Wednesday 2 April 2014

Unionist mindset

I had an interesting exchange with a unionist on Twitter recently. No! This is not an April Fool thing! It really was an interesting exchange. Allow me to explain why.

It started when the unionist in question tweeted the following:
Nicola Sturgeon is now telling the rUK that they cannot have a say on a currency union.
An obviously lie, I immediately thought, not only because Sturgeon would never be so stupid as to say such a thing but also because there is no way she could have authority to prohibit a referendum in rUK on a common currency - something Alistair Darling had earlier said would be required. I pointed this out to the unionist in question with as much patience and good grace as a mere mortal might muster in the face of such blatant dishonesty.

The exchange then took its usual course. The unionist insisted he was right and, somewhat strangely, posted a link to something Alex Salmond had said supposedly to "prove" what he claimed Nicola Sturgeon had said. They're kinda quaint that way, these amateur propagandists for the British nationalist cause.

I then pointed out that Salmond (the unionist troll seemed to have forgotten all about Nicola by this stage.) had actually said, "a referendum would not be required". I went on to remark on the fact that said unionist had evidently looked at these words but read "I will not allow a referendum". Which is a bit odd.

But my unionist interlocutor persisted, saying:
That it would not be required in rUK. Meaning? He wants the rUK to not have a say,
I pondered for a moment the usefulness of informing the unionist about something Lewis Caroll had written regarding words and their meanings,
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
But I figured this would just set him off on a tedious whine about nasty cybernats calling people names and making "fatist" comments, so I didn't bother. I pretty much left him to steep in his own delusion after that.

That's not the interesting bit, however. Although I guess you'd already worked that out for yourselves. What made this individual's inane comments considerably more intriguing than they otherwise would have been is the context provided by a piece on the front page of the Financial Times. Now, I don't subscribe to the FT, so I had to rely on a very low quality image somebody had posted and what little I could glean from news aggregators. The headline, however, pretty much tells the whole story:

Darling disowned over sterling union 'plebiscite'

The first paragraph explains that Downing Street had been forced to disown comments from Alistair Darling after he suggested there could be a second vote on sharing the pound. But what piqued my interest was the reason given.
His comments undermine a central argument of the anti-independence campaign – that Scotland would not be allowed to enter into a currency union with the rest of the UK if it votes for independence.
This is very revealing. Partly for the fact that our unionist friend - remember him? - had actually managed to turn the truth on its head, maintaining that it was Nicola Sturgeon (or maybe Alex Salmond) who was preventing the people of rUK having a vote on currency union when, in reality, it is the UK government.

But it is mainly interesting for what it tells us about the attitude of the UK government to democracy. Downing Street is effectively saying that the UK government will abolish the currency union even if the people of rUK want to keep it. They are saying that there is no point in giving the people of rUK a say, because the ruling elites of the British state have already decided.

Darling is slapped down by his Tory bosses. No surprise there. He's only David Cameron's stooge, after all. But this little episode exposes how inept the man is. He shot off his mouth about a referendum on currency union because, as the bluff that he had engineered crumbled around him, he wanted to bolster the credibility of that bluff by calling in aid the people of rUK. Even if the politicians backed down on their threat to abolish it, he says, it would make no difference because the people of rUK would step in to make sure that the currency union was scrapped.

Characteristically, he hadn't thought it through. A referendum would necessarily require a debate and an in-depth examination of a policy that was already being shown to be, at best, ill-advised. Cue panic in Downing Street!

The last thing the UK government wants is that people in rUK should find out what abolishing the currency union would cost them. They'd likely lynch George Osborne, with Ed Balls and Danny Alexander dangling from adjacent lampposts to complete the set.

The British state is terrified of a debate about currency union for precisely the same reasons it was in dread of the independence referendum. Basically, it doesn't want people to think. And it sure as hell doesn't want them asking questions.
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