Week 7: Prat – George Osborne/Danny Alexander/Ed Balls

by Charlie_East_West on February 16, 2014

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This week’s prat award goes to the three key treasury spokesmen for the main political parties – George Osborne, Danny Alexander and Ed Balls for their Scottish independence referendum bullying tactics by telling Scotland: “Vote for Scottish independence and you lose the pound.”

What we saw last week was the unedifying spectacle of George Osborne giving a speech in Edinburgh (backed the three main Westminster parties) to tell voters in Scotland that if they vote Yes to independence they won’t be allowed to keep the pound.

Firstly, this is misplaced scaremongering. Scotland can keep the pound. Even if it is a floating version of sterling, it is still within Scotland’s rights to choose whatever currency they damn well please. Currency union may have moved a bit further away, but the legitimate use of the pound is still an option for Scotland.

Secondly, this is political playground bullying. It is classic roll up the tanks onto the lawn diplomacy from the likes of Osborne and reinforced by Ed Balls and Danny Alexander (who, quite frankly should know better than to patronise his fellow Scots in this manner).

Thirdly, it is economically inept. The independent fiscal commission working group recently produced a detailed analysis that a sterling currency union was in the best interests of both Scotland and the rest of the UK – if Scotland votes for independence in September this year.

Finally, it is bad politics. As the “play by our set of rules” diktat is arrogantly mapped out by Osborne, Balls and Alexander, it has the potential to dramatically boost the levels of support for the Yes campaign. As a Scot, I know many things about my fellow countrymen and women. Scots do not like getting told what to do. Especially by people from afar. What the three main political parties, and the No campaign should be doing is bombing Scotland with love. Make Scotland feel wanted. What Osborne et al should have said is this “You want to keep the pound? Ok, we understand. But, we need to work out a feasible solution that benefits both Scotland and the rest of the UK. We need to negotiate when the time is right. We will sit down with Alex Salmond and thrash out a deal. Oh, by the way, we really want you to stay in the UK. We really need you.”

Instead, Osborne, Balls and Alexander treated the whole issue with contempt. They presented the whole argument about currency use in openly condescending terms. It came across as a lecturing threat.

There are two key themes that come out of this – 1) the real negotiations will only begin if/when Scotland votes for independence. 2) It is becoming increasingly clear how much the Westminster elite actually value Scotland. They are the rulers, they like to call the shots, and god help anywhere in the UK (apart from the City of London) if they object or rebel against this.

It is in Scotland’s nature to be a little bit rebellious and feisty. Scotland does not take too kindly to being slapped down. As such, the patronising and bullying tactics of Osborne, Alexander and Balls may have just pushed Scotland a little bit closer towards independence voted by the “bugger you” majority.

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