We’re indebted to an extra-specially-alert reader who keeps an eye on the Spanish press for us. Last week, leading newspaper El Pais carried a story which reported an interview given by Alistair Carmichael to various foreign media. The first paragraph contains a quote which Google Translate renders thus:
A fascinating use of “we” there from the Secretary of State for Portsmouth, we’re sure you’ll agree. (Though we’re not sure who “we” would be in that scenario, as if Scotland was independent there’d be no Scottish Secretary and no Scottish MPs, so we can’t quite fathom what Mr Carmichael’s locus would be in the matter.)
We’d be prepared to chalk it down to the vagaries of automated translation, were it not for the fact that the minister said basically the same thing twice more this weekend, first referring to Scotland as “they” on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday morning, and then repeatedly as “her” on The Sunday Politics.
You can hear the former interview here:
But in amongst a lot of fatuous dribble about how we shouldn’t vote Yes because of Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis, Carmichael said something more ridiculous still:
MARR: Is it true that Westminster, that George Osborne, would refuse to allow Scots to use the pound? Because the pound is the property of the Scots as much as the English, I don’t see how that could be.
CARMICHAEL: It is, as long as we are part of the United Kingdom. But in fact public international law is very clear on this – if you remove yourself from the United Kingdom then you remove yourself from all sorts of institutions, and yes, the pound would be one of them.
Now, hold on a minute. Which “public international law” are we talking about here? Can we have a chapter and verse? Is there secret international law? And why would “international” law be concerned with what happens solely inside the UK?
But leaving aside for a moment that the Secretary of State is quite clearly speaking through a horse’s backside, that’s at least a clear and unequivocal load of old horsepoop. Asked if Westminster would refuse the use of the pound, Carmichael’s direct answer is yes, “public international law” dictates that this would indeed be the case. (Even though Westminster can’t in fact “refuse” ANYONE the use of the pound.)
But that admirable clarity and certainty, alas, held firm for just 60 seconds. Let’s spool past the bit where a patient Marr explains to an embarrassed, nervously-giggling Carmichael why he’s an idiot and onto the bit where he says this:
MARR: It would be a ridiculous thing to say to the Scots, “If you vote for independence you can’t have the pound.”
CARMICHAEL: It’s not a question of, nobody is saying anything about “You can’t have”. The fact is that a currency union wouldn’t work.
Wait, what? This is a pragmatic decision, not a legal one? Nobody’s being told they “can’t have” the pound? But what about the “public international law” that dictates otherwise? Just one minute ago that law was “very clear”, now it’s irrelevant? Dear God, WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL LAW?
Alistair Carmichael has clearly been parachuted into his job in a panic without the slightest command of his brief. Never mind Scotland becoming a foreign country, he clearly regards it as one already. His tearful protestations to be a proud and patriotic Scot are laid bare by his vow to treat an independent Scotland as an enemy.
The Secretary of State is an insult to Scotland and an embarrassment to the United Kingdom. We’re rapidly coming to the conclusion that the replacement of Michael Moore (who if nothing else was at least dignified and thoughtful) with this bumbling, clueless oaf could turn out to be the Yes campaign’s brightest day.