Referendum 2014
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Referendum 2014
The Scottish independence referendum and the debate about Scotland's constitutional future
Curated by Peter A Bell
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Paul Krugman, what the heck?

Paul Krugman, what the heck? | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
It is the UK’s parlous position, that is giving financial markets their ongoing jitters, not Scotland's economic prospects argues James Meadway. Reading the media representation would make you thin...
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Yes has won the argument for independence | Scots Politics

Yes has won the argument for independence | Scots Politics | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

Time to stop debating it. It is now beyond any reasonable doubt that the Yes camp has decisively won the economic argument for independence.

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Financial experts criticise 'unbalanced' committee | Scottish National Party

Financial experts criticise 'unbalanced' committee | Scottish National Party | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

As leading voices in Scotland’s financial sector criticise Westminster's Scottish Affairs Committee over its one-sided agenda, the SNP has said it is long past time for the committee to end its ridiculous scaremongering.

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Nine little words

Nine little words | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
An alert reader was listening to the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning when they heard something unexpected that made them sit up and take notice. It came as part of a segment on Northern Iri...

Peter A Bell's insight:

add your insight...

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Yes will give powers for a sustainable economy | Scottish National Party

Yes will give powers for a sustainable economy | Scottish National Party | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

The SNP is this evening welcoming an expert report which finds that the full powers of independence would allow the Scottish Government to strengthen and grow the economy.

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Peter Jones: Independence promises don’t add up

Peter Jones: Independence promises don’t add up | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
John Swinney says he’ll turn his back on Osborne’s agenda, but he will not have the means to do so, writes Peter Jones
Peter A Bell's insight:

Peter Jones effectively makes the argument that binds the British parties into one indistinguishable mess. The argument that "there is no there way". It is a circular argument. Austerity fetishism is the only way because austerity fetishism creates conditions which require austerity fetishism. such is the orthodoxy. By suggesting that there might be an alternative, John Swinney is judged to have committed heresy.

Maintaining the fiction that Scotland is "Too wee! Too poor! Too stupid!" while maintaining the pretence that you are saying the opposite requires some very convoluted thinking. Peter Jones is unquestionably up to the task.

In order to make his sums work, Peter Jones must blithely disregard any potential effects of a policy other than those which lead to the conclusion he wants. In his world of infinitely flexible, totally obedient numbers, investment does not imply economic growth because economic growth would be an inconvenience for his hypothesis.

This is only one small part of the scenario cherry-picking that he presents in the hope that we will mistake it for thoughtful analysis. Or, in the case of British nationalists, the sure and certain knowledge that they will not think to question either his conclusions or the dubious methods by which he reaches them.

In Peter Jones world there can only ever be bad outcomes. So Scotland taking a zero share of UK debt would be just as catastrophic as Scotland taking a "fair share". Curiously, it would be catastrophic for Scotland because of the the way the financial markets would view its impact on rUK's ability to service its debt. It is not explained why this should be of any huge concern to Scotland.

Just as curiously, the views of the financial markets are seemingly held to be irrelevant in the case of Scotland accepting a "fair share" of UK debt despite rUK abolishing the currency union. Given that this would mean Scotland voluntarily taking on another nation's debt where it has no obligation to do so and without receiving any quid pro quo, it is safe to assume that the markets would view this as an act of economic madness and set Scotland's credit rating accordingly.

But the myth must be maintained that Alex Salmond is "threatening" to walk away from debt. So inconvenient facts must once more be disregarded.

There is more, of course. There is the arrogant British exceptionalism which assumes that the British state will hold all the cards in any negotiations with Scotland and that it will use that power to punish the uppity Jocks regardless of the consequences for its own economy.

Peter Jones demonstrates rather nicely that, when it comes to economics, it's all about the assumptions that you make. If you hold as a matter of absolute faith that the British state represents the natural order as ordained by whatever higher authority you believe in, you will naturally make the assumptions which do not conflict with that belief.

