Thursday, 27 February 2014

Tuesday’s ‘Debate'

I watched the STV programme, trailed as a debate on independence, on Tuesday night, did you? 

Perhaps I’ve not been totally honest because I was aware, after the first few minutes, that I had to check my emails on my iPad which rested at my side, then when that was completed I found myself browsing the internet.  The television - and sound - were on though so, with a little artistic licence, I qualified as a viewer.

Two good assessments of the rammy are given by Derek Bateman and Richard Thomson. Another, from the Libdem blogger Caron, is here.

Of course there are other views around so google them if you dare!


William said...

At least Richard Thomson acknowledges the context of Lamont's point. It seems to me that she was meaning we don't automatically make 'good' decisions in Scotland. In other words, an 'independent' Scotland would be just as likely to come up with unpopular policies and taxes as any other country. Using a gripe about a particular policy as an argument for constitutional change is a dishonest and basically bonkers argument anyway.

Presenter – “Last week your social justice spokeswoman, Jackie Baillie, said the introduction of the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ was nothing to do with the constitution. In an independent Scotland, would this policy have ever been introduced?”

Lamont – “Well, certainly I wouldn’t support it. Ed Miliband doesn’t support it. We see the indignity it has created. My point about the ‘bedroom tax’ is that’s about political choices. We can’t presume an independent Scotland somehow –“

Presenter – “But it was introduced under Westminster rules.”

Lamont – “Yes, but it could be introduced anywhere if people believed it was a good idea. We’re not genetically programmed in Scotland to make political decisions. We choose the world we live in and we have to win the political argument. My frustration with this debate is the idea that by changing the constitution you presume that somehow the arguments around equality, around justice, around women’s rights, have been won. They have not. You win them by political argument.”

Anonymous said...

William, I take your point, and I know it was done in a live debate, but the woman is the leader of Labour, all Labour, in Scotland.

Furthermore she is an ex English teacher. Surely the least we could expect from her is that she would express herself well, given that both of her professions so far have demanded that she communicate not just effectively, but excellently.

As a teacher you learn (or maybe you are genetically programmed) not to say things that your kids will take the wrong way. As a politician I would have thought you had to do the same.

"People in Scotland are not genetically programmed to always make good political decisions..." might have cut it.

What she said did not.

It has made her a laughing stock, because even if we can work out what she was trying (and failing) to say, most people read it (at least immediately) as an insult.

A dreadful and racist insult.

It was a stupid move; as stupid as David Bowie, who left the UK 30+ years ago, sending a message that Scotland shouldn't take the same steps as he took and shows no inclination to "untake".

The difference is that Bowie is a 1970s pop star and Lamont is a 2014 political leader, and would be first minister!

William said...

It is not a dreadful and racist insult especially when you've admitted you understood what she meant. It's only if you wilfully misunderstand or misrepresent what she said that it becomes a problem. I'm sure the Nationalists would never do that.

If we're judging people by their communication skills then Sturgeon's habit of shouting over someone trying to answer her question is not clever either.

David Bowie has as much right as anyone to an opinion. I'm sure that as the Nationalists are so opposed to tax exiles commenting on our affairs then they will not be wheeling out, say, Jim McColl to promote independence.

Anonymous said...

William, I'm saying that although I may have been bright enough to untangle her words and make a proper sentence of them, not everyone was.

I'm saying that she should have been more careful. I'm saying all her training over all the years since she was at college should have taught her that.

As for Sturgeon, I'm inclined to agree that it might have been a better tactic to let Lamont shout and bawl and point her finger and be astonished and show her ignorance of what was happening in her own constituency.

At some point the amateur who was refereeing the contest surely would have stepped in and told her to shut up.

But Nicola chose to compete with her. There is no competing with someone like Lamont when she is in shouting, not listening, pointy finger stairheid rammy mode.

As for Bowie, of course he is entitled to an opinion. I have opinions on what is happening in Syria, Nigeria, Venezuela and Ukraine.

And sometimes I voice them, not that I expect them to make the least difference.

But my point was that he, who left to live in Switzerland and then the USA was asking us not to go.

He has, of course, every right to do that, and despite his profession he is an intelligent and well read man. His opinion might be well considered. But he was asking us not to do something he had done. Something that won't make any difference to him at all.

It was begging for people to ask... leave where,. David... New York, Geneva?

I'm not saying he didn't have the right to say it. I'm saying that it was a foolish thing to say.

If you like, another example is Cameron, saying, in London, that everyone should phone a friend and tell them how much they want us to stay.

He should have foreseen that many people would tweet (no one phones now, Dave) GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN.

Particular as he did it before his Bullingdon friend made a swift visit to a locked hall and told us we couldn't share our own pound and refused to discuss it with anyone except invited guests.

We love you; take that, bitch!

I just wonder who organises that kind of thing.

Today, after Wings over Scotland raising £70,000 in one day, BT campaigners are sneering at them and calling them liars (even though the whole thing is being run by a completely separate company).

