed on countries that go for informal currency unions :

    http://www.frbatlanta.org/filelegacydocs/erq306_quispe.pdf

  • Chris

    I thought the British Government had learned from their mistake with Ireland-bullying tactics that turned a home rule movement into an independence movement-I was wrong.

    The undecided and the soft No’s were wanting a reason to feel good about themselves if the voted No. Better Together realised this hence the “Proud Scot” line. People never feel good about giving into bullies. It’s almost as if the Tories want to lose the referendum.

    • Richard T

      Perhaps you can explain why pointing out clearly the position of the UK on the SNP’ s preferred monetary arrangements constitutes ‘bullying’. Sturgeon, Swinney at al have failed abject, but I’m open to coherent arguments.

      • Chris

        bullying
        1.
        use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something.

        • Richard T

          Yes, I’m familiar with the definition, in what way does it apply in the present case?

          The WP says a currency union is the preferred route from the SNP perspective, the UK says otherwise.

          How is this “bullying”?

          • ChuckieStane

            Osborne is speaking on behalf of a future rUK (not the UK).

            If he says currency union is not his preferred route that would be fine but we are led to believe he and Balls will rule it out. This is not the “respect” for the referendum that Cameron signed up to.

            • Richard T

              Ruling out a currency union is perfectly consistent with respect for the referendum result. There is absolutely no moral obligation on the UK to facilitate whatever the SNP happen to put on their wish list.

              • ChuckieStane

                Richard,
                Osborne could simply say that his preferred option would be not to agree currency union in the event of a Yes vote or he could promise a referendum to the voters of EWNI on the issue. Instead he is trying to act the hardman.
                You must bear in mind this is no longer about the SNP it is much bigger. Yes Scotland has signed up perhaps 15 times more people than the SNP membership.
                No moral obligation? England and Scotland as sovereign nations entered into a treay which has lasted for over three hundred years through some good and bad times. If Scotland democratically decides to dissolve the union I would suggest that there is indeed a moral duty of the UK government (i.e. the current government of SEWNI) to respect the democratic process.
                Osborne and Cameron have form in trying to act hard (remember Cameron stamping his feet and threatening veto at the EU summit?). They both share a particularly poor political radar.

                • Richard T

                  The UK has made it quite clear that it will respect the democratic process, that process being a referendum on independence.

                  The idea that this implies meekly agreeing to whatever the SG chose to put in their referendum manifesto by way of desired subsequent negotiation outcomes is patently absurd.

                  The idea that the UK government should simply agree to arrangements which they conclude to be against the interests of the UK is laughably naive, and moreover self-evidently anti-democratic. No referenda are required.

                  “Acting the hardman”? No. Acting the UK statesman, entirely properly representing UK interests.

                • Adro

                  You seem to be confusing ‘respecting the democratic process’ with doing whatever Salmond/Yes/The Nats want. The rest of the UK has absolutely no obligation to guarantee Scots debt and allow them to use the pound.

                  Yet another case of the Nats wanting to have their cake and eat it. If Scotland goes independent, it will have to take the bad with the good.

        • HJ777

          Isn’t it Salmond/Sturgeon who are attempting to bully by making threats if the rest of the UK does not agree to their preferred policy?

          As far as I can see, the rest of the UK would just be deciding its own policy, were Salmond/Sturgeon to succeed in achieving secession? I thought that was what Salmond wanted – separate policy making.

          • Wessex Man

            You are trying to persuade people who live in some sort of fantasy land that anything they say is correct and true, any insult they sling is not an insult but an argument, that any threat they make isn’t a threat but a negotiation tool.

            The fact is that if the population of the UK were asked in a referendum if they wanted to share a currency union with a different independent country they would say no!

            In the interests of democracy we should have that referendum and ignore the bullying threats of the Cyberrnat nutters.

      • Fergus Pickering

        I don’t think salmond/sturgeon is the right shop for coherent argument.

  • Daniel Maris

    Well this is the golden opportunity for the SNP. If I were in Salmond’s shoes I would have absolutely no compunction in immediately responding by declaring an intention to establish an independent Scottish currency – pegged to the pound, if felt necessary, as the Irish Punt was for decades.

    Choosing the name for the currency would provoke nationalist sentiment.

    • HJ777

      Then why didn’t he do that in the first place, rather than demanding a formal currency union backed by threats?

      He has no right to demand that what would be a separate country join a currency union with Scotland.

      • Daniel Maris

        I personally think they made a strategic error on the pound and also in not fighting tooth and nail to make this a referendum on dissolution of the union – which would have scuppered the nonsense about the rump UK being the “successor state”.

        • Richard T

          The UK self-evidently is the successor state, being the existing state less 8.5%-odd of population.

          • Daniel Maris

            On that basis, Austria was not the successor state to the Austro-Hungarian Empire then!

            • Richard T

              It was one of half a dozen successor states, the obvious difference in the present case being that the UK is not going to be dissolved .

              • Jambo25

                Oh but it is.

    • jazz606

      “…independent Scottish currency – pegged to the pound,…”

      What a good idea.

    • ButcombeMan

      Pegging to the pound might not be that easy. That implies a continuing commitment from the new Bank of Jockistan to always guarantee the rate of exchange. That depends on the international creditworthiness of Jockistan and ability to borrow.

      • Daniel Maris

        More like McMonaco, given its embarrassment of riches.

        I don’t think anyone’s done the sums right. Scotland’s chock full of natural resources, tourist potential, a well educated workforce and saleable goods.

        It will carry very little of the burden of mass immigration that England will.

        • John Standley

          “of the burden of mass immigration”

          A thinly disguised example of massed White Flight?

  • jazz606

    A point to remember is that the YES campaign can say anything at all, anything to persuade the Scots to vote yes doesn’t matter whether if it’s lies.
    The only thing that matters is winning the referendum. The chickens will come home to roost afterwards but by then (if they’ve won the vote) it’ll be too late and the SNP won’t give XXXX because they’ll have won.

    • Daniel Maris

      True, but equally the unionist side can run any scare story they like…as long as they win their claims will never be tested and if they lose, well it doesn’t matter anyway.

      • jazz606

        Well there’s plenty to be scared about and not much need for invention.

      • Jambo25

        Actually Mr. Maris, it may well matter. After another 6 or 7 months of these scare stories there is a relatively close No vote (The most likely outcome.) you will then be left with a major problem of how to integrate Scotland back into a wider UK political structure without hatred and bitterness not being the norm.

  • Lady Magdalene

    If looks likely, roundabout end July, that the Scots will vote for Independence that’s when I’ll be moving my pension and investments from Edinburgh-based Standard Life.
    I won’t be leaving them under the control of a socialist foreign government.

    • jazz606

      I’m in the process of doing just that.

    • Fergus Pickering

      And many will follow you.

    • Erictheowl

      Already largely done, just to be on the safe side. Will probably follow them, and take my business and the associated employment, tax etc with me, of course.

  • Iain Hill

    Puerile and embarrassing.

    People in England do not realise Osborne and Co have been fulminating like this for months on end. No change, just another run at the same old fear agenda.

    His aim is to secure a No vote and scupper any subsequent negotiations, since he knows that after a Yes vote, these things, and many others, will require detailed negotiation, and that a refusal to enter a currency union would greatly damage the whole Yookay economy. There is not a chance that this petulant blustering would survive in practice, and all sides will be looking to further their economic interests, not play cheap games.

    It is sad, and rather alarming to see the Spectator join in these fantasies, which are really aimed at the tabloids. Journalists, consult your economist colleagues!

    • Craig

      love your Yookay term lol. Never seen that before

    • HJ777

      I glad you warned at the beginning that your post would be puerile and embarrassing.

      A fair description, I would say.

      Osborne and others are merely reminding Salmond that they do not have to do what he wants after secession. Can you imagine how he would react if Osborne started telling him what his policies should be after secession?

      Salmond and Sturgeon are arrogant hypocrites.

      • Craig

        Can you please list all the issues where Salmond is telling Westminster what to do (excluding currency)

        • HJ777

          Telling Westminster what it must do on currency after his desired secession is arrogant and hypocritical.

          I never claimed that he was telling Westminster what to do on other issues (although he was on the radio the other day telling Cameron he should be sorting out the floods in Somerset). The currency issue is quite bad enough on its own.

          I do not recall anyone from the UK government telling Scotland what its policies would have to be afterwards, were it to secede.

          • Craig

            Well I have given you a list which can be backed backed up by Whitehall papers , simple searches on the Internet, references by London based MSM, where Westminster is telling Scotland what it can and cannot do. You however have one issue where you think Salmond and co are dictating to Westminster.

            Suffice to say Westminster are looking the biggest hypocrites according to your analysis. Even this article referring to us as ‘whining’, ‘Jocks’, it trying to demean.

            Can I suggest you get the chip off your shoulder and stop pretending you know what you are talking about.

            • HJ777

              Yes, you’ve given a list. You still haven’t provided a single piece of evidence where anyone in power inWestminster has said what Scotland must or mustn’t do, let alone back it with threats. You are simply confusing issues that have been raised and will need to be addressed in a seceded Scotland, with telling Scotland what it must do after secession.

