Alistair Darling has been blinking for Britain in interviews again, as he tries to haul his credibility out of a bottomless pit with a length of string he’s spun out of frayed press releases. The Tory minister’s admission to the Guardian that Westminster’s sterling zone veto is merely a negotiating tactic has left Ali as exposed as transvestite with a 6 o clock shadow and his size 12 feet in his mouth, refusing to believe that people know he’s really a man. A small and discredited man.
Ali clutched his handbag containing all that’s dear to his heart, his Commons expense claim form, the draft chapter in his memoirs where he takes credit for saving the Union, and the invite to the Tory party dinner. With a toss of the hair on his Better Together fright wig he tried to maintain that the pretence was not a pretence. He’s really a 60 year old woman called Brenda who won’t be allowed to use the pound to buy her train ticket to visit her newly foreign grandweans in England. He now insists that in their manifestos for the 2015 General Election the Westminster parties would include a promise to veto any currency zone encompassing an independent Scotland, and accused the yes campaign of clutching at straws. He knows a lot about clutching, and grasping. “We’re not lying!” he lied.
It was entirely predictable that he’d say this. What else is he going to say – “Oops, you caught me. I have in fact been lying from the start.” It might be the truth but they are not words that will ever fall from Ali’s Boots Number 11 painted lips. The no campaign rests upon the plausibility of the currency threat which Ali and his pals have chosen to make the centrepiece of their referendum campaign, a strategy which the media have enthusiastically followed like a wee dug sniffing a trail of pee. All is won or lost on persuading Scots that he’s a man of his word, yet now he sees a future where he’s not the saviour of the Union on a red bench, he’s a disgraced stranger in a strange independent land. The man who conspired with the Tories to damage his country’s prospects, then lied to his own people. I almost feel sorry for him. Almost. Not quite.
Attempting to crowd out the many and varied non-economic arguments for independence has been the core of Ali’s strategy, because he has no answer to these other arguments. And now the currency threat lies shattered and broken like Ali’s dreams of winning the Miss Better Together beauty parade, his hopes of an ermine gown and a coronet becoming as implausibly ridiculous as a BBC news report on the Royal family.
It’s a non-economic argument which is also at the centre of Better Together’s currency credibility, or rather its lack of credibility. The real point is that it doesn’t actually matter who the Tory minister is, and it doesn’t even matter whether he is wrong and Osborne really is prepared to damage the UK economy in a fit of spite.
The damage has been done by the fact that the source of the Guardian’s story is a Tory minister, and an “embarrassingly senior” one at that. A senior Tory minister who does not believe what his own party are saying about Scotland. A senior Tory minister who knows that his party is lying through their back teeth to the Scottish electorate in order to court popularity amongst UKIP leaning voters in the south.
Say what you like about Tory ministers, but they’re not going to admit – even anonymously – to lying if they honestly believed it’s inconceivable that their party might lie. Even if the minister in question knew nothing about the currency veto, which would raise a whole lot of questions by itself, he knows they’ve lied on other topics. He knows they will continue to lie. And so does Alistair.
Which brings us straight to the biggest non-economic argument for independence – how can it be in good for Scotland to be governed by people who will lie to us and damage Scottish interests in order to secure elections in the rest of the UK. Scotland’s interests are not their top priority, we already knew that. Now we know that Scotland’s interests don’t even figure in their calculations, they can be sacrificed to the minor demons of UKIP on the altar of appeasement.
It goes to the very heart of the Union – what sort of Union is Scotland in? We’re constantly told it’s a partnership of equals, that Scotland benefits immensely from throwing in its lot with its neighbours, yet in the corridors of Westminster the bottom line on the balance sheet is that everything belongs to them. It’s their pound, not ours, it’s their army, not ours, it’s their membership of the EU, not ours. After 300 years we’re Better Together with nothing of our own.
Everything that issues from Better Together is based upon the assumption that after Scottish independence Westminster and Westminster alone will be the parliament of the sole successor state. Westminster believes that the Union was not created when the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England signed the Treaties of Union. It was England all along. That’s the legal position adopted by the UK Government, that’s the position adopted by Alistair as a route to a red bench and a fur trimmed retirement. Yet it’s not a legal argument that has solid foundations. They only appear solid because no one in the mainstream media has ever examined them. But you don’t need to be a constitutional civil engineer see that they are made of sand and built on fervent wishes. Scotland’s case is strong.
Scotland will not be walking away from the United Kingdom, Scottish independence will bring the Union to an end, and when it ends Scotland will take what Scotland is due – which includes the pound. Otherwise Westminster gets to keep all the debt. That’s the reality that the terrified Alistair doesn’t want to acknowledge. That’s the reality that doesn’t alter even if Westminster keeps calling itself the United Kingdom and keeps using the same flag.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 90s, Russia became the sole successor state, and Russia took on all the national debt and inherited the USSR’s seat on the UN Security Council. But this only happened because the other Soviet republics agreed to it. Westminster is assuming that after a yes vote, it can accede to the status of sole successor state, that all other states will accept this unquestioningly and Scotland can’t challenge it. But they want us to take on the debt anyway, even though it is in Westminster’s name, even though there are no financial institutions possessing government bonds saying, “IOU squillions of quid, xx Scotland”.
Think again. Scotland could internationalise the dispute. As a sovereign state we don’t need Westminster’s permission to make our own approaches to other states and governments. There are a number of routes by which the government of an independent Scotland, or even a private Scottish citizen, could mount a challenge to Westminster’s claim to sole successor status. And that’s without considering whether other states will refuse to recognise Westminster’s claim for reasons of their own.
The opportunistic Putin or the Chinese government would happily grasp the opportunity to block the rUK’s seat on the UN Security Council if Scotland were to raise objections to the seat being occupied by a Foreign Office bum. Russia and China have no interest in fighting Scotland’s corner, but they do have a big interest in reducing the influence of Western powers. Does Westminster want to risk giving them the chance? It seems they do.
The European Courts would also provide a venue for the airing of Scottish legal complaints. The Scottish Government could challenge Westminster’s claim to be sole successor state and sole inheritor of the UK’s EU membership. Any Scottish citizen who was affected by Westminster’s purloining of sole successor state status could mount a legal challenge, arguing that their rights as a European citizen were being breached.
And while all this was going on, Westminster would be faced with EU partners on one side who wanted a quick and speedy resolution, while facing down Nigel Farage on the other. It’s an uncomfortable bed they are making for themselves.
That’s what Alistair is desperate to avoid. He’s desperate to avoid his own constituents and his own country having the power to fight their own corner, to make their own decisions. He’s desperate to avoid a retirement spent in ignominy. But it’s too late. The truth is out and Better Together’s flushed face is busted, their threats exposed.
Blink your way out of that one Alistair.