I was against the notion of this referendum, deeply distrustful of any nationalist stance. And for a long time I was in the NO camp. It’s possible that I would have been swayed by YES eventually – I’m a lefty idealist, easy pickings for the heady optimism of the YES campaign, but that’s not what happened. What happened is that NO lost me, NO pushed me to the YES side, and I can remember exactly when it happened.
George Osborne journeyed to Edinburgh and announced that Scotland could not have the pound, and then Cameron gave his silly little speech at the Olympic Village. That’s when NO lost me.
Osborne calculated that the fear of not having the pound would galvanise business and voters into the NO camp. It might have worked but for the fact that this is such a patently stupid idea. The UK currency needs every asset it can lay its hands on in order to support an extra-ordinary and dangerous deficit. The over-inflated pound based on an over-inflated banking sector cannot afford to lose the security of Scotland’s oil and whiskey. Osborne’s move encouraged many of us to look into the details of this state of affairs. And most of us who did were shocked at the precariousness of the UK economy and saw how the monied classes, typified by over-privileged Osborne, benefitted from this whilst the rest of us wallowed in ‘austerity’.
It could have been a lot different. If Osborne had said that Scotland probably could have the pound but the whys and wherefores of this would be difficult he would have opened a debate the fundamental conclusion of which would have been – What on Earth is the point of being an independent country if you accede control of your currency to a much larger economy? This is a massive weakness in the YES stance, and yet it has scarcely been aired because YES have been able to steal the initiative with slogans like It’s our pound too (and those English twits are trying to bully us).
Had Osborne taken this route we could have had a much more mature debate about monetary policies; we could have exposed the dangers to rUK of an independent Scotland. This would have swayed the debate towards a We need you Scotland, rather than the You need us Scotland. All the arguments of the You need us Scotland would still have been aired, but the stance is fundamentally different, more respectful, honest and with an integrity that the Cameron love-bomb, Osborne shit-bomb dualism simply doesn’t have.
This lack respect, borne of an empire-stained Eton/Bullingdon superciliousness and above all the consequent lack of integrity of the NO campaign that has been it’s fundamental weakness. And the blame for this lies squarely on Cameron and Osborne.