They haven't stopped to think that THEY are being funded by Tory Millionaires who live in England, and some of whom have links with Balkan terrorism.

What I'm saying is "think first" then "move your lips".

That's all. And it goes for both sides.

William said...

I've no idea what you're rambling on about.

I did catch two bits. Wings Over Somerset have raised some money and 'it's our pound'.

A currency is not an asset. You can use any currency you like but you won't necessarily have currency union, fiscal union and political union. Osborne and the other unionists parties have made it clear that they could never support currency union - and rightly so. The Nationalists, therefore, can squeal about 'our pound' but law and economics is against them. I think currency will be one of the issues that hangs Salmond (not literally, unfortunately)

JRB said...

Have I really just wasted 30 minutes of my life?

Having read your piece and followed your links I thought that in all fairness, I should at least view a recording of the programme.

You will note that I only wasted 30 minutes – for that was all that I could stomach.

To put it bluntly – this was an embarrassing and childish performance woefully removed from what one would expect from the leader of one of Scotland’s major political parties

I confess that I am one of the undecided, and I keep hoping that someday I will be given relevant, truthful and factual information on which to make a considered decision.
However, it would appear that the debate has descended into infantile squabbling, petty politics and to whomsoever can shout the loudest.

I can only second the words of Derek Bateman
The impression this left of our politics in general and our referendum in particular was a bit embarrassing

Rather than being left as still undecided I am rapidly becoming dissociated and disinterested.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

It seems both sides in the debate have assumed risk aversion is the best strategy.

JimS said...

That BBC video of the Children & Young People Bill is playing havoc with my browsing!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry William. I should have written it more simply.

subrosa said...

Interesting debate William and Tris.

subrosa said...

I did warn you JRB! I’m still trying hard to keep ‘involved’ but it’s hard going, to say the least.

subrosa said...

Problem is it’s the same old, same old Crinkly.

subrosa said...

Oh sorry Jim. Would it help if I took it off? It should vanish in a few days.

Sobers said...

'Its our pound'

I think the misconception that a currency is a 'thing' that can be owned as an entity lies in the fact that most people do not realise the reality of how monetary systems work nowadays, particularly since 1970, when all currencies became fiat - ie had no backing by any physical asset.

Most people still regard money as a 'thing', imagining their money sitting in their bank account, like gold coins in a vault.

Whereas the reality is that a currency is entirely created out of debt - the security of my deposit in the bank is dependent on you repaying your loan on time and in full, and the financial strength of a currency is entirely predicated on the size and productive capacity of the population that issues it.

Thus 'the pound' is backed by the 55m people of the rUK, the ability of the rUK government to tax said people, and the physical assets of that geographic location. Thats what gives it the strength it has. You could unilaterally change the name of the pound to the guinea, such that all contracts that said 'pound' now said 'guinea' and no-one would care - the underlying backing for the currency is unchanged.

Thus there is no such thing as 'the pound' that Scotland can use, there is instead the backing of the rUK population, and its geographic wealth. That is what demanding a currency union is - its asking the rUK population to back a newly independent Scotland with its wealth and income.

How such a demand was ever seen as something the population of the rUK would accept is beyond me.

douglas clark said...


A currency is a 'thing'. I have bet money on the GBP either inceasing in value or decreasing in value. It has a 'worth'.

I therefor fail to understand this:


Whereas the reality is that a currency is entirely created out of debt - the security of my deposit in the bank is dependent on you repaying your loan on time and in full, and the financial strength of a currency is entirely predicated on the size and productive capacity of the population that issues it.

Thus 'the pound' is backed by the 55m people of the rUK, the ability of the rUK government to tax said people, and the physical assets of that geographic location. Thats what gives it the strength it has."

Touch me as a sceptic, but having less or zero debt would lower the value of the pound?

Which might be a potential consequence of Scotland walking away, debt free, from a currency that had lost it's oil content and 10% or thereabouts of it's people?

In what sort of realm of magical thinking do you expect financial markets to operate?

Sobers said...

@Douglas Clark: Maybe I worded it poorly. Scotland can use the pound if it so chooses, but it can't issue them and have that issuance backed by the rUK without being in a currency union with the rUK. If it issues 'pounds' without the backing of the rUK, then its not the pound sterling it is issuing, its actually a new currency entirely. Which would have a different value to the pound sterling, might be more, might be less. If you want your currency to have exactly the same value as your neighbours, and for them to back you in the event of crisis, you need to get their agreement for that. You can't just demand that they back you and expect them to comply.

I don't know what is so complicated about it - you cannot force another country to be in a currency union with you. You can use their currency without their approval, or you can issue your own currency. But you can't issue their currency and force them to back your issuance of it. If that was the case we could all print dollars and get the USA to back us. Or the Greeks could issue Euros off their own back and get the rest of the Eurozone to back them. I'm afraid thats just not the way the world works.

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