              This article was written by a Scot.

              What am I supposed to have “a chip on my shoulder” about?

              Your post really was very, very, weak even by your standards.

          • Jambo25

            I think his suggestion that he get down to Somerset rather than doing the political equivalent of singing some kind of torch song about his undying love for Scotland, from the Olympic velodrome, might have been appreciated by people in Somerset and the wider South West.

      • Daniel Maris

        If Denmark, Sweden and Norway can prosper so can Scotland, with all its many resources. Also each Scots person will be relieved of contributing maybe £1000 or more to build HS2. Furthermore their economy won’t have to pay £500 per household each year to build homes for immigrants coming into London and the South East.

        • HJ777

          Completely orthogonal to the point I was making.

          • Daniel Maris

            That’s the big picture which Osborne and others are trying to obscure.

            Scotland is blessed with huge natural resources, a very skilled population and a big land area on a per capita basis. Technology is only going to make cold northern latitudes more productive, not less, as the years go by.

            • HJ777

              Nonsense. Nobody has said that Scotland would be anything other than economically viable on its own.

              The SNP, however, is claiming all sorts of upsides to secession but doesn’t admit to any downsides or any costs whatsoever. Where is its estimate of the transition costs, for example? They are taking Scots to be fools.

              It is perfectly legitimate to argue that there would be benefits overall, but they have not demonstrated this by anything remotely resembling an honest assessment.

        • Adro

          You keep talking about resources. Such as? Scotland does have a well educated workforce, but it is a largely rural nation. Scottish shipbuilding is largely guaranteed by government contracts for the military. North Sea Oil would be split and is dwindling. Not to mention the fact that most exploration is owned by British/International companies, which Salmond seems to want to tax heavily to fund his Utopia. Scots banks are in a mess. Their legal industry is severely restricted to Scots Law. They are agricultural producers, but this is no basis on which to run an economy given the levels of tax & spending that Salmond has promised. What’s left? Whisky?!

          • Jambo25

            Another ill- informed twerp joins the discussion. “a largely rural nation”. Do some research and find out what portion of the Scottish population lives in urban areas. Hint! Its a very large majority and has been since the mid 19th century. North Sea Oil would be over 90% in Scottish waters. Investment in Oil exploration and production is at a high point not seen for several decades. Guess why petro-chemical companies are investing? Scotland draws more overseas investment than any other part of the UK apart from London. Edinburgh created more private sector jobs, last year than Birmingham which has twice Edinburgh’s population.
            Apart from petro-chemicals there is specialist engineering, IT hardware, software creation, computer games, bio-technology, IT services (One of the world’s biggest travel search sites is owned by Scots and based in Edinburgh.), Whisky, food processing and production plus numerous other tradeable products and services.
            Outside of London and the core South East Scotland has probably the strongest regional/national economy in the UK.

      • ButcombeMan

        There is a real question. Could any rUK government make an independent Scotland part of a Sterling area without incurring huge problems from the rUK electorate?

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    As a nation, it matters what currency you have — otherwise you’re not independent.
    As a nation, it doesn’t matter what currency you have — you are not independent in any case.

    Repeat this mantra ad nauseam until the deeper truth reveals itself.

  • Henry Hooper

    “George Osborne gives Alex Salmond a lesson in power politics”
    C’mon Alex…you are more astute than that

  • Henry Hooper

    Making threats is never going to work.
    I welcome this however…as it’s clearly an own goal…it contradicts the Project Fear manufactured uncertainty and timing is great …gives the SNP the opportunity to say well stuff it then…..two can play that game..and walk away debt free…a great starts for Scotland.
    It’ll now be up to business and the markets to tell the UK government what they think of that kind of politicking…..oh the joy…the debate feels as if its starting…Project Fear might as well rename itself as Project Blunder.
    Salmond will enjoy this one……just watch
    And all this after last weeks manufactured lovebombing….love it

    • HJ777

      Then why are Salmond and Sturgeon making threats?

      Nobody else has made any. Osborne and others have merely stated what the Westminster government’s likely policy on currency would be, were Scotland to secede. There was no element of threat involved.

    • terregles2

      Good heavens where did the love bomb go. Seems to have been more of a damp squib. Cameron must have been too far away from the border when he fired it off.

      • HJ777

        You don’t like doses of reality, do you?

    • mightymark

      I think you’ve rather missed the point about timing. This gives the message plenty of time to sink in. There might be some initial anger or feeling – drummed up by Salmond and Co – that Scotland is being bullied (which of course it isn’t) or other such nonsense, but once that wears off people will concentrate on the hard reality of the certain refusal to agree currency union. it will inform and be the background to almost every further discussioj on the referendum. Salmond will increasingly come under pressure to provide an alternative – “Plan B”. The very difficulty he will clearly have in doing so suggests any alternative he comes up with (and doing so will itself be a signal of defeat given his refusal do to so so far) that the “No” campaign will find it easy to pick holes in.

  • abystander

    Another aspect.
    It seems to me clear that this indicates the UK establishment are very keen on Scotland staying in the Union. Cameron’s talk of “much diminished” and Osborne’s bit of hardball make that very clear.
    But if they do arrive at negotiations doesn’t the fact that they regret Scottish independence so much weaken the rUK hand? Cards have been played before they get to the table, kind of thing.

    • Jambo25

      Despite all the kerfuffle today; if there is a Scottish Yes in September and whoever is in charge of Scotland asks for a currency union then there will be one as it would be, with certain guarantees, in the interests of rUK as well as iScotland.
      The reality is that in the event of Scottish independence Scotland would be rUK’s largest or second largest trading partner. Nor would rUK want any real disputes and uncertainty as it too would be punished by the bond markets.

      • George_Mc1

        http://blogs.ft.com/off-message/2013/09/03/what-independence-would-mean-for-scottish-trade/
        The FT says that it is likely that trade will decrease.
        My understanding is the trade balance is 70% of scotlands trade to rUK and 10% the other way.

        • Jambo25

          In the longer run trade patterns would undoubtedly change though one should bear in mind the continuing importance of Ireland to UK exporters. I suspect that Scotland would be a bigger export market for rUK than Ireland.

  • smilingvulture

    George thinks punch & judy works on Scotland—ha,ha,ha

  • Richard T

    “he has just given Scotland the legal justification to walk away completely debt free”

    I’ve no idea what this is supposed to mean, Scotland has always had the legal ability to walk away debt-free. The Nats have said so consistently, and the UK government recently confirmed that UK debt up to the point of independence will remain a UK liability.

    The settlement of what the SNP has called ‘a fair share’ of this debt was always going to be a matter of negotiation between the two parties.

    The same principle, of course, applies to the division of assets.

    The idea that Scotland could walk away from its share of liabilities and still get a share of assets not adjusted accordingly is straightforwardly delusional.

  • abystander

    Cannot see though how we have debt?
    We didn’t contract it.

    • George_Mc1

      As a constituent part of the UK you have created debt just the same as the other 90%. To make it simple for you, if you share a flat with others you pay your share of the bills. If you decide to leave you are liable for your share of the outstanding bills. Easy!

  • Craig

    If George Osbourne does not come out tomorrow and state it is a 100% unequivacle ‘NO’ to a shared currency then it will be seen as bullying and scaremongering tactics as part of the No campaign. Due to the big build up of this speech it will be seen as a damp squib if he continues with the ‘unlikely’ or ‘undesirable’ statements. Should he however give a catergoric ‘NO’ under his dead body statement with no intention to not negotiate after sept 18th, then it will be the biggest own goal of the No Campaign. Scotland will not only have 7 months to educate voters of a Scottish pound pegged to Sterling 1:1 but he has just given Scotland the legal justification to walk away completely debt free and hoist UK debt against GDP % to well over 100%. This will send shocks through the UK economy, a reduced credit rating and increased interest rates. Make no mistake this is a legal step Scotland could take as the UK (seen as the successor state which owns the debt) would have to accept this. It has also happened many times during the breakup of Russia and Yugoslavia. Scotland will not be seen as a ‘pariah’ by the markets as suggested by some because Westminster’s unwillingness as per the Edinburgh Agreement to negotiate will be commonly accepted. Further more, investor are there to make money. With the wealth Scotland has and the guarantee of oil for at least the next 50 years, investors will be queuing up to a country that is debt free. Money talks more than politics.

    • Henry Hooper

      Tell you what though Craig…you have to feel sorry for our fellow citizens that this is the best representatives they can muster.

      • Craig

        I know. What people don’t seem to understand is one side is for a currency union and the other side is unsure however it will be decided after negotiations. If Westminster are so against it then say so and stop leaving the door open with ‘undesired’ and ‘unlikely’. If that is the case then simply leave it to the negotiations and see if an agreement can be made or not. This continual bring it up constantly is trying to play hardball to scare voters. Well, if Westminster want to spit their dummy out and play hardball then so can the Yes campaign.
        Two can play at that game. Scotland walking away from the debts is ‘unlikely’ and ‘undesired’.

      • Makroon

        Correct. A moderate, centrist, Scottish party could easily get an excellent enhanced devolution deal (and kill off that relic,the Scottish Labour party).
        But Salmond and his side kicks are so consumed by hate of England and delusions of grandeur that they are quite unable to see where Scotland’s best interests lie.
        More fool the Scottish electorate for putting them into power.

