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Comment: Re:This isn't scaremongering. (Score 1) 409

by IamTheRealMike (#47929195) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

Not really. Less than 20% Texans are polled to be in support of secession. That falls in line with the national average of all US citizens who want their states to cede

Well yes but watch out for that. When the independence campaign began in Scotland support for a Yes vote was sitting around 20% (I think?). After many months of campaigning it's reached about 50%.

So don't assume that the status quo in the USA will remain. The big difference is that when independence is not actually on offer, there's no real point to answering yes in the polls. Once it becomes possible and people start legitimately campaigning for it, opinions can change pretty fast.

Comment: Re:Not going to be as rosy as the YES! campaign sa (Score 1) 409

by IamTheRealMike (#47928915) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

Imagine how the Scottish feel having to accept crippling austerity to prop up reckless English banks. Yes, obviously RBS is Scottish

Just going to quote this here so readers can ponder this contradiction. RBS was bailed out at huge expense. It is indeed based in Edinburgh and the S in RBS stands for Scotland. So this is a very strange argument to make.

but it's losses were all made in London under weak UK regulation from the Thatcher era.

Ye gods, here we go blaming Thatcher again. You realise she's died of old age, don't you? Labour was voted in on the back of Labour voting Scots multiple times since 1991 and any of them could have changed banking regulations. None of them did. What about "true Scotsmen" like Salmond? Well he strongly supported the disastrous takeover of ABN AMRO that was largely responsible for crippling the bank and directly contributed to tanking the UK economy. In fact not only did he support RBS politically, he actually worked for them for a good chunk of his career.

In short: blaming Thatcher, a dead woman who was not in power for the last 23 years, for the failure of a Scottish bank due to a deal strongly supported by the erstwhile future leader of Scotland, typifies the kind of thinking that is making the Yes campaign seem more and more unreal.

Comment: Re:This isn't scaremongering. (Score 4, Interesting) 409

by IamTheRealMike (#47928693) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

Thatcher destroyed manufacturing and industry in the whole of the UK. The north of England and Wales were trashed just as badly. She did that to Scotland, as well as the Poll Tax which caused riots. All the stuff she privatised has gone to shit - energy companies, the railways, British Telecom... Now they see Cameron privatising Royal Mail and the NHS too. Her policies failed utterly and lead to the global financial crash a few years back.

That's the view that sums up the Yes campaign, indeed. But is it realistic?

Let's start with "Thatcher destroyed manufacturing and industry". I find it to be a very misleading way to phrase things. At the time Thatcher came to power, heavily nationalised UK industry was already destroying itself. It had high costs, low productivity, large chunks of it were unprofitable and it was dominated by incredibly militant unions who didn't care about any of this at all, because their wages were being subsidised by tax and the printing of money. Being unprofitable is not some minor debating point. Enormous numbers of people in the UK were being paid to uselessly dig holes in the ground. There was no purpose to this. In the absence of subsidies, nobody would have wanted the rocks that were being dug up. Other people in other countries were doing it better.

And it wasn't just mining. At the time Thatcher came to power the British state also owned shipyards, steel works, a furniture removal company and the Gleneagles Hotel ..... just to name a few.

None of this made any sense. It had happened because the post-war governments believed full employment mattered more than inflation. The result was openly Marxist trade unions realised a weak government with an addiction to money printing could be turned into an ATM via nationally organised strikes. By the 1970's the UK was a basket case. It was suffering electricity blackouts, trash was piling up on the streets uncollected, railways didn't work, even emergency services and hospitals were striking. The country was one of the poorest in Europe and being called "ungovernable". The strikes were wildly unpopular with over 80% disapproval ratings of the strikers being common.

There was no way these industries were ever going to be world-beating titans ever again.

Thatcher was elected to fix this state of affairs, and she did, by making the painful choice to take away the subsidies and start targeting inflation instead of employment.

By the time she left the UK was a stable and prosperous first world nation once again.