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16 things you need to know about Scotland's economy | Yes Scotland

16 things you need to know about Scotland's economy | Yes Scotland | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

Scotland’s got what it takes to be independent, with strong public finances, a range of successful industries and abundant natural resources. Here are sixteen key facts which add up to a bright and successful future for Scotland as an independent country.

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Alexander says windfall is ‘wishful thinking’

Alexander says windfall is ‘wishful thinking’ | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
THE Chief Secretary to the Treasury has branded claims that Scots could net an “independence bonus” of £1,000 a year as “pure wishful thinking” at the same time as he has been challenged to set out potential cuts to public spending north of the Border if there is a No vote in September’s referendum.
Peter A Bell's insight:

An “independence bonus” of £1,000 a year may be optimistic. it may be no more than an aspiration. But surely that is still very much better than the absolute certainty that we will be very much worse off should we be foolish enough to vote No.

And that is a certainty. British nationalists are, for obvious reasons, generally reluctant to say so explicitly, but in unguarded moments of unwitting honesty such as overcame Danny Alexander a few days ago the intention to visit punitive cuts on Scotland is clear enough to all but those who refuse to see it.

But we don't need gaffes from bumbling liars like Alexander to know that Westminster will take advantage of the opportunity a No vote offers to tug Scotland's economic choke-chain. It's just realpolitik.

The different path being followed by the Scottish Government, to the extent that current arrangements allow, is a huge and increasing embarrassment for the British parties - all of which are now committed to neo-liberal orthodoxy and austerity fetishism. In order to remove that embarrassment, Scotland has to be forced back into line. Our parliament must be emasculated. Our electoral system must be rigged so as to ensure that power never again slips from the grasp of the British parties. And London's stranglehold on our finances must be used to impose changes which will bring policy in Scotland more into line with that in England.

Even without the possibility of an "independence dividend" we should all be anxious to avoid the severe penalties that must be the inevitable consequence of handing British politicians the power to ride roughshod over Scotland's distinctive political culture.

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Salmond: independent Scotland could be £5bn a year better off in 15 years

Salmond: independent Scotland could be £5bn a year better off in 15 years | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
First minister says yes vote would boost economy, but Danny Alexander counters with promise of £1,400 'UK dividend'
Peter A Bell's insight:

I am happy to accept that Alex Salmond is painting the brightest picture possible. So what? Why would we expect him to do anything else? And what a treat it is to hear a politician and an economist who is not trying to paralyse us with either fear, depression or boredom but is, instead, trying to lift our spirits, raise our hopes and encourage our aspirations.

And here's a wee thought. Even if Salmond is 100% wrong, it still means that we are no worse of economically after independence. And so much better off politically, constitutionally and democratically.

We really do have nothing to lose by voting Yes but the dullards and doom-mongers who are dragging us down.

And if we vote No, we have everything to lose, including our nation's rightful status, our sovereignty and our self-respect.

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There Will Be Cuts

There Will Be Cuts | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
One of the most insidious aspects of the Unionist and media attack on independence is the constant refrain of "Scotland will be poorer after independence, so there will have to be cuts to services ...
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Why the economic arguments against independence are wrong | Scots Politics

Why the economic arguments against independence are wrong | Scots Politics | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

Given the evidence showing just how viable an independent Scotland’s economy would be, where has the opposition come from? Does it hold any credibility?

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Independence business benefit ‘uncertain’ - Weir Group

Independence business benefit ‘uncertain’ - Weir Group | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
SCOTTISH independence would create “costs and uncertainties” for businesses which outweigh the benefits, a report for one of the country’s leading firms has warned.
Peter A Bell's insight:

I doubt very much if Keith Cochrane, chief executive of Weir Group, will be flattered to have been lumped in with Bill Munro of Barrhead Travel.

As to Mr Cochrane's report, one might have hoped that a company such as Weir Group would have been more inclined to deal in rational analysis and less prone to being influenced by Project Fear propaganda.

