Sunday 29 March 2020

The EU and the Scottish Government just became irrelevant.

In recent weeks we have seen the power of the sovereign nation state deal with a crisis in a way that has not been seen since 1945. The British Government has been able to spend almost without limit to keep our people safe. It has taken other extraordinary measures to keep us in our homes and to keep essential services running. Other European countries have taken similar measures. Some have gone further by closing their borders, though others have been unable to do as much as Britain because they have a shared currency. There have been two lessons. The sub-national and the supra-national have become irrelevant.

Nicola Sturgeon may give press conferences and she may try to give a Tartan tinge to the crisis, but in essence she is either repeating the advice she heard from the British Government or else she is failing to implement initiatives such as the volunteer scheme in England that would be useful here too. We have discovered that the Scottish Government is not really a Government at all. In time of crisis it is Rishi Sunak who controls the money that will pay Scottish wages and help Scottish businesses keep going. It’s hard to see how the Scottish Government is contributing anything except getting in the way of a united British response to a deadly disease.

 Devolution is failing the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The devolved parliaments are saving no lives. The last thing we need is confusion and separate health care. We need a single National Health Service for the whole of Britain. We don’t need division and those who want to split our country. We likewise don’t need those who have spent the past decade concentrating on Scottish independence rather that Scottish hospitals.

There are quite a lot of people in Northern Ireland who would like to be governed by Dublin. Are these people going to refuse the money that the British Treasury will be giving them in the coming weeks and months? The Irish Government frequently has an opinion about Northern Ireland, but it will not pay the wages of anyone in Northern Ireland and it will not help any Northern Irish businesses. Perhaps the Irish Government should promise to pay back any money that we give Northern Ireland before making any more murmurings about unification. Could the Irish Government even have met the expense of both subsidising Northern Ireland and dealing with the present crisis there?

When this crisis has passed let us work out the bill and present it to Dublin. This is the price of voting for Sinn Féin, talk to us again when you have paid it. The same point of course should be made to Nicola Sturgeon about independence. Scottish nationalists can talk again about separation when they’ve paid back their wages.

All over Europe the sub-national has become irrelevant. No one cares about Bavaria’s response to Covid 19. When we count cases and deaths, we are counting the whole of Poland, France and Spain. Each country is fighting the disease together, united and with common purpose. The sub-national has dropped out of the equation. But so too the supra-national has contributed little compared to the nation state.

The decisions by various European countries to close their borders and the decisions to do whatever is necessary to help keep their countries working effectively have all been taken by national Governments. We have discovered that EU rules about free movement and the various rights of EU citizens have become meaningless.

Does anyone care what if anything the European Parliament has said about Covid 19? Is anyone listening to the European Commission or its president Ursula von der Leyen? Angela Merkel’s opinion is far more important, because she and her Government can act. The EU is paying no one’s wages. The EU is bailing out no firms. The EU is saving no lives. The EU is a complete irrelevance.

Every country in Europe has its own policies. The Swedes and the Dutch are following the advice of their experts. The Poles and the Czechs are deciding how long their borders will be closed and the rules and regulations of social distancing. There is no EU Government that is controlling anything, deciding anything or even doing much to help. The European Central Bank has done what it can to help the Euro, but it has been unable to do what the Bank of England and the British Chancellor has done because there is no agreement on pooling and sharing the debts of the member states of the Eurozone.

This is the difference between being a part of a nation state and being part of the EU. If a Scottish bank or business is in trouble the British Treasury will come to the rescue. If Scottish people have no wages or indeed if Scottish hospitals cannot cope, then the British Government will respond to the crisis. They will do this even if you hate Britain and want to leave. The EU wouldn’t pay your wages if you lived in an independent Scotland. It wouldn’t bail out your business. It wouldn’t organise a flight to get you home.