Comment: Re:This isn't scaremongering. (Score 2) 409

by IamTheRealMike (#47928531) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

I wonder with 4 million voters who tend to overwhelmingly prefer Labour to Tories gone will Labour eventually cease to be a factor in the UK elections?

Nah. I don't think it'll make much difference in the long run. Labour will simply continue to adopt the policies that make the Tories more popular, and then find other ways to differentiate themselves.

A big part of the reason for the widespread disillusionment with UK politics is that Labour and Conservatives were traditionally very different, with Labour representing the (to use obsolete lingo) proletariat and the Tories being the party of the bourgeoisie. When hard-left economics became totally discredited and abandoned by the mainstream, Labour had to find a new identity. Blair did the most to make the party electable again with his New Labour campaign, but he was only partially successful in his reforms. Once Brown replaced him the party immediately returned to the high spending policies old Labour was traditionally associated with. The public sector increased in size in a fairly short space of time and when the economic crisis hit, Labour couldn't credibly claim they had truly learned the lessons of the 70's. With Scotland's strong preference for voting anything-but-Tory, the result was a (rare, for the UK) coalition government in which the conservatives were left with the rum job of explaining to people why they were paying more to get less.

Ultimately, Labour will complete the reforms started under Blair and old Labour will be consigned to history. If Scotland leaves that process will happen much faster. I don't know what their primary differentiator would be in future but it looks like they might be trying to seize "Higher taxes to pay for the NHS" as their own territory - not a bad strategy, I'd think, although it's one that's easily replicated by other parties too if it proves popular. At any rate, they'll find some way to justify their existence and sometimes that'll be enough to win elections. Then the process will go into reverse and the Tories will struggle to justify why they should replace the incumbents given that their policies are pretty similar.

A lot of people find the new status quo of political parties that mostly agree on things to be somehow indicative of decline or moral decay. I don't really see it that way. I see the politics of the 20th century as utterly dysfunctional - riven with unresolvable ideological divides. Now that Marx has been put behind us, the new politics is about disagreement over relatively small things. This isn't a sign of a society in decline, it's a sign of a society that's largely at peace with itself.

Comment: Re:stupid fear mongering (Score 1) 409

by IamTheRealMike (#47927415) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

He's obviously talking about the short term, not in some possibly long-term future where everything is sorted out.

Blowing off the guys legitimate worries for his business as scaremongering pretty much sums up the entire Yes campaign so far. It's not an argument like, "it's true that the split will be messy painful and could cause recession on both sides, but in the long term it'll be worth it". It's an argument like "everything will be peaches and cream immediately and anyone who says otherwise is a scaremongering bully".

Comment: Re:Not going to be as rosy as the YES! campaign sa (Score 4, Informative) 409

by IamTheRealMike (#47927351) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

You're mixing up currency and currency union. Salmond has been deliberately obfuscating this so the confusion is not surprising, but they are different things.

Post independence Scotland could continue to use the pieces of metal and paper we tend to think of as "the pound". It could still express prices in pounds. The UK cannot stop this nor would it care to do so, even if it could. Scotland can keep the currency.

Currency union is an entirely different matter. Currency union is about decision making and who pays for what in future should things go tits up again. This is not a physical object or landmass that can be split up. It's called a "union" because it involves people working together. This is categorically not on offer because Scotland has shown no preference for economic policies compatible with the rest of the UK, really it's shown the exact opposite. So English people working together with Scottish people to create unified economic policies on this wouldn't really be possible, the disagreements are too deep and English people outnumber Scottish quite significantly. Thus it'd only make sense if Scotland agreed to give up most of the independence it had just won. Otherwise it'd be Greece all over again. Profligate teenager wouldn't even begin to describe it.

There is one situation in which CU could actually make sense - if Scotland strongly and consistently voted for the same economic policies as the UK had, and could be trusted to do so for the forseeable future. However this isn't a Scotland that anyone has been seeing during the independence campaign, so it's hard to imagine things changing anytime soon.

