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Thursday, 30 January 2014

Did Mark Carney Clarify Anything Nationalists Did Not Know Already?

Just for the record, I write this as a hard-line, uncompromising Scottish Nationalist of many years' standing. My whole life to be exact. I am not a Nationalist because I want to see a fairer Scotland. I am not a Nationalist because I want a socialist Scotland. I am not a Nationalist because I think Scotland should be run by those people who live in Scotland. I am a Nationalist because I want an independent Scotland. I am a Nationalist because I think it is the natural political position to take so long as Scotland is in an incorporating union with the rest of the UK. Why do I want independence? I want independence for its own sake, because it is normal, it is natural for any nation to govern itself. There, I've said it, not for the first time but for the umpteenth time. It is just that some things need to be repeated, often. I have no idea what kind of country an independent Scotland will be but however it turns out, it will be what we, the Scots, either by birth or adoption, who live here, will make of it. And that is how it should be.

The reason for the introduction stems from the reaction to Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England's speech on the proposed currency union between an "independent" Scotland and the rUK. Perhaps we are getting somewhere at last, although, as the title suggests, some of us knew and admitted it some time ago. As usual the media has put its own spin on Carney's speech, but I am much more interested in the reaction of the SNP's leaders, Alex Salmond and John Swinney. The Daily Mail continued with its own particular brand of dishonesty with the headline, "...would an independent Scotland get to keep the pound - DON'T BANK ON IT" While The Scotsman ran with, "SNP accept currency union means loss of powers" and The Herald with, "Salmond put under pressure by Carney warning"

Why the Daily Mail is so popular in Scotland, a country it decries at every turn, is beyond me. I read it for that very reason. The editorial line is anti-Scottish, not just anti-Scottish independence, because it knows perfectly well that much of what it prints about Scotland is wrong; and that makes it dishonest. The paper knows perfectly well that an independent Scotland could use the pound sterling if it wanted to, whether or not the rUK objected, just as Ecuador uses the US dollar. It is called dollarisation and means that a country uses the currency of a bigger, more powerful country, rather than its own. There can be several reasons for such a choice being made but the outcome is that the smaller country has absolutely no control over exchange rate policy, interest rates or monetary policy in general. That can also impact on fiscal or tax policy in a number of different ways. That is not what the SNP is suggesting, therefore the details are unimportant for the purpose of this blog. What is important, is that the Daily Mail likes to give the impression that an independent Scotland could not use sterling under ANY circumstances, and that is wrong.

An independent Scotland could also peg its own currency to the pound sterling, as Denmark does with the euro and as Hong Kong did with the US dollar. The value of Scotland's currency would move up or down, relative to all other currencies, according to the movements of sterling and as long as markets could be sure that peg could be maintained, in good times and bad, the important currency for them would continue to be the pound sterling, and not the Scottish currency. While that action may encourage stability of a sort, it gives no control of the monetary policy that determines the value of sterling, therefore interest rates may be totally inappropriate for Scotland, forcing the Scottish government to put in place counter measures using the tax system or, break the peg. The one advantage of such a system is that it would give Scotland control over what it did with its own currency, although no control over the factors that determined its value.

I have already covered in detail in another blog, what a currency union would mean for an independent Scotland and have opposed the SNP policy in print ever since they announced its adoption. I have questioned their spokesmen face to face but the only answer that has ever been received is the standard party mantra, "Scotland will be able to control its taxes etc..." "We will have full fiscal freedom..." It won't and the SNP has been told that under the type of currency union they are proposing, it would not be possible for them to have control of taxes. Party supporters have simply dismissed the criticisms coming from the No side but they have equally dismissed the same criticisms coming from committed Nationalists like me or the Cuthberts, the SNP's favourite economists, or Jim Sillars or others like Patrick Harvie who claim not to be Nationalists but are in favour of independence. They even reject the same criticisms made by the SNP's own Fiscal Commission, which set out in detail the agreements that would have to be made to make the currency union work.