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Beer and Bingo

Beer and Bingo | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
John Warren on the 'Broad Shoulders' disequilibrium.   David Cameron and Danny Alexander’s favourite metaphor is an appeal to the security offered by the UK’s “broad shoulders”, which is used inspi...
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The McCrone Legacy

The McCrone Legacy | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

As readers of this site will be well aware, 40 years ago the UK government economist Professor Gavin McCrone analysed the effect of North Sea oil on the finances of a notional independent Scotland,...

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10 reasons why an independent Scotland's economy will be stronger without Westminster

10 reasons why an independent Scotland's economy will be stronger without Westminster | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
The evidence is clear that Scotland is one of the world's wealthiest countries. That means Scotland can be successful and run its own affairs. Some people who are undecided on independence ask 'If Scotland is doing well, why should things change?' This is why. Westminster isn't working for

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Independence: Economists criticise both sides

Independence: Economists criticise both sides | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
CONFLICTING claims that Scots could be more than £1,000 better or worse off after independence have been heavily criticised by leading economists who say they are based on “highly contestable” assumptions.


Peter A Bell's insight:

All we can conclude from this is that economists really don't have a clue. They are no better at predicting the future than the rest of us.

But, significantly, we can also see that even the worst case scenario isn't anything like the kind of sky-collapsing economic catastrophe that features in British nationalist propaganda. The reality is that we might be a little better off, or we might be a little worse off if we vote Yes.

What we have to ask ourselves is how does this compare with the consequences of voting No. Something that these economists don't bother to examine. Perhaps because they know the answer already. They know the answer because the British parties have already stated quite explicitly that they plan to make us all worse off. Well, not all. The very wealthy will be protected along with certain "special" categories such as bankers and, of course, British politicians. The rest of us are assured that things can only get grimmer. And the less economic and political power you have, the grimmer it will get.

It is not only the consequences of a No vote that economic soothsayers ignore. They also take no account whatever of the possible effects of an independent Scotland pursuing economic and social policies that are markedly different from the austerity fetishism that grips British political culture. Their predictions for Scotland's economy assume Scotland will be just a mini UK, with some mini Osborne or Balls directing the economy. But we know that this is not how it will be. We know that independence gives us the opportunity to follow a different path. A path more in tune with the needs and priorities of Scotland's people.

There is neither precision nor certainty in economic forecasts. If we are looking for certainties then the best we can find is that we will certainly be economically worse off if we remain shackled to the UK. And if we choose to bring our government home and be a normal nation then we will certainly have the potential to be more prosperous.


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UK financial system at risk of systemic crisis

UK financial system at risk of systemic crisis | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

In a recent paper, “How serious a threat is the UK’s financialised economy”, published by the Jimmy Reid Foundation, and available on the Reid Foundation website, I analyse the stab...

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Scotland to deliver greater financial security for people and families | Yes Scotland

Scotland to deliver greater financial security for people and families | Yes Scotland | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
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Warning of cuts or tax rises to pay for Yes vote promises

Warning of cuts or tax rises to pay for Yes vote promises | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
AN independent Scotland faces higher tax hikes or deeper spending cuts to pay for the SNP Government's flagship
Peter A Bell's insight:

They're a duplicitous lot these British nationalist politicians. When they remember that they are supposed to be putting on a show of being "positive" they will insist that Scotland is a wealthy country perfectly capable of functioning as an independent nation. Then, once they've given their pals in the British media the sound-bite that the spin-quacks insist upon, they revert to doom-mongering type, talking Scotland down at every opportunity and seizing with unseemly, drooling glee any report - however contrived - that forecasts economic disaster.

Listen for five minutes to just about any unionist politician and you will hear them alternate between these two totally contradictory positions with the consummate ease of the practised liar. The exceptions being only those among the British nationalist ranks for whom relentless, unremitting negativity is such an ingrained part of their miserable nature that no amount of pleading from their minders can induce them to say anything remotely positive.

If you're wondering what makes the IFS "Britain's leading economic think tank" the answer is simple. It is elevated to this status simply and only due to the fact that it very efficiently fulfils its remit to feed the Project Fear propaganda machine. This is the organisation that Nick Clegg accused of producing reports that were "distorted and a complete nonsense".