With respect to the debt, I think in the event of independence all the opinion polls suggest the UK will take a firm line. No currency union and they split the debt equally too. It's not up for debate. This is actually a fair position - split the debts and financially each goes their own way - but I doubt Scotland will go for it, and the amount of pain that could result for both sides is quite astronomical. This is why such a large proportion of people don't think independence is worth it.

Comment: Re:This isn't scaremongering. (Score 1) 409

by IamTheRealMike (#47927277) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

How Scotland voted is a matter of historical record - and they have consistently voted for policies so bad that no mainstream political party in any western country supports them any more. The same arguments crop up today, indeed "let's break away from the neoliberal consensus" is one of THE main arguments being made for independence.

When basically every political leader in every country has walked away from such policies because they didn't work, and bringing them back is a keystone of the whole campaign, what else are people supposed to think? Thatcher was decades ago, she is actually dead. People who still blame all their problems on her are as close to "incurable" as seems possible to describe.

BTW whatever happens it looks like at least half of Scotland is going to disagree with it. So even if the vote is for independence, they're hardly "unwilling subjects", especially as they want to keep large parts of the union.

Comment: Re:Not going to be as rosy as the YES! campaign sa (Score 1) 409

by IamTheRealMike (#47927217) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

I think this is one of the most absurd set of arguments I've ever seen.

You know that when Scotland was offered union and accepted it, it was bankrupt. It got wealthy as part of the union. So perhaps Scotland should pay large sums of money to the UK when it leaves for the privilege of being saved from poverty all those centuries ago?

That position makes about as much sense as yours.

It's the opposite of that, right? The UK still exists, so the UK owes those pensions.

To whom? Foreigners who don't have the right to vote any more? OK, then I guess the English will just seize the funds and put them back into a general pot to help offset the shared debt that wasn't taken on board by those same foreigners.

I really hope nobody in Scotland is stupid enough to try the arguments you just put forward for real. That would be a fail of truly epic proportions.

Comment: Re:Not going to be as rosy as the YES! campaign sa (Score 2) 409

by IamTheRealMike (#47926767) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

The best thing for everyone would be to facilitate a peaceful and mutually beneficial transition.

Of course.

That means cooperating with the Bank of Scotland to keep the Pound if they want to and doing nothing to make EU membership difficult.

That would mean agreeing to underwrite and subsidise someone else's heavily socialist spending policies in perpetuity. The English taxpayer already suffers from paying tax that is then shipped to Scotland and used to give Scottish and rest-of-EU students free education, but not English students. There is no way in hell they will agree to crippling tax rises to fund a country that just told them to shove it. And this was made clear to Scotland throughout the campaign.

Once that happens, Salmond will argue that being told to fund his own policies is "English bullying" just like he's done throughout the campaign, and this terrible bullying is a reason to refuse to take on any debt. This will immediately alienate all English voters even moreso than Salmond already has done.

The UK will then have multiple ways to respond, because it's in a much stronger negotiating position; it's a much larger economy and already has all the infrastructure a country needs, whereas Scotland doesn't. As a trivial example, Scotland would be dependent on London to administer welfare until it's managed to commission and build its own IT systems. Does it want a smooth transition there? OK, time to go to the markets and borrow the funds to pay the UK for those services. There are many other examples like that.

Comment: Re:This isn't scaremongering. (Score 3, Insightful) 409

by IamTheRealMike (#47926631) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

I don't see what the beef over immigration is -- it actually works both ways. There are about 1 million Britons living in Spain right now under the same rules.

I've never met anyone in the UK who has a problem with immigration from west European countries that are culturally similar to themselves. Most of the problems crop up with poorly integrated Islamic integration where you get entire neighbourhoods in some cities that look basically like Pakistan: people wearing veils, not speaking English, etc.

The other issue is economic, the UK didn't use transitional controls when Poland entered the EU to delay immigration, so it got a really really large number of Polish immigrants because they had few other places to go. The evidence suggests the UK benefited from this economically but given the sheer speed and scale of the migration it's not hard to see why people got antsy.