Mark Carney as the Governor of the Bank of England, is the man who would have to make the currency union work. His words cannot simply be dismissed and the reaction of Johnn Swinney, as reported in two different newspapers, was interesting to say the least. According to The Scotsman, John Swinney said, "Mr Carney provides a serious and sensible analysis of how a currency union can work, and every one of the points he cites in terms of the technical requirements has been examined by the Fiscal Commission." The Herald on the other hand, quotes John Swinney as saying, "A shared currency will mean an independent Scotland having control of tax policy, employment policy, social security policy, oil and gas revenues, immigration policy and a range of other levers to suit our own circumstances, helping to grow our economy, create jobs and secure a more prosperous and fairer society.." The two statements are not mutually exclusive, until you read what Carney actually said, which makes Swinney's second statement in The Herald a nonsense.

Carney could not have made it any plainer, "a successful currency union will require some ceding of national sovereignty by Scotland". Later a spokesman for the Scottish government is quoted as saying, "the Scottish Government will have to work within a strict economic framework to ensure Mr Salmond's plans for a sterling zone are workable". "Any independent government looks at pooling sovereignty on a range of fronts" Carney also drew attention to the problems in the euro zone suggesting, "the need for tight fiscal (tax) rules to enforce prudent behaviour." If fiscal or tax rules are to be applied, there will be no fiscal or tax freedom to implement the policies the SNP say they want. For example there will be no corporation tax at least 3% lower than the level applied in the rUK. How will the fiscal system be allowed to encourage investment in manufacturing, job creation small businesses and so on, if it does not accord with the agreement arranged for the currency union?

The whole purpose of seeking independence for the economic nationalists who currently lead the SNP, is to get rid of the economic stagnation that has created such misery in parts of Scotland for generations. We have been unable to do that because of the economic policies applied by Westminster since the end of WWII. We have been hamstrung by Westminster because it didn't suit London and the South East of England, to have the kind of expansionist policies we needed. When Scotland required investment and a looser monetary policy, on came the brakes with interest rates set to cope with the inflationary pressure from the South. We need to diverge from the economic structure that is determined by London and the South East but Carney has made it plain that if we have the SNP's currency union, it is not going to happen. Scotland will have to "cede some national sovereignty". Big Wowie, so what else is new?

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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

"We Are Bought And Sold For English Gold" or The £500 Jocks"

Given the time of the year, a reference to Robert Burns, even one as fleeting as the above well known quote, is perhaps appropriate. As we are repeatedly reminded that the economy will be the determining factor, in the vote in the referendum on independence in September this year, some comment about the alleged figure which will be required to purchase the vote of a certain section of the Scottish population, is even more appropriate. Mind you, no one seems to know where the figure of £500 came from, as was pointed out by those who participated in last week's edition of Question Time. Nevertheless, it is trotted out at regular intervals by those who delight in pointing to the frailties of the Yes vote. I have to say, that anyone whose self respect and feelings of self-worth have been allowed to slip to such depths that a mere £500 is sufficient to purchase their "loyalty", may find it more appropriate to speak to someone other than a politician in search of votes.

If the economy is likely to be the deciding factor in determining the vote for a substantial number of Scots, what is it exactly that will persuade them to vote for independence? Some will use it as an excuse, claiming, as they have always done, that Scotland is too small, lacks the resources and the people of ability to make a success of independence. That argument is now heard much less than it used to be, at least in its starkest form, although variations on the theme are still alive and well, promoted by the more intellectually challenged Unionists. The uncertainty created in the minds of many Scots, certainly stems from fear that Scotland's economy would find it difficult to withstand the inherent instabilities in modern economic structures and markets. That is hardly surprising as it is something which has been nurtured by Unionists at every opportunity, and unfortunately, the majority of Scots have been prepared to accept their arguments at face value, ignoring the many examples of small nations throughout the world, which have been much more successful in managing their economic affairs than successive UK governments since the end of WWII.

