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Eck-Static?

You can always tell when Eck and Nicola are comfortable in an interview.

They both have the habit (one suspects that Nicola has learned the trick from the master) of having a chuckle as they answer a question. They don’t actually laugh, they simply insert a wee splutter into words and pauses.

It is usually done to illustrate absurdity in the opponents’ arguments or to emphasise that what their opponents have done is what the Nats had suggested all along. Thus yesterday we had Eck barely able to conceal his glee at the UK government’s statement that they would guarantee all UK debt up to the date of the referendum should Scotland vote for independence. Eck’s view was “(splutter) Well one can hard(splutter)ly be surprised when the UK government steps (splutter) in to guarantee debt accumu (splutter) lated by the UK. This is to be welcomed and is of course the (splutter) common sense position”. I may have paraphrased the words and spluttering but that was the overall tone.

Nicola was also dead chuffed with herself when interviewed yesterday. She splutters a little more politely than Eck, in fact it’s almost like a gasp or cough but she uses it to similar effect.

Alistair Darling’s comparison yesterday of Scotland’s economy to a ‘tinpot South American’ one was a strange one. I had a teacher at Secondary school who used to say that wearing jeans would not only affect one’s life chances but that there was medical proof that they caused VD. I had a vision of him yesterday when listening to Darling go off on his tangent.

A good day for the Yes campaign I’d suggest.

BBC Scotlandshire has a cut out and keep guide here which has various experts examining the opposing political views on different aspects of independence and analysing them.

It turns out that the experts are spluttering a bit too.

Further awkward questions for Alex Salmond

Further to the subjects I brought up the other day, I’d like to pose a few questions that appear to be unanswered.

Obviously the SNP’s enthusiasm for the Euro has declined somewhat from the heady days where it was defined as the currency of a future independent Scotland. The SNP proposal now is that should the Scots vote for independence in 2014 then the pound would continue to be the currency in Scotland.

If the Euro crisis has proven anything then it is that monetary union does not work alongside fiscal autonomy. Therefore what sense would there be in continuing monetary union whilst severing fiscal union?

I come back to my question posed on Saturday. Which lord and master, or which combination of them do we want? Indeed which will we be permitted? Has Eck taken advice on this?

Another tricky point for Eck to manoeuvre his way around is the developing disenchantment with Europe in the UK. A growing number of mainstream politicians are now openly discussing the UK’s departure from the EU. One MP said recently “I think ultimately it has to go that way, yes,”.

This was unusual in two respects. The MP, Gisella Stuart has represented Birmingham Edgbaston in the Commons since 1997. Not only is she a Labour MP but she was also born in Bavaria.

This article from the BBC’s Chris Bowlby this morning, discusses the current mood in Labour, with a growing number of MPs prepared to question the party’s enthusiasm for, and commitment to, Europe.

One source to that article, Charles Grant is quoted thus: “There’s roughly a 50/50 chance of Britain being in the EU at the end of the next parliament” – a calculation which, in his opinion, applies whether Labour or the Tories are in power.

Now whilst Mr Grant’s opinion may not be the most objective one on the subject, there is certainly going to be an increasing focus on the UK’s continuing membership of the EU.

I wouldn’t like to be in Eck’s position trying to negotiate my way round that lot in the run up to the referendum.

Pants on fire

Indeed. Here is Eck quite clearly telling Andrew Neil that he sought the advice of his law officers and all but saying that that advice was that Scotland would remain in the EU without so much as a by your leave after a yes vote in the independence referendum.

Several points arise here.

The subsequent froth and spin from Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon proves that Eck was being economical with the truth, indeed profligate with the porkies, in that interview. I wonder too how the current line being put forward by the SNP, that an independent Scotland would remain in the EU but would continue to use the pound and have monetary policy dictated by the Bank of England will stack up?

I’ll bet it’s given the Eurocrats a few laughs.

In fact you can be sure that the EU will already have decided on which terms that an independent Scotland would be admitted and it sure as hell won’t be as a ‘successor state’ using the pound.

