The Guardian Leader of Friday 14th February has provoked a storm of comment. Here’s mine. It contain facts I’ve have blogged, tweeted and repeated many times over recent weeks, drawn from an extempore FM response at FMQS. I make no apology for that – their relevance is fundamental and enduring.
15 February 2014 11:28pm
I have been a Guardian reader for over 60 years. I have never read such a partial, inaccurate Leader in all that time. It is, quite simply, an attack on Scotland, its Parliament and the values and aspirations of a large and growing number of the Scottish electorate. It is a defence of the Union.
I won't waste time listing the many canards and errors - let me just say that you have used, without any real thought or analysis, the Better Together distortion that Scotland's wish to be sensible and realistic with rUK in an interdependent world - independence recognising interdependence - is in some way independence lite - not real independence.
Since the Osborne intervention - a flying visit, a quick address to a carefully selected audience, a refusal to engage with, or offer an interview to Scottish Television (STV), and a hasty and undignified departure - focused on currency union as though it was the Vulcan Death Grip for independence, consider this -
Scotland doesn't control the currency or interest rates at the moment. Neither does UK - they're controlled by Bank of England. We won't control them under a currency union either, but we'll have more influence than we have at the moment, as an independent country, a partner in a currency union. Without a currency union, we will continue to use the pound in one of a number of scenarios, already detailed together with other options in a recently published Fiscal Commission Report.
Here are the other powers an independent sovereign Scotland will have - do they look like independence lite to you?
ECONOMIC LEVERS: Excise duty, air passenger duty, VAT, capital gains tax, oil and gas taxation, national insurance, income tax, corporation tax, competition law, consumer protection, industry regulation, employment legislation, the minimum wage, energy markets and regulation, environmental regulations.
All these things are controlled in London under the UK
All of them will be controlled in Scotland after independence
We'll be able to set the minimum wage, abolish the Bedroom Tax (not just mitigate it). We will be able to transform childcare.
We will be able to remove weapons of mass destruction from Scotland
We won't have to participate in illegal wars
Scottish servicemen and women will no longer die or be maimed at the behest of a UK Prime Minister and an American President.
The reaction Osborne's intervention was outrage from a large number of Scots, as evidence by phone-in programmes, online media and letters to the press. I lost count of the number of undecided voters who said their minds had been firmly and irrevocably shifted to a YES vote, and there was a significant number of former No voters moved to YES. I look forward to poll results at an early date.