Do Scots believe the performance of UK governments since 1945, has actually benefited Scotland? Do they believe the economic performance of recent UK governments, has been to the advantage of Scots? The certainty Scots appear to be demanding from the Yes camp on everything from defense to pensions, is not being demanded of the Unionists, those like Anas Sarwar, who admits Trident is wrong, the austerity measures are wrong, Tory policies are wrong, the UK economic performance is wrong, BUT who also insist Scots must wait until the message has got home to the English before anything is done about it. If Scots are really concerned about the economy in the future, particularly in an independent Scotland, they must be equally concerned about the economy if we remain a part of the UK and, I know just how concerned they have been in the past, about the future economic prospects under successive UK governments. On each and every occasion they have placed their trust in successive Tory and Labour governments, that trust has been thrown back in their face, as Scottish interests have been sacrificed for the benefit of England in general and London and the South East in particular. In short, has the economic history of the UK, the economic policies of UK governments as they have been applied to Scotland, taught Scots anything at all? It would seem the answer to that question is a resounding "NO" if we are to believe current opinion polls or the frequently expressed concerns of the average Scots voter.

The de-industrialisation of Scotland was allowed to take place, with little or no thought given to replacing the jobs that were lost. This de-industrialisation was carried out, sometimes deliberately as with Heath and Thatcher - more of which below - and sometimes through ignorance and a total lack of concern. When the coal pits were closed, the closures started in Scotland, with the number of pits in Scotland falling from 187 in 1947 to 2 in 1989. The British Steel Corporation was sacrificed by Heath, with the Scottish steel industry being wiped out, as part of the price of entry to the Common Market. Scottish fishing suffered the same fate, with over 100,000 jobs being lost in the industry. Successive Labour and Tory governments used the revenues from Scottish oil to restructure the industrial base in England and such was the extent of the deceit, that the 1974 McCrone Report  on the potential of oil for Scotland, either as an independent country or as a part of the UK, was kept secret for over 30 years. It would still have been buried had it not been for the Freedom of Information Act, which forced its publication in 2005 under pressure from the SNP.

It is almost impossible to overestimate the potential benefits that could have been won had Scotland been in control of its oil wealth from the outset; in other words, had Scotland been independent. Jim and Margaret Cuthbert, in their most recent paper for the Reid Foundation, certainly go some way to plugging the gap in our collective knowledge, but anyone who doubts that Scotland could have been immeasurably better set up to compensate for the demise of its heavy industry, need only look across the North Sea to Norway. The Cuthbert paper carries this quote from the McCrone Report, ""Even after its discovery, the full significance of North Sea oil was not immediately apparent, and it still remains in large measure disguised from the Scottish public..." and the following from the Cabinet minutes of a meeting of 15th December 1977, "Above all, the creation of an oil fund would play into the hands of the Scottish Nationalists, for whom it would become a major political target." In other words, Westminster would rather waste the oil than provide a fund for future benefit, just so that no political advantage could be gained by the SNP.

The Cuthberts conclude by saying, "....the Union has proved itself incapable of exercising proper stewardship, either of an irreplaceable resource like North Sea oil, or of the UK economy. Secondly the Union has failed to honour the kind of implicit bargain of good faith that should exist in any properly functioning union." Those who doubt that to be true, may try to explain why it is that for the past thirty years the annual growth of the Scots economy has been 0.5% lower every year than that for the rest of the UK; why between the years 1995-2002, growth in the Scottish economy averaged 1.9% per annum while it was 2.7% in the rest of the UK. In the early years of his tenure of office as Chancellor, Gordon Brown was hailed as the "wonder kid" the man who abolished "boom and bust". In his Mansion House speech to the Financial Services industry in 2007, he said, "I congratulate you on those remarkable achievements, an era of that history will record as the beginning of a new golden age for the City of London..." The recession and the banking crisis was just a year away. Brown also managed to destroy the UK pension industry, sell 395 tons of the UK's gold reserves at the bottom of the market, as well as create PFI. (For more detail of Brown's tenure as Chancellor see "It's The Economy Stupid" on jimfairlie.blogspot.com)

The legacy left by successive Westminster governments has not been without the direst consequences for much of Scotland's most vulnerable people. It is inconceivable that in a country such as Scotland in 2014, we have food banks and daily requests on TV, to give generously to charities which cater for the underprivileged in our society. Since 2008, the number of under-25s who are unemployed has almost doubled to 90,000; low-income families increased from 125,000 to 150,000, part-time workers looking for full time employment rose from 70,000 in 2008 to 120,000 in 2012. A boy born in the most deprived 10% of areas has a life expectancy of 68 - 8 years below the national average and 14 years below boys born in the least deprived ares. These figures, taken from Poverty Alliance, show that Scotland has 910,000 people living in poverty, 220,000 of them children.

