[Updated below 14th September] Jim Sillars has no power to put into action one iota of what he threatened last night and withdrew this morning – with the hilarious cover story that he had foamed at the mouth in rabid and retributive rage purely to get on to the Today programme?
He hadn’t meant a word of it. Sarah Montague’s ‘So you’re telling me that you said all those things just to get on here?’, was the equivalent of ‘Aye. Right’. Sillars said: ‘Yes’.
Sillars had talked of ‘a day of reckoning’; of those who had annoyed the Nats having to ‘bend at the knee’ [surely the culture of empire the Nats are supposed to repudiate?]; of the banks that had ‘threatened’ to leave Scotland being broken up in punishment; and of Scotland renationalising BP in whole or in part. That would be after it has renationalised the Post Office, as Mr Salmond has publicly promised?.
However, while Jim Sillars may not speak for the ‘Yes’ campaign, he is the authentic voice of the bullying and vindictive culture that is driving its campaign and to which so many businesses, institutions and individuals who have experienced the threats at first hand privately testify.
What Mr Sillars said, moreover, has not been disowned or repudiated by the First Minister, who has merely brushed it aside.
This line had, in fact, been floated earlier last night by the First Minister himself, as For Argyll reported. Interviewed briefly on television on a helicopter stop on his seven cities tour, Mr Salmond said: “The people of Scotland will not be bullied by by Big Oil, Big Banks or Big Supermarkets.’
This deeply divisive campaign is getting worse, with an increasingly paranoid separation of the ‘us’ of the nationalist pro-independence supporters from the ‘them’ of the other half of the population.
The ‘alternative’ 50% have hung on to reason in assessing the real and major economic risks of separation and the real and major benefits of union, with the business community, nationally and internationally, slack jawed in disbelief at the looming likelihood of a wilfully blinkered Scotland walking jauntily into chaos.
They see a Scottish breakaway from the United Kingdom as such a colossal economic mistake that they find it impossible to grasp what Scotland is thinking about.
Half of Scotland isn’t thinking, of course. The 50% of the population who have bought the nationalist prospectus are not thinking about it – and that prospectus has been shown to be economically illiterate, with no answers and no prospect of any to the major issues of concern. The faithful are simply assured that the United Kingdom will naturally give an independent Scotland the currency union Mr Salmond has gambled the country on; and that this generosity will ensure that all will be well in a golden future.
Half of Scotland has bought this nonsense, without even a first thought – which does make you wonder where rationality has gone. Something as huge as the constitutional position of any country ought never to be radically and irrrevocably altered on anything other than an evidenced and rational basis.
There was an eighteen year old on Sky News this evening talking with earnest awe of the £10 million she said Scotland’s tourism industry brings in each year; and of the £30 million a year she said the Scottish food and drink industry annually contributes. So whether or not oil delivers the projected level of revenues, the enormity of such wealth has led her to the certainty that Scotland should be independent and she will be voting ‘Yes’.
It is quite touchingly nostalgic in its innocence. Every adult can remember the days when the benchmark of pocket money and Saturday jobs made anything else seem like wondrous riches. It ain’t economics but it’s good enough for a vote – and maybe for that mythical ‘+1’ vote to carry Scotland into the unknown.
International experts in finance and economics have been speaking out today, in horrified concern that Scotland looks as if it actually going to step back from the United Kingdom.
Deutsche Bank’s chief economist, Mr Folkerts-Landau and its global strategist, Mr Hafeez – neither of whom nor Deutsche Bank itself can be said to be doing what David Cameron tells them – have said publicly that that they cannot understand why Scotland is seriously considering dropping out of the Union.
Mr Folkerts-Landau of the investment bank, compared the error of a pro-indy vote in five days time with the historic political and economic mistake made by Winston Churchill in 1925 when he took the pound back to the Gold Standard, despite economist John Maynard Keynes [scaremongering?] accurate prediction that this would bring deflation, unemployment, and domestic unrest. Mr Folkerts-Landaualso coited the mistake made by America’s Federal Reserve, which did not create enough liquidity in the US banks to avoid, as it could have done, leading to runs on its banks and the Great Depression in the States.
Echoing the analysis made a few days ago by Swiss bank, Credit Suisse, of ‘a deflationary shock’ [reported in For Argyll], Deutshe Bank’s global strategist, Mr Hafeez, predicted that a vote for independence would lead to a depression in Scotland and conceivably also to the whole of the United Kingdom. He could see little case for claims that an independent Scotland would flourish.
As For Argyll has said, an independent Scotland is perfectly survivable, if it has the will to withstand a tough first decade or so. The immediate problem is that the country has not been prepared for any difficulties whatsoever so the shock will be profound for those who have automatically accepted Mr Salmond’s assurances that the risks made public are no more than ‘scaremongering’.
The risks may be frightening. Some of them may well have been made public to bring people to their senses. But a wake-up call is not a ‘threat’ and these risks are not manufactured. The trusting nationalist masses who have simply dismissed them because Mr Salmond said they were nonsense will be shaken by the post-indy reality.
The very real concern then is that they will be told all the consequent disasters are being manipulated by Westminster to do Scotland down, that they will believe that and will exact retribution on the unionist half of the population.
This is a far from unlikely scenario. Mr Salmond and his lieutenants take responsibility for nothing.
Maybe, like Jim Sillars, they all deliberately screw up just to get on the Today programme?
Today, Mr Salmond, while studiedly not repudiating Jim Sillars’ threats of retribution, declared that, on Friday 19th September, ‘The day after a Yes vote, there will cease to be a No campaign and Yes campaign – only Team Scotland. We will approach the success of Yes with magnanimity to all.’
Magnanimity has never been a perceptible element of the First Minister’s belligerent persona; and ‘Team Scotland’ is that now distant sense of oneness we had in Scotland before the SNP threw the country into this entirely unnecessary schism and sent in the stormtroopers.
His magnanimity to those of a contrary persuasion in this campaign is such that he has been unable to repudiate or to distance himself from Jim Sillars’ promises of retribution.
The immediate damage [14th September update]
Sillars also announced that he was not now going to ‘retire’ on 19th September – from whatever he would politically have been retiring from?
As a senior nationalist, he will undoubtedly have access to the directions of forward planning, so this particular threat might need to be kept in mind. Referring to Standard Life’s notification’s that it may have no choice but to transfer non-Scottish business south of the border, Sillars warned of specific legislative constraints that would be placed on big businesses to delay and to penalise any such departures.
He said: ‘As for Standard Life, it will be required by new employment laws to give two years warning of any redundancies and reveal to the trade unions its financial reasons for relocation to any country outside of Scotland, and the costs involved.’
With the doors of the nationalists lock-in wards opened and this level of economic thinking let out to roam, the strong likelihood will be that the major companies will start processing their contingency plans to leave in the period following a ‘Yes’ vote, rather than wait to see how negotiations on currency union pan out.
Their choice is to assure powerfully their protection of the security of their depositors and investors funds – or watch them liquidate their accounts and holdings. The companies, like Standard Life and the banks could not afford to wait for any possibility of a legislative lock in with financial penalty on 24th March 2016.
The threats of Mr Sillars – which neither the First Minister nor the Yes campaign has dismissed has just about guaranteed an early run on Scotland following a Yes vote and before it gets as far as being independent.