Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Sauce for the Gander

Here's a scenario. A group of kids are playing a game - the old fashioned kind out in the open with toy guns, rather than on screens in a darkened room. One of the kids has a tantrum because he isn't always on the winning side. You have to play the game my way, he bawls, or not at all.

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Another scenario. A couple appears to be happily married, then one partner announces that they want a divorce. By the way, they announce, these are the terms of the break-up, in which the other partner is expected to have no say whatsoever.

A third scenario. A business partnership. One of the partners is unhappy that he does not have total control of the business. He decides to leave and set up on his own. Then he complains that the other partner won't let him do that.

You've got the picture by now. It's a simple analogy describing a simple situation. Scottish separatists want to leave the Union and they want to leave on their terms. They expect - nay, demand - that the rest of the Union gives them everything they want. We want a currency union; give us it! We insist you leave your defence industry where it is! We will be members of NATO and the European Union; let us in! Whatever we want, we must have it!

Like immature, spoilt children, separatists fail to understand that if they insist on breaking up a game, a marriage or a successful business, they cannot expect the other party to roll over and give them whatever they want.

It's an unpleasant truth that what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If you insist on getting the best possible deal when you walk away from a partnership, do not be surprised when your ex-partner insists on the best possible deal for themselves. You expect us to give you a currency union whereby we might have to bail out your failed banks? You must be crazy! (By the way, the largest of your banks will have to leave anyway, according to EU rules.) You demand that we give you our defence contracts? No way! British jobs for British workers, not for newly-foreign Scots. Allow you to join the EU? Maybe. But on our terms, not yours - and you'll probably find those terms a lot more restrictive than those which the UK currently enjoys. You've leapt out of the frying-pan, now see how you enjoy the fire.

Faced with this reasonable response - if Scotland walks away from the UK, then the UK has no responsibility for and no interest in doing what is best for Scotland - the separatists, led by Salmond the consummate politician, do what politicians do best. They ignore reality and try to talk their way out of a difficult situation.

Which means that rather than address the difficult issues of currency, employment and economic stability post-independence, separatists come up with two distractions with which they hope to pull the wool over the Scottish electorate's eyes. Distraction A is to accuse the No campaign of being Negative. So what? It's surely better to be realistic and negative than to fool yourself into being positive. Distraction B is to argue that it will be in the rUK's best interests to give in to all Scotland's demands. Rubbish. If the euro was being set up now, would the Germans happily enter into a currency union with the Greeks? If you can maintain a successful defence - or any other business - in your own country, why would you choose to give the work to a foreign country?

Independence would lead the rUK to treat Scotland exactly how Scotland wants to be treated - as a foreign country. Which means that Scotland would be of much less significance to London than France, Germany or even Poland, and probably rank somewhere along the lines of Ireland and Portugal. In Westminster Scottish demands would fall on rightly sceptical and unreceptive ears.

The yes campaign's hope for success is based on fooling the Scottish people into believing that independence would solve all their problems, whereas the reality is that it would create far more problems than it would resolve. It is an argument based on rationale, not reason*. It also based on the hypocritical idea that Scotland has the right to get impose its separation terms on the rest of the UK. Sorry, separatists, don't be surprised if London insists on sauce for the gander. It's time for the Yes campaign to deal with the reality that faces them, not with the fantasy of their making. It's time for them to come clean with the Scottish electorate.

* It's raining hard and an alcoholic goes into the nearest pub. His rationale is that he wants to stay dry. His reason is that he wants a drink. Many of us spending our lives ignoring reason and acting according to rationale. Scottish separatists appear especially prone to fooling themselves.

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