Some of those figures will be out of date but the trends which they represent have been part of the Scottish landscape for all of my life. They are a disgrace in a modern society such as ours, in a country with the resources enjoyed by Scotland. It is inconceivable that any Scot, with even the briefest of knowledge of the record of successive UK governments, could even consider that more of the same is preferable to the freedom to create a society so much better, in an independent Scotland. The only guarantees the Scottish people are likely to get in the upcoming referendum, is the guarantee that if they vote for more of the same from another Westminster government, that is exactly what they will get - more of the same.

END

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Carmichael and Darling Do The No Side No Favours

Monday January 13th's copy of the Daily Mail carried a piece under the heading, "At last, No campaign makes a positive case for keeping the United Kingdom intact." It also carried a side bar under the title, "Darling calls for an end to cyber attacks", in which Alistair Darling warned that the "referendum campaign will get more nasty" and called on Alex Salmond to crackdown on so-called Cybernats. It was written in the customary style of the anti-independence Mail, with the headline bearing little or no relationship to the content, much of which covered a speech to be given that day by Alistair Carmichael, the Scottish Secretary.

The substance of Mr Carmichael's speech was that Scotland gets more back from the UK than it puts in and his argument covered not just the difference between what Scotland pays in tax and what it receives in public spending. That argument has been done to death and the government's own returns show that Scotland has consistently paid more in tax than it receives, although the opponents of independence continue to claim the opposite. Mr Carmichael attempted to show there was more to the contributions from the UK, the intangibles for which we are expected to be grateful. Unfortunately, some of them are so intangible as to be almost invisible. He makes the ludicrous assertion that, "We get the benefits from natural resources like North Sea oil, but are able to manage the volatility in production and price as part of a much larger and diverse economy made up of 60 million rather than just five million." 

Of course, he ignores, as he must, the thirty odd years of lies about the true worth of oil revenues, while successive Labour and Tory governments used the resource to restructure the English economy, allowing the Scottish steel, shipbuilding and manufacturing industries to go to the wall with little, if any, alternative employment for the thousands of Scottish workers made unemployed. He made no mention at all of the Scottish fishing industry, which has lost over 100,000 jobs since Ted Heath used it as a bargaining tool - just as he used the Scottish steel industry - to gain entry to the then Common Market. When we look across the North Sea to Norway and consider the enormous success they have made of the oil in their sector of the North Sea, Mr Carmichael's argument looks even more ludicrous.

By contrast, the opening lines in the report of the Fiscal Commission set up by the Scottish Government, states, "By international standards, Scotland is a wealthy and productive country. Even excluding North Sea oil output, GVA per head of the population in Scotland is estimated to be 99% of the UK average and the highest in the UK outside London and the South East. However, over the past 30 years, Scotland's economic growth rate has lagged behind that of many of its peers." Between 1995 and 2002, Scottish economic growth was 1.9% per annum as opposed to the 2.7% achieved by the rest of the UK over the same period. In every year over the past 30 years, economic growth in Scotland has been 0.5% lower than the growth rate in the rest of the UK. So much for the advantages to be gained from being an integral part of a market of 60 million.