        • terregles2

          Don’t think anyone seriously believes that Scotland’s best interests lie in being governed from Westminster. Quite the reverse.

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            Fine but you will not be doing it with Sterling.

        • Henry Hooper

          Change in Scotland is fundamentally needed. The only party offering change is the SNP.
          So its only the SNP that have anything attractive to offer..they are the ONLY party in Scotland that has Scotlands best interests at heart when there’s a contradication with London/SE interests.
          If anything, after a No, the SNP will easily be the strongest party in Scotland…again with an overall majority….now can you see where this is going…..??
          BTW Makroon…some of the most vociferous Independence supporters are English or have a strong English background (i.e. me). Last count there were six SNP MSP’s….that should tell you something, but it don’t matter if you ain’t listening

          • Jambo25

            Very good point. I’ve always thought that this referendum is a win/win for the SNP. If the answer is Yes then the SNP’s core aim is achieved. If it’s No, which I think is more likely then the SNP can pose as Scotland’s doughty defender against evil Unionism. Incidents like today’s with Labour and Lib Dems lining up with Osborne simply make it easier for the SNP to brand Labour and Lib Dem as ‘London parties’ willing to take Westminster’s side against Scotland.

        • Jambo25

          “consumed by hate of England”. Here we go again. Proof please.

    • HJ777

      On the contrary – the bullying is coming all from Salmond /Sturgeon who are issuing threats about what they would do if the rest of the UK didn’t make the decisions they would like about its own currency.

      The arrogance and hypocrisy of these people is staggering. If they want to separate from the UK, they have absolutely no right to tell it how to run its affairs afterwards.

      • Craig

        Let’s say you owned 10% of a house. Would you not feel you had a say in it? Of course you would and you would discuss with your partner.

        Salmond is saying Scotland has a right on what is going to happen to the house and he has his own views which he thinks are common sense for both parties however he admits there will need to be discussions. Westminster’s approach is “you do not have a say”.

        It is happening in all areas. For example ” you will not get in the EU”. What business is it of Westminster’s to say this. It’s unlikely to affect rUK so why not leave it up to the EU. Why get involved?

        If it does mean Scotland has less defence, security, less money, less this or less that. Surely that is up to Scotland. Hope you can see my point.

        • HJ777

          Nonsense.

          Westminster has made no pronouncement that a seceded Scotland “‘will not get in the EU”. Yes, it would all be up to Scotland after secession, were it to happen – nobody disputes that. I do not recall anyone from Westminster trying to tell Salmond/Sturgeon what their policies would have to be – let along backing this with threats.

          What is being disputed is the right of Salmond/Sturgeon (I don’t say Scotland because I think few Scots would agree withthem) to tell the rest of the UK what its currency policy would be AFTER secession.

          We are talking here about policy, not assets.

          • Craig

            Can I remind you, Sterling is an asset. BOE is independent and has therefore left it to both sides to negotiate. If this wasn’t the case it would have been said as such.

            In regards the EU, can I suggest you google to see the amount of times Westminster MPs and supposed Government experts have came out saying Scotland would not get in the EU or would receive less subsidies or Spain or Ireland PMs will veto EU membership. Bearing in mind Spain announced they would not oppose our membership or the fact the BBC Scotland was found guilty (by the BBC Trust ) of misleading viewers Ireland’s PM opposed our membership. Such stories jumped on my ministers and supposed experts. Or the fact 800 Whitehall employees are producing papers each month (for past 9 months) against Independence, or the fact the MOD is pressuring defence firms to speak out against Independence, the FCO and UK embassies using propaganda against independence within their respective countries.

            • HJ777

              Sterling is a currency, a medium of exchange.

              It is not an asset.

              You are confusing opinions/predictions about the position of a seceded Scotland and the EU with telling a seceded Scotland what is should (or should try) to do and backing it with threats. Nobody at Westminster has done the latter.

              Oh, it’s a “fact” that 800 whitehall employees are producing papers every month are they? If it’s a “fact” then you’ll be able to provide cast iron evidence, won’t you? You don’t think that Salmond has perverted the machinery of government in Scotland to promote independence?

              • Paul Isclosed

                BoE is an asset however.

                • HJ777

                  Yes, the BoE is an asset (or rather has assets).

                  However, we are not discussing assets here. We are discussing whether a seceded Scotland would have the right to dictate currency policy to another state, using threats in order to try to get its way.

                  Do you think that one state should have the right to dictate policy to another? How would that be compatible with democracy?

                • Paul Isclosed

                  No, being a private limited company, it is an asset in itself.

            • Wessex Man

              Can I remind you of the Headline “Salmond in call to dump millstone of the pound” and “Salmond challenges Euro’s supporters to launch a more aggresive debate against the new currency’s critics!”

              He and his sidekick seem to be suffering from memory loss!

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          His views however are unlikely to prevail over those of the owner of 90% however. He will get what he is given and in effect he will not have a say. Westminster has absolutely no interest in achieving a win, win negotiation and will act in the best interests of the people of the UK and not the exUK.

        • George_Mc1

          I seem to remember that the way forward was the arc of prosperity, Eire, Iceland and Norway and Scotland was going to be Independent within Europe and use the Euro. Has something happened when I was not looking?

          • terregles2

            No I think Eire Iceland and Norway have come out of the resession more quickly than the UK. Norway certainly has a very large oil fund.
            Energy prospects in Scotland are also looking good with the new Scottish Power Hydro power investment in Cruachan and the additional North sea gas and oil exploration.

            • George_Mc1

              You miss the point. Salmond is a slippery snake oil salesman and will adjust his spin accordingly. We have seen his exhortations in ‘Scotlands Future’ which is more of a SNP wish list and manifesto than anything meaningful.

              His promises are meaningless unless after the referendum he managed to get voted back into office. You could conceivably have a situation where we have a new Independent government (say Labour and Lib Dem) having to sort out a situation which they don’t believe in. So all of a sudden we have something which many of us did not want and it would unreasonable to ask to go back. Wonderful!

              Another point I have not heard Salmond cover in this ‘Hairy Fairy, Dairy’ world is who will pay for the extension to lines from Leeds and Manchester to the Border for HS2 if we want it. Just something else that will sort it self out in the morning, no doubt.

              • terregles2

                Well as you say the vote in September is not about Alex Salmond we are voting to have government from Holyrood. No politician would stand for election in an independent Scotland if they did not believe in independence. If we have a Labour Lib Dem government after independence then they will have stood for election after independence and must therefore believe in it. If there is any politician who did not believe in Holyrood then they would retire from politics not stand for election.
                We can never have a governemnt or independence that we do not want as they can only be elected if a majority of people vote for it.
                I am not sure about you HS2 question. If we remain part of the UK then there is no guarantee that the line will be extended to the borders. Indeed that possibility would be highly unlikely. If it was ever going to happen it would be included in the plans now.

                • HJ777

                  Then why does the white paper make policy promises?

                • George_Mc1

                  From the top.
                  Quite the reverse, Salmond is the big beast in the jungle and I have to admit he is head and shoulders above most of the MSP’s that masquerade as our Government and opposition in Holyrood. All the other big beasts and those with ability prefer to play in the Big Boys club in Westminster..
                  If we voted for Independence and the SNP got kicked out or Salmond had to give up for some reason, I forecast 20 years of absolute purgatory before we manage to get the people and infrastructure in place. Always assuming we know what we need in the first place.

                  Your logic about our politicians is just a tad naive as most of them would stand based on self interest. I never believed in independence guv, but hey ho I need to earn a living and most of them would struggle to get that sort of benefits package in the real world.

                  Incidentally there is a huge amount of animosity brewing up between the NO and YES camp. If Scotland votes for Independence how are you going to win the peace and keep the movers, shakers and upwardly mobile from legging down South or further afield?

                • Jambo25

                  You don’t like the idea of independence. Fine. However, do not assume that your feelings or prejudices are those of everyone else. Nor should you think that your beliefs and standards are those of “the movers, shakers and upwardly mobile”. They may just be the ones you have.

                • George_Mc1

                  Believe what you like, that’s democracy.
                  On that basis there is nothing more to say other than let us see what happens. Cheers.

              • Jambo25

                Presumably, if those lines are in England then they would be the responsibility of the rUK government.

                • George_Mc1

                  You quick, I’ll give you that. Lets try that one again. Scotland as part of the UK should be able to get the UK to extend the HS2 rail line to Glasgow, Edinburgh or even further (all in good time).

                  Scotland leaves the UK and rUK decides that as they are paying thy might as well stop at Leeds and Manchester. End of story, unless of coarse Scotland can afford to pay to have it extended to the Border and then on to where ever they can afford. Simple.

