#indyref: Dear JK Rowling

Dear Jo,

I’m sure it wasn’t without a great deal of thought that you decided to intervene in the referendum campaign. I make a habit of ignoring celebrity and so all I know about you beyond a certain series of books is that you were born in England and reside in Scotland, and anyone North of the border displeased with that fact can sod off. As far as most of the Scottish Harry Potter fans I know are concerned, you are Scottish, and that’s that. So as much as I disagree with your stance on independence, I wholeheartedly support your right not only to your opinion, but a vocal one. The day we embrace a society where such freedom of speech is discouraged, I’m looking abroad (a wee while ago I would have quipped about moving to France, but Front National have stuck something of a spanner in that joke).

Unfortunately however, I couldn’t help but take issue with the content of what you said in your statement and I’m certain some people will be heavily swayed in their decision-making process by it, so whilst I’m sure you won’t have time personally, in case any of them should happen to be reading further afield today, I thought I’d take the liberty of writing an open response.

I like that you note there are friendly, considered people of both sides of the debate. Of course this is true, just as it’s true in practically every political debate one can picture. You go straight on from there though to note,

“…there is a fringe of nationalists who like to demonise anyone who is not blindly and unquestionably pro-independence…”

This is true, of course. Again though, as with every other political debate out there, bad behaviour is hardly limited to one side. Though you’ve (thankfully) avoided use of the single-word pejorative term used too often to describe Yes supporters, we both know you’re talking about the much feart ‘Cybernats’ of modern lore. Acknowledging and condemning such behaviour is not something I, nor any of the Yes supporters I engage with online or off, have a problem with. Your happy balance of before though is absent here. ‘BritNat’ is just as horrible a term to throw around as ‘Cybernat’ but whilst I unhappily assume you will be subjected to some abuse for making public your position on this, I doubt very much it will equate to the threats and intimidation levelled daily at Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon et al. If you had changed your wording only slightly, I wouldn’t have had a problem.

 “There is a fringe of nationalists on both sides who like to demonize anyone who does not blindly agree with them.”

I, for example, am not blindly anything, having come to my position as a Yes supporter after years of research. I’ve been looking into this issue since the 90s. There are no Scottish nationalists who seek to demonize me though. There have been some British ones. I appreciate that the paragraph of note may have been written with a sense of trepidation about the results of your statement, but you did add to the popular narrative that all abuse in this debate comes only from one side, and I’d hazard a guess that at least part of what you might receive as a result of your statement is based in part on that. I don’t defend it here; merely explain it.

You later go on to mention the RBS bailout and since I like to be bogged down in figures no more than most, I’ll be quicker on this point. The cost borne by the UK of the RBS bailout was about £43 billion. Doing the roughest of sums, Scotland’s share of this was less than £4 billion. Scottish GDP for 2008 alone, was just under £150 billion. So of course it would have been tough had Scotland borne this cost alone, but since 2008 was hardly a high blip as far as Scottish GDP goes, we could undoubtedly have afforded our share.

The real point is there: we could have afforded our share, because whether or not Scotland could have afforded the entire bailout alone is irrelevant. Banks are bailed out by the countries they operate in, not the ones where a building has a plaque on the side. That’s why when it came to that ‘English’ bank, Barclay’s, it was the United States of America and Qatar who funneled money in, to the tune of some £550bn and £6bn respectively. Whether Scotland was independent or not, London couldn’t have afforded not to bail out RBS, though you have to wonder if an independent Scotland would have allowed the risky gambling so prevelant in the UK capital. The whole discussion is irrelevant depending on what kind of mood Mr Darling is in however, as we’re frequently told RBS will be moving to London along with every other large Scottish business, so we wouldn’t have to worry about bailing it out anyway.

Later on, you note that “reasonable questions” are drowned out by accusations of scaremongering. I’d hesitantly suggest that I don’t think anyone has ever sought to drown out questions about independence whether in this fashion or another. Given the very obvious scaremongering that’s gone on however, you can hardly be surprised when people react with irritance to a question which was reasonably answered a long time ago.

