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Wings Over Scotland

The not-so-iron bar 224

Posted on April 12, 2014 by

Even Sparta’s mythical iron-bar currency – specifically designed, so legend had it, to shackle the economy by being too heavy to buy or trade anything – was marginally better, in Alistair Darling’s view, than anything an independent Scotland might be able to use for money, all of which will lead to inevitable doom.


Because Scotland, as all good unionists know, is the only country in world history for which there is no currency option that will work at all.

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On holiday with foreigners 108

Posted on September 26, 2013 by

It’s amazing what a trip away can do: refresh, educate, put a new slant on an old debate. I was in the US recently. The first thing I learned was before departure, and I pass it on as a tip: if you’re going to the US, fly from Dublin, not a UK airport. Apart from being about half the price – presumably because they have control over their airport taxes, so can adjust them to compete with Heathrow – it makes life far easier.


When I last flew to the US from a UK airport, long before 9/11, we were held in a bleak corridor without any amenities for well over an hour before being processed through immigration, where we were interrogated about the purpose of our visit, what address we were staying at, and where we were going exactly. It put me off re-visiting the States for a long time.

Flying from Dublin is a different experience.

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A letter to Tony Benn 71

Posted on January 29, 2013 by

Dear Mr Benn,

I was in Glasgow Concert Hall on Saturday for your interview, and the preview of the film about your life. And what a life! You are inspirational to many, as the crowd made clear. It’s easy to see why. You talk passionately of hope, of belief in a better future, of anger at injustice. Of engagement and democracy.

You recognise, too, that New Labour became right-wing, almost a second Tory party. You must understand how this played in Scotland.

It’s for these reasons I was depressed and perplexed by your answer to the question on Scottish independence. The question was a good one: would an independent Scotland be more socialist? It’s a question many in the independence movement grapple with. Can we cast off Westminster’s neoliberalism, corruption and corporate greed? There is no answer; no one knows.

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Into the arms of Yes 143

Posted on January 18, 2013 by

I’ll make a confession: I don’t think Scotland needs independence. I’m not certain full independence is the most desirable option. At this stage in the debate, on Wings Over Scotland, that might be a quite contentious assertion. But last year, on numerous talkboards and comment threads, starting with that statement frequently saw me being called a “cybernat”, an “SNP stooge” or in one instance, “Salmond’s stormtrooper”.

That was because the statement always came with a “but”: “…but we do need control of welfare” or “…but we do need fiscal autonomy”“. And the “but” never went down well.

Full fiscal autonomy was the reason I voted Liberal Democrat in 2007. It had much to recommend it over the SNP’s full independence policy, both for Scotland and the rUK. It would have been a gradual approach that wouldn’t have scared many horses, north or south of the Tweed. It was an “I do want independence but am too polite to say so, in a very British way” kind of option.

It could have passed barely noticed by the UK media. Friends and family in England would have responded to your declaration of being a “full fiscal autonomy supporter” with a weary eye-roll and “Do shut up about Scottish politics, dear”. Independence, even if virtually synonymous in the detail, instead attracts “What? You want to rip my country apart, literally destroy 300 years of history and rob me of my entire identity, you evil separatist nat bastard?”

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