I am also still confused by what ‘independence’ will achieve. Fiscal autonomy? the ability to exceed budgets and borrow? Jeez! that is becoming a more frightening prospect by the day.

Not as frightening however as the prospect of membership of the Euro and the proposed EU veto on national budgets.

In fact the more I think about it, this referendum is a choice of which, or which combination of lord and master Scotland wishes to be subservient to.

The other point that arises is that having been presented with the political gift of Eck’s mendacious moment being caught on camera, Johann Lamont still managed to sound like the chairwoman of the guild complaining that there weren’t enough cakes at the previous week’s coffee morning.

As a leader of the opposition she simply won’t do and I fully expect London (Milibean and co) to engineer her removal and replacement some time soon.

It has come to something when the only person who seems able to challenge Eck and pin him down is an old Tory hack frae Paisley.

Independent

One of the best prospects for Scottish independence will surely be that in the bright new dawn of a democratic socialist state, The country will at last be free from the odious influence of big business.

Doh!

The Snpspins

From Stu Who’s blog.

Indie Charts

I enjoy Ian McWhirter’s writing in the Herald.

He has a great way with words and a sharp political insight. He has a rather good article published today about this week’s announcements on the referendum by Alex Salmond.

McWhirter like all journalists though sometimes fails with the crystal ball gazing. His take on the Eurozone financial crisis for instance proved to be somewhat less prescient than may have appeared at the time it was all fermenting in 2009/10.

This quote in today’s article may come back to haunt him:

“They had also expected a second “fall back” question on devolution max so that Salmond could have his cake and eat it. In the event, there was neither. The spin was that there was no spin, just Salmond’s 10 little words: “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?”

Eck strikes me as a man who eats up any cake he can.

Voraciously.

And if there were ever a politician to spin better than any man with some poles and plates it is he. He is the very personification of a peerie (it’s a Scots word for a spinning top which may be derived from the similarity in shape of the object to a pear)

McWhirter is right in the main thrust of his article though. Salmond has left Cameron et al at the starting line. His (Cameron’s) response to Scots Tory MP (for Epping Forest) Eleanor Laing, demonstrated the level of his misunderstanding of the Scots cadence and pronunciation.

David, it is pronounced bree-stie to rhyme with beas-tie.

And if you haven’t already properly checked the meaning of ‘sleekit’, I’d recommend you do it post haste.

Oh aye, and if I were you I’d stick auld Michael Forsyth back in the box he’s been in for the last twenty years. Like he is going to advance the unionists’ case eh?

Unbeatable?

That is the word used by The Independent’s Hamish Macdonell in his summing up of the SNP in the referendum.

To be fair he precedes that word with “on the surface at least, they appear”

He also says Scotland (not the SNP) is “slick and professional”.

There is no denying that Eck’s performance at Edinburgh Castle was indeed slick and professional. He announced the question “Do you think Scotland should be an independent country?”. The sub text was that depending on how this question is received by the public then there will be another question asking something along the lines of “All right then, if you’re not convinced by that, how about Devo Max?”.

As a humble voter, and whilst I acknowledge that the SNP are the full length of the M74 ahead of the opposition in the PR front, I wonder in what other respects they are “unbeatable”? Most of the people I speak to on the subject are against independence, even those who voted SNP last time, although to be fair many of them work directly for HM Government. As for Devo max, we still don’t know what that is. There will have to be draft legislation in place to study, otherwise the words pig and poke come to mind.

Having thought about it, I remain unconvinced either way or each of three ways if you like.

There are too many unknowns at this stage.

Let the debate continue.

Salmond Leaps

Aye so it is to be 2014 (the independence referendum) after the shenanigans and political games of the last few days. Always the gambler, Eck has staked his XXXL shirt on 2014 and leaves Westminster not knowing what to do about that other perhaps than to head for the Supreme Court.

I am one of those who the Yes and No camp will be most interested in i.e. I am undecided which way I’ll vote. I voted SNP in 2007 and 2011 as they seemed to be the only political party remotely capable of forming a coherent government at Holyrood.

However in 1999 I voted No and No respectively for the establishment of a Scottish Parliament and whether to grant it tax varying powers.