Mr Carmichael's very own fairy story soared to unbelievable heights when he said, "You'll find no grandiose flights of fancy here only the very facts of our United Kingdom: our banks are safer; we have greater financial protection for savers and pensioners, greater levels of competition delivering cheaper mortgages and insurance for families and businesses." Where was he when our major banks would have collapsed but for the bail out with taxpayers' money? Is he unaware that RBS is still 81% owned by the UK taxpayer and only government intervention stopped the payment of bonuses that would have doubled the salaries of staff, and that the bonus culture among banks and financial institutions in the UK is still alive and well and that UK bankers seemed to have learned nothing? Has he never heard about the mis-selling scandals of PPS and CPP and the estimated £9 billion in compensation it cost UK banks?  Did the whole financial crisis simply pass him by? Mr Carmichael should be given as much air time as possible if this is the kind of piffle he intends producing; it might do little to enhance the arguments from the No side but at least it will be entertaining.

Not so entertaining, is the charge by Alastair Darling that the referendum campaign is likely to get nastier and, laying the blame for that at the door of the so-called Cybernats. I cross swords with some of them on a regular basis because one accusation by Darling is certainly true, they cannot stand anyone who opposes the SNP or comments unfavourably on SNP policies, believing as they do that the party can do no wrong and any criticism, however justified, undermines the arguments for independence, as if Scots who have yet to be convinced of independence, are incapable of seeing through a spurious, stupid or simply false argument all by themselves. The less able and nastiest among them rarely, if ever, attack opposing arguments, relying completely on personal attacks, some of which would earn a quick crack on the jaw if delivered face to face. In their defense, some of them are not the brightest and personal attacks on perceived enemies of independence, is as much as they can offer.

The same excuse cannot be made for some of the people on the No side, whose regular contributions via the popular media, including TV and radio, are just as venomous as anything produced by the Cybernats. There are several newspaper columnists whose personal attacks on Alex Salmond in particular, are an absolute disgrace, but of far greater importance, is their relentless flow of bile and venom directed at the whole idea of independence and those Scots who believe in it. These people are educated, successful in their field and have sometimes held high political office. They are perfectly capable of making their case without the carping, frequently childish and more frequently bilious nature of their offerings. Alan Massie is a regular columnist for The Scotsman, who makes no secret of his lack of support for independence but his arguments are never reduced to personal abuse. Nationalists may disagree with his opinions and sentiments but they can hardly complain about the way in which he presents them.

The same cannot be said for Michael Kelly and Brian Wilson, whose columns in The Scotsman rarely rise above the lower levels of journalism, in the way they produce a relentless flow of not just anti-independence, but very often what comes across as anti-Scottish, sentiment. Neither has any problem with independence for every country in the world, with an especial fondness for Eire, but the very thought of independence for Scotland is met with nothing but derision. Neither ever makes a positive case for the Union of the UK, they are too busy scorning the idea of Scots emulating other small European countries by taking control of their own affairs. But even messrs Kelly and Wilson are amateurs at the game of Scot-bashing, compared to the likes of John MacLeod of the Daily Mail, whose poisonous outpourings on independence and the SNP put even the worst of the Cybernats in the shade. MacLeod normally refers to Alex Salmond as the Head Haggis, rarely if ever, the First Minister. He and the other Daily Mail reporters who normally cover Scottish political affairs are in a class of their own. These people have far greater access to the news and air waves than the Cybernats and before Darling and others in the No camp, call for control of a handful of Nationalists with limited access to social media, let them turn their attention to those who poisoned the debate on independence years ago. And pigs might fly.

End

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Independence? - Don't Make Me Laugh

Despite what follows below, I will be voting "Yes" next September, for the very good and simple reason that the question that will be on the referendum ballot, will be, "Should Scotland be an independent country?" I cannot imagine why any Scot could possibly argue that their native country should be anything other than independent, as the alternatives entail control of our affairs being in the hands of other states. That said, the one political party that historically championed Scottish independence, is now offering a status which will fall well below that of independent states. As a hard-line, uncompromising (in terms of independence) Scottish Nationalist, I joined the SNP in 1955 because it was the only political party in Scotland which advocated independence. I left the party in 1990, after 35 years of unbroken membership, because in my opinion it had ceased to advocate independence and the policies it has adopted since 1990, under the leadership of Alex Salmond, have convinced me I took the right decision.

