Saturday, 13 September 2014

To vote Yes would be worse than folly

I didn’t intend to write another blog about independence but as John Maynard Keynes said "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" The facts have changed. I passionately disagreed with independence a week ago.  But now it is absolutely clear that to vote Yes is an act of unpardonable folly. Here’s why.

There are two financial journalists I respect above all others. They are I believe two of the finest minds in Britain. Economics is not a science like physics. No one can predict everything, but that doesn’t mean they are witch doctors either. To suppose so is simply irrational.  Two pieces by Ambrose Evans Pritchard give very grave warnings from international investors and economists who probably had never heard of Alex Salmond a month ago. Credit Suisse and Nomura are obviously not controlled by the Westminster Government, nor are Asian Pension funds. To suppose they are is to succumb to a delusion and a paranoia that fed German nationalism in the years after the First World War. Andrew Lilico is someone who writes very deep commentary on economics. I frequently find myself struggling to understand some of his writing, but always know that the fault is my lack of intelligence rather than his lack of understanding. In this piece he shows that the SNP economic case is without foundation and demolishes each of their supposed arguments.

We have learned in the last week that every Scottish bank and many major companies would leave Scotland if there were a Yes vote. Imagine if any European country knew this was about to happen because of a vote in an election. Which of them would vote for it to happen? It would obviously damage Scotland economically and make us all much poorer. But more importantly if all of these companies, (who again unless you believe “Westminster” controls world economics are quite free to decide), believe that an independent Scotland is not a place they can do business, what does that tell you about what the SNP promises about independence.

Mark Carney the most respected central banker in the world has confirmed that Scotland could not be independent and have a currency union with the UK, moreover if we tried to use the pound unilaterally it would cost each of us up to £18000 pounds. Something the SNP haven’t even thought of in their calculations. Imagine what that would do to public spending plans in Scotland. Imagine how taxes would have to be raised or spending cut. Imagine how the poorest in Scotland would be hit.

Finally Deutsche Bank has just warned that a Yes vote would be a historic mistake having the potential to set off another great depression. These are Germans who are sober and perhaps a little dull. They don't tend to exaggerate. We’ve spent the last 6 years trying desperately to recover from the greatest economic crisis since the 1930s. To set off another is sheer folly. 

The world economy is tightly interconnected. The Eurozone which is still struggling is one shock away from a renewed crisis. Have you seen how poor the people of Spain and Italy are? In Spain many people get no benefits at all. How do you think these people will react if Scotland makes their situation worse?

The EU was set up in response to nationalism destroying Europe twice in the first half of the 20th Century. I know Scottish nationalists think their nationalism is different, but most Europeans will fail to see the distinction if their lives are blighted with a threat they thought they had seen off. It is for this reason that Europe’s top lawyer gave a warning this week that Scotland would not be allowed into the EU. JosephWeiler has been called the greatest lawyer in the world and he absolutely destroys the legal and moral case for an independent Scotland joining the EU.  There’s a reason for this. There is latent nationalism all over Europe. There are groups of nationalists quite small in number who would love to use the example of Scottish independence to resurrect their grievances about lost countries or boundaries that don’t include their people. If you doubt this read the following.

I have personally experienced what happens when Civic nationalism sets off latent emotions. I’ve known Ukrainian civic nationalists who just wanted to promote their culture, their language, who wanted to get on with their neighbours and create a prosperous western democracy in the EU. They told me all the same things that Scottish nationalists tell me. They also had the best intentions. But like so often their nationalism blew up in their faces.

I promise you if the sort of people who are warning now about the consequences of a Yes vote were doing the opposite and warning of the dangers of a No vote. I would vote Yes. It would be my moral duty to do so.

There are a lot of Scots who are either unable or unwilling to understand the economics that has been set out here. There are charlatans spreading lies who have no expertise about what they speak and not much education either. Nor are many Scots willing or able to understand Scotland in an international context. But it hardly needs to be said that if even a fraction of the damage that is threatened internationally happens because of a Yes vote, Scotland would hardly be welcomed with into the international community with open arms.

If you think all this is scaremongering, if you think the whole world is wrong and only you are right that "Westminster" is making them say all of this. I would seek treatment if I were you. The world isn't scaremongering, it's scared. So am I. 


I know there are thinking, intelligent Yes voters. Good people who have supported the SNP all their lives. If you understand the issues, if you realise the danger that Scotland faces, you have a clear duty to speak out. I know that you desperately want independence. But this goes beyond politics. It is absolutely clear that right now independence cannot be achieved safely. If you vote for independence knowing the damage it would do to Scotland, the poorest in Scotland most of all, you are clearly not a fool for you have the intelligence to understand what you are doing. If you put your desire for independence above the suffering of others, both here and elsewhere, you are obviously a fanatic who cannot be reasoned with. If you think it would be worth it you have lost all sense of moral values. To understand what I have just written and vote Yes is not an act of folly it is the act of a knave. 