The IFS is not impartial. It is a right-wing think-tank fully committed to neo-liberal orthodoxy. It is, to all intents and purposes, an organ of the British state.

Of course they are going to foretell disaster for any economic model or policy that challenges that neo-liberal orthodoxy. That is the organisation's raison d'etre. Their starting position is that any talk of social justice and redistribution is economic heresy. All their efforts are bent to attacking this heresy.

And their methods can be pretty crude. In their latest dabbling in economic goat entrails they have contrived to underestimate the saving to Scotland from getting out of the UK's ridiculous defence posture by between 20% and 100%. But the IFS has a method of arriving at the desired conclusion which is marginally less crude that simply altering the figures contained in the Scottish Government's White Paper. Basically, they take whatever mix of UK Government and Scottish Government policies produces the worst outcome and assumes that this will be what happens in real life.

They switch back and forward between considering Scotland as an independent nation and as still under London rule depending on what best suits their agenda.

It seems that duplicity is not confined to British nationalist politicians.

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£he price of everything, the value of nothing

The No campaign is determined to focus on economics. No matter what the issue, it's going to be spun into the political equivalent of the guy displaying his bum crack in a dodgy repair shop who suc...
Peter A Bell's insight:

After carefully weighing up all the economic arguments, and pondering the consequences at length, I’ve come to the considered decision that I really couldn’t give a toss.

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Scottish independence: ‘richest country’ claim disputed

Scottish independence: ‘richest country’ claim disputed | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
ALEX Salmond’s claim that Scotland is one of the world’s richest countries has been disputed by a report which claims that the Scottish Government has over-estimated the nation’s wealth.
Peter A Bell's insight:

So Scotland might be either the 14th or the 17th richest country in the world. Who the hell cares? Is there any question that Scotland is wealthy enough? Not the slightest. So what is the point of this story?

The headline is a fine example of the propagandist's craft. There never was a claim that Scotland is the 'richest country'. Once again we see single quote marks used as a licence to lie.

The article itself is all about sowing doubt. Doubt about Alex Salmond's veracity and doubt about Scotland's economic strength. Central to all of this is the fact that a nation's wealth can be measured in different ways and that even using the same measure different results can be arrived at depending on what is included in the calculation. It was, therefore, a simple,if utterly pointless, exercise to come up with a figure which differed from that used by the First Minister.

The sleekit dishonesty lies in making a direct comparison between the two figures in order to imply that Salmond's one is wrong and, incidentally, reinforce the insidious message that Scotland is "Too wee! Too poor! Too stupid!" for independence.

Most people don't need to have this explained to them, of course. But the purpose is not to actually convince anybody of anything. The purpose is to provide cues for the British state's little band of amateur propagandists and something that the British parties can refer to when attacking the Scottish Government and the Yes campaign.

What it is not is honest journalism. But we hardly expect that any more, do we?

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Hiding The Truth

Hiding The Truth | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

Before retiring, John Jappy was a senior civil servant in the Inland Revenue, working for the Accountant & Controller General's Branch based at Somerset House in London.  His duties involved liaising closely with Treasury officials to prepare accounts and financial information for UK government ministers.


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Number employed in Scotland rises by six times the population of Fort William

Number employed in Scotland rises by six times the population of Fort William | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
The number of people in a job in Scotland rose by six times the population of Fort William last year, according to Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander.
Peter A Bell's insight:

If the UK Government wants to take credit for Scotland's relatively strong recovery from recession then they must also take the blame for causing the recession in the first place.

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Dark Star Economics

Dark Star Economics | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

Well, thank god that’s over. According to Olivier Blanchard, the IMF’s chief economist, the British economy is now clear of its longest and most severe crisis since the 1930s and c...

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Scottish financiers back independence as means of staying in EU | Reuters

Scottish financiers back independence as means of staying in EU | Reuters | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
LONDON (Reuters) - A group of Scottish financiers came out in support of independence on Thursday to counter a flood of warnings over Scotland going it alone, cautioning that staying within the United
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