People all over Europe are going to realise quickly that neither the sub-national (Scotland, Catalonia etc), nor the supra-national (EU, UN etc) did much to help. Why pay those who don’t help? Individual citizens working with their national Government will solve this crisis. Both the EU and the Scottish Government just became irrelevant.

Friday 27 March 2020

Get well soon dear Boris

Can you remember when Theresa May was Prime Minister? It seems like another time and another place. Britain was humiliated in our negotiations with the EU. She kept trying to get the worst Treaty in British history through the Commons and she kept failing. The country was divided into Leavers and Remainers and we were screaming at each other. The mood was bleak and many of us couldn’t see a way forward. But there was a way forward. It was Boris.

Has anyone had such an impact since becoming Prime Minister only in July last year? He was faced with the same Parliamentary gridlock as his predecessor. His attempt to leave the EU by October 31st was thwarted by a combination of Parliament and the Courts. He was mocked, insulted and told by endless journalists that he was wrong.

Boris had to steer the good ship Britannia past the Remainer Rearguard rocks to Starboard while keeping it clear of the Labour SNP reef to Port. But these things were as nothing to the storm that lay ahead.

Many of us sighed with relief last December when we realised that Jeremy Corbyn would not be Prime Minister propped up by an even angrier than usual Nicola Sturgeon, but none of could have known then just how lucky we really were.

Britain faces a crisis that is still developing. It has already changed the course of history by putting more British people in isolation from each other than ever before.  Never have so many had to cease going to our place of work and the places where we socialise. We don’t know yet how many of us will get sick, nor do we know how many of those sick will die. But we know that everything possible is being done to keep each and every one of us safe and to make sure that when we emerge blinking into the light, we will find our jobs and offices still exist.

Can you imagine if Theresa May was leader right now? Would she inspire anyone to do anything? She would work hard, but she would be surrounded by dreary people like Philip Hammond and the message would somehow be muddle and gloom.

Can you imagine if Jeremy Corbyn was leading our country together with Nicola Sturgeon trying to tear it apart? There would already have been a crisis of confidence in the markets worried about having a Marxist in charge of Britain. John McDonnell therefore might not have been able to do what Rishi Sunak just did. You can only borrow and guarantee what the markets will allow. Stock markets have fallen everywhere but there is still confidence that the British Government will bring our ship back into a safe harbour and that we will repay all our debts.

I read a report yesterday of how the NHS has declared a major incident and implemented emergency plans. It was a story of innovation and a can-do attitude that was incredibly inspiring. Suddenly decisions that previously required months of planning and endless committee meetings were happening instantaneously. Suddenly the NHS was working harder and more effectively than ever before.  This is to the credit to each and every NHS worker. People are acting very bravely and selflessly for the good of their patients. But its also a credit to the mood that has gone through the British people in the last few months. We are being led by someone with charisma, someone who can inspire us all to be better than we thought we could be.

At times of crisis sometimes a leader emerges. There was a political crisis last year when Boris began. We could have been humiliated by being unable to even leave the EU. It would have meant despondency and a loss of self-esteem for our country. We would have had to admit that we just couldn’t manage without the EU. We would have had to give up and crawl back to Brussels asking for forgiveness for daring to think we could go it alone.  The reason that did not happen was Boris. He got us out.

Now Boris is sick. He’ll be laughing it off no doubt. Let’s all hope that he has a mild case of Covid 19. We need him. His job is not finished. We are going to need his inspiration in the months ahead. We are going to need his humour; his charm and the creativity he shows every time he speaks and writes.  

Boris said once that he would prefer to die in a ditch rather than fail to get Britain out of the EU. He succeeded, though it took a few more months than he had hoped. But the point was that he was willing to whatever it took to get us through that crisis. So too now. If by some tragedy he were unable to finish the job, he has just started he would already have done more than the vast majority of Prime Ministers. Boris was always destined to be Prime Minister, because we were always destined to need him. We need him still.

