Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Imaginarium of Alistair Darling

I apologise for the rather confusing title.  It doesn’t make much sense no matter how you look at it, yet it reflects the rather nonsensical series of statements of Better Together (no) leader Alistair Darling during the length of the independence referendum campaign so far.

"You'll fail unless you do what we at Westminster tell you," Alistair Darling (probably)

Mr Darling has given us a number of predictions as to what will happen to Scotland if we vote ‘Yes’.  Let’s focus on just three.  Remember, these are unaltered quotes from the leader of Better Together…
"The other thing about currency union is that it would take you slowly and surely to economic and then political union. So what is the point of leaving one political union only to end up coming back to the exact same point several years later." (

“Remember this, we are not electing another government for five years, where if you don’t like it you can kick it out. You are voting on something that - if we decide to vote for independence - is irrevocable. There is no way back. They only have to win once and by one vote. And there is no going back.” (
It’s difficult to know where to start when pointing out the logical failings of these statements, but we’ll pick the most obvious one first; how can we “end up coming back to the exact same point (union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland) several years later,” if “there is no going back”? Those two statements, both of which have been uttered on more than one occasion, are impossible to reconcile and can only be described as being an example of ‘all scares to all men’.

 Official Better Together Badges (probably)

But even when we look at these statements individually they don’t make sense.  Darling's assertion, that currency union usually leads to political union, has little historical precedence.  The Republic of Ireland continued to use the pound for decades after independence and they didn’t go back to Britain.  Indeed, no nation that has declared independence from Westminster, and there are a lot of them, has ever asked to go back, despite many of them using the pound.  This list includes Egypt, Singapore and South Africa, and we can confirm that at the time of writing they remain independent.

The second statement is even more confused than the first.  As we mentioned before, not a single nation has wanted to give up the sovereignty it has regained from Westminster.  But if we’re truly ‘better together’, then why wouldn’t the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland not wish for us to return?  If we believe that they would hurt themselves just to be spiteful to us, then why would we want them to elect our governments in the first place?  (Of course, Mr Darling may simply be suffering from The Goldilocks Axiom).

“Uncertainty will damage business.  Sooner or later, a Scottish firm (the Royal Bank of Scotland) with 90 per cent of its business somewhere else is going to ask itself:  Is staying worth the cost?” (

"Clearly this emphasises, whether we like it or not, Scotland would not have had sufficient funds to bail out RBS or HBOS – and this is an admission from Mr Salmond that this is the case." (
Once again, correcting all the mistakes is difficult.  Even if we were to take everything else as accurate (which it isn’t) the obvious question for Mr Darling that we can take from these two statements is ‘why would Scotland need to worry about bailing out banks if the banks are going to be relocating abroad anyway’?  The always engaging Reverend Stu at Wings over Scotland asks the same question.

The first statement makes the assertion that Scottish businesses with large operations outside of Scotland will leave if we’re not ruled from Westminster.  Evidence of this is very light on the ground, indeed if this were true, then how does any smaller nation retain businesses?  If having part of your business based in a bigger market encourages you to leave, then why don’t Topshop or Pret A Manager relocate to America?

The second statement regarding bailing out the banks prays on misinformation.  Joan McAlpine brilliantly dismantled the ‘Scottish Banks’ argument in a blog back in 2011.  More recently, Business for Scotland smashed the same myth.
“So, as proud Scots who want a better future for Scotland, let’s be confident in saying: Yes, we are Better Together.” (

“Organisers of the ‘United With Labour’ campaign say they’re arguing for a fairer, better Scotland that stands strong within the United Kingdom.  They’ll work with the ‘Better Together’ campaign run by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.” (

“Better Together campaign refuse to work with UKIP in bid to keep Scotland part of union”
Admittedly, the second statement wasn’t from Alistair Darling but from the BBC, which was describing how members of his own party believe he is working for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, whilst the third was a headline from the Daily Record.  Keeping track of who makes up the 'no' campaign is a difficult task.  Perhaps their full name is ‘better together, so long as we aren’t seen with people we don't like or who aren’t very popular in Scotland…’

We could go on and on.  We’ve come across stories saying that we would be saddled with massive amounts of debt and yet not have access to the treaties and assets to which the debt relates to.  There have been scares that we won’t be wanted in the EU and would need to wait years to be allowed entry and yet our laws regarding pensions would need to change immediately after independence due to the EU regulations we would be subjected to as a full member.  The list is endless.

Mr Darling is trying so hard to scare voters that he will say things which he cannot possibly believe.  He can’t believe that future generations of Scots can never form a union with those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and believe that a union will happen.  He can’t believe that the banks will move their operations out of Scotland and that we won’t be able to afford bailing them out should they crash again.  He can’t believe that we’re ‘better together’ and yet won’t be seen with members of UKIP who are having an ever increasing influence over Westminster.

We are seeing the world through Alistair Darling’s imaginarium, and it is a confused and frightening place.

Although he has been unclear about the consequences of voting ‘Yes’, Mr Darling has, to his credit, been much more open about what ‘no’ would mean:
“If you want anything more than a fairly minor change to the constitutional arrangement then at some point you are going to have to ask the rest of the UK which means that all the parties in a general election would have to have in their manifesto what they would intend to do.

At the moment this question has been confined to north of the border but once you go a little bit further then you are going to have to engage with the rest of the UK which is a rather different debate to the one we have had so far..”
Perhaps Mr Darling hopes that a Conservative UKIP alliance will strengthen the Scottish Parliament, or that ‘one nation’ Labour will devolve powers to the four nations.

Or Mr Darling is simply confirming what Reverend Stu has said for months: Vote No, Get Nothing.
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  1. I am English, a Liberal and believe that responsibility for government should always be handed down and never up. I now live in Scotland and am proud to do so but I have always believed that if Scotland wanted independence it should have it. Power should always be in the hands of as many people as possible. Big government is always bad government but big government has been taking more and more power away from the "lower" tiers. Independence for Scotland is one good way to hand power "downwards". Anything that gets power out of the hands of London's megalomaniacs must be good.

    1. Well said Peter, I definitely agree.

      I'd also like to see the role of each level of goverment clarified. I feel it is too easy for politicians to take credit or avoid blame due to how complicated the Westminster system is. Independence gives us a chance to start with a clean slate.