Thursday 3 April 2014

Journalist or propagandist?

Ben Riley-Smith, posing as a political reporter in The Telegraph, appears to imagine that "wriggle room" is a terrible thing. However, if we were to use less pejorative terminology we'd see that what he is actually talking about is "options". And options are among the most valuable commodities in politics.

Ben Riley-Smith actually seems to take pride in the fact that Osborne/Balls/Alexander appear to have left themselves with no options whatever. (Although he has to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to Alistair Darling's recent back-pedalling when he said,
"I think it is ALMOST CERTAIN that the political parties would make it
clear in their manifesto that they do not want Scotland in a currency
[Emphasis added as an aid to the terminally blinkered.]

A less woefully shallow analysis would have noted that it is right and sensible for the Scottish Government to keep its options open on the precise timetable for removal of Trident. Were it to apply a rigid timetable then it could easily be accused of being prepared to compromise safety for the sake of political posturing.

What is certain is that Trident will have to go. The attempt to suggest that this could be up for negotiation is the kind of nonsense we get from British politicians and journalists who know nothing of Scotland's politics. At most, there may be some leeway on the time-scale - but only if this can be justified on safety grounds. And the rUK government may have to pay a price even for this small allowance.

Ben Riley-Smith#s analysis is vacuous in other ways. For a start, he seems to imagine that a "categorical" commitment from Osborne and his cronies is worth more than the spittle that dribbled down his chin as he spoke the words. More intellectually acute observers fully expect that the UK/rUK government will do a U-turn on this after a Yes vote such as will seriously discomfit those who so naively take the word of British politicians as gospel.

Then there's the idea that Scotland needs the currency union so desperately that the Scottish Government might even consider reneging on its promise to rid the country of Britain's obscene WMD in order to secure it. Rubbish! As Professor Anton Muscatteli pointed out in the Financial Times yesterday, abolishing the currency union would do far more damage to rUK than to Scotland. And Scotland has plenty other options.

Perhaps Ben Riley-Smith isn't actually as inept an analyst as this article makes him appear. perhaps if he was less concerned with peddling Project Fear propaganda and more focused on doing his job he'd be able to at least ask some of the awkward questions of the anti-independence campaign that should come naturally to a professional journalist. He might even grope his way to some of the more obvious answers.
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