Let’s assume on currency (despite one UK minister being caught out telling the truth) that there will be no union. Scotland can’t join the Euro immediately; it’s a legal impossibility. Its options then are Sterlingisation (which the UK government has said wouldn’t work) and an independent currency (which the UK government has said wouldn’t work). In Mr Osborne’s latest testimony on the matter, he ‘effectively; said that if Scotland wished to retain any currency of any sort, it had to be the pound as part of the UK. This isn’t scaremongering? Scotland couldn’t float its own currency with its own central bank as most other countries do? It couldn’t enter an informal currency union like many besides do? Despite claims that they’ve yet to produce a plan B, the Scottish government has said time and again that though it expects a currency union, its plans and Scotland’s development are not bound by one.

You then mention, “our heavy reliance on oil revenue if we’re independent” but when Moody’s looked at the Scottish economy, they (not known for their optimism) said it wasn’t ‘overly’ reliant. There’s no denying a large chunk of our finances come from oil (around 15% off the top of my head but don’t quote me), but there’s also no denying that even if you take away every penny of oil revenue, Scotland still has more or less the same finances as the rest of the UK, indeed better than most because the UK’s figures are artificially heightened by the money being thrown around the capital. Oil is the cherry on top; not the cake itself.

Next you mention, “getting back into the EU” which suggests, with all due respect, that you’ve fallen for some scaremongering yourself. I specialise in constitutional, international, and human rights law. I can’t tell you exactly what will happen with an independent Scotland and Europe, just as I can’t tell you exactly what will happen to Scotland as part of the UK when this Europhobic in/out referendum hits the UK in 2017. I can tell you what’s likely though. International law by requirement has always been malleable to the requirements of the day. The thought of European immigrants in Scotland (including ones such as yourself, should you choose not to opt for Scottish citizenship), alongside those Scots living and working throughout Europe, to say nothing of the millions of Scots still residing in Scotland, immediately losing their rights as European citizens & residents absent any choice in the matter because a small country off the edge of the continent opted for self-determination from a neighbour universally unpopular throughout the continent is not only palpably ridiculous, but in brazen opposition to the heart of the EU. Of course there will be negotiations, but the founding principle of the European Union is the protection of individual persons and states, not damnation of them because they brought to an end a badly written Treaty. Europe wants Scotland in for selfish reasons (energy provision being but one of them), and the fact that this specific set of events is unprecedented doesn’t change that.

I’m conscious of the fact that I’ve gone on some time, so I’ll try to be brisk with my remaining points. You spend a paragraph noting that some Scots are more concerned with sticking it to the Prime Minister than they are the future of their children and grandchildren. I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of this is, but I hope it’s not simply to deride. It certainly isn’t helpful. You quote the IFS which claims to be independent, but then so does The Independent and there are few who would agree. You quote ‘Scotland’s Choices’ saying, ‘it would be a foolish Scottish government that planned future public expenditure on the basis of current tax receipts from North Sea oil and gas,’ which is true, but no one is doing that. Oil receipts fluctuate; as you’re no doubt aware they’re down about four billion this year, but that’s a direct result of record investment by the major oil companies and you can say what you will about their ethical practices, but they know how to turn a buck. Over five, ten, fifteen, twenty years, revenues balance out and everyone with a grain of sense bases future finances on the basis that in good years we’ll save to cover the shortfall in bad ones. Whereas oil has been a boon to every other country in the world that’s discovered it, why is it suddenly a curse when it comes to Scotland? As I said above, it’s a sizeable chunk, but it’s not all our economy is.

You mention the threats to medical research, or what, from my reading of the letter you mention (which, while not signed by nobody, did just have fourteen signatories) the possible, we’re-not-sure-but-maybe, threat to medical research in an independent Scotland. Firstly the idea that there’ll be some sort of intellectual iron curtain between Scotland and the rest of the world is ridiculous. Research is conducted at the best facilities you can afford, and universities cross borders every day in the pursuit of knowledge. Even if that were the case however, you mention MS as a personal cause. I have history with Alzheimer’s myself, and would very much like to see greater treatment and eventually a cure for it developed in Scotland. There’s no practical reason for this; I’d just like it to be something my little club gave to the world. They key is the cure though, and in the end I don’t care if it’s developed in Dundee or Denmark. Neither do investors. Drug companies chasing a pill that cures cancer want the patent; not the pride of having it developed next door. Global medical research will continue whether we elect our own fully-empowered government or not.

