Will Scottish independence be a step forward, followed by three steps back? – Jim Duffy

Our political leaders appear to be getting too many big decisions wrong these days. Would independence be one of them, wonders Jim Duffy

A Union Jack, Saltire and Flag of Europe fly outside the entrance to the Scottish Parliament (Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)
A Union Jack, Saltire and Flag of Europe fly outside the entrance to the Scottish Parliament (Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)

It feels to me that we are living in a period in world history where we take one step forwards and three steps backwards.

Let’s kick off with Covid-19 eh? What a farce. First the UK locks down too slowly. Remember the horse racing and all the procrastination over what to do. Care homes and GP surgeries literally in limbo. Building Nightingale hospitals that lay empty. “Wash those hands – and all will be well. Face masks are a waste of time, er no actually get them on.” Social distancing is two metres. Well, maybe it’s not always now. Boris Johnson bumbling about, while his right-hand man Cummings does whatever he wants. Let’s not forget that one – ever. But, they gave us a few months off on holiday with furlough, right?

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Do you really think that the Chancellor sat with a whiteboard and a few mandarins and worked out furlough? No, this emergency financial response was sitting in a file cabinet marked “an idiot’s guide to pandemics”. A complete emergency planning response file will have been pre-planned and rehearsed on tabletop exercises.

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And so many of us thought he was clever. But, the emergency response manual doesn’t provide for paying it all back. Get ready for the Tory tax raid.

Like the Benny Hill Show

And it certainly doesn’t consider not eradicating the whole epidemic within our islands. Late-night raves, idiots not adhering to the coronavirus restrictions and a general sense by many that they can do what they ruddy well want means Covid-19 is still here. It is going nowhere. Just like the Jet2 aircraft no longer travelling to Spain. And the government doesn’t have a slick manual for this. They’re back to winging it and it’s like watching the Benny Hill Show ending with Boris taking everyone on the road to nowhere.

That will be Covid-19 then. And we will still be talking about it in years to come. Like I say, one step forward and three steps back.

This week also saw the big four tech companies “brought to book” in the American Congress. What a complete farce! Do you actually think that the US will censure its top performing Nasdaq companies? Not a chance in hell. This has nothing to do with the likes of the lumpen proletariat like you and me. No, this is solely about politics.

Facebook, Twitter, Apple and Google are massive deals in and for the US. Why? Because they’re born in the US. That’s it – game over. They’re not Chinese or Iranian. They make a lot of people a lot of money.

But, it’s not the money that has precipitated these hearings. No, it is power. The Democrats and the Republicans are showing these platforms that it is them who runs the roost, not the platforms themselves. Why? Well, we have about 100 days till the US presidential election. An election that can be won or lost on Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple.

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So, while we may hope that Facebook is diligent with our data and doesn’t host anti-semitic ads, the Republicans will only be happy as long as it doesn’t come out in favour of the Democrats and put Joe Biden in the White House. Conversely, the Democrats will be happy as long as it doesn’t take Putin’s money and keep Trump there. You see, it’s still the same old games, but just shrouded in a different wrapper. It’s not about you, it’s always about them – the politicians. One step forward and three steps backwards.

‘Olive Belt’ is a busted flush

And what about Scotland? It seems eight cats out of ten liked how Nicola handled Covid-19. But, while that seems a good performance, one swallow does not make a summer and actually taking this into full independence is a bigger ask.

You know, I’ve flip-flopped on the independence debate so many times. My primary driver for “no” has been Scotland going it alone and being skint. But, therein actually lies the opportunity. It’s called Europe. What does Europe have that Scotland does not then?

Apart from 12,000 fewer American soldiers – who are being withdrawn from Germany as it hasn’t spent enough on defence for Donald Trump’s liking – Europe has a central bank. Yes, Scotland has no central bank, but Europe has big one that has a massive 24-hour printing press rolling of 100 Euro notes faster than one can say, si, oui or ja.

And Scotland could have access to some of that yummy ‘free’ cash. It’s a win-win right? Get rid of the English with their coronavirus-prone lager louts and their Queen’s pound and become friends with the Europeans, who drink Stella Artois and print their own money. Mind you, have you seen the coronavirus rates in Spain and Portugal? And what about the tensions between all European states as they squabble to borrow as much as they can for their battered economies. The ‘olive belt’ of Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece are a busted flush. But, that’s perfect for Scotland, right? After all, we invented penicillin, television and the deep-fried Mars bar. We are innovators and can show them the way? I can’t help but feeling that Scotland is trapped just now. It wants to be more. It aspires to be more. But which is the lesser of two evils? Continue to play second fiddle to Westminster, even though Scotland has shown how capable it is in a time of crisis, or join a newer political and economic block that, frankly, is creaking at the seams and could fall apart anytime within the next decade. It’s a big decision.

But, here’s my advice to those in charge. Be wary of one step forward and three steps back. The Scottish people won’t be so forgiving if independence means financial ruin. Choose wisely.

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