Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Paul Linford Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Paul Linford Columnist

Article excerpt

EVER since Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond published his detailed proposals for an independent Scotland in a White Paper last autumn, it is fair to say there has been a high degree of scepticism about the proposals.

I make no bones about where I'm coming from on this one. I consider myself British rather than English and I happen to think that both Scotland and the rest of us would be made economically and culturally poorer by separation.

But personal views aside, Mr Salmond's proposals for what should happen in the event of a 'Yes' vote in September's referendum seemed by any objective criteria to be deeply flawed - not least his insistence that an independent Scotland could keep the pound.

Now, belatedly, the Westminster parties have decided to call him on it, in an intervention which, for good or ill, will surely go a long way towards determining the outcome of this autumn's vote.

It's a finely calculated gamble by the Coalition and the Labour opposition which could, very easily, blow up in their faces.

It was entirely predictable that Mr Salmond and his cohorts would dismiss Thursday's carefully choreographed announcement that neither a Tory nor Labour government would allow Scotland to keep the pound as another example of London attempting to bully the Scots.

The fact that it came hard on the heels of Prime Minister David Cameron's somewhat ill-judged decision to make a speech in defence of the union from London's Olympic Park rather than making it on Scottish soil was all grist to the SNP leader's mill.

It is certainly fair to say that attempting to "love bomb" the Scots into staying in the UK one minute and threatening the withdrawal of the currency the next created something of a mixed message.

But risky though it is, there was undeniable logic in Chancellor George Osborne's speech on Thursday setting out the reasons why allowing the Scots to keep the pound is not even up for negotiation.

For if the contents of the White Paper were anything to go by, Mr Salmond seems not to understand what the word independence actually means.

It should mean that Scotland can manage independently of the rest of the UK - that is, without the benefits conferred by the pound, by Britain's membership of international organisations such as the EU and Nato, and even the Monarchy. …

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