You’ve mentioned the further powers we’ve been promised, but let’s not forget Westminster parties have form on this. The BBC’s Andrew Neill, no great friend to the idea of independence (as in, he ardently hates the idea), put it best when he said every new power Scotland had received was because London parties were scared of the SNP. Labour and the Tories have consistently been opposed to devolution. Tony Blair was no great fan either, but he was an opportunist and concerned considerably more with violence in Northern Ireland than representation in Scotland. Now all of a sudden the SNP are the majority party in a parliamentary system specifically designed to prevent such an occurrence, and greater devolution is on the cards again? The Tories have outbid Labour, and even their plan is based on ‘greater responsibilities for tax-collecting.’ I’m all for greater responsibilities for the Scottish Government, but without the ability to decide how that revenue is spent, what’s actually being offered is more red tape and more costs to bear north of the border, for no return. It’s a swindle, based on the hope that the average voter can’t tell the difference between ‘responsibilities’ and ‘powers’.

Your idea of us being the most popular kid on the block should we choose to stay is without foundation. By contrast, the idea that we’ll be punished if we do has been confirmed (albeit in somewhat murkier language) by the Westminster parties time and again. Barnett will not remain as it is. Were that due to Scotland keeping its own revenue and having greater powers then that would be one thing, but it’s not. Almost every major politician you can think of that has reason to discuss it has said we should get rid of it. There will be no reward if we stay. We won’t be able to dictate terms, because we’ll have no more leverage than we did yesterday. We won’t be in a “heady position as the spouse that almost left,” we’ll be the abused party going back for more because we’re scared to make a go of it on our own. I appreciate that’s a distasteful analogy. It is however, an accurate one.

The fact that “separation” as you term it will be difficult doesn’t matter. Whether it takes five minutes or five years, if we do nothing the time will pass anyway and only through action will we be able to begin to fix things.

I appreciate you’ve likely thought about this a long time. I understand that given your substantial donation, you’re unlikely to change your mind. That’s not personal; no one likes to go back on an investment; it’s human nature. On the off chance you read this though, please believe me when I say the following.

I’m not blind to anything. I’m not a cybernat. I don’t hate people who disagree with me on this issue. I have huge amounts of respect for you as an artist.

You’re on the wrong side, Jo. Of all the political decisions either of us will ever make in our lives, this is by far and away the biggest, and you’re just dead wrong. Please change your mind.

Chris

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42 comments

  1. Mark C

    Brilliant and comprehensive rebuttal to JK there Chris and I especially liked your clarification over the bank bailouts. However, just wanted to add that if Scotland had to bail out RBos, even to the tune of the full £43 billion (which you’ve explained clearly it wouldn’t have), then surely Scotland would have had to have been independent at that point to bail out RBoS?

    And if so, when since? Shall we say since the last referendum in 1979? If so then the £300 billion that has gone to the UK treasury since then would instead have gone to the Scottish Treasury. Therefore, Scotland would have been left with a balance of around £250 billion surplus, instead of the approx £130 billion of the £1.4 trillion of UK debt.

    • Chris Murray

      Thanks Mark.

      Yes, I’ve always been fond of the bank arguments.

      “You couldn’t bail these Scottish banks, but they’d move to England anyway so you wouldn’t have to.”

      “Your economy is too reliant on the financial sector, which will disappear with independence.”

      Similar on EU. “The EU won’t let you do X” but of course, “The EU won’t let you in” so it doesn’t matter what they say.

      The entire No cause is a mess. I’m no raving nationalist; I’m a cold-blooded, cynical realist, and Yes is the objectively better choice for practically everyone bar Scottish MPs who’ll be out of an easy job, and Westminster which will lose an easy source of revenue.

    • Scot

      idiotic reply – unless of course the RUK stole all that money and never gave any back in block grant.