My reason for that was simple, if perhaps in hindsight a little facile. I grew up with one parliament and that always seemed a sufficiency of legislatures. By 1999 that had become two and I was being asked if I wanted a third one. Well actually no I bloody well didn’t. Two gaggles of chanty wrasslers was quite enough for me thank you.

However the Scots parly came into being and frankly for a few years I don’t think anybody noticed much. It all seemed quite consensual, anodyne even with politicians of all sides able to agree on sensible/benign legislation. Wee parties like the SSP and the Greens had their input and the legislation introduced by Tommy Sheridan to end warrant sales garnered support from many wide and varied sources.

I think though it was the smoking ban in March 2006 which really made folk sit up and take notice. A law which affected everyone, every day and set Scotland apart from the rest of the UK was the signal that the parliament had arrived.

The SNP ‘hung’ victory in 2007 followed by their landslide (the way that the parliament was set up was specifically designed to prevent this) in 2011 shifted the constitutional debate centre stage.

So the question in 2014 in essence is “Would you like one fewer parliament?” Well actually two fewer would suit me better but one fewer has a definite appeal.

The opposition in Scotland is in complete disarray. All three major opposition leaders resigned after the 2011 election and with one exception (the Lib Dem Willie Rennie) have been replaced by less able replacements.

And that is saying something.

An SNP government in Scotland with a huge majority versus a Tory led coalition in London? That was always going to be an interesting prospect, and so it is proving.

Salmond’s announcement of autumn 2014 as the referendum date has stolen a march on the UK government. Anything Cameron and Co do to respond to that will be seen as undemocratic interference no matter the legal status of their position.

I look forward to hearing the cases for a yes and a no vote and with that in mind I ask one question. Who is going to front the No campaign? I can think of only one person who could do that with any sort of resonance in Scotland and if he did it, it would be a rather hefty slap in the coupon for Johann Lamont. However unless someone like Gordon Broon steps in to front a No campaign, what looked like an impossible scenario only a few months ago could become political reality simply because no one could oppose it effectively.

And that really wouldn’t be good for anyone.

By ‘Eck!

I notice that after a period of waiting to see how the wind was blowing, Alex Salmond has jumped on the bash Cameron bandwagon. It is not difficult to see why he has done this as easy political point scoring is not an opportunity normally missed by seasoned politicians.

Of course Cameron’s symbolic flouncing out of the euro-summit is newsworthy, but the media and political obsession with his actions seem to be deflecting from the central issue.

Is what was decided at the summit a workable solution to the euro debt crisis?

Has this, the twelfth summit to decide on action to save the euro, succeeded where the previous eleven have failed?

As for Eck, who has resolutely said that an independent Scotland would stick with Sterling as a currency and whose government has been seeking to implement a lower corporation tax rate here, his sudden apparent enthusiasm for European fiscal union is a wee bit of a surprise.

Where would the Scottish government’s tax varying powers be when they would specifically be banned from varying them by Brussels and Strasbourg? What form of independence is it that Eck envisages which means that John Swinney’s budget would have to be approved by the European Commission? (an unelected body incidentally)

For the sake of all of us, we can only hope that the deal thrashed out last week DOES work and that the euro is somehow hauled back from the brink.

It is I fear a forlorn hope and one which may yet see Cameronian style national self interest play an increasing role.

It will be interesting to see how the SNP view develops on this. Will a party born from dissatisfaction with subservience to England be quite happy to accept the position of second fiddle to a more remote and less democratic and flexible overlord?

Is democracy not best delivered as near to the people as possible?

Hasn’t that always been the main plank of the SNP’s main policy and its raison d’etre?

What kind of political independence is possible without financial and fiscal independence?

Will an independent Scotland’s motto be “The Union is dead! Long live the Union!” ?

Quick Quiz

Amongst other things that Alex Salmond has said recently, he admitted on Woman’s Hour on Radio 4 that he was a ‘black bitch’.

One reader in particular may be able to shed light on this but in the meantime anyone else care to speculate? (nae googling!)

Edit: Just in case you DO google, it’s the second answer ONLY!!

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