Dear Danny: Can I pay my 'Pound for Independence' by PayPal?
By Nat Butcher, our Political Correspondent
This weekend, Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, took on the claim made by Scotlandshire's Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that Scots would be at least £500 a year better off under independence.
Rather than base his calculations on the most recent figures available, as Ms Sturgeon had done, Mr Alexander chose to take an average over a period of 12 years, beginning in 1999. As the Scottish Government had been run for two thirds of that period by the Labour Party in coalition with the Lib Dems, the figure which popped out was naturally lower, by exactly £501 as it emerged.
At this point, Mr Alexander and the No campaign could have made one of five distinct choices which were open to them:
- they could have shredded the calculations and never mentioned them again;
- they could have searched for a different period for the sample, such as during the Great War, which would have shown the Scottish economy in a worse light, and published those figures instead;
- they could have simply made up some numbers to show that Scotland is far too poor to be independent, and that all Scots are subsidy junkies (the Ruth Davidson approach);
- they could have released the figures on a day when nobody was listening, such as new Years day, or the end of the Mayan calendar, to distract public attention (the Alastair Campbell classic);
- or they could have published the news that, after months of calculations, the UK treasury has come to the conclusion that the cost of Scottish independence is a pound each.
Incredibly, and to the delight of supporters of seperationalism, they chose the latter of those options.
Prime Minister David Cameron seemed confused by the new policy of 'a pound for independence' and stumbled during Prime Minister's Questions, stammering in a quasi-regal fashion:
"Yes but, no but, yes but, no! Alistair Darling... Sound man. Sound campaign. Sounds like no campaign. No, yes campaign. Shit, it's a Darling little campaign. Oh dear, where's Nanny? Someone call for Nanny! Little Davy's poo-pooed."
Danny Alexander himself spoke to this correspondent:
"The SNP figures were arbitrarily chosen from the most recent year available, which is no good for predicting future trends. What you need to do is keep changing the period over which you sample until the result confirms the point you were trying to make – then stop.
"So we chose the entire period of the Scottish Executive as our sample. Yes, I know the oil industry started in the 70's, but if we had started our sample period there, we would have got the wrong answer.
"And yes, I know that oil revenues have nothing to do with devolution, but it sort of sounds like it should be a relevant period, at least if you don't give it any thought. So we decided to go for an historical period which happened to coincide with the establishment of the wee pretendy parly.
"But it's the separatists that keep harping on about the past, not us. They are obsessed with the Empire, and the Great War, and the Battle of Britain and Dunkirk - that bulldog spirit, standing alone against the Hun. On sugar. I see what you mean, Well Mel Gibson then, they're obsessed by that.
"No I didn't mean those Huns. We love those Huns and they love us. Those are nice, cuddly Huns with lovely union jacks and Bitter Together tattoos.
"How was I to know that the Jocks would think a pound a person was the bargain of the century? I can't think like one of them!"
Leader of the No campaign, Alisdair darling, intoned: "Danny's figures are none too robust, in fact. They assume that nothing would change with separation, which is just what Alex Salmond and his like want you to think..
"But, for that to be true, the Scottish Government and Alex Salmond would need to run the Economy of Scotland with the same degree of competence that I brought to the UK economy when I was in charge of it. And that's not really very credible, is it?
Now, where did I leave that Chas & Dave CD?"
"If the cost of creating a more equal and fairer Scotlandshire was only a pound, I believe most Scots would think that a price worth paying," said Yes Scotlandshire's chief executive, Blair Jenkins.
While SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson MP said:
"As the UK Coalition's botched relaunch shows, the No campaign has started the New Year firmly on the back foot. Danny Alexander's silly claim that an independent Scotland would cost people in Scotlandshire one pound over a whole year had David Cameron floundering, and resorting to the old fears and smears that Scotlandshire would be worse off with independence - even though the UK Treasury are no longer saying this."
And Dr Alasdair Allan MSP, the SNP government's Minister for Multilingualism, said: "Fit like? Ciamar a tha, sibh? I'd pay a pound for Scotlandshire right now. Thon Danny's a richt glaikit eejit!"
Finally, we contacted Labour's intellectual behemoth, Ian Davidson MP, the chairchoob of the Scottish Affairs committee on Greater England Engaging with Scotland - All Quisling Unionists and Independence Deniers, who barked:
"A quid fur independence? A f—kin pound! What the f—k is Danny bhoy oan? That's no gonnay pit they cybarnatz aff – they'll hae a f—kin field day wi that!
"Whae's gonnay miss a f—kin pound? That's less than ah spend a minute oan the phone tae Madam Whiplash, and ah kin claim that back oan ma expenses. He's a gormless gomeril, that Alexander tw-t! Jist wait tay ah get ma hauns on the wee muppet, ah' kick his baws sae hard he'll end up landin back in teuchterland."
Taciturn taskmaster of Labour in Scotlandshire Johann Lamont was unavailable for comment as she hadn't managed to decide whether granting everyone in Scotlandshire their freedom for the same low price counted as a universal benefit, which must be opposed, or a Tory policy, which must be adopted.
A Pound for Scotland Campaign: Launching the Pay-a-£-for-Scotland appeal
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