      • Chris Murray

        Scot, I realise you’re new around here, but general rules of my little corner of the web involve not referring to others as idiotic whilst making easily refuted claims. The block grant has never meant Scotland getting back the same amount or more than it puts in, in any of the years such things have been officially monitored.

        Indeed such was the disparity between the money Scotland contributed and what was actually spent in Scotland during the 20s, the UK government simply stopped publishing the figures. The only reason we’re so informed today is because of the Scottish government’s initiative and just as then, the money Scotland puts in is more than it gets back to spend.

        So using your own emotive language, rUK ‘stole’ some of the money and never gave it back.

        • Scot

          http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/mar/07/scotland-spending-data-independence
          sigh!

          Im really fed up repeating the same stuff in this debate – there are those that think we are hard done by and obviously the English are all tories and hate poor people – myth and bluster. Independence is like Boko Harem – you don’t need any education just believe Mullah Salmond he will deliver us from our evil imperial masters.

          Lets have a real debate – show your sources back up your logic with Facts. If thats not a swearword in Indy circles

    • Helen

      Nobody’s right or wrong. You either believe in independence or you don’t. Whoever wins, it’ll take at least a generation to repair the damage caused by the referendum. That’s the unintended (I hope) consequence that we’re all going to have to live with.

      • Chris Murray

        Helen, the idea that nobody’s right or wrong is… a bit daft. Take how much oil is left for example. neither you nor I know exactly, but Alistair Darling suggested a year ago that it would run out in early 2017. That’s almost certainly not accurate. Wrong, in other words.

        It’s not a question of ‘believing’ in independence, but looking at the facts and making a decision on whether self-determination would be advantageous for Scotland. I say Yes; JK says no. We can’t both be right on this, but speaking for myself, I didn’t come to the conclusion based on faith, but analysis.

        And the idea that it will take a generation to repair the damage of a political discussion? There were rude people before indyref and there will be rude people after. Scotland deciding whether or not to look after itself has nothing to do with that. Give those around you some more credit; almost none of us are the vile online trolls the Daily Mail likes to popularise as representative of the debate.

        We’re grown-ups, we disagree, we move on.

  2. Scot

    Are any of you brave enough to leave your pension in Scottish banks while our oh so clever politicians sort out the exchange rate with all the worlds currencies? ready to take a 10% hit ? Or will you like most of us panic at the thought of losing a chunk and take steps to avoid it – otherwise known as a run on our banks. Wee tip if you think theres even a scintilla of a chance of independence – move your pension into euros or dollars NOW ( hell move it into shekels anything but pounds that will be devalued overnight)t – or there will be NOTHING you can do about it.

  3. Chris

    Hi Chris,

    may I first qualify my position by saying that I am pro-independence for philosophical reasons more than anything else. ie. I believe that it is ALWAYS better to have independence over your affairs, whether you be an individual or a state. I believe that whatever the economic conditions, we as a people are clever enough to sort it out and the advantages would far outweigh the disadvantages in the long-term.

    I am also pretty convinced by the economic arguments but would like an answer to a couple of questions that I’ve asked in live debate and on similar blogs that haven’t been answered satisfactorily. One question is in regards to a technical issue about how to calculate a certain aspect of a country’s economic state and the other is on an issue that my attention has been directed at through a personal contact who is right in the thick of it.

    1. You mention GDP as a means of calculating whether we would be strong enough to bail out a bank should the carbuncle that took place in 2008 happen again (which it must given we have made very little changes in our banking system and fiat currency to prevent it).

    Is the figure of £150 billion for Scottish GDP in 2008 based on the Income or Expenditure model? GDP is worked out either by adding up what everyone earned in a year (income approach), or by adding up what everyone spent (expenditure method). Logically, both measures should arrive at roughly the same total.

    However, this doesn’t seem to be a fair way of calculating whether we would be able to absorb a banking bailout since this money is not liquidated tax cash available to the government and actually INCLUDES more debt.

    Using debt to pay off debt is nuts, as we all know.

    Indeed, since all the money in our economy is actually debt, incurring interest charges, I am at an absolute failure to understand as to how GDP is a fair way to measure the health of ANY economy. In fact, since the money supply is actually created by borrowing money from the banking sector (at interest) then the idea of bailing out the banking sector in the first place with their own money is a trifle counter-intuitive at best.

