Sunday, 2 February 2014

Rule It Out!

One of the favourite tactics of the ‘no’ campaign is to suggest that every and all post-independence proposals from the Scottish Government can’t work.

This approach is laced with half truths and weasel words. Rarely an out and out lie (although sometimes it is), it will often fly in the face of reality and logic. To each one we ask ‘why don’t you end any uncertainty and just rule it out?’ We’re going to look at two examples today: Currency and Shipbuilding.
We already covered this topic in our blog, ‘Ten a Penny - Westminster's Current Currency Threats', but we’ll highlight the main points again.
There are two types of currency union: ‘formal’ and ‘informal’. The Pound Sterling is a fully convertible currency and its usage by non-Westminster controlled nations cannot be denied. It would be like claiming gold would have no value in an independent Wales. The Pound will be used and accepted from day 1 of an independent Scotland, the only debate is whether we gain direct representation on the board of the Bank of England (an example of a 'formal' agreement), or if we look to create an alternative body (probably with a similar function to the Bank of North Dakota).

With that out of the way, let’s look at what ‘no’ campaign members are claiming:
“But if Scotland became an independent country, we would need to put in place our own currency arrangements; new currency arrangements. The bottom line is that a currency union may not be in the interests of Scotland or the continuing UK and it is highly unlikely to be agreed - not because of any malevolence, but because it wouldn't work.” Alistair Carmichael (STV News 13th of November 2013)
It wouldn’t work?  What wouldn't work, a formal or an informal currency union? In either case why say it is ‘unlikely’ to be agreed. Why would you ever agree to something that 'wouldn't work'? Why doesn’t Mr Carmichael state that the Bank of England, which independently of Westminster controls interest rates in Scotland, would simply refuse to continue this function following Scottish independence?

Of course, Mr Carmichael could just ask the Governor of the Bank of England his view on whether or not it can work:
"The Bank of England would implement whatever monetary arrangements were put in place." Mark Carney, 29th of January 2014
The problem with the 'no' campaign's approach is that, contrary to the words of the Secretary of State ‘for’ Scotland, a shared approach is the most likely outcome.
“The pound sterling is not English money, it is British money, and just as with the Bank of England it is owned by the people of Britain in proportion to population. The political union has long ago stopped working in Scotland’s favour, the currency union still makes sense and will be of equal benefit to both Scotland, and the rest of the UK if maintained. What hasn’t yet sunk in is that a Scottish currency could be made to work for Scotland, but the threat to the rest of the UK would be significant if Scottish energy and Scottish exports were removed from the sterling zone’s balance of payments.” Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp (Business for Scotland)
The interesting thing to note from the earlier interview from Mr Carmichael was him stating that "international law is clear: the UK would continue. The UK's currency would continue and the laws and institutions that control it like the Bank of England would continue for the continuing UK.” This would be fantastic news for Scotland as 'no rights = no debts'. Why should we take on debts relating to a currency which apparently had nothing to do with us?
We can definitely rule out Westminster denying the value of a Pound in an independent Scotland. And we can confirm that members of the ‘no’ campaign will continue to hint and suggest otherwise until the 19th of September.

This topic can also apply to the broader issue of manufacturing in Scotland but shipbuilding has been most prominently used example by the main stream media since news of over 800 job loses between the Clyde BAE shipyards was announced.
First, let’s look at what the ‘no’ campaign claims:
"It is worth noting that, other than procurement activity undertaken during the World Wars, no complex warships for the Royal Navy were constructed outside the UK in the 20th Century and the UK Government remains committed to using the strengths of UK industry in this specialist area." Philip Hammond (Herald Newspaper)
Apart from the specific falsehoods within this statement, the overall suggestion that the UK Government would have no ships built in Scotland is highly unlikely. There is a rather obvious reason for this: military contracts are given to BAE systems. They decide where ships are built, not the UK.
"BAE owns the yards and pays the workers. BAE is the shipbuilder. The shipbuilder is  not the state. The state is the client which orders and pays. BAE delivers. BAE has restructured its naval defence business in agreement with the state so that future orders can be delivered on time and on budget. How likely is it that, having reached this agreement, the state would renege and leave BAE with empty yards and unemployed staff? If that decision was based on a political reason and if that had been predictable all along – like a referendum – wouldn’t the state be liable for BAE’s costs (£3bn) and might it not be in breach of contract?
Also, from what Hammond and the procurement minister Philip Dunne have already said – as I mentioned in a previous post – the frigate decision is coming after the referendum and before the establishment of an independent state. In other words, Scotland will still be inside the UK when the contract is awarded. Therefore, technically, no conflict with the aim of building “in the UK.” Derek Bateman (Derek Bateman Broadcaster)
There’s another important point to consider: how well is Westminster managing our shipbuilding industry under there watch? With the added boost of defence contracts, which they assure us will forever take place in the UK, surely our shipyards would be amongst the busiest in Europe, with perhaps only our largest neighbours rivalling our success?
“Yet today the shipbuilders of Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, none of which are low-wage economies, still thrive, each pulling in hundreds of millions of pounds of orders annually, with even little Scotland-sized Norway providing 2% of Europe’s output compared to the UK’s paltry showing of less than 1%.” Scott Minto (Wings Over Scotland).
Why doesn’t the ‘no’ campaign rule out, categorically, any UK Navy vessel being even partially built in Scotland following independence? Because the most likely outcome is that some UK warships will be constructed on the Clyde. That is what BAE wants and that is what’s best for Westminster. The ‘no’ campaign won’t rule it out because it would tie their hands and hurt their interests following a Yes vote.

Better Together debate coach
You can extend the ‘rule it out’ response to most Westminster scare stories, including Pensions, the EU and NATO.
If what they say doesn’t mean yes and doesn't mean no, then it doesn’t mean anything.
If you like this blog, then please consider visiting our other sites:
Facebook - Sign for Scotland
YouTube - Sign4Scotland
Twitter - Sign4Scotland

No comments:

Post a Comment