Boris is uniting our country in a common purpose and a common effort that will see us better than before. There will be no more division. Instead we will all learn from the heroism in our hospitals and the self-sacrifice of those who are doing what it takes to keep Britain alive.

Get well soon dear Boris. We need you just as much as we need our hospitals.

Wednesday 25 March 2020

We must drain the SNP loch

Scotland like most other parts of the world is facing our worst crisis since 1945, but we are doing so with an SNP facing its worst crisis since its foundation in the 1930s. People in other parts of Britain see the best of Nicola Sturgeon, but they rarely understand her. She is a very able politician, but there is a surface and there is an underneath. You have to live in Scotland to see beneath the waves.

Some Scottish opposition politicians have praised Sturgeon’s performance. Holyrood is a very chummy club. Some journalists in London like to praise Sturgeon’s ability to repeat like an actress the lines she has just learned at a British Government briefing. She is a good performer. But it’s substance that Scotland needs right now, not acting and not certainly not an SNP civil war.

The SNP controls nearly all of the most crucial policies that will determine how our doctors and nurse and our hospitals cope in the months ahead. It would have been far better if they had concentrated on these things in the years since 2014 instead of continually refighting a battle they had lost. But now instead of fighting for the lives of Scots who are ill, the SNP will be fighting itself.

Something very strange is happening at the moment in Scotland and I don’t mean a virus which for the first time ever has meant that most of us are stuck at home.

The revelations since the conclusion of the Salmond trial are quite extraordinary.

When I wrote about the case a few days ago I reflected on the fact that it is difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt these sorts of charges even if there are multiple witnesses. But I treated the case as a normal criminal trial. But there were events on the surface, that we could find out about by reading newspapers, and there were events underneath.

My assumption was that the witnesses against Salmond were like any other witnesses in a criminal trial. It struck me that as there were so many witnesses against him, it would tend to suggest a pattern of behaviour on Salmond’s part. If one woman says she was sexually assaulted by a man, we might be unwilling to convict him, but if many different women independently testified that they had been raped or sexually assaulted we would be inclined to believe them. There comes a point when it is reasonable to believe that all these women are not lying. But this only works if everything is on the surface.

What we are beginning to learn is that there may have been an organised campaign against Salmond. Jim Sillars, who is no longer a friend of Salmond, maintains that the accusations against Salmond were the result of an SNP political conspiracy. Apparently, Salmond showed Sillars compelling evidence of this.

Did the jury, somehow sense this. Is this why they rejected the witness statements of so many women. Did the jury somehow judge, by seeing the various witnesses and hearing the cross examination that Salmond was being framed?

I am not an insider in any sense. It is very hard therefore to know what is going on beneath the surface. But I know this much, in a time of crisis we all need to know that our politicians speak the truth and that they do not engage in conspiracies. We need Scotland to be run by decent, honest, upright people rather than factions fighting a vendetta against each other like some sort of Scottish Cosa Nostra [Oor Thing].

The SNP is divided it seems into friends of Salmond and friends of Sturgeon. This may be business, or it may be personal. But it is costing the Scottish taxpayer millions. How much has already been spent in investigating Salmond, trying him and letting him go. How much more will be spent if further investigations are necessary now that Salmond has been acquitted.

We must assume that the Police Scotland and the Procurator Fiscal believed that they had a good case against Salmond that was more likely to succeed than fail. Were they aware of the revelations that have come to light after the trial? If they were, did they think they were credible? In which case why did they go ahead with the trial. If they were not aware of these revelations, were they incompetent or just following orders from on high.

All of the people involved have known each other for decades. During the time leading up to the 2014 referendum Sturgeon and Salmond worked closely together. Are we seriously supposed to believe that she was unaware of any accusations against Salmond? Many of the alleged events happened in her place of work.  Salmond apparently had something of a reputation with regard to women. Did Sturgeon really never even hear whispers about it?

