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Gavin Greig [userpic]

Why no "Plan B"?

August 8th, 2014 (10:55 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

As a supporter of Scottish independence, even I sometimes get frustrated that the SNP don't explicitly say what their "Plan B" is (implicitly it's always seemed fairly clear - a currency union isn't the only way of keeping the pound).

Whatever you may think of Alex Salmond, he's not daft, so there had to be a reason for him consistently failing to give the clarification that obviously many people want. I would have guessed that it was something to do with maintaining the strength of his negotiation position after a "Yes". That wasn't a million miles off, but it wasn't wholly right. Here's Alex Salmond giving the clearest explanation I've seen of why the SNP are taking the position they are:


Posted by: Andrew Ducker (andrewducker)
Posted at: August 9th, 2014 08:54 am (UTC)

It strikes me that the main reason for not saying "Well, if they absolutely refuse, then we'll do X." is that then all of the discussion becomes "Well, I don't like X, let's talk about that in detail."

And as they have no intention of X, all it does is muddy the waters and open the door to other negative campaigning.

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: August 9th, 2014 09:21 am (UTC)

That was pretty much my thought, but I think the case given in the video is a bit more than that - it's not just that it opens the door to negative campaigning (Edited to add: and hard-ball negotiating, which was what I was thinking about when I first wrote), but that it could damage the perception of commitment to a currency union, and in turn reduce the actual likelihood of agreement in a tough negotiation if that commitment's in doubt.

We may not be able to call it pre-negotiation exactly, since there's no talking, but it does seem to be a stance taken with successful negotiation very much in mind, at some risk to making the public, political case that'll establish the need for negotiation.

It must be quite a difficult stance for a politician to take, despite that political argument about the muddied waters in its favour too, and I'm glad that sort of thinking is going on. I think they should make more of a public case of that argument than they have, though.

Edited at 2014-08-09 09:27 am (UTC)

Posted by: Dr Plokta (drplokta)
Posted at: August 9th, 2014 10:49 am (UTC)

If Salmond wants the world to recognise Scotland's commitment to a sterling union, he has to drop his plan for Scotland to join the EU, since he's unlikely to get an opt-out from the Euro and thus joining the EU is incompatible with a sterling currency union. That's a much more important lack of commitment than having a plan B would be.

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: August 9th, 2014 11:11 am (UTC)

On the contrary; the EU is expansionist and certainly won't want to contract by jettisoning a "new" country that's been part of a member country for 40 years and already meets all the requirements of the acquis communautaire.

On the specific point of the Euro, I expect we'll retain the UK's opt-out, as will the rUK. Even if we didn't, which I think is vanishingly unlikely, there's a requirement to be in the ERM for a minimum of two years before joining the Euro, for which we'd have to have our own currency.

So the Euro is not going to happen. EU membership will, because there's no easy way to throw us out and no-one wants to. It took Iceland three years to negotiate their way out when they wanted to leave! It may not be the letter of the "law", but it's practical, pragmatic, international politics.

Posted by: Dr Plokta (drplokta)
Posted at: August 9th, 2014 12:59 pm (UTC)

I fear you are too optimistic. In the event of a "yes" vote Scotland will be jettisoning itself from the EU on the date of its independence -- no one else will need to jettison it. So the EU will be contracting. There's already a precedent for this, in Algeria, which did not retain its EEC membership when it left France. I'm quite sure that Scotland will be able to rejoin the EU, and probably even jump the queue a bit, but it's extremely uncertain that it will be able to keep the UK's opt-outs, which will require unanimous consent from all 28 existing members.

Edited at 2014-08-09 01:00 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Dr Plokta (drplokta)
Posted at: August 9th, 2014 01:03 pm (UTC)

Oh, and Iceland has never been an EU member, so I'm not sure what you mean when you say they took three years to "negotiate their way out". They were trying to get in for a while, but the process was complicated and time-consuming despite Iceland being a small northern European country that already met most of the requirements. I wonder who that reminds me of?

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: August 9th, 2014 06:31 pm (UTC)

I think we'll have to agree to differ on your main point and see how it works out in the event that a "Yes" vote occurs. We see it differently and neither of us can be proved right before then.

As to your supplemental, D'OH! You're quite correct and I should have checked before posting. It's Greenland I was thinking of, which was a member through its relationship with Denmark. Getting a small country (by population if not area) entirely mixed up with another is a pretty bad mistake to make for someone hoping his own country will be recognised, and I am suitably chastened! Greenland held an in-out referendum in 1982, and formally left in 1985.

Posted by: Toby Atkin-Wright (tobyaw)
Posted at: August 15th, 2014 11:00 am (UTC)

Can’t help thinking that the referendum should be about the principle of independence.

All this talk about currency union and where there is a plan B is about implementation details, and would be resolved through negations later.

The debate shouldn’t get caught up in details (especially ones which are dependent on so many unknowns) — it should be tackling the big issues.

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: August 15th, 2014 07:44 pm (UTC)

I agree with you. For me, the most important thing is the fact of independence, with actual policy then being decided by whomever the people living in Scotland have elected (with negotiations of course being part of the resolution initially); and whether you're for or against that, surely that's what it boils down to ultimately?

Unfortunately, an easy way to attack the principle is to get down into practicalities (real or imagined) and give them a kicking. The SNP's policies are being attacked because they're the big, obvious target, and if they weren't part of the proposal, they'd have been attacked even more than they currently are for trying to sell us a pig in a poke.

The other easy way is to mix personalities up in the principle, which is also a card that's being played pretty hard.

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