Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Ireland: another nail in the Scottish independence coffin?

Ireland's "Celtic tiger" economy was once suggested as a model for an independent Scotland's "Celtic lion", with the Nationalists hailing an "arc of prosperity" of small European countries which we could hope to emulate if freed from the shackles of the United Kingdom.

Of course, all this went a bit belly-up with the world financial crisis, and Ireland's economy went into meltdown, with critics of Scottish independence coining the phrase "arc of insolvency" to parody the financial failure of the previously fêted nations.

This, together with the failure of Scottish financial sector behemoths such as RBS and HBOS, was widely perceived to have dented independence aspirations, particularly when doubts were raised that Scotland alone could have bailed out the banks in the manner engineered by the UK Treasury.

So to last weekend's Irish vote on the EU's Lisbon Treaty, with a 'No' vote in a previous referendum changing to a resounding 'Yes' vote in the latest poll, with the country's economic problems being widely suggested as the driver in this transformation of fortunes - the Irish people thought the safe haven of a strengthened Europe preferable to the perils of an uncertain constitutional future.

By the same token, it seems likely that this augurs badly for the SNP's drive towards an independent Scotland - the financial crisis will merely cement doubts in the minds of the Scottish people as regards going it alone, with the known quantity of the UK preferable to the independence shot in the dark, and Ireland's change of stance provides compelling evidence of this cautious mindset.

Alex Salmond and the SNP must be increasingly thankful that the opposition parties haven't called their bluff over the independence referendum!

14 comments:

Jeff said...

Of course, Britain isn't doing too well at the moment either.

Imagine Ireland was a part of the UK. Would the Treasury have had the funds to bail out all of the banks in trouble in England, Scotland and Ireland? I doubt it. The EU has a strength and depth that the UK does not have and given that Ireland have €120bn of loans from the EU at the moment, Scotland could have just as easily bailed out RBS and HBOS. And made a profit on it too, as the Treasury will.

Indy said...

Actually IMF estimates of gross domestic product per capita based on purchasing-power-parity (PPP) show that the wealth per person in Iceland, Ireland and Norway is not only still larger than the UK’s but that the gap between those countries and the UK will increase over the next 5 years.

You can find the comparison here:http://tinyurl.com/ljm7zw#

As far as I am aware the IMF is not an SNP mouthpiece so I don't think these figures can be ignored.

It may be the case that the depth of the UK's problems may not yet be appreciated by most electors but they soon will be.

Key bored warrior. said...

With regard to your Steamie comments. My own personal feeling on the EU is that we are better of in during the independence transition.

However your continual denigration of Ireland is just quite sad when you consider the debt as yet unacknowledged by Labour that the UK is amassing by the second. We may well have to endure the worst of the recession yet, if the USA experience is anything to go by. Who would have thought that California would go bust?

Shades of 76, when Labour had to go cap in hand to the IMF after bankrupting the UK, just as McCrone reported that Scotland if she voted for independence, would have one of the highest standards of living in the world and the hardest currency, due to the newly discovered oil in the North Sea. Which is why in 79 a Labour amendment cheated Scotland of her independence. Some track record.

The gloating and sneering by unionists regarding Ireland and Iceland is just disgusting. Murphy has been chastised by the speaker in the commons for his sneering during SQs, and he has also being chastised by the Norwegian Ambassador for his lies regarding a statement that their PM had made. Joanna Lamont in a recent Radio 4 piece, which Hosie was also on, stated that, "Norway’s oil fund has been wiped out by the international financial crisis." Which is not even propaganda but pure desperate unionist lies.

Marc Coleman challenged Murphy to a radio debate, which he ducked out of, but Coleman debunked him any way in this piece to the Scotsman. http://tinyurl.com/yaxcpez

The fact that Murphy has nothing better to occupy his mind than trying to talk down the small independent nations of the EU shows us just what a lot of time he has on his hands and what a negative no mark he is on the Scottish political landscape.

Key bored warrior. said...

Apologies forgot to link to this:




* News
* Scotland Office

2008-10-31

Angus Robertson today commented on a letter in the Daily Mail from the Norwegian Ambassador to the UK, in which he rejects the "incorrect and misleading" reporting of remarks by Norway's Foreign Minister about Scotland and independence.

Mr Angus Robertson MP said:

"This is a massive embarrassment for the Labour Party, and a humiliation for Jim Murphy who raised this contrived nonsense in the House of Commons. He has only been in post a few weeks, and such is his desperation to attack the SNP that he has caused a diplomatic incident with Norway!

"The more people talk about Norway the better for Scotland. It draws attention to Norway's outstanding success as an independent nation - far more prosperous per head than the UK - which is why Labour's phoney attack has backfired.

"By attacking the UK's more successful neighbours, such as Norway and Ireland, Jim Murphy has simply made himself and the Labour Party look ridiculous.

"Norway is an outstanding example of an independent country which is husbanding its oil and gas resources for long term benefit, while Westminster has frittered Scotland's North Sea revenues away. And Norway is forecast to continue to grow, while the UK is projected to tumble into recession.