    If I have misunderstood very basic economics then please let me know as nobody seems to be able to explain this in a manner which makes any sense. My point is, are you simply saying that 150 minus 4 is better than 150 minus 43? Obviously it IS but if the 150 figure is nonsensical then why does this matter? Do you really think GDP is a good enough indicator here?

    I want independence but I don’t want us to get ourselves into the same globalisation, time-bomb mess we’re in just now in a few years, or months as an independent state. And I certainly don’t want to be duped by our leaders into accepting this based on double-talk, ignorance or just a desperate surge for independence at any cost, ignoring the real factors.

    Real and fundamental change is needed if we are to have deep social change in this country. At the moment, it DOES seem a bit like Stockholm Syndrome at a national level.

    2. Apparently, the oil industry is about to unveil a technology which would allow them to produce crude oil in the lab in hours rather than thousands of years. It’s called GTL and on the face of it looks like natural gas is still needed but read further and you will see the possible long-term implications of it for the Scottish Oil industry.

    http://www.shell.com/global/future-energy/natural-gas/gtl.html

    What do you think about this and do you personally think this will have a role to play in the independence debate in the coming months?

    • Chris Murray

      GDP isn’t a foolproof measure of a country’s economic state, but it is generally a decent one for quick analyses.

      Compare Scotland’s £150bn with Canada’s £1tn and the quick conclusion that Canada’s economy is roughly six and a half times bigger than Scotland’s isn’t one which is particularly contentious in any way, and falls roughly in line with a similar economic model based on a population seven times the size.

      For greater insight, you’d be better off speaking to an economist rather than a lawyer (though be wary because they were only put on this earth to make astrologers look good), but the crux of the RBS issue is, could Scotland have afforded to pay off £4bn over a matter of years? The answer is with ease. I mentioned the £150bn GDP (income based, I believe and about £145bn to be more exact) merely for context. £4bn is a big number, but not so big when you compare it to others; in this case the size of the kitty Scotland is playing with on an annual basis.

      GTL is effectively something that allows us to get more bang for our buck when we drill, resulting in less waste and thus more product. It’s good whilst we’re drilling, but on the wider issue of decreasing oil dependency, it’s a stop gap rather than a solution. GTL itself won’t allow the creation of artificial oil, and only the oil companies themselves are interested in such a goal.

      I’d be very surprised if it had any major effect on indyref.

  4. Robbie

    Your argument regarding the banks is a nice big straw man. The cost of the bailout for RBS alone was £10B more than the entire annual budget of the Scottish parliament. When you consider that HBOS also required a similarly eye-watering bailout it’s clearly apparent that an independent Scotland could not afford to prop up these institutions. You then claim that actually the host country doesn’t need to provide the whole bailout, just it’s own share as the other countries in which the banks operate will provide the rest, and you use the foreign money injected into Barclays as an example of this. This is a gross misrepresentation of the truth. Barclays did not receive a bailout, they refinanced – the £6Bn from Qatar that you mentioned was to purchase shares, i.e. an investment, not a bailout. Barclays themselves did something similar after Lehman Bros fell on it’s arse in 2008: they bought part of the investment bank’s former assets to give them greater presence in the USA, but you wouldn’t describe this as a bailout from Britain to the US.

    The fact is that bailouts come from the lender of last resort, the host nation’s central bank. The Bank of England is large enough to have made the necessary funds available when Scotland’s banks were at risk of collapse, but the size of their balance sheets is simply too large for an independent central Bank of Scotland to do the same. This means that an independent Scotland would still need to rely on the Bank of England to be the lender of last resort, but the BoE would say (with a fair amount of justification) that why should they agree to this unless Scotland follows the BoE’s monetary policy? And with monetary policy being set by the BoE instead of in Scotland, you would not have true independence.

  5. Bob smith

    Chris

    Here are a few of you exceptional few calmly reacting to JK and her views.
    http://www.buzzfeed.com/jonstone/scottish-nationalists-who-reacted-really-badly-to-jk-rowl?s=mobile
    This is obviously not that untypical of the behaviour of the Yes campaign. And as you say there may be people writing rotten things on both sides but, I’m sure you agree there appear to be more on yes campaign than the no.

