The latest YouGov poll puts the Yes campaign for Scottish Independence at 51%, ahead of the No campaign at 49%. This is the first time that any major poll has put Yes ahead, and the fact it’s the notoriously conservative YouGov is important to understanding that Westminster, the London media and the establishment have completely underestimated the support on the ground for independence, and the complete failure of the No campaign to make a decent argument. After all, at the start of the actual campaign a few years ago, the No vote was in the high 60% mark, so they’ve lost tens of thousands in support and in the last two weeks since the last televised debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling they’ve seriously hemorrhaged support.
In the light of this latest poll, this has made the government sit up and George Osborne is promising ‘extra powers’ should there be a No vote. Two major problems with that: one, it’s clearly desperation and there’s no idea what powers they may well actually be, and secondly (and more constitutionally important) Scotland is in purdah at the moment and to quote from the Wikipedia article I’ve linked to, this means:
The time period offers a prior opportunity for government departments to develop guidance and policy due to any impact resulting from the election. It also prevents central and local government departments from making announcements about any new or controversial government initiatives (such as modernisation initiatives, administrative and legislative changes) which could be seen to be advantageous to any candidates or parties in the forthcoming election, or which may commit any incoming new administration to policies which it wouldn’t support.
George Osborne has just promised that Scotland may well get powers in an attempt to firm up the No vote, but he can’t. Nobody related to government, be that UK or Scottish, can do this. There could well be some legal issues over this and anyhow, the fact it is desperation will be so overwhelmingly obvious that the Yes campaign will be guaranteed a boost in support from this announcement.
As those people who read my blogs which aren’t reviews of films, TV programmes, or comics will know, I’m a Scot living in England and there’s a singular lack of understanding from most people as to what potentially might happen in less than two weeks. This superb post titled A Letter to England sums it up better than myself but I can totally back that post up. I’ve had around a dozen conversations in the last two years about the subject of independence, and they’ve ranged from patronising nonsense from people who think Scotland can’t do anything without permission from London, to the one I had on the Friday just gone with an Irish lad, and a chap born and bred in Bristol but seriously interested in the subject because he’s gotten fed up with how’s it’s being reported down here and wanted another perspective. In the last week in fact, I’ve had a few smaller discussions about the subject, including one at work which shows that the company I currently work for (a large multinational company with a large Scottish presence) will just get on with it should Scotland vote Yes. I imagine that’s exactly how 99% of companies operating in Scotland will do come September the 19th.
Obviously the only poll that matters is the one on September 18th, but let’s not diminish what this poll represents which is the first clear sign that the first ever democratic vote on the Union could see it’s breakup, and that the majority of the rest of the UK are not prepared for it as the thinking they’ve had installed into them by the London based media is that No will win and things will carry on, and anyhow, if Scotland votes Yes, they won’t get Sterling, or a currency union.
Here’s a lengthy quote from the post, A Letter to England that everyone south of Berwick should note as it’s importan which is why I’ve included it in detail. It shows why the media have failed to make this a national debate across the UK even though it affects you all who read this in the UK.
There is something that I believe that people in the rest of the UK need to get their heads around very quickly. Your leaders will attempt to convince you that Alex Salmond is either begging you to help him out or threatening you if you don’t agree to what he wants. The truth is that the negotiating position that the SNP have laid out in Scotland’s Future isn’t just the best deal for the people of Scotland – it is the best deal that the people of the rest of the UK could possibly expect in the event of Scotland’s departure.
I have done the reading and let me tell you – the currency union model that the SNP propose benefits the people of the UK far more than it is likely to benefit the people of Scotland. If the SNPs negotiating position was purely about winning the best deal that they could for the people of Scotland then they would not even be entertaining the idea of a formal currency union – they would simply go straight ahead and establish an independent Scottish currency with it’s own central bank and a fixed interest rate with Sterling, walking away from the UK’s national debts in the process.
Here is the most important thing that you need to understand right now. The idea that a newly independent Scotland would be walking away from a share of the UK’s debts is false. Scotland cannot agree to take on the UK’s debts because such a thing is legally impossible. The UK’s debt commitments are a legally binding contract that the UK government has entered into with the investors who have leant them money. Those contracts cannot be re-assigned to another third party and even it were possible the investors who issued the debt would not agree to it because to do so would go directly against their own interests. The reality is that we are not negotiating what share of the UK’s debts Scotland will be willing to take on. What is actually being negotiated is the level of foreign aid payments that a newly independent Scotland will be willing to make to the UK government in order to help it cover it’s debts.
That is not a threat. It is cold, hard reality. In February of this year George Osbourne, backed by Ed Balls and Danny Alexander, issued an announcement confirming that if Scotland votes for independence then the UK will continue to honour 100% of its existing debt obligations. Your government have already taken the unilateral decision that in the event of a breakup the rUK will be the sole continuator state, meaning that there is not a single thing that they can do to force the Scottish Government to accept any share of UK debt. That decision has already been taken on your behalf and that ought to worry you.
It ought to worry you because that triumvirate of Osbourne, Balls and Alexander have already proven themselves to be pretty poor negotiators. On the same day that they confirmed that the UK would continue to be liable for 100% of its debts they also announced that there is no way in which the rUK would agree to a formal currency union. Over the last week we have already seen the fallout of that decision, with Sterling sliding several points against both the US Dollar and the Euro. I can guarantee you that when we see the financial markets open tomorrow Sterling will start sliding even further. The financial press are already speculating that if Scotland votes Yes on the 18th then the minute that the markets open on the 19th Sterling will crash.
The reason for this is simple. What investor in their right mind is going to invest in a currency when the person in charge of running it has openly declared that he intends to slash his own economy by 10% overnight?
Right now Sterling is supported by the tax receipts from North Sea oil, meaning that in the event of a currency crisis the UK can back peoples investments by paying them back in oil instead of in cash. The minute that Scotland votes for independence 90% of the UK’s oil revenues disappear and the security that they provide disappears with it. I fully expect to see the rUK experiencing a further downgrading of its credit rating, meaning that it will face yet higher borrowing costs to continue financing its existing debt.
None of this has anything to do with Alex Salmond. It is already coming about thanks entirely to the outright incompetence of your own political leaders.
The reason why Westminster is desperate now, is that Scotland becoming free of it, means they are simply fucked and cannot spin austerity out as intended. You vote Tories/Labour/Lib Dems/UKIP and you get the same sort of incompetent careerist tosser who’s got people working 40 hours a week to just keep a roof over their head and they’re being told that they’re not working hard enough. But hey, they’ve been voted in because people stick to the same tribalist ideas so the system keeps going and going while the rich become richer and the rest of us look at pay packets which have barely changed in years, while prices constantly increase.
I don’t want friends to wake up on September the 19th to a free and independent Scotland and begrudge Scotland and it’s people for what they’ve done. I want them to realise that actually, this is the best chance they’ll ever have to break things for the better in the rest of the UK. This is a chance to take the incredible movement that Scotland has had over the last few years and drag it out across the UK so we can drive out the bastards who clog up the system and work only for themselves.
If there’s any lesson to be learned from this, it’s that the system we have now is broken. Rather than cling onto broken remnants of the past, we should be grasping this opportunity to start fresh not just in Scotland, but in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. So inform yourselves in the last few days before the vote as to the possibilities it opens up. Make sure you know that the people of Scotland are not doing this to ‘get at the English’ as many on the Unionist side would have you believe, but because they have a change for the sort of real democratic change this country hasn’t seen since the end of the last war.