We need to know the truth. Was there a conspiracy against Salmond? If there was, what was the reason? We need to know if Scottish politicians, the Police or anyone else encouraged witnesses to exaggerate their testimony against Salmond. We need to know if there was an organised plot from the very top of Scottish politics to send a man to jail on the basis of innuendo, and embellishment and that this was done for reasons of political expediency. We need to know about Sturgeon’s involvement.

I have no idea what is true now in Scotland. I don’t know what Salmond did and I don’t know what Sturgeon did, but I trust no one anymore. I don’t trust the Scottish Police and I don’t trust the Scottish Courts. All of them have first come under the influence of the Salmond cult of personality and then later the Sturgeon cult. But I do know that there are murky things underneath the loch and that there is something nasty in the SNP woodshed. None of these people are fit to rule Scotland in normal times let alone during a crisis. 

We need to drain the SNP loch to see what monsters lurk below.

Tuesday 24 March 2020

A Big Parade of films to view while self-isolating

I am something of a film fan and have over the years made a study of the subject. I thought it worthwhile making a list of films that everyone who is really interested in film ought to see. I’m not going to include films that are well known and that are frequently on television. Rather my idea is to include those films you might not have seen and perhaps might not have heard of. I will include links to IMDB. Nearly all the films I have listed are highly rated. The list is mainly from the earliest to the latest. There are quite a lot of foreign language titles.  I list few recent films as they are well known. How many have you seen?

1 Die Nibelungen (1924)
2. The Big Parade (1925)
3. 7th Heaven (1927)
4. Lucky Star (1929)
5. Street Scene (1931)
6. Trouble in Paradise (1932)
7. One Way Passage (1932)
8. Design for Living (1933)
9. L'Atalante (1934)
10. The Good Fairy (1935)
11. Fury (1936)
12. Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)
13. Three Comrades (1938)
14. Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
15. Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)
16. Remember the Night (1940)
17. The Mortal Storm (1940)
18. All That Money Can Buy (1941)
19. The Ox-Bow Incident (1942)
20. Day of Wrath (1943)
21. Le Corbeau (1943)
22. Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
23. The Enchanted Cottage (1945)
24. Margie (1946)
25.  To Each His Own (1946)
26. Nightmare Alley (1947)
27. The Snake Pit (1948)
28. Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)
29. Yellow Sky (1948)
30. Portrait of Jennie (1948)
31. The Winslow Boy (1948)
32. A Letter to Three Wives (1949)
33. Twelve O'Clock High (1949)
34. Late Spring (1949)
35. Intruder in the Dust (1949)
36. The Gunfighter (1950)
37. Panic in the Streets (1950)
38. Diary of a Country Priest (1951)
39. Detective Story (1951)
40. Ikiru (1952)
41. Forbidden Games (1952)
42. The Holly and the Ivy (1952)
43. Summer with Monika (1953)
44. Ugetsu Monogatari (1953)
45. Pickup on South Street (1953)
46. All I Desire (1953)

47. Sansho Dayu (1954)
48. An Inspector Calls (1954)
49. All That Heaven Allows (1955)
50. Ordet (1955)
51. There's Always Tomorrow (1955)
52. A Man Escaped (1956)
53. The Forty-First (1956)
54. The Cranes Are Flying (1957)
55. Kanal (1957)
56. Quiet Flows the Don (1957)
57. A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958)
58. Some Came Running (1958)
59. Ballad of a Soldier (1959)
60. Rocco and His Brothers (1960)
61. Le Trou (1960)
62. Wild River (1960)
63. Tunes of Glory (1960)
64. Letter Never Sent (1960)
65. The Miracle Worker (1962)
66. Ride the High Country (1962)
67. Nine Days of One Year (1962)
68. Winter Light (1963)
69. Woman of the Dunes (1964)
70. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)
71. Onibaba (1964)
72. Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964)
73. In Cold Blood (1967)
74. The Great Silence (1968)
75. Z (1969)
76. My Night with Maud (1969)
77. Crime and Punishment (1970)
78. Anne and Muriel (1971)
79. Melody (1971)
80. The Dawns Here Are Quiet (1972)
81. Lenny (1974)
82. Only Old Men Are Going to Battle (1974)
83. Aty-baty, shli soldaty... (1977)
84. Breaking Away (1979)
85. The Company of Wolves (1984)
86. Running on Empty (1988)
87 The Vanishing (1988)
88. Au Revoir les Enfants (1987)
89 Rudy (1993)
90.  Gettysburg (1993)
91. The Double Life of Véronique (1991)
92. You Can Count on Me (2000)
93. The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
94. The Joy Luck Club (1993)
95. A Summer's Tale (1996)
96. For Love of the Game (1999)
97. A Walk to Remember (2002)
98. The Return (2003)
99. Dekalog  (1989-1990)
100. Ida (2013)