                • Jambo25

                  Is that the same as the (kind of) promise we got from La Thatch and crew that HS1 would soon snake north from St Pancras/King’s X and by now I’d be whizzing, seamlessly, from Edinburgh Waverley to Brussels or Paris? Never happened, did it?
                  Here’s harsh reality for you. HS2 is not about regenerating the North. Its about providing a high speed commuter line from London to the West Midlands so that rich commuters now being squeezed out of their NW and SW low number haunts by bigger foreign money can buy decent properties in King’s Oak and other salubrious areas in the Brum suburbs. It will suck business out of Brum not spread it there.
                  HS2 might just about get to Manchester and Leeds, in about 30 odd years time (maybe) as those cities are at about the maximum commute distance. It’ll never go further north than that.
                  There is a similar story that can be looked at back to in the pre Devolution days. When Malcolm Rifkind was Scottish Secretary he proposed a joint project with the Westminster government to at least dual the A1 the whole way from Edinburgh to Newcastle. The Scottish Office would pay for the Scottish section to Berwick and the English department responsible would pay for the Berwick to Newcastle work. His offer was turned down flat. There was simply no interest in dualling the English section from the Westminster government.

                • George_Mc1

                  You can be as critical as you like, it changes the position not one iota. If Scotland is no longer part of the UK then he rUK is not going to finance or go out of its way to help Scotland. Cruel? Possibly. Realistic? Definiely.

                • Jambo25

                  I never thought that RUK would go out of its way to help an iScotland unless there was something in it for rUK.

                • George_Mc1

                  If your trading style and name is what I think it is you must be a pretty resilient character! Good Luck.

                • Jambo25

                  On the up. It looks like the club will survive and in the medium term prosper. There’s a new majority shareholder who is a Hearts fanatic and the supporters are still just about filling ‘Tynie’. In the meantime the club that is the spiritual home of Scotland’s Unionists; Rangers, aka ‘the Huns’, look to be in very deep doo doo as insiders reckon they will be back in administration or even liquidation again pretty soon. Another failure of the red, white and blue.

            • HJ777

              Unemployment in Eire is 12.3%.

              Oil output from the North Sea was forecast by the OECD to fall this year to levels last seen in the early 1970s. I am peripherally involved in the North Sea engineering sector – the problem players in that market are seeing is that the costs of extraction are rising so rapidly that unless the oil price rises substantially, many potential investments will not be economical.

              A seceded Scotland could do well economically (although it would take many years to make up the transition costs of secession, which the “Yes” campaign never likes to talk about), but it would potentially be much more vulnerable to economic shocks such as the oil price than if Scotland remains within the UK. Of course. the “Yes” campaign’s estimates of the value of oil revenues is consistently right at the top end of independent forecasts. Even if the most optimistic estimates of the SNP were correct, there is no chance of a sovereign oil fund being created without substantial cuts in public expenditure – you can’t have your cake and eat it.

              The currency uncertainty wouldn’t exactly help either, now that Salmond’s ‘plan’ has backfired and he has started issuing threats towards the rest of the UK if it doesn’t follow the policy he wants after secession (it wouldn’t, by the way).

              • Jambo25

                Strangely enough I live in an area with a fair number of oil industry people resident or based here. I have friends and acquaintances in the industry from technician level up to senior management positions. .I’m having drinks tonight with a hydraulics engineer who has worked in the Gulf, West Africa and North Sea. Others own companies making specialist valves, an independent oil company in the Niger delta and one is Operations director of one of what used to be called the Seven Sisters. They’re view on the North Sea is fairly optimistic but they are getting increasingly excited by prospects in the North East Atlantic.

            • Daniel Maris

              A very large oil fund must be the understatement of the year so far!

          • Jambo25

            All the states you name have higher living standards and quality of life indexes than the UK . Would you like to reconsider?

            • George_Mc1

              You are having a laugh. Eire has gone from being the Celtic Tiger to a basket case. with all the youngsters spread to all four corners of the world. Iceland is refusing to pay its debts to the UK and Netherlands. Norway is a beautiful country if you win the lottery. £8 for a Kit Kat and a coke sounds about right.

              • Jambo25

                1) Eire and Iceland both have higher living standards and quality of life scores than the UK.
                2) Iceland’s economy seems to have recovered rather quicker than the UK’s and they’re having to import labour.
                3) In know exactly how expensive Norway is. I also know how much money people earn there. Strangely enough their living standards an measured quality of life are comfortably higher than the UK’s as well.

                • George_Mc1

                  In terms of disposable income according to the OECD (2013) the UK comes 7 in the league table, Norway 16, Ireland 19 and Iceland 21.
                  We can all make statements which may or may not be nonsense. I am used to debating with SNP supporters and always ask for verifiable facts as some of their arguments could come from a good Disney Film script.

                • Jambo25

                  The CIA World Fact Book gives the following GDP per capita figures.
                  Norway $US54,400
                  Ireland $US40,700
                  Iceland $US39,700
                  UK $US36,600
                  Most quality of life indexes including the Economist Intelligence Unit’s place Ireland, Iceland and Norway and of the UK.

                • George_Mc1

                  Same site but using the full story:
                  UK
                  GDP (purchasing power parity):

                  $2.313 trillion (2012 est.)
                  country comparison to the world: 9
                  $2.309 trillion (2011 est.)
                  $2.283 trillion (2010 est.)
                  note: data are in 2012 US dollars
                  GDP – per capita (PPP): $36,600 (2012 est.)

                  Norway

                  GDP (purchasing power parity):

                  $274.1 billion (2012 est.)
                  country comparison to the world: 46
                  $266 billion (2011 est.)
                  $262.6 billion (2010 est.)
                  note: data are in 2012 US dollars

                  GDP – per capita (PPP): $54,400 (2012 est.)

                  Ireland

                  GDP (purchasing power parity):

                  $186.7 billion (2012 est.)
                  country comparison to the world: 58
                  $186.4 billion (2011 est.)
                  $182.5 billion (2010 est.)
                  note: data are in 2012 US dollars
                  GDP (official exchange rate):

                  GDP – per capita (PPP):$40,700 (2012 est.)

                  loaned 85 billion Euros from troika and 8 billion euros from UK

                  Iceland

                  GDP (purchasing power parity):

                  $12.69 billion (2012 est.)
                  country comparison to the world: 148
                  $12.49 billion (2011 est.)
                  $12.14 billion (2010 est.)
                  note: data are in 2012 US dollars
                  GDP (official exchange rate):

                  GDP – per capita (PPP):$39,700 (2012 est.)

                  Owes UK and Netherlands 5.5 billion US dollars after banking collapse

                  So:
                  UK 9
                  Norway 46
                  Ireland 58
                  Iceland 148

                  You didn’t write the SNP’s ‘Scotland’s Future’ did you. It is equally spares with truth.

                • Jambo25

                  if you actually believe that then you have never visited Ireland or Norway. I have frequently. GDP figures still shown the rough income per capita figures and the UK is lower than all 3.

                • George_Mc1

                  I have not been to Norway, it is not good value for money, as described to me by family, in great detail.
                  I have been to Eire 6 times, like them a lot, but feel very sorry for them.
                  Good friends of mine are in despair at what has happened. two of their children returned home in the good times and now seven years later all their children (4) and grand children have gone.

                  Be very careful what you wish for Scotland.

                • George_Mc1

                  I have not been to Norway, it is not good value for money. Family who have been have described in graphic detail some of the costs involved.

                  I have been to Ireland half a dozen times and like the Irish very much. I do however feel very sorry for them as it is a real struggle.
                  Friends of mine are in absolute despair because when the times were good two of their children returned home. The financial meltdown and unemployment has meant that all their children (4) and grand children have left, more than likely never to return. Happy Days.

                  Be very careful what you wish for Scotland..
                  Did you see wee Nicola Sturgeon being interviewed by Andrew Neil. She got absolutely monstered and is a total disgrace. If the currys kill his immenseness Bagpus .Salmond, she could be the next FM! Naw, Naw, Naw. I’m away for a lie down!

                • Jambo25

                  1) Do you know what wages and salaries in Norway are like? I do and believe me they more than make up for the sky high prices you can encounter.
                  2) I also have Scottish friends who work in Galway and Cork and a friend from near where I live has a family holiday home in Letterkenny. They all report some tough times after the Bank/Property crash but Irish living standards are still higher than the UK.
                  As for mass immigration it’s not exactly unknown from Scotland either. My son works 350 miles from where I live. He doesn’t want to. He’d far rather live in Edinburgh but that’s where the jobs where. I have nearly 30 cousins and god knows how many nieces and nephews living in the USA as that’s where their parents and grandparents had to emigrate to in the 40s, 50s and 60s so please don’t try and hold up the UK/Scotland as being any better than Ireland.

                • George_Mc1

                  Both the UK and Scotland are light years ahead of Ireland. When I was in Enniskillen last year I couldn’t get into the ASDA superstore car park for cars from the South. and the queue at the petrol station would have pleased an executioner.

                  You need to get more!

                • Jambo25

                  That’s because prices are lower in the North at present. That isn’t always the case. I spend a fair bit of time in the Austrian Tirol. It is not at all unusual to see a convoy of cars with Austrian plates nipping over the border to Mittenwald or Garmisch as prices are a fair bit lower in Germany. One of my pals holidays in Montreux but generally eats out round the lake in France. It’s a lot cheaper. A lot of Swiss do as well. I think its you who should get out more.

                • George_Mc1

                  Every so decent of you to make my argument for me, but then again East coasters always were a bit slow. If Scotland gets Independence I may stay and campaign for Independence for Strathclyde and Shetland.