The same did not happen when Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU so I'm hoping immigration will blow over in the coming years if the economy continues to recover. But we'll see. It's not a UK specific problem, there's anti-immigration sentiment in populations all over Europe.

Comment: Re:This isn't scaremongering. (Score 5, Informative) 409

by IamTheRealMike (#47926577) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

Also an English guy, I don't think you understand that you've not exactly treated Scotland very well and that's one of the reasons it wants to leave.

Scotland has been treated very well indeed. When it joined the Union its people were piss poor and its "government" was bankrupt. It's now a wealthy first world country, with lots of MPs in its Parliament, large amounts of money spent on its people and it's contributed multiple Prime Ministers and senior government figures.

Despite all that, a large number of Scottish people have repeatedly attempted to trash their own country and England too by blindly supporting policies that are - to put not too fine a point on it - communist. This is a part of the world where as late as 1989 an MP was trying to get elected by recalling "Red Clydeside". This is a part of the world where hatred of Thatcher is practically a national pasttime, although her crimes amounted to ending communist policies like massive state ownership of industry and trade union control. Scotland failed to adapt to deindustrialisation and failed so hard that decades after the rest of the country has moved on, lots of people there are still nursing a massive grudge.

Scotland's current state isn't because it was badly treated by England. Arguably the south of England saved Scotland in the 1980's. Leaving behind Soviet-style economic policies wasn't a choice, it was an inevitability, as the USSR would prove when it collapsed around the time Thatcher was booted out.

Now we see in the Yes campaign socialism rear its ugly head once again. The most common reason I've seen for voting for independence is that the nasty mean English vote Tory and Scots are fairer, kinder and more hard working than that. Even Salmond, the man who runs a political party that has basically mainstream economic policies, doesn't hesitate to take a giant dump on the English by implying that an independent Scotland would be a utopia of milk and honey once the hated Tories are overthrown. When asked what kind of spending cuts would happen post independence Sturgeon simply said "there wouldn't be any".

The reality is that Yes is campaigning on a framework of economic illiteracy. If they win independence, there are really only two possible outcomes - one is that the rest of Scotland manages to counterbalane the hard left somehow and Holyrood runs governments that look much like those in Westminster from an economic perspective. The other possibility is that disaster strikes and people who want to roll Scotland back to the chaos of the 1970's actually start winning elections, in which case Scotland will probably end up looking like Ireland did for much of the 20th century (dirt poor with large amounts of emigration).

Comment: Re:this issue transcends money (Score 2, Insightful) 409

by IamTheRealMike (#47926431) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

Do you think that when the Irish Republicans were fighting (and dying) for their independence from the UK that they ever once thought, "But what will the economic implications of our independence be? What will our credit rating become??"

Probably not, but it's hardly a surprise that people who were practically Marxist guerillas didn't fully think through what they were doing.

Post independence Ireland's economy went down the shitter for a loooooong time and lots of people were very miserable. Emigration was rampant and Ireland became a place supported by remittances, like a third world country. It wasn't until they modernised their economy that things started to improve.

Scotland MUST vote for its independence. If things don't work out, they can always rejoin with England (England would bend over backwards to welcome Scotland back if it ever came to that).

This is like saying someone MUST divorce their spouse because they can always just get back together. I think you'll find this campaign has huge potential to wreck relations between Scotland and the rest of the UK. In the short run it won't just make Scotland poorer, it'll hurt everyone. Not to mention that the most common justification for independence can be summed up as "the English are nasty and unfair and everything wrong with Scotland is their fault".

With respect to trade, unfortunately the independence negotiations could be very complicated and nasty if they vote yes, as Salmond has promised the moon including things he knows he can't get. When he's told - again - he won't be able to get the things he wants, he'll once again blame the English and start trying to make the breakup as nasty as he can to try and save face. A trade war or widespread unofficial boycotts are not exactly unthinkable.

Heck, I wasn't planning on going on vacation to Scotland any time soon but I wouldn't have been against the idea. But after watching all of this?? Why would I go somewhere where apparently 50% of the population are quasi-Marxists who think all English people suck?