Monday 23 March 2020

How many witnesses do you need in Scotland?

I have long been of the view that it is and ought to be difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt what happened privately between two people some years ago. It is therefore not at all surprising that Alex Salmond has not been convicted of any crime.

We will now probably never know what did or did not happen. A significant number of women accused Mr Salmond of illegal behaviour ranging from sexual assault to attempted rape. We are left to conclude that these women were either lying, mistaken or misunderstood what happened. Mr Salmond’s defence also suggested that they may have been politically motivated in coming forward to accuse him. But what could this political motivation have been?

 The women involved appear to have been working with Mr Salmond. Were they SNP supporters? Were they at least independence supporters? It’s rather hard to imagine that they were Tories. In that case what political motivation could there have been? Were they for instance SNP supporters who did not want Scottish independence?

If the women accusers were indeed SNP supporters is the political motivation ascribed to them to do with some sort of internal SNP power struggle? Is this part of the long-term battle between independence fundamentalists and independence gradualists? Is it a battle between the two wings of the party one led by Mr Salmond the other led by Ms Sturgeon? If so, we really need some clarity on this matter. The First Minister must tell us what she knows about this struggle.

If on the other hand there is no plausible political motivation for the women to make charges against Mr Salmond, we must wonder why they did so.

We know that in charges of sexual assault, attempted rape and rape itself there can be misunderstandings between the people involved and differing opinions. There would be no need for trials at all if all such behaviour was clear cut and unambiguous. Years after the event it may be difficult to remember all the details. Different interpretations may be made by different people.

But are we supposed to believe that nothing whatsoever happened to these women witnesses who accused Mr Salmond? Are we supposed to think that they simply made it all up? But why? Did they dislike him as a boss? Were they fired for no good reason? What can account for their statements?

It may simply be that given the witness statements and the statements of the defence the jury simply did not know beyond a reasonable doubt what happened. Neither for that matter do any of us.

But here is something that we ought to reflect on. There was no physical evidence that Alex Salmond did anything wrong. There were only witness statements. Likewise, in the case against Harvey Weinstein there were only witness statements. The crimes he was convicted of also happened in the past in 2013 and 2006. He too was acquitted of most of the crimes he was accused of but nevertheless is likely to die in jail.

There is always going to be a problem in any jury trial when the only evidence available is witness testimony. Who do you believe? In Weinstein’s case it is clear that the jury considered that there was enough witness testimony to build up a convincing case that Weinstein showed a pattern of behaviour. Clearly the more women who testify that they have been raped, or sexually assaulted the more likely it is that they are telling the truth.

In essence Weinstein was convicted because the jury believed two witnesses. One said that he sexually assaulted her in 2006 and the other that he committed third degree rape in 2013. So, on the basis of two witnesses Weinstein went to jail for 23 years. By contrast despite the testimony of ten witnesses Salmond went free.

We are left to conclude that Mr Salmond was lucky not to have been born in the United States and he was very lucky indeed not to have had a political campaign (#Metoo) directed against him.

I cannot say how I would have voted if I had been on the jury. I too may have dismissed the case against Mr Salmond, but then I might have dismissed the case against Mr Weinstein.