                • Jambo25

                  That makes no argument for you. It simply shows that different countries have different price levels. Things are more expensive in Austria than Germany but both countries (Particularly Bavaria) have similar living standards. Swiss price levels are higher than France’s but its living standard is higher as well.
                  As for your Northern Isles independence movement. Good luck with that. We’ll let you have Strathclyde.

                • George_Mc1

                  The Shetlands have already rattled Salmonds cage.

                  Saw Salmond on the Box tonight and it is clear that the wheels have come off the bus!

                • Jambo25

                  Yes Shetland is about to sail off on its own. Only, of course, it is not as there is no credible independence movement in Shetland.

        • dewisa

          scotland may ‘own’ 10% of the house but its acting like it owns 99%. The yes party are hate preaching fools, whose idea of independence is based upon a perfect world, unfortunatley, this doesnt exist. It expects us to give give give, but will not take any of the blame.
          If it takes independence I dont want it in my currency and putting me and my household at risk!!!
          I do love the YES votes logic though, why doesnt England leave the UK, wed be 100% free from debt, then if wales leaves it too, they too would be 100% free from debt. 3 new countries all debt free!! what wonderful scottish logic!!! wed just be able to pluck all the money out of our rears. wed obviously keep everything exactly the same and wed all be equal, wed just magically lose our debt, Scotland, you have the perfect idea!!
          Heck, if we join the euro maybe we can pass off all of our debt to the EU!!

    • M2

      If you are a small country and want to peg your currency to that of a large country, you’ll need a strong foreign exchange reserve to defend it. Look at Hong Kong as a successful example. If Scotland does not takes its share of the debt it will naturally not get its share of the reserve. So how do you propose that it defends its currency?

      • George_Mc1

        Correct, nor will it get its share of anything else

  • Richard T

    “Scotland has no debts”

    Well no, but in the same way, it has no assets either.

    “The UK accepted responsibility for 100%”

    Well, the UK confirmed that UK debt will be honoured by the UK, as is the usual practice.

    “Today Osborne has chosen a post-union position”

    More accurately, he has made clear that the preferred post-union position of the SNP/Scottish Government is not going to happen. Which seems perfectly reasonable.

    “an historic moment when the union was irrevocably broken”

    What a peculiar comment. We’re talking about a scenario in which the union has already been irrevocably broken, by a vote for Scottish independence.

    • ChuckieStane

      Richard, the vote could go either way. A yes vote may or may not be more likely after Osborne’s intervention.

      Currently Osborne is the Chancellor of Scotland as much as EWNI, yet he has today assumed the negotiating position of EWNI post-indy. It may seem like semantics or, as many believe, a perfectly reasonable position supporting EWNI’s interests, but in relinquishing his position as representing all of the union equally he confirms the belief behind the independence movement that the union is not a union of equals.

      Many Scots against indenpedence genuinely believe in the equality

      • Richard T

        ” in relinquishing his position as representing all of the union equally…”

        He’s representing the position of the UK. Now, and under the hypothetical post-Yes case.

        Entirely consistent, so far as I can see.

        Anyway, perhaps he had an internal debate during which he argued the Nat case for 8.5% of the time, and came to the same conclusion.

      • Andy

        Osborne is merely stating the bleeding obvious. There is far more to a currency union that the ability of you in Glasgow or where ever being able to use sterling.

      • ButcombeMan

        it is. it has put itself there by way of the attempt to seceed.

    • monty61

      Strong on the rhetoric of victimhood, but not much else.

  • Seldom Seen

    ‘Ronald MacDonald, Adam Smith professor of political economy at Glasgow University…’

    Big Mac please, no fries…

    • monty61

      I swear I remember a Glasgow Uni lecturer in my time (early 80s) called Roland Butter ….

      • Henry Hooper

        It was a sandwich shop..not a very good one I have to say

  • Careering Off

    Talk of “bullying” plays on (primarily) English reluctance to damage Sottish interests (eg Barnett). This is surely valid only until independence, after which neither the Tories (so as not to appear “nasty”) nor Labour (to save Scottish votes) will have any interest in Scottish sensibilities. But the opposite applies if Scotland votes “no” and Salmond campaigns for “devo max”. All this talk of bullying once again betrays that this is his real agenda.

    • Andy

      Barnett should be abolished. And actually the debt should be divided up in accord with the Barnett formula – that is how the debt was accumulated after all.

  • HJ777

    Salmond and Sturgeon have been exposed for what they are: arrogant fools.

    If Scotland secedes, as they want, the rest of the UK would be perfectly entitled to, indeed should, take decisions in its own interests and to ignore those of Scotland. Salmond and Sturgeon have a cheek trying to tell the rest of the UK what it would have to agree to, backed by threats.

    • Count Dooku

      And they should take RBS with them and it’s balance sheet that’s 8 times the size of their petro-economy.

      • HJ777

        Given their support for Fred Goodwin and RBS in taking over ABN Amro, I’m sure that they would want to.

  • Spammo Twatbury

    “Because the obvious truth is that Scotland would have much more to lose
    from post-independence negotiations than would the rest of the UK. (Yes, yes, yes: oil and balance of payments and submarines. Not enough, old boy.)
    That is, the downside to negotiations going badly is vastly greater for
    Scotland than for the rump UK. Scotland’s position is relatively
    weaker.”

    Interesting that you lay out the serious downsides for the UK, but just tell us it’d be “vastly” worse for Scotland without troubling to explain why. Not sure I can see it. No debt rather than £150bn debt is an awfully big upside.

    • CharlietheChump

      No debt, no money, nothing.

  • Hoew

    Yes – who would want to enter into a currency union with a country that threatened not to pay its debts?

    • BillFraser

      Scotland, (under the scenario that the UK is the continuing state implied by this announcement) will not be responsible for any debt and therefore there is no threat not to pay its debts. It will not have any.

      • monty61

        You utterly miss the point here is that economies need debt to function – and walking away from debt is hardly the way to a good credit rating. Salmond and co have just been exposed for the bunch of fantasists that they are.

        • BillFraser

          Credit ratings do not determine the cost of borrowing. The markets do. I repeat Scotland will not be walking away from debt obligations, it doesn’t have any. If Scotland has to borrow on the bond markets the likely cost at 1 – 2% over current UK rates would be much cheaper than paying the rUK back a share of the rUK debt burden. Incidentally how does Norway and China function without debt?

          • monty61

            I’ll amend that – fantasists ignorant of how markets work.

            • Jambo25

              I think that may apply to you

          • jazz606

            “…Credit ratings do not determine the cost of borrowing….”

            No, they determine whether people will lend to you at all and the willingness of lenders to lend determines the rate.

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            Yes you idiot and the markets look at credit ratings and it certainly does not lend to people who default on their debts.

            • Jambo25

              Ah! Mr, Angry again.

              • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                Ah! Better that than being Mr Stupid, Deluded and Braindead. Any thoughts on what you might use as a medium of exchange in future or are you too busy nursing the spot where George Osborne kicked you today?

                • Jambo25

                  Seriously, I’d get help if I was you.

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  Help! I don’t need help with simpleton like you.

                • Jambo25

                  You obviously need stronger medication.

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  Oh I think it is your best mate Alex that needs the medication, what with the kick in the nuts he received yesterday.

              • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                Oh, and look at all the other commenters who seem to agree with my analysis Mr Braindead.

                • Jambo25

                  You just cannot help yourself.

          • David Booth.

            Try borrowing money then if you have a poor credit rating, you’ll soon find out the cost of borrowing Bill.

            • BillFraser

              The UK credit rating went from AAA to AA no change in interest rates.

              • David Booth.

                AAA to AA is a minor adjustment. A newly so called Independent Scotland with the government mouthing off about defaulting on debts would have a credit rating of ZZZ.

                • BillFraser

                  The credit rating of Iceland who defaulted on banking debts is Baa http://countryeconomy.com/ratings/iceland

                • David Booth.

                  Iceland has not walked away from its debts, which is what Salmonds has threatened to do.

                • Jambo25

                  Actually, it kind of has. At least kicked them back to a point of repayment time of pretty much its own choosing.

              • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                That changes if you go into default like Scotland is proposing.

                • BillFraser
                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  You are clearly supremely ignorant of the workings of the international capital markets. A defaulter or perceived defaulter either cannot borrow or can borrow only on stringent terms. Stringent means short term and at high rates of interest. Without a central bank and lender of last resort I suspect you will find borrowing of any kind very difficult. OK, this is point where you are supposed to stick your fingers in your ears and go la la la la like a good little SNP supporter.

              • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                Yes they did but the markets had already anticipated the downgrade and priced in the changes beforehand. Hence there was no dramatic change on the day.

        • allymax bruce

          Hi monty61, couldn’t resist joining your ‘fantasist’ jibe. I’d like to know who Alex Massie is talking to, when, in his article, he refers to ‘Jock’? Is this Massie playing with a wee bit with the old ‘Daemonologie’? James 1 used to do the same; he created two fictional characters in his head, where Philomathes and Epistemon that would have ‘internal’ conversations with each other; upon said ‘argument’ (between two completely fantasist inventions), James1 (Massie) would base his reasoning on! Massie really hearing voices in his head! Ok, so let’s put this article in perspective; it’s absolute rubbish!

