Douglas R Mayer – Currie
One advantage of Alistair Darling putting himself forward to lead the No campaign is that he will be best placed to provide answers to the questions that Labour are in denial about on the economy, which he has put at the top of the agenda in support of the Union – not that any will be forthcoming.
The problem for the unionists is that the mess we are in is evidence enough to demonstrate its shortcomings, and the Labour Party is responsible for that. We recall his forecast prior to the 2010 general election that the cuts will be “worse than Thatcher” and his number two at the Treasury, Liam Byrne’s note for his coalition successor that “there is no money left”. Yet, he now resists disclosing Labour’s solution “three years prior to an election”.
The case for something different from Labour’s failed laboratory experiment of devolution is founded upon economic issues.
When Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson points out that the Scottish benefits bill is more than the proceeds from North Sea resources, she doesn’t seem to realise the felony of that. These proceeds have been wasted by successive unionist Westminster governments, instead of being invested. And we have had thirteen years of Labour with their stealth taxes, and the proceeds from credit-driven high-street sales (which effectively purloined the growth from the current period, as borrowers concentrate on reducing their debts) as well as borrowing of the order of £30bn annually, resulting in the £180bn just prior to the 2010 general election.
The £30bn annual borrowing can be reconciled with the cost of the one million increase in the public sector workforce. For the Coalition to discontinue that, it would have to sack, immediately, those one million, or find alternative measures to that value, and then start to reduce the deficit. Labour’s shadow chancellor Ed Balls produces a laundry list of solutions, most of which involve further borrowing, but, when challenged about the costs, he says they have not worked through the numbers.
No wonder votes stacked up for the SNP.
The failed strategy of the Westminster unionist governments has been to erect barriers to coincide with the rise of the SNP. Post-war, extra money was poured into Scotland beyond due budgetary propriety, devolution would kill nationalism stone dead, and the defective Calman proposals would compromise the independence referendum.
The unionist politicians could not have planned it better. Instead of the case for independence, or for Devo-x, lying alongside comparison with the current status quo, they have deliberately muddied the waters by putting into the ring Calman, which becomes, virtually, the second status quo, which is an oxymoron because it will not be in operation when the referendum is held in 2014.
But the so-called loyal unionists will use these circumstances to circumvent any discussion at all about extra powers for Devo-x, instead concentrating on the forthcoming Calman proposals, which, in view of all that, should be the third question on the referendum ballot paper, as it has not been put to the Scottish people for approval. And David Cameron’s promise of extra powers will be kicked into the long grass.
My questions would be: Do you agree that Scotland should become an independent country?
If independence fails, then those voting No should be asked if they wish to have extra powers; the Yes answers and the minority independence Yesanswers, added together could initiate immediate discussion on the precise terms of Devo-x. And: Are you in favour of the Calman proposals!
In case there is any doubt about it, my own preference is for fiscal autonomy, but I am concerned about the abuse of the constitutional process.
The unionist politicians are guilty of constitutional impropriety, and they put their integrity on the line. They should not be surprised if their skulduggery results in a backlash of increased support for full independence.