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8:23am on Wednesday, 27th August, 2014:
The recent televised debate between Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond regarding the up-coming Scottish Independence Referendum was again a hit-and-miss affair. Personally I think it would be disastrous for Scotland to hitch their wagon directly to the EU rather than to the EU via the UK, but probably not make a lot of difference to the rest of the UK if they chose to do so. I don't get a vote, though.
Here are some points that the Better Together campaign might wish to note:
1) By accepting Salmond's constant reference to Scotland as a country, you're handing him the initiative. Although it is a country, you'd be better off referring to it as a nation.
2) Salmond's insistence that an independent will get to keep part-ownership of the pound in the form of a monetary union is backed up by his belief that the UK will have to capitulate or Scotland won't accept its share of the UK's national debt. The UK can reduce its national debt by the amount due to Scotland whether Scotland likes it or not. Whether Scotland accepts it or not is irrelevant: what matters is whether the financial institutions that Scotland will want to borrow money from will associate it with Scotland or not.
3) The UK's gold reserves are, thanks to Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, the bare minimum required to gain entry to the euro. If Scotland does have to join the euro as one of its ill-considered plan Bs, it won't be able to immediately as its share of the UK's gold reserves won't be anywhere near enough.
4) Salmond is trying to change the referendum to a vote against the current coalition, a bit like what happens in by-elections. He accused Darling of supporting the Conservatives, hoping that Scots who hate the Conservatives will turn to independence. Independence is a long-term decision, not a short-term one. Just because the Conservatives are almost wiped out in Scotland now, that doesn't mean they'll always be so. They used to be the largest party; indeed, most Scots nationalists were Conservatives 50 years ago. Darling really should have taken Salmond to task over his short-termism.
5) The written constitution that Salmond wants for Scotland includes things that really shouldn't be part of the constitution, for example not allowing nuclear weapons on or in Scottish territory. Some of those decisions are nothing to do with independence and shouldn't be in a written constitution, either. They're policy matters for the government of the day.
I have a feeling that there will be a lot of undecided voters who will vote yes when they're looking at a ballot paper. If Scotland wants to become another Eire, well good look to it and I wish it well, but voting for the charisma of one party leader is not the way to decide on a nation's future.
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