    We had to put up with a yes campaigner berating my wife, because she said that she did not want yes balloons given to the kids. It was a bit embarrassing to be standing outside mark’s and spenser whilst a man with balloon called her an f***ing bitch in front of the kids.

    Anyway I’m sure he was the exception too, and Campbell Gunner he was the exception as well.

    My Chris what a lot of exceptional people you hang out with.

    • Chris Murray

      Bob, I’ve been called all manner of things relative to my nationality and politics ranging everywhere from stupid via naive through sweaty (odd, on twitter) all the way up to a Nazi, for no more offensive reason than being a Yes supporter. I don’t consider this behaviour representative of No voters.

      Look at @BritNatBot on twitter. It’s filled with bile from No supporters, but does that mean what’s there is representative of you and your wife? Because someone on BuzzFeed tracked down 18 nasty comments (at least two of which are from Irishmen who don’t live in Scotland) doesn’t mean anything.

      I don’t believe you think all Yes supporters are accurately represented by that ‘article’, but if I’m wrong, I don’t want to engage with you. I don’t like disagreeing with people, but I’ve zero time for those who rejoice in turning disagreement into conflict.

      • Bob smith

        But Chris that is the problem my wife is not a no supporter. There where particular reasons that she did not want the balloons.

  6. mia C

    Chris Murray U should Mail a copy of this 2 JKR. I truly believe she has been brainwashed by Brown & Darling, tho how she could B friends w/those 2 appalls me. I would never B fiends w/people who have no integrity. I do not know of any good points I can credit 2 a dozen / more of them down south & many in Scotland 2.

    • Bob smith

      Mia c,

      Upset that someone has different views to you? What about them down south, sound a bit broad brush!

  7. Ramsay Stewart

    Great piece Chris. Evisceratingly so.
    The point you didn’t touch on (perhaps treading carefully?) was the obscenity of the money donated. She justifies this via her fear, stated virtually as fact, that research into MS would be at risk under independence. All of her points are very easily rebutted but the one on medical research funding was, by some distance, the weakest.

    • Chris Murray

      You can’t criticise the amount of money she donated without criticising the Weirs donations to Yes Scotland, which I think have topped £2m. Having lots of money doesn’t mean you lose your right to donate to causes you believe in.

      The real interesting story as far as donations go is VoteNobOrders, the ‘grassroots’ group that had an enormous war chest inside of five minutes, and has been sustained by more £7000 donations (which can remain anonymous) than you can shake a stick at.

      • Ramsay Stewart

        Tue enuf but I merely point out that JKR has felt the need to justify it and has neatly shoehorned the spurious medical research point (making it look almost like charity) into the equation.

  8. Stu McGowan

    Why is Scotland automatically a better place because Scots are in charge?
    In what way does that serve as an indication of how the nation will be governed?
    Gordon Brown was a Scot. A bad prime minister mind.
    Fred Goodwin was a Scot. Had he not gone into banking he was sociopathic enough to be a politician.
    Peter Cummings as well no doubt.
    The latter two were running major Scottish HQ’d institutions from Scotland.
    And they made a dangerous, catastrophic, reckless pig’s ear of it.
    So for me it’s not about the nationality of who leads the country. That’s illogical and bewildering.
    It’s about their honesty, their integrity, their capability.
    Is it likely a Scottish PM will care more for Scotland and her interests? Undoubtedly.
    Does it therefore follow that they will make wise, sensible decisions and operate a system of exemplary governance?
    Not in the slightest.
    No. There, I’ve said it.

    • Chris Murray

      Thanks for the response Stu. If you have time, a number of the other posts I’ve written here with the same tags address that very question. Assuming you don’t though, here’s an extract from one of them.

      “The central tenet of the pro-independence argument is the most obvious. Imagine you are the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. You live and work in London, the financial centre of the world. You’re responsible for 60-odd million people. Do you focus on the 50+ million that live relatively near to you, or the 5 million that live in the wild North and don’t particularly like you anyway? Even if they do like you, even if you want to help everyone equally, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. That’s just Spock– I mean logic.