"With more value to come from the North Sea than has been generated to date, Scotland has every opportunity as an independent nation to deliver similar benefits as Norway has secured.

"Independence has enabled the Norwegians to make the most of their opportunities, and exactly the same applies to Scotland."

The text of the letter from the Ambassador in the Daily Mail today:

The article "Salmond Slapped down by Norway Minister" in the Daily Mail of 29 October contained several incorrect and misleading statements attributed to Norway's Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre.

Firstly, there is no "growing anger in Norway" over comparisons made between Scotland and Norway during the debate in the United Kingdom against the backdrop of the current global financial crisis.

Secondly, no accusations have been made by Mr Støre against Mr Salmond, as alleged in the article. In the interview, the Foreign Minister merely pointed out factual similarities and differences between the challenges presently faced by Scotland and Norway. Inferring from this that Mr Støre is of the view that Mr Salmond has in any way lied or misled the public, is simply incorrect.

In short, the Norwegian Foreign Minister did not intend to criticise either side in this debate, which is a domestic political discussion. What he strongly emphasised in the interview with the Daily Mail and which, sadly, was simply omitted from the article, was his sincere appreciation of the warm ongoing relationship between Scotland and Norway.

Bjarne Lindstrøm

Ambassador of Norway

Stuart Winton said...

Fair comment, Jeff, but of course the fact is that it was the UK that did bail out the Scottish banks, and to that extent Scottish voters will view the UK as a safe haven - rightly or wrongly - in the way that the Irish have just done vis-a-vis the EU. The possibility that an independent Scotland could have saved the banks via the EU is to a large extent academic.

And ignoring the particular case of the banks, I think the lesson of the Irish vote is that it shows that the financial crisis has made people more conservative (with a small 'c'!) and thus more likely to favour the UK status quo, in the short-term at least.

Of course, that perspective on Scottish independence is hardly original given the 'arc of insolvency' gibe and all that, but I think the Irish vote provides empirical evidence to back that theory, assuming of course that the 'safe economic haven' rationale outlined by commentators for the Irish shift in mood is correct.

Indy

Fair point as well, but of course my post wasn't about the merits of otherwise of independence for Scotland, it was about the voting intentions dynamic evidenced by the change in Irish voting based on what's happened during the last year.

Of course, you allude that the UK's economic problems might change public perception in the coming years, and you could well be correct.

But I suspect that on balance this might well be outweighed by the economy picking up again, and people coming to terms with the fact that the debt and consequent public spending cuts/increased taxation is as much Scotland's problem as the UK's generally, and that in the round they will still feel - again, rightly or wrongly - that things could have been a whole lot worse.

It's interesting that comment on George Osborne's speech yesterday has emphasised its austerity as opposed to the usual feel good message portrayed at party conferences, but this is clearly deemed acceptable because of the extraordinary circumstances and the 'we're all in this together' ethos, and perhaps this kind of thinking is relevant in relation to Scottish attitudes to the UK/independence.

Who knows, this could also be relevant as regards Scottish attitudes to a Conservative government, but of course the prevailing wisdom is generally that having Cameron at the UK helm would extract a nail or two from the independence coffin!

Stuart Winton said...

KBW:

"However your continual denigration of Ireland is just quite sad..."

Well I think perhaps your misrepresentation of my position on Ireland is the sad bit. All I'm doing is stating the facts - you're surely not trying to say that Ireland has come through the financial crisis unscathed? Where's the evidence?

"...when you consider the debt as yet unacknowledged by Labour that the UK is amassing by the second."

Yes, and the SNP have been showing great spending restraint, eh?

And you're not seriously trying to associate me with hiding the UK's debt?

I certainly agree that Gordon Brown was fundamentally wrong not to mention the debt in last week's speech etc, and I've criticised all the parties in relation to the recession, financial regulation etc, so I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to say.

I think you assume that everyone's either 'with us or against us', whereas I try not to defend either the UK or any particular party.

As for the rest of your post, again that's relevant but the minutiae of the argument is largely forgotten about. I'm sure I defended Norway at the time, either here on on other blogs, but I can't be bothered digging around for it :0)

Key bored warrior. said...

"As for the rest of your post, again that's relevant but the minutiae of the argument is largely forgotten about."


That has to be the weakest cop out I have read on any blog or forum. Such poverty of thought. I suggest it is precisely this minutiae unionists would liek the Scottish voters to forget about come the time to place their X, but history is showing us that they will not as the SNP grows ever stronger and the votes become ever bigger.

Sneering and lying may be incidental to New labour, but it has killed them stone dead in the UK and Scotland.

Scottish voters have very long and clear memories.

Stuart Winton said...

KBW:

"That has to be the weakest cop out I have read on any blog or forum. Such poverty of thought."

Ouch - I felt that like a stake through the heart!

That good, was it?!?!

I've discussed the particular issue at length in the past KBW, and I really can't see that much point in going through it again.

I can't see it resonating on the doorsteps at the next election, to be honest.