In May 2011, Professor James Mitchell, Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, wrote a piece in The Scotsman, suggesting that Alex Salmond's problem in persuading SNP members that the party still sought independence, was one of "linguistics rather than conception". I wrote at the time that it would take more than mere linguistics to explain the volte face the party leadership had conducted on the question of the currency an independent Scotland would use. Recent controversy on this issue has shown just how wrong both Professor Mitchell and the SNP leadership were, if they thought the Scottish people, let alone long-time party members, would be so easily gulled.

The editorial position of "Scotland on Sunday" has never been in favour of Scottish independence, although to be fair, it has always favoured devolution in some shape or form. As the boundaries have been pushed ever further towards granting greater powers to a Scottish government, the confusion surrounding the actual powers which will be granted, become ever more confusing. In the 1960s and 1970s, there was little doubt in the minds of the Scottish electorate, just what independence meant but, as soon as the Westminster parties began to try to undermine the certainty in Scottish minds, of what it meant to be independent, "Scotland on Sunday", in line with other Unionist newspapers, increasingly adopted a more hard-line position as far as independence viz a viz devolution in whatever form, was concerned.

Opinion poll after opinion poll in recent months, have all underlined the degree of confusion which now exists in the minds of the Scottish electorate, the vast majority of whom are not political animals and a substantial minority of whom, don't much care about politics at all, as the falling turnout at elections has shown for some time. In November 2013, "Scotland on Sunday" in its leader column, wrote of the potential "lack of definition" expected in the White Paper to be published by the SNP the following week. The paper wrote, "This (the lack of definition") is perhaps inevitable given the nature of the SNP's current vision of independence. Gone is the 19th-century nation-state nationalism of the 1970s SNP. Gone too is the more internationalist "Independence in Europe" approach that succeeded it, and the resulting enthusiasm to ditch the pound and instead embrace the euro. And definitely ditched is the scarcely veiled contempt for all things British that allowed John Swinney to declare in his leadership campaign of 2003 that he intended to "tell the Brits to get off". On offer now to the Scottish people is a new kind of 21st century independence that recognises that the optimum state for a modern country is one that, to a large degree, shares sovereignty and competencies with its neighbours.The SNP's current plan includes a great deal of shared co-operation with the very Whitehall power brokers from whom the party is first seeking a fundamental split. On a whole range of issues - the monarchy, currency, macroeconomic policy, security, financial regulation, diplomacy - the Nationalists see independence as a partnership with the rest of what currently makes up the UK. What the SNP is offering, in a nutshell, is "Independence in Britain".

It has been generally acknowledged by political commentators, whether or not sympathetic to the Yes Campaign, that the SNP's White Paper is more of a political party manifesto, than a statement on the  principle of independence. As we approach the date of the referendum next September, those members of the Yes Campaign who are not also members of the SNP, will find it increasingly difficult to simply accept whatever policy statements, are produced by the SNP, as representing the general views of Yes supporters. It would be difficult for any Nationalist or, anyone who favours independence, despite describing themselves as "not a Nationalist", to disagree with the following statement by Alex Salmond, taken from his "Insight" piece in "Scotland on Sunday" of January 5th 2014. Salmond wrote, "Independence will give Scotland the powers needed to build an even stronger economy. It will enable us to compete effectively in the global economy, rather than remain under Westminster, which has created an unequal society and an unbalanced economy".

I couldn't agree more but there is one major problem with that statement, independence "free of Westminster" is not on offer to Scotland under the policies of the SNP. Every serious commentator, every economist who has looked at the issue, including the much lauded members of the Scottish Government's own Fiscal Commission, all agree that a sterling currency union, as suggested by the SNP, will NOT give Scotland freedom from Westminster control. Paper after paper has shown how currency unions can only work effectively if there is also fiscal and political union. The debacle of the euro didn't just happen because of bad management and ill-discipline by a few member countries, as is often claimed by advocates of the euro; it was inevitable because it lacked the control over the transfer payments necessary to compensate those countries whose economies could not compete with the strongest members. The currency union advocated by the SNP will keep Scotland under Westminster control and stymie any independent action by any Scottish government. The only people who say they believe a sterling currency union would give Scotland independence and freedom of action to pursue its own economic agenda, are the SNP leadership. Last week, Salmond threatened to renege on Scotland's share of the National Debt "unless Scotland was admitted to a currency union". In other words, the SNP will renege on Scotland's share of the UK debt unless "London agrees to continue to run Scotland's economy".