      • Reconstruct

        Do you actually believe this?

        • Angus McLellan

          It doesn’t seem an unreasonable thing to believe. After all, we *know* that the supporting examples selected by the UK Government’s tame experts in the “extinguished” paper are cases where the successor states – the UK and Russia – kept 100% of the state debt.

          Adam Tomkins and others have tried to construct a novel theory of things, where the UK is the successor state and retains shared assets, but debts are shared. But that is only theory, and none of the examples to be found in the record of state succession appear to support it.

          • HJ777

            What absolute nonsense.

            Salmond has no power to secede even in the very unlikely event that he were to win the referendum. That can only be granted by the UK parliament. Do you really think it would agree to secession under terms in which Scotland has no debt to carry and the rest of the UK carries it all?

            And on what basis is Salmond/Sturgeon threatening to do this anyway? Because the rest of the UK would have a policy on its own currency that the SNP doesn’t like?

            • Angus McLellan

              Please read the Anglo-Irish Treaty. It’s not ten million pages of detail. with just 18 clauses in the main text and 3 in the annex. Debt is one clause, a bland statement about “fair and equitable” sharing. As for parliamentary enabling legislation, the Irish Free State Constitution Act said nothing about debts.

              Why would an Anglo-Scottish Treaty or the relevant enabling legislation be any different? Nobody disputes the obligation on both parties to share assets and liabilities equitably. But the details of any such division would, as they were in the case of Ireland and the ex-USSR, be matters for extended negotiations *after* separation. Why after? Because before separation there is only one party and a diktat is, simply by definition, inequitable.

              • HJ777

                You’re referring of course, to the diktat by Salmond and Sturgeon that the rest of the UK would enter a currency union?

                A currency union has nothing to do with assets. It is a matter of policy – and Salmond has no business telling, and neither would any government in Westminster ever agree to, him dictating its policies.

              • jazz606

                I seem to recall that the Irish fought for their independence.

                • ChuckieStane

                  Jazz you seem to be implying the George Galloway arguement that Ireland should be independent because it used violence but Scotland should not because it chooses democracy. It was lunacy when Galloway said it and if you are suggesting it then you have as weird an outlook as George.

                • jazz606

                  The point I was trying to make is that the context is entirely different.

              • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                Are you utterly insane? Do you honestly believe the zest minster parliament will just roll over and accept such arrant nonsense? If Scotland walks away from the debt it also walks away from the assets including foreign exchange reserves. Second, it would be unable to raise finance at any price as a debt defaulter.

              • Andy

                As the debts have been accrued using the Barnett formula, so the debt must be divided in the same way.

              • Eu Realist

                The Irish Free State would assume responsibility for a proportionate
                part of the United Kingdom’s debt, as it stood on the date of signature.

                Anglo-Irish Treaty 1921

        • Daniel Maris

          At the very least it puts the rump UK in a very poor negotiating position.

          They’ll be starting from the position that rump UK has taken on responsibility for 100% of debts and will be trying to negotiate down. Not easy.

          • Rob

            You clearly either wish to be very insulting to the 60 million or so other people outside of Scotland that also inhabit the UK or you have no understanding of what the term “rump” means. Please consult a dictionary.

            • Daniel Maris

              I’m using it polemically because the real basis of the union was the union of Scotland and England (which had already conquered and laid low Wales). Ireland was an afterthought and the mini statelet of Northern Ireland is only half in the union.

              Politically the UK without Scotland will be a rump as Wales and England never did enter into a union. Wales was turned into a vassal state. It will be England Plus.

              • Wessex Man

                oh do get out more!

            • Jambo25

              Well it can be used to mean hind quarters or it can be taken to mean something left over. What’s your problem?

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Do you actually believe what you have written? If the answer to that is yes, I suggest you present yourself to a friendly university research department with an interest in delusional behaviour. Do you honestly believe that the Westminster parliament will simply say “OK you’ve got us there you managed to avoid all that debt”. You poor sad little man.

      • Eu Realist

        Of course Scotland should take a share of the debt they helped accumulate it, Scottish MPs, Ministers and Prime Ministers were complicit in building the debt and spending the money.
        Was it not a Scottish Prime Minster who used public money to bail out the banks and another one who took us into a very expensive war in the middle east.

        If the SNP want to play hard ball so can the rest of the UK as Redwood says “How much of the oil belongs to the rest of the UK rather than Scotland? How do you draw the border out from the coast into the North Sea? Why shouldn’t Scotland assume full responsibility for the debts of RBS? What charges would the rest of the UK levy for Scots using rest of the UK facilities?”

        • Jambo25

          I thin kt the suggestion of non-sharing of the debt was made in response to Unionist/Westminster suggestions that they would play hard ball. It cuts two ways you know.

          • Eu Realist

            Sorry a currency union in the future is not part of the “Assets” which will be split during negotiations after a yes vote, So trying to link of the debt to the currency union is misplaced. It is not playing hard ball to state that the UK would not be willing to enter into a currency union with an independent county, the SNP do not have a mandate in the rest of the UK.

            • Jambo25

              It does however help mark out the rUK as the Successor or, better still, Continuation state and under international law you cop the UK’s liabilities ie national debt. The SG doesn’t have to repudiate anything as rUK will have done it for them.

              • Eu Realist

                Scotland.cannot try to evade its debt obligation by claiming a currency union is part of the assets, there is no linkage between that and the accrued debt.Nobody is saying Scotland does not share the assets of the UK.

          • Eu Realist

            A currency Union is not an asset accrued by the UK, the Bank of England is and the gold reserves but once independence is called by Scotland there obviously can be no shared assets past that point.

            It is not Westminster fault that the SNP made an unsubstantiated promise in its White paper they merely responded.

            • Jambo25

              Read up the definition and duties of Successor State and Continuation state.

              • Eu Realist

                It does not matter about Successor state ect, a currency union cannot be considered an asset to be shared. It goes beyond the period of the union so naturally it is not an asset of that union.

    • Spammo Twatbury

      Scotland has no debts. Don’t you read the news? The UK accepted responsibility for 100%.

      • Daniel Maris

        How quickly the forgetful forget…

      • Smithersjones2013

        Then it has no assets or land either then. Where are the Scots going to live? Some of the South Sandwich Islands are relatively cheap I believe.

    • Craig

      Who would want to remain in a union that is supposed to be love bombing us at the moment but instead acts like a husband that batters his wife. Scaring, intimidation, you are no good, you are nothing without me. Sorry honey, I love you. I need you. I want you. BAM. You are nothing, how dare you. Do as I say or else.

      Unfortunately Westminster won’t even consider going to RELATE to sort and negotiate.

      • HJ777

        In what way is the UK government trying to intimidate anyone?

        All the threats are coming from the “Yes” campaign who seems to think that they could, after secession, force another country to enter into a currency union even if that country perceives that it is not in its own interests. The policy that the rest of the UK would have on its own currency would be none of Salmond/Sturgeon’s business.

        The sheer arrogance of these people is staggering.

        • Craig

          Borders, mobile roaming charges, defence, economy, country phone codes, BBC, EU membership, companies moving south, pensions, currency, interest rates, welfare, immigration.

          • HJ777

            So you can write lists.

            And your point is?

            • Craig

              The point is you have no argument but just spurious comments

              • HJ777

                You have spurious lists but no accompanying argument, as is plain for all to see.

                If you’re not embarrassed, you should be.

                • Craig

                  Ah , don’t you just love it. See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil.

                  As I said, check the Whitehall papers, do simple google searches, check the MSM.

                  There for you to see I am right and you know it. You have nothing.

                  Good day to you sir.

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  This is just gibberish. What is your point?

                • HJ777

                  I don’t think he has a clue. I’ve been trying to prize it out of him but with no success.

                • HJ777

                  Check the “Whitehall papers” for what exactly?

                  How you can assert that you’re “right” when you haven’t even explained what your argument is, fails me.

                • David Booth.

                  Craig man, stop making us Scots look like vindictive idiots please!

                • Craig

                  Ah a troll appears

                • David Booth.

                  Typical Nat, when logical arguments run out start throwing the abuse.

                • Jambo25

                  What was your logical argument Mr. Booth?

                • David Booth.

                  “The pound would be a millstone around our necks”. Alex Salmond
                  So what’s changed Mr Jambo25.

                • Jambo25

                  You still haven’t answered my question.

                • David Booth.

                  Every expert that has looked at the Nats plans have said they are unworkable including today the most senior civil servant in the treasury. All Alex says is “Ignore the experts just trust me”
                  The same Alex Salmonds said the pound would be a millstone around our necks so again my question to you is what’s changed?

                • Jambo25

                  A political calculation. Salmond thinks that his best chance of getting Scottish independence is by a form of instalments so don’t change too many things at once.

                • HJ777

                  You mean by trying to deceive Scots.

                • Jambo25

                  No. By p[rising little bits of power away from London incrementally.

                • HJ777

                  The high water mark of the separatists has already been reached. It will decline from now.