We have no way of knowing for sure what happened in case, but unless we find out what possible motive there could have been for the witnesses against Mr Salmond deciding to endure a jury trial, we must find the whole case confusing.

Here are the questions that need to be answered:

Did Mr Salmond have a reputation for touching women inappropriately?

Were women advised not to work with Mr Salmond on their own?

When did Nicola Sturgeon first hear about women being unhappy about Mr Salmond’s behaviour, if indeed there were such women?

We live in a society where we must accept that courts are fair and that when they say that someone is innocent their reputation is untarnished.

But it is not unreasonable to compare and contrast the Alex Salmond case with other cases. How many women witnesses does it take to convict an Alex Salmond in a Scottish court? If there had been fifteen would it have been enough? What if there had been a hundred? Still not enough?

Saturday 21 March 2020

Imagine there's no Lenin

I think I saw the Killing Fields (1984) when it came out, but I really don’t remember. I may have seen it on video afterwards. It’s a film about the Cambodian genocide that took place between 1975 and 1979. I don’t remember the details of the film, but I remember the ending. John Lennon’s Imagine plays over the final scenes and the credits. A friend of mine at the time remarked about how powerful the song was. I don’t know what the intention of the filmmakers was, but I always thought the opposite. Surely, they were pointing out the irony of the song’s lyrics juxtaposed with an attempt to put them into practice.

I was reminded of this the other day when a group of Hollywood actors and actresses filmed themselves singing Imagine. They must have thought that a feel-good lefty hymn is just what the world needs right now. But they demonstrated once more how actors are paid to pretend not to think.

Let’s analyse the song:

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

This has been the goal of every Communist regime. The aim of Communism is to create Heaven on earth by abolishing the idea of an afterlife. Communists think that if they can only make people live for today rather than dwell on their reward in heaven, then equality and abundance will be possible.

But what has been the result. Every attempt to begin the path towards Communism has led to Hell on earth. Communism is responsible for more deaths than any other ideology. It has created poverty and it has taken away people’s freedom. It has done so precisely because people think it’s easy if you try.

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace, you

This is straight out of the Communist hymn the Internationale. After all the chorus of that song goes:

This is the final struggle
Let us group together, and tomorrow
The Internationale
Will be the human race.

In fact, the nation state and religion have been the greatest opponents of communism. Those countries like Poland which kept their faith despite Communist attempts to eradicate it were the least Communist. Christianity is the foundation of Western morality and the idea that individuals matter, and we are each responsible for our own actions. Only by abolishing Christianity could Communism change human nature by changing our morality and in this way bring about collectivisation. Faith and family were what prevented this. This is why every Communist regime fought against them.

The result was not peace. The result was internal war with Communist regime invariably fighting against its own people and the division of the world into two armed camps armed with nuclear weapons. Imagine going back to the Cold War.

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world, you

The aim of Communism was always to abolish property. In Britain we can frequently trace ownership back many generations. In formerly communist countries the ownership of most buildings and most land began with a decision by the state to steal it and reallocate it. But it was precisely the attempt to abolish property and with it the profit motive (“Greed”), that meant Communist countries were both poor and also hungry. Because people did not own their own homes they didn’t look after them. Because land was owned collectively it was frequently treated carelessly and spoiled. The Great Chinese Famine (1959-1961) killed between 15 million and 45 million people precisely because Mao attempted to make real the lyrics that John Lennon would rather stupidly write a decade later.

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

This is our problem. Too many people in the world are dreamers. They are also hypocrites. They like to imagine that socialism which is just a stage on the way to Communism will solve the world’s problems. It won’t. It will make them worse.

The individual, the family and the sovereign nation state with democratic government, free markets and a judicial system free of corruption protects us from all dreamers and especially from rich actors living in mansions pretending to want no possessions.