"...history is showing us that they will not as the SNP grows ever stronger and the votes become ever bigger."

Yes, and was it around 11% of the electorate voted SNP at the last national election?

"Scottish voters have very long and clear memories."

Yes, and was it around 11% of the electorate voted SNP at the last national election?

sm753 said...

Jeff

"given that Ireland have €120bn of loans from the EU at the moment"

Source please.

Indy said...

I find the "it was the UK that bailed out the Scottish banks" comment really entertaining.

You know all through the 2007 elections we were told that there were no such things as Scottish banks and no such thing as a Scottish financial sector because the Scottish economy is so inextricably linked into the UK economy that we could never really be independent anyway.

Now it's a different story. Suddenly they are Scottish banks which the UK has bailed out simply out of the goodness of its heart.

My take on the Lisbon Treaty is that the Irish people were whipped up into a no vote the first time round, which they later regretted. The financial crisis had something to do with the second outcome but is not the whole explanation. I would have voted yes the first time.

sm753 said...

Indy

"You know all through the 2007 elections we were told that there were no such things as Scottish banks and no such thing as a Scottish financial sector because the Scottish economy is so inextricably linked into the UK economy that we could never really be independent anyway."

Yes, that's a fact. It recognises globalisation, that this is 2009 not 1921 or 1907, that there is no Edinburgh or Glasgow stockmarket any more, the fact that there is no major "Scottish" company whose main market is not outside Scotland, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

"Now it's a different story. Suddenly they are Scottish banks which the UK has bailed out simply out of the goodness of its heart."

Who told you this story?

Is it like the stories that "they told us the oil was running out" and "they say we are too weak and too poor"?

Because the funny thing is, when I ask who actually said these things and when they did it, no Nat can ever give me the answer.

Are they actually made-up myths?

What you were "told" is that Scotland could not have afforded to bail out RBS and HBOS by itself.
Fact.

It is also true that there were some cross-border bank bailouts - Dexia, for example. Fact.

So possibly Scotland and the UK could have done something similar. Hypothesis.

As was pointed out in the Economist, if you needed to organise a cross-border bailout then you could not pick a better bunch of countries than Benelux and France, however. And even that one involved quite a lot of argy-bargy, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

A UK-Scotland bailout could easily have been worse - and with confidence in the banks dropping hourly, any snags and tiffs could have meant the whole thing failing.

However, with Union and one ultimate government and one central bank, no such problems. See?

Key bored warrior. said...

"I've discussed the particular issue at length in the past KBW, and I really can't see that much point in going through it again."

Your cop outs just keep getting weaker, try a good fillet steak and a few glasses of red, you must be very tired and devoid of energy. Such a lot of rhetoric for so little result.

"Yes, and was it around 11% of the electorate voted SNP at the last national election?"


Whatever, but correct me if I'm wrong, are they not the government of Scotland. Crivens jings how on earth? That was never meant to happen!

Labours UK share of the vote is nothing to crow about. Even less to crow about now.

Like I said the SNP go from strength to strength. Just think, the next time you pull your head out of the sand we will be independent ;o)

SAOR ALBA

Stuart Winton said...

KBW said:

"Your cop outs just keep getting weaker, try a good fillet steak and a few glasses of red, you must be very tired and devoid of energy. Such a lot of rhetoric for so little result."

Yawn!!

OK, if my opinion on the matter so concerns you then here's what I posted on Richard Thomson's blog about a year ago; Google it if you want to see it in all its glory:

"The Norwegian minister's comments were, I suspect, intended to give the impression that the country was trying to keep out of the domestic political fray rather than take sides, but the Daily Mail misrepresented this to make it look like he was slapping the SNP down"

KBW said:

"Whatever, but correct me if I'm wrong, are they not the government of Scotland. Crivens jings how on earth? That was never meant to happen!"

Yes, they scraped home to form a toothless minority executive, which they had to rebrand a government because it's more about style than substance.

But the point is that they represent only 1 in 5 of the Scottish electorate at best, and many of those will only have voted SNP for negative rather than positive reasons.

KBW said:

"Labours UK share of the vote is nothing to crow about. Even less to crow about now."

There you go again; you make it sound as if I'm pro-Labour just because I'm criticsing the SNP!

So the SNP are more popular than Labour, which to be honest isn't really much of an achievement.

What proportion of the electorate voted for John Mason in Glasgow East?

What proportion of the electorate voted for Lindsay Roy in Glenrothes?

15% each or so, I suspect. 20% at a push.

Hardly a ringing endorsement for either party!

KBW said:

"Like I said the SNP go from strength to strength."

Mainly because Labour goes from disaster to catastrophe.

Stuart Winton said...

KBW

John Mason was endorsed by around 18% of the electorate in Glasgow East, but I think I did Lindsay Roy a disservice since he managed around 28% in Glenrothes - he secured a higher proportion of the votes and the turnout was a good bit stronger as well.

Of course, the Glasgow vote took place during the holidays and the Glenrothes vote was rigged, so no doubt I'm talking nonsense about this as well ;0)