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11 comments:

  1. 100% agree. When I saw the 8% lead reported by ICM for 'Yes' last night, I was pondering if our much-vaunted education system is all it's cracked up to be. Indeed, is it possible that it has actually been so bad that it has produced two or three generations of people who are unable to tell basic facts (eg, the the pound will not be shared; the NHS is devolved) from fiction?

    The reason that I posit the question is that my own education was absolutely atrocious. That was about 20 years ago, and I understand that standards have, if anything, got worse, with legions of kids now leaving school being unable to read or write properly.

    So, if there is a 'Yes' vote, and it turns out to be the disaster that I, and you, and all other sane, sentient commentators are predicting, I would suggest we'll know where the blame lies for having voted for it.

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    1. Thanks for comment. I wouldn't worry overly about a one off online poll, versus dozens showing leads for No. It's important that we keep morale up and fight right through until Thursday. I don't know what has happened to the Scotland I know and love. People are listening to unqualified demagogues rather than serious academics and professionals. Ludicrous.

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  2. This is a very good outline of all the reasons why we should not embark on independence. I too cannot fathom why the yessers don't question and have concluded that they are now in some curious cult like status of just total confidence in the man leading them. The fact that his cabinet are sort of kept away out of sight, and that only his side kick utters...but then she claims we are one of the richest countries on earth...Oh that would be Scotland which is heavily subsidised by Westminster which already leads to resentment in parts of England. Keep writing and we keep on trying to encourage a change to NO.

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  3. The SNP like all nationalist parties is based on the belief that national identity is the issue of fundamental overriding importance in politics; it is the atavistic notion that nationhood can somehow allow people to bond free of oppression - nationalism always defines itself against some enemy "other" - and solve all their problems.

    It does not take more than a casual glance at its history to show that the SNP have never had any serious interest in the practical consequences of independence. They care more about the ideal of a nation than about the people who live in it. They ignore or fudge vital questions about the economy and EU membership. Before the Euro crisis they cheerfully talked about an independent Scotland joining the Euro evading the huge question of whether an independent Scotland would have to reapply for EU membership, a legal minefield. Before 2008 they spoke of the banking sector of all things as the core of an independent Scottish economy, forecasting a Scottish future comparable to that of Ireland and Iceland, shortly before both went catastrophically bust. Now they talk of keeping the pound but following an independent economic policy. How would that work? Why should the rest of the UK agree effectively to write a blank cheque? How would that be independence exactly? Who's the lender of last resort? Could the lack of one be the reason why SCottish banks are threatning to relocate south in the event of a Yes vote?

    But the practical problems of the real world have never been of any interest to parties based on nationalism; on the contrary populist politicians like Alex Salmond ask people to turn their backs on real social and economic questions and seek comfort in a romanticised past and shared - often imagined - grievances. National problems are always somebody else's fault. Arguments are already leading to bitterness and growing national hostility on both sides of the border. This is what nationalism does and what it feeds off. And all the arguments, all the ill feeling, are tragically unnecessary.

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    1. There are always those who look for the reasons to stay the same while others just get on with the work of change.

      The only people stirring up hostility is Westminster.

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  4. My Comments in parentheses:

    To vote Yes would be worse than folly
    I didn’t intend to write another blog about independence but as John Maynard Keynes said "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" The facts have changed. (clarify – what significant facts changed?)

    I passionately disagreed with independence a week ago. But now it is absolutely clear (to whom? subjective)

    that to vote Yes is an act of unpardonable folly. Here’s why.

    There are two financial journalists I respect above all others. They are I believe two of the finest minds in Britain. (well where to start with this, if they were then they would not be earning a living as journalists, no disrespect to journalism but you have excluded many very learned people from your caterogisation, but in doing this you have 'cleverly' tried to add gravitas to their opinions)

    Economics is not a science like physics. (I suspect you have studied neither)

    No one can predict everything, but that doesn’t mean they are witch doctors either. To suppose so is simply irrational. (Economists will be the first to tell you that they are excellent at predictions, unfortunately they predict the past much better than the future)

    Two pieces by Ambrose Evans Pritchard give very grave warnings from international investors and economists who probably had never heard of Alex Salmond a month ago. Credit Suisse and Nomura are obviously not controlled by the Westminster Government, nor are Asian Pension funds. (None of which are leaving because of Scotland – source please. BTW name the “Asian” pension funds explicitly, again vague rumour given substance by throwing in global names and meaningless and mysterious “Asian” pension funds.)