      Then imagine you’re the Prime Minister of Scotland. You don’t have to worry about the 53 million across the border; your only concerns are the 5 million at home and laughing at Johann Lamont. In which position are the 5 million going to be better off as a result of your actions? Then apply the same Spock to every other aspect of public service. Things are better already.”

      https://egofactor.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/indyref-dreams-of-the-borders/

  9. Bobbob

    Walk me through how Scotland is going to be able to rejoin the EU. You seem to have brushed that aside as if it hardly matters, and will be smashing, but I’ve seen little to suggest it’s a foregone conclusion. Which is kind of the point JK made.

    • Chris Murray

      There is no legal mechanism for ejecting Scotland from the EU. Absent an ejection, there’s no need to rejoin.

        • Chris Murray

          Barroso (the same Barroso by the way, that called the EU an antidote to democracy) has never said how Scotland would be ejected from the EU.

          His preposterous position regarding Scotland’s membership doubtless has nothing to do with the fact that he wants the top job in NATO and will need David Cameron’s help to get it.

          Of course you and I can trade quotes from various eminent people who disagree on this matter. The legal reality remains however, that this specific situation is unprecedented and no existing framework of laws was written with it in mind. There is no mechanism for expelling Scotland from the EU because it ended a pre-existing Treaty with England.

          What is true, as I said in the letter, is that international law is malleable to the requirements of the day. Taking a strict interpretation of the UN Charter for example, all military conflict is illegal. This isn’t practical of course, so we interpret to suit our needs. Europe has done and will do the same.

          Imagine French immigrants in Scotland. If Scotland is expelled, their rights as EU citizens continue, but since EU law no longer extends throughout Scotland, that’s a moot point. They’re screwed.

          Next picture ex-pat Scots living in Spain. If Scotland is expelled and they identify as Scottish nationals rather than British (not the wildest fantasy I’ve ever suggested), they lose their rights as EU citizens.

          Finally consider the five millions Scots still resident in Scotland who have never asked to be excluded from the EU of which they have enjoyed the benefits of for decades. The EU is going to brazenly say, ‘fuck them’ and deny them the protection of institutes like the ECtHR?

          International law finds a way to do whatever is popular. No one wants Scotland out of the EU. There is no framework for removing Scotland from the EU (short of it starting a war but that seems unlikely). So why on Earth would Scotland be removed from the EU?

  10. oscarthoughts

    An interesting point well put however I do have to query one area you discuss. You say “Banks are bailed out by the country they operate in”. This is not the case. In 2008 when RBS required funding of £45bn this included its Ulster Bank arm which was saved using near £15bn of UK cash. This was the same with HBOS’s irish arm which also used part of its UK bailout to save it. Also Barclays were not saved by the US and Qatar governments but private investors including the Man City owner Sheikh Mansour who made £2.25bn on the deal. It is difficult to ascertain if RBS would have been Scottish or English in 2008 as we do not know the climate or regulations an independent Scotland would have demanded of its financial sector but had it been Scottish it would have been liable for the entire debt

    • Chris Murray

      You’re saying an independent Scotland would have to bail out RBS (presuming it was ‘Scottish’ of course) whilst noting at the same time that an Irish bank was bailed out by the UK. Okay.

      And the Fed put in roughly a trillion dollars to the British banking industry to keep it afloat. The difference is that due to the way they structured it, they’ve already gotten most of they money back whereas our £45bn in RBS (less than half what they borrowed from USA who chipped in £265bn) is already gone.

  11. Shona l

    I will refrain in calling you idiotic an stick with your preferred “daft.” Thank you for the amusement!

    • Chris Murray

      “Refrain from,” Shona. “Refrain from.”

      If you’re going to insult someone’s intelligence, make sure you’ve adequately disguised your own.

  12. Grouse Beater

    Excellent essay.

    Mine is “Dear J K Rowling” – grousebeater.wordpress.

    I live a few doors away from her. I guess I’m what’s called a cybernat, which, as you imply, is just as deliberate a smear as calling all Vietnamese ‘gooks’ as the Americans did to dehumanise them.

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