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Rishi Sunak just killed Scottish nationalism

Twice now in the space of twelve years we have seen a British Chancellor do what it takes to save the British economy. In 2008 the Treasury bailed out the banks in 2020 it has just bailed out everyone else. Can any Chancellor prior to Rishi Sunak have had such an extraordinary beginning to his job? The numbers are staggering. The Government has backed British business with loans of £350 Billion. The Government will do what it takes to get us all through this.

The Government can do these things because the markets trust the British economy. We have a long history of stability; we pay back our debts and we have our own currency. There are times when it is necessary to be prudent and to spend less, but this is not one of those times. In times of war and times of crisis it is the duty of Government to spend what is necessary and borrow as much as needed. The task is to get us through the next few months and years. But we could not do this if we did not have the Pound.

Currency does matter, but not in the way that people think it does. It doesn’t matter at all that you have to change money in order to go on holiday. That is at best a minor inconvenience. What matters is that the Bank of England controls monetary policy and uses this control for the benefit of Britain. This is why we can credibly back British business.

Compare and contrast the situation in the Eurozone. A country that is in trouble there cannot devalue its currency, because it shares it with a number of others, nor can it set its own interest rates, nor can it do what our Chancellor just did. Only the European Union as a whole and the European Central Bank can do these things, but this requires an agreement and common purpose that simply does not exist. Countries cannot bail themselves out unilaterally because they gave up the means of doing so when they joined the Euro. Does membership of the EU really look more beneficial than being an integral part of Britain?

If Scotland had been independent in 2008, we would have been unable to bail out the Scottish banks. If Scotland had become independent in 2014, we would be unable now to bail out the Scottish economy. It is becoming less and less likely that people are going to be burning oil twenty years from now, which is one reason why the price keeps falling. It matters little if it’s Scotland’s oil or not as the cost of extracting it is likely to remain higher than it is worth. SNP promises in 2014 turned out to be not worth the paper they were written on. Now they look still worse.

We are going to see once more that monetary union without political union (the Euro), which was the SNP’s 2014 plan is a terrible idea. But using someone else’s currency unilaterally is if anything even worse. Who would bail out Scotland under those circumstances? We wouldn’t have our own central bank and the British treasury would have no obligation to lend anything to businesses in Scotland.

But Rishi Sunak just killed Scottish nationalism. A huge number of Scottish businesses and individuals are going to have to accept large loans from the British Treasury. We may not be able to pay off such debts for many years. But if Scotland decided to become independent the question of debt would be of huge importance for any divorce settlement. Each of us has a share of Britain’s national debt which is just going to increase by an enormous amount. Plus, many of us will have mortgages and now Covid 19 debts which all will be denominated in Pounds Sterling. The idea that we are going to risk the journey the SNP plans whereby we first use the Pound unofficially only to turn it into Scots Pounds and then finally into Euros, looks simply impossible. We are in it together whether we like it or not. Everyone in Britain owes each other a debt we cannot repay.  We have a shared British mortgage, and no one can unilaterally walk away without paying their way. Just as Greece could not leave the Eurozone without defaulting, so too Scotland could not leave the Poundzone without defaulting. But this is not merely a matter for Scotland or Greece.

If Scotland were to declare independence unilaterally or if Scots were to default on the debts we owe to our fellow British citizens, who would ever trust us? In that case we wouldn’t be able to do what the Chancellor just did. But once we recognise that everyone in Britain owes each other a debt, then it becomes clear that the separation of one part of Britain from the other parts is a matter for all of us. A Scottish default would damage not merely Scotland, just as a Greek default would cause a shock across the whole Eurozone.

It’s not for the SNP to decide if Scotland can become independent. It’s not merely a matter for the voters in Scotland. It’s a matter for the British people as a whole. This is the lesson that the United States learned in the nineteenth century. When we accept the benefits of being a British citizen, we also accept the obligations. You cannot accept money from the Treasury and then walk away. Doing so would make you a thief.