    To suppose they are is to succumb to a delusion and a paranoia that fed German nationalism in the years after the First World War. (receive bonus points for Godwin's Law)

    Andrew Lilico is someone who writes very deep commentary on economics. I frequently find myself struggling to understand some of his writing (I can believe that),

    but always know that the fault is my lack of intelligence rather than his lack of understanding. In this piece he shows that the SNP economic case is without foundation and demolishes each of their supposed arguments.(He doesn't actually, it is a very subjective piece although to be fair he is a renowned economist so he is entitled to his opinion but the piece is just that, opinion. It is also worth pointing out that both the RBS and Lloys backtracked on the claim to shut up shop in Scotland and Standard Life have been leaving since 1979. The truth is in a global economy Scotland is irrelevant, and I mean that in a positive sense, companies and banks are no longer tied to the large economies as before. Witness the trend of large US companies moving to smaller countries and benefitting from Tax Inversion schemes.)

    We have learned in the last week that every Scottish bank and many major companies would leave Scotland if there were a Yes vote. (No proof to this statement and poorly disguised hyperbole)

    Imagine if any European country knew this was about to happen because of a vote in an election. Which of them would vote for it to happen? It would obviously damage Scotland economically and make us all much poorer. But more importantly if all of these companies, (who, again unless you believe “Westminster” controls world economics, are quite free to decide),

    believe that an independent Scotland is not a place they can do business, what does that tell you about what the SNP promises about independence.

    Mark Carney the most respected central banker in the world (No he isn't I would posit the ex Fed Alan Greenspan would have something to say about that, again gilding the lily on the person you have introduced, to lend weight to whatever opinion you will bring forth.)

    (1 of 3)

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  5. has confirmed that Scotland could not be independent and have a currency union with the UK, moreover if we tried to use the pound unilaterally it would cost each of us up to £18000 pounds. (No – Mark Carney would be the first to admit that that statement given here as fact is purely a hypothesis of which there are many alternatives, you do understand risk analysis and probabilities do you?)

    Something the SNP haven’t even thought of in their calculations. Imagine what that would do to public spending plans in Scotland. Imagine how taxes would have to be raised or spending cut. Imagine how the poorest in Scotland would be hit.(Imagine if unicorns roamed free and zombies took over the earth – just as factual as that last little paragraph.)

    Finally Deutsche Bank (No they didn't, an analyst within Deutsche Bank David Folkerts-Landau made that claim which other executives and former executives in the bank e.g. Ian Blackford have rubbished and claimed it was a sensationalist piece with no basis in fact, also Folkerts-Landau was urging people to continue to invest in US financial assets in 2007 after tha start of the “Great Recession” )

    has just warned that a Yes vote would be a historic mistake having the potential to set off another great depression. These are Germans who are sober and perhaps a little dull. They don't tend to exaggerate. We’ve spent the last 6 years trying desperately to recover from the greatest economic crisis since the 1930s. To set off another is sheer folly. (Of which German banks and insurers were amongst the worst offenders, but the 2007 crisis was sparked by over-extension of major banks globally especially in the US and Europe, no credible economic position had been put forward to explain how a minor economy of 5M souls would lead to global scale meltdown)

    The world economy is tightly interconnected. The Eurozone which is still struggling is one shock away from a renewed crisis. Have you seen how poor the people of Spain and Italy are? (how poor exactly – can you give a table? And how poor are the Scandinavians? And how poor are the Swiss? What is the relevance here?)

    In Spain many people get no benefits at all. (and so it is true in today's UK) How do you think these people will react if Scotland makes their situation worse? (And they will do what? Invade? What will they do today as UK and Germany are making their situation worse – today.)

    The EU was set up in response to nationalism destroying Europe twice in the first half of the 20th Century. I know Scottish nationalists think their nationalism is different, but most Europeans will fail to see the distinction if their lives are blighted with a threat they thought they had seen off. (Godwin's law again, jackboots next?)

    It is for this reason that Europe’s top lawyer gave a warning this week that Scotland would not be allowed into the EU. JosephWeiler has been called the greatest lawyer in the world (Did he get an award? Who called him that? Is there a league table of lawyers? Or more hyperbole?)

    and he absolutely destroys the legal and moral case for an independent Scotland joining the EU. (Firstly his piece actually embraces the legal aspect and he admit that it should be relatively straightforward accession, he is much more negative on the moral side, but the fatal flaw there is he has no direct involvement in Scottish society so he is basing his opinion here on a very distinct understanding of the word nationalism, the problem there is that much of the independence movement is being driven by an inclusiveness and a reaction to the little Englander British nationalism that is growing down south. There are many studies supporting the view that Scotland is more inclusive and tolerant than the rest of UK, however that does not mean there isn't room for improvement.)