                • Jambo25

                  That’s why, presumably, at just over mid term the ASNP has a fairly handsome OP lead over Labour. 62% of Scots feel wholly Scottish. Another 18% feel mainly Scottish with a little bit of Britishness left. Figures from England are going the same way. British identity is dead or dying.

                • HJ777

                  Keep believing that if you want.

                  You are deluded about many things – one more will make little difference.

                • HJ777
                • Jambo25

                  And yet the SNP is maintaining a healthy lead over Labour.

                • David Booth.

                  Jambo, Independence is like being pregnant in that you can’t be a little bit pregnant or a little bit independent, that’s what the word means.
                  Alex is on the Telly tonight at 10-30, perhaps he will let us all on on his cunning plan, or at least today’s version of it!

                • Jambo25

                  Oh but you can be a little bit independent. That’s what Devolution was all about. That’s what the meaning of various forms of Federalism is. In Canada there have been 3 independence referendums in Quebec. All have said No but, bit by bit, Quebec has extended its powers until it is now virtually an independent state in a very loose confederation.

                • David Booth.

                  Jambo, if it says Independance on the tin you can’t slip a vote for Federalism inside the tin. I would have thought after the SNP debacle yesterday even you must be having doubts about Alex Salmonds competence, when he simply disappeared and left Nicola Sturgeon to face the press.
                  When the going gets tough, Alex gets going!

                • Jambo25

                  No one is trying to slip Federalism inside anything. I’m simply pointing out that the trajectory seems to be towards greater independence and detachment rather in the way it has happened in Quebec and Flanders and the Basque country. All of these places have gradually been slipping from the centralised control of Ottawa, Madrid and Brussels. The same process seems to be happening in Scotland.

                • David Booth.

                  But the SNP have decreed that the only game in town is Independence, there are no other cards on the table. Their poorly thought out proposals have just fallen apart like a cheap suit on its first wearing. Salmonds demands that the rest of the UK fall in with his demands over Sterling and when they say no thanks he throws his dummy out of the pram and starts complaining he is being bullied. If Scotland goes for Independence England, Wales, and NI will decide what is in their own interest not Salmonds.
                  These are not abstract notions they will effect the value of the money in your savings accounts. A country cannot simply enter the Euro, they have to manage their own money for 2 years. Without Sterling the SNP will have to have an interim currency for 2-5 years then put the noose of the euro around Scotland’s neck. Just look what Europe (Germany) did to Greece and Cyprus to maintain the Euro. Bank accounts in Cyprus had to take a haircut (loss) of 10% because Germany demanded it.
                  We will go from being 10% of the UK to around 1% of a far from sympathetic EU.
                  Beware of what you ask for, God may just give it to you!

                • Jambo25

                  1) In your opinion “their poorly thought out proposals have just fallen apart like a cheap suit.” However, I suspect that your opinion of both the SNP and Scottish independence was never that high so we’ll take you as parti pris.
                  2) Of course there would be a period of negotiations after a putative Yes to independence. That means compromise. rUK would be by far and away the more powerful actor in those negotiations but it wouldn’t have it all it’s own way. I wouldn’t want iScotland to refuse its obligations on national debt but if the SG found a negotiating partner which didn’t have some come and go then there are a couple of things it could do. Since HMG would appear to be claiming to be the successor state then Salmond is correct in international law that HMG would be responsible for all UK liabilities. Similarly iScotland could simply half the rate of Corporation and other taxes to attract company HQs away from London. Unpleasant and totally lacking in ‘British’ solidarity but since rUK would already be refusing solidarity; why not? After all there has been some barely disguised glee, from some of our English cousins, that Scottish independene would lead to a flight of Scottish financial sector jobs to London.
                  3) Simply because Greece, Cyprus and a few other Eurozone countries screwed up their economies doesn’t mean that it was the fault of the Euro. Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Finland have all done just fine and dandy. I do realise that a lot of people, in England think that the Euro and EU are about the most evil things to happen since the death of Stalin but, unfortunately, reality doesn’t always concur with the paranoia effecting large sections of English opinion.

                • David Booth.

                  Jambo I’m not in England.
                  Any Country that feels it can renege on its debts will have a rude awakening when they go to borrow some money, which Scotland will have to. Interest rate will rocket.
                  Take the tartan sunglasses off they’re restricting your vision.

                • Jambo25

                  Read my posting above and ruminate on what that means.

                • David Booth.

                  I have, twice, and it really doesn’t make much sense!

                • Jambo25

                  Ah well, that’s your problem.

            • Jambo25

              That you don’t think before, as my old ma used to say, “opening your mouth and letting your belly rumble”.

              • HJ777

                So you inherited your level of intelligence from your mother?

                Not your fault, I suppose.

                • Jambo25

                  Yes, and happy to have done so. Apart from being one of the finest human beings I have ever come across she was also one of the shrewdest.

                  She was also a far classier act than you seem to be.

                • HJ777

                  It’s a pity that she lacked a capacity for logical argument though. You could have done with inheriting that.

                  I haven’t met your mother – one would hope she had more grace than you. Which, let’s face it, wouldn’t be hard.

      • terregles2

        We notice that Osborne has not explained how he will deal with the impact on the UK balance of payments if he declines to share the pound.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          It will be none of your business.

        • HJ777

          I don’t see how that is Salmond or Sturgeon’s business – or yours.

        • D Whiggery

          SNP myth I’m afraid. They seem to only count the oil and whisky exports and forget all the imports.

          http://www.scottisheconomywatch.com/brian-ashcrofts-scottish/2013/04/sterling-and-scottish-independence.html

          P.S. That’s what exchange rates are for.

          • allymax bruce

            On the contrary Mr Whigg; City of London send ‘envoys’ into the ‘palace’ every morning, telling the cretins what to do. Independence for Scotland is always #1 on their list!
            Now, what does that tell us?
            It tells us that City of London gets what it wants; a more than healthy balance of payments sheets. A sturdy & honourable neighbour in the EU, with a big vote. And, another way to institute comprise politics between Russia & America; it’s a leverage thing Westmisnter loves to wield. There’s absolutely no way Scotland’s refused the £.
            Stuff all your high moral ethics & Nationalistic ‘methane’, common sense in finance always rules the day.

            • D Whiggery

              “Now, what does that tell us? ”

              That you need help.

            • Nicholas chuzzlewit

              And yet there will be no currency union with Scotland. You have played the game and you have lost so better start preparing for the euro, Always assuming the EU will have you.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          You have played the game and you have lost.

      • David Booth.

        Sounds like the echo of La Sturgeon ???

      • Pochy

        To be Honest, New States do have an obligaton to take on the share of the debt. But a Successor state does not have to share previously given institutions.

        • Jambo25

          That wasn’t how it worked out with the dissolution of the USSR which was the premier modern example of this.

          • Pochy

            Perhaps i am mistaken then. Okay, Russia was still the Successor state after the dissolution. The UK has no reason to give the pound to Scotland as it is an institution. But debt is a liability. Along with giving falsane, the territorial Army, state parks, any government property, it must also give the debt.

            • Jambo25

              Actually, the rUK has a number of reasons to go into a currency union with Scotland and I suspect very strongly that after a putative Scottish Yes that there would be some form of currency union when the Westminster boys and girls started to behave like grown-ups.
              It wouldn’t be my choice. I’d go for the Euro as quick as possible.

              As for debts and liabilities. If the rUK government does start playing hardball, as someone has put it why do you think that the SG wouldn’t as well and why do you think all the problems would accrue to iScotland?

              • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                All of which have been roundly, firmly and permanently rejected. Oh, and we are the UK thank you. We are not changing our name as a consequence of anything you do.

              • HJ777

                Imagine a scenario where the policy of the SNP was to join the Euro after secession (which was, indeed, its policy just a few years ago).

                Imagine that George Osborne, as UK Chancellor, had then said “No you can’t, because we want you to form a currency union with the rest of the UK”.

                Do you not think that the SNP would scream blue murder about “bullying” and state in no uncertain terms that Scotland would have the right, after secession, to decide its own currency policy? What would its reaction then be if Osborne had threatened not let Scotland have its share of the assets if it didn’t agree to a currency union?

                The attitude of the “Yes” campaign is both arrogant and hypocritical.

                • Jambo25

                  I think whoever was the SG at the time would say thank you very much and accept the offer and might even make it permanent if it looked more advantageous than joining the Euro. Otherwise it would use a Sterling as a currency union until it could join the Euro.

  • BillFraser

    The UK government is legally responsible for the debt it entered into. The Treasury admitted this recently. Scotland can not “renege on a substantial and significant portion of its debt”. Scotland does not have any debt to renege on.

    • Pootles

      By that logic, the UK government will be sole inheritor of all UK assets, wherever they might be geographically, following Scottish independence. Scotland would, therefore, possess no assets that are currently enjoyed as part of the UK.

      • BillFraser

        No the geographical assets are apportioned geographically “Division of Assets and Liabilities

        34. All sorts of bodies and departments would need to be divided between the two countries including spending departments, the armed forces and even the NHS. Assets to be divided include natural resources such as North Sea oil and gas reserves. Liabilities include the UK’s public sector debt and other commitments including pensions.