"Scotland on Sunday" may believe that "Independence in Europe" no longer applies but when SNP Headquarters was questioned in November 2013 about the party's EU policy, particularly when the decision to drop the referendum on membership took place, the HQ sent a paper which was passed by the party's National Council in 2003, together with the comment that, with the exception of membership of the euro, the remainder was existing policy. The clause on the euro read, "Subject to retained fiscal sovereignty and provided the economic conditions are right, the SNP favours Scotland's participation in the common currency, the eurozone, from the earliest achievable opportunity. The choice to join or not join would remain that of the Scottish people in a referendum."

When challenged on the SNP's change of policy on the euro and the pound sterling, Salmond is fond of quoting Keynes, erroneously, "When circumstances change, I change my mind". The SNP backed the original ERM until it collapsed eighteen months later, then the euro, until the most recent debacle and now wants to retain sterling, despite Alex Salmond's one-time description of the currency as "a millstone round Scotland's neck". Circumstances did not change in the case of either the ERM or the euro; both were doomed from the outset. Unfortunately, the SNP, for what they considered to be short term advantage, decided to adopt both. They refused, or were unable to anticipate the long term consequences, just as they are doing with the sterling currency union.

The rest of the paper on the EU reads as follows:-

"The European Context of SNP Policies"

Virtually no area of domestic Scottish policy is untouched by European law and policy. This is true under devolution and will remain so after independence.
Steady pressure must be exercised to this end both on Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Executive, and on Westminster Ministers exercising responsibilities at EU level that effect Scotland.

Some indications of the importance of this may be gathered from the following alphabetical list of policy domains affected.
1) Agriculture and Rural Development
2) Citizens Freedoms and Rights
3) Competition and Single Market Policy; State Aids
4) Consumer Affairs and Food Safety
5) Culture, Education, Youth, Media and Sport
6) Development and Cooperation
7) Discrimination and Equal Opportunities
8) Economic and Monetary Affairs
9) Employment and Social Security
10) Environment
11) External Trade
12) Fisheries and Fish Farming
13) Health
14) Industry and Energy
15) International Relations, Common Security and Defense policy
16) Justice and Home Affairs
17) Regional Policy and Structural Funds
18) Research
19) Transport and Tourism.

To that can be added the fact that we have absolutely no control over our own borders, in terms of who can come here from the EU member states. That would seem to matter little in light of the "open door" policy and unrestricted policy the SNP would have on immigration. A mere glance at the list of areas of government activity, over which membership of the EU will deny us control, should cause even the euro fanatics in the SNP to pause before they claim that member states retain their independence.

When the SNP leadership speak about "independence" in the context of the referendum, they are talking about their version of independence and by no stretch of the imagination can their version be compared to the independence enjoyed by Norway, Switzerland and a host of other countries who still value the concept of the nation state. SNP supporters and other Yes campaigners rail at any criticism of the SNP, believing they should be given a free hand, that arguments over the currency and the EU for example, simply makes the task of persuading those who are currently opposed to independence, all the more difficult. What makes persuading opponents of independence of the value of governing ourselves more difficult, is treating them as fools. Salmond and the SNP have been caught out too often, making assertions on the currency, the EU, legal advice that did not exist. They have made it easy for the No side to ridicule their claims because they presented them with such easy targets. The tragedy is that it is not SNP policies that are being ridiculed, it is the very concept of independence, which the SNP claims their policies represent.

When unionists, as represented by journals such as "Scotland on Sunday", in all seriousness, recognise that what the SNP and unfortunately, the leadership of the Yes Campaign, are offering, can be caricatured as "Independence in Britain", we have a long way to go before the international community will take us seriously. What is being offered could be called Independence-lite or Devo-plus but Independence? - don't make me laugh.

Ends