    (2/3)

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  6. There’s a reason for this. There is latent nationalism all over Europe. There are groups of nationalists quite small in number who would love to use the example of Scottish independence to resurrect their grievances about lost countries or boundaries that don’t include their people. If you doubt this read the following. (Yes but again there are many smaller nations who are beacons for the larger superstates, throwing in “their people” is again your not so subtle reference to Godwin's law, I suggest that is better left for the Tory right wing and UKIP. )

    I have personally experienced what happens when Civic nationalism sets off latent emotions. (again vague doom-mongering, I have also personally experienced what happens when an intolerant centralised government run roughshod over regions)

    I’ve known Ukrainian civic nationalists who just wanted to promote their culture, their language, who wanted to get on with their neighbours and create a prosperous western democracy in the EU. They told me all the same things that Scottish nationalists tell me. They also had the best intentions. But like so often their nationalism blew up in their faces. (Are you advocating that Ukraine should re-unite with Russia? Were Russia and Ukraine better together with Putin? You would also advocate that the Baltic states were wrong to demand independence?)

    I promise you if the sort of people (what sort of people? Oh yes a cherry picked handful of opinion pieces and half truths)

    who are warning now about the consequences of a Yes vote were doing the opposite and warning of the dangers of a No vote. I would vote Yes. It would be my moral duty to do so.

    There are a lot of Scots who are either unable or unwilling to understand the economics that has been set out here. (You have set out NO economic hypothesis here – you have referenced some opinion pieces but no factual data and all accompanied with gushing made up referential titles and credentials)

    There are charlatans spreading lies who have no expertise about what they speak and not much education either.(on both sides I am finding, none more so than Politicians and journalists lined up with No)

    Nor are many Scots willing or able to understand Scotland in an international context. But it hardly needs to be said that if even a fraction of the damage that is threatened internationally (Wow – who knew that this economy has US, Germany, China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore quaking in their boots, the sad fact is – the indyref and consequences are hardly even registering in those economies other than a few novelty news articles with Kilts. Believe me on this. But just for my enlightenment – how many times and how often have you travelled to those markets and conversed with bankers and business leaders?)

    happens because of a Yes vote, Scotland would hardly be welcomed with into the international community with open arms.

    If you think all this is scaremongering, (Actually I do)

    if you think the whole world is wrong and only you are right that "Westminster" is making them say all of this. I would seek treatment if I were you. The world isn't scaremongering, it's scared. (whoosh – the world is scared, well no it isn't pure tosh.) So am I.


    I know there are thinking, intelligent Yes voters. Good people who have supported the SNP all their lives. (I am yes and I am NOT SNP)

    If you understand the issues, if you realise the danger that Scotland faces, you have a clear duty to speak out. (I do and I am)

    I know that you desperately want independence. But this goes beyond politics. It is absolutely clear (to whom? again clarification needed )

    that right now independence cannot be achieved safely. (ok then define the risks and contrast those to the opportunity, please include a probability rating for likely outcomes, because without a ranking and assignation of probability the word 'risk' is meaningless in decision making.)

    (3/4) - renumbered due to 4096 limit.

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  7. If you vote for independence knowing the damage it would do to Scotland, the poorest in Scotland most of all, you are clearly not a fool for you have the intelligence to understand what you are doing. If you put your desire for independence above the suffering of others, both here and elsewhere, you are obviously a fanatic who cannot be reasoned with. If you think it would be worth it you have lost all sense of moral values. To understand what I have just written and vote Yes is not an act of folly it is the act of a knave. (No it is the act of someone who does understand global economics and political realities and also the moral bankruptcy of the UK and this sham of a labour party. No voters and yes voters I have found to be equally distributed across the “intelligence” scale, however it is almost exclusively no voters who like to frame the discussion as –“look we are smart and you are just not getting it. It is too difficult for you to grasp economically” Oh well, after all there is a connection between Patrician and patronising.)

    (4/4) I am not expecting much response to this as you seem to like making grand proclamations with no reasoned discussion, all the while complaining about not finding rational or intelligent yes voters. Unfortunately we are not all heavyweight intellectuals like yourself, and possibly don't even deserve a vote.

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  8. How long must we give the union before we decide its just not working. The idea that all that rational thought is on No side passes no test at all. If you keep doing the same thing and expecting different results you will make no progress.

    Progress is not a lucky dip or fate.

    My question is not why YES but why not YES. Your answer is that its risky....thus assuming the Union is not risky...How many wars, devaluations, deindustialisations and financial shocks does it take before you think. Actually this is just a bit rubbish.

    If the love of independence is based on 'dreams' and ambitions. The union seems to lie on a foundation of collective amnesia.

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  9. Running Man - hear hear. This headlong embrace of the No camp to the word "risk" is laughable. In that as soon as they use it, it becomes clear they have no idea of the meaning in an economic, business or statistical sense. Let's be clear here - every alternative path or decision has "risk" but without quantifying the probability the word itself is meaningless, or to put it another way - the status quo and independence both have "risk" and both have opportunity. So I ask again to the No doomsayers - can you quantify the risk of which you speak?

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