        35. What principles would apply to the division? Professor Rowthorn recalled that in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 the newly formed Irish Free State “agreed to assume responsibility for a proportionate part of the United Kingdom’s debt, as it stood on the date of signature”.[40] Dr Karen Henderson of Leicester University told us that in the ‘velvet divorce’ of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993 the general principle was that property should belong to the republic in which it was located, and that other assets and debt were divided 2:1 in line with the size of the two republics’ populations.[41] The ICAEW argued for a simple approach.[42]

        36. Our witnesses agreed that shared physical onshore assets should be apportioned by location, although military installations (see Chapter 6) might need negotiation. Most also agreed that financial assets and liabilities should be apportioned on a per capita basis. As a starting point, the division of UK physical assets should be on a geographical basis. Financial assets and liabilities should be divided by share of population.”

        http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201213/ldselect/ldeconaf/152/15204.htm

        • Pootles

          Interesting. What you’ve posted appears to suggest that, contrary to your original post, Scotland would be liable for a share of debt – see the paragraphs numbered 35.

          • BillFraser

            “Financial ASSETS and liabilities should be divided by share of population.”

            • Pootles

              Yes, but your original post said that Scotland had no debt, but as part of the UK is does have debt, and therefore, according to the paragraph – ‘assets and debt were divided 2:1 in line with the size of the two republics’ populations’ – referring to the Czech & Sloak case, Scotland will have debt inherited from its UK position, along with assets.

            • Nicholas chuzzlewit

              Oh so you will be assuming your share of the debt now.

          • Angus McLellan

            Sometimes wee things matter. When the negotiators finished up in late 1925, the “proportion [of the UK’s vast national debt] as may be fair and equitable” which the Irish Free State picked up turned out to be valued at £0 0s 0d. Always read the small print.

            • Pootles

              Given that the Free State was not what the Republicans of 1916 wanted, that Partition had left the British flag still flying over the most prosperous part of the island of Ireland, and that the Irish Civil War had been won by the National Army equipped by the British Army, and that the British King was still head of state, as well as Emperor of a Empire that was at its greatest extent, you will agree that the context was slightly different from that which will pertain after the Yes vote.

              • Daniel Maris

                There never was an Emperor. It was a silly title thought up by Disraeli.

                • Pootles

                  Emperor of India – ‘IND. IMP.’ on our old coins. The Queen’s father was the last.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          Fantasy. We can walk away from the debt but keep the assets. You are in for a very big surprise in the unlikely event that the Yes campaign prevails.

    • flashgrim

      Utter rubbish Scotland would have to take it’s share of debt (153bn) or would be a defaulter. That is what rUK & almost certainly the EU would believe. Yes the debt is in UK’s name but that simply means Scotland has to borrow the money itself and pay rUK that amount.

      • BillFraser

        Only true if the rUK agrees to share assets as well as liabilities. The implication is that they will not share assets (of which sterling is one) therefore there is no obligation to assume any debt.

        • monty61

          Sterling isn’t an ‘asset’. An asset is something with a value on a balance sheet. What a ridiculous comment.

        • Andy

          Sterling is not an ‘asset’. And as a point of history Sterling is the ancient currency of the Kingdom of England.

        • HJ777

          We’re not talking about assets.

          We’re talking about a country’s policy on its own currency. Salmond wants both to separate from the UK and then tell it how it must run its own currency – backing this with threats.

          The arrogance of the man is staggering

          • ButcombeMan

            I have posted on this subject before in other threads. It is gratifying that the Adam Smith Professor agrees exactly with my amateur analysis which has been so challenged by the potential Jockistan residents.

            I do not think Salmond is being arrogant. I think he is not very bright, which is why he has flip flopped all around the key issue of currency. His intellect is just not up to it. He has proceeded all along as if it will be OK on the night.

            In the event of a Yes vote, there will be nothing to stop people in Scotland continuing to accept Sterling after separation, even if the national accounts have to be denominated in another measure,

            What Salmond has failed to understand is that a viable currency depends on confidence. A Jockistan that walks away from its portion of the debt, is just doomed, right from the beginning.

            The real prospect is of Jockistan adopting a Jock currency yet ordinary voters preferring to hold sterling. It will be the Zimbabwean situation, all over again. It will destroy Salmond’s dream, he will become even more ludicrous. He has no bargaining chips. This should all have been sorted out first.

            It is an amazing performance from Salmond but depressing that so many are taken in by him

            • HJ777

              Of course, Scotland, or indeed, any other country could decide to use Sterling as its currency without agreement.

              But that is not what Salmond proposes – he proposes a formal currency union and is backing his proposal with threats.

              You are right – only a fool would be taken in by the aggressive stance of Salmond/Sturgeon and that of the Cybernats here – which is just designed to conceal the weakness of their argument by creating lots of noise and fury.

              • ButcombeMan

                I actually meant the Scots might well prefer to use sterling for many of their day to day transactions. That might mean two currencies in use and many people having two bank accounts assuming wee eck would allow that. I do it myself, I hold euros and sterling.

                • HJ777

                  Indeed.

                  Are you familiar with the work of Hayek on what he initially called ‘Concurrent currencies’ but was later persuaded to call the “Denationalisation of money”?

                • ButcombeMan

                  I am not, I shall look it up, I am obliged, but I am familiar with the general idea of more than one currency in use, I think John Major once mentioned parallel currencies as an option for the UK.

                  During my trips to Zimbabwe i experienced a surreal world where the pound, the rand, the euro and the dollar were acceptable to pay any bill, preferred in fact. The local currency was not wanted. Anyone who got any, got rid ASAP.

                  Of course after that they dollarised

                • HJ777

                  I think that you might be remembering Nigel Lawson’s proposal for a common European currency (as opposed to a single one) – effectively a weighted basket of the national currencies – which would exist in parallel with national currencies.

                  This was a very sensible proposal as it would have acted as a trading currency but also an alternative for people in EU countries to national currencies for savings accounts etc. as a protection against individual government currency debasement (which was largely the point of Hayek’s proposal albeit he thought – correctly – that all governments debase their currencies so he wanted it taken out of their hands altogether). Indeed, at the time I worked for a company owned by a large pan-European company with a lot of trading between divisions of the same company (my company supplied all the other divisions with components) and we always quoted other divisions in ECU (the weighted basket of currencies). It was a very good arrangement.

            • Jambo25

              “Jockistan”,”Jock currency”, “Zimbabwean”. Lovely though you haven’ come up with the racist stuff how we ‘Jocks’ are generically pe-disposed to this or that. I’ll give you time though.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          It is the UK. We are not changing our name to suit you.

    • CharlietheChump

      Try telling that to the BIS, IMF, EU/ECB or wherever you decide to try to borrow to fund your clapped out, socialist theory poisoned backwater.

      • CharlietheChump

        Although, maybe Russia would help, look how generous they have been with Ukraine!

  • ChuckieStane

    Mr Osborne today crossed a line. Mr. Massie is correct in pointing out that this is power politics
    Put aside for now the substantive issues regarding currency, this is purely a political decision designed to kill independence stone dead.
    Regardless of the result of September’s referendum Osborne’s hard-ball positioning will be seen as an historic moment when the union was irrevocably broken. The platitudes of togetherness are exposed as a sham.

    Osborne is now not acting as the Chancellor of all the UK and Cameron is now not acting as the Prime Minister of all the UK.
    Today Osborne was chosen a post union position. He has ceased to act for the union.
    Whether it is 7 months, 7 years or 20 years off, the union is stone dead.

    • Andrew

      I completely disagree. Osborne (Balls and Alexander) are acting 100% FOR the union by trying to keep the union together. I’m not sure how you can infer it any differently.

      Conversely, if they were to support the position of the SNP they would be acting against the interests of the union.

      Seems quite obvious?

      • monty61

        Obvious yes, to the sensible, but the pack of Tartan trolls has already decended.

      • mightymark

        I think what our Chuckie is saying is that Osbourne should state the thing in very temperate language, leaving plenty of grey round the edges so that Salmond can get up and say “there you are – I told you the will come round to it eventually”.

        No way Jose!

        As for the Union post a “no” vote it depends surely on how things go for the UK generally. There was a report the other day that suggested that the economic future of the UK was the brightest in Europe. If that turns out to be true only the (economic) suicidal bomber wing of the SNP will continue to favour independence.

      • Wessex Man

        No what they are saying is how they would act to safeguard the interests of the countries of the Union once and if Scotland votes for independence, in other words they would act in the best interests of the Union that remains

        As for Chucklestane and Craig’s comments, has it ever occured to you that they may be a bit tired of SNP foot stamping and have decided to call their and your bluff?

    • Pootles

      Indeed. But can you give rUK any reasons why we should wish to share the rUK’s currency, central bank, and monetary policy making with an independent Scotland?

    • flashgrim

      More rubbish, YeSNP had no right to demand a currency union in the first place. A currency union requires giving up sovereignty and Scotland has no right to demand that of a foreign country as rUK would be. The union will last another 307 years.

    • CharlietheChump

      Nonsense, Georgie is just stating the facts.
      Welcome to the cold, dark world outside the sunny glow which emanates from where all good things come, the South.
      Good luck and farewell.

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