Scottish politics is, on the whole, tedious. Arguably, without the excitement of defence policy to debate over, there’s only so much interest you can have in bills on seatbelts in school buses. Even the novelty of the independence debate wore off quickly, as it became clear that both campaigns intended to sling shit at each other for the next two years.
Three weeks ago the Yes campaign suffered a pretty a major setback, as the three main UK parties – also the constituent members of the Better Together campaign – said that they would prevent an independent Scotland from using the pound. The reason for this likely being that ‘no’ is only now couple of percentage points ahead in a number of polls. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and all that.
Most Scots want the pound so, to shake the confidence of those planning to vote yes, a future without the traditionally strong Sterling was presented.
Unsurprisingly, this was regarded as a major turning point in the campaign – Westminster was now laying down its rules to the nationalists in Holyrood, almost certainly weakening the economy of a future independent Scotland.
But then things got serious, Kate Moss waded in and told Scotland not to go. Yes, the supermodel offered an opinion on #indyref. Sadly, it wasn’t hers, but almost as bizarrely, it was that of David Bowie – on whose behalf she was collecting an award: “Scotland, stay with us.”
Bowie is the not the most high profile person to have expressed an opinion on independence (by my reckoning, it is Vladimir Putin – pointing out the benefits of a ‘strong, single state’. I wonder where he gets his ideas from) but you’d be forgiven for thinking that he was. Twitter was saturated with tweets about his comment, he soon trended in the UK, and he was on the front page of the Scottish Sun the next morning. It was almost as if his opinion mattered.
But Bowie was only just another in a long line of celebrities to take sides in the debate. Many Yes supporters attacked Bowie for stating an opinion, whilst residing in the USA…just like actor Alan Cumming, who was one of the celebrities who launched the Yes campaign in 2012.
Regardless, it was the latest of many Changes in the campaign, and Bowie became Better Together’s latest Starman – which was lucky, as First Minister Alex Salmond was saying that the Better Together Sterling block had backfired, although not many people seemed to know why.
It hasn’t backfired, not yet anyway. A Scotland without the pound would leave it weaker economically, yes – but only to a point. A Scotland without the pound would be unlikely to have a share of the UK’s national debt, as that would be in Sterling – it would be a bit of a stumbling block during negotiations, to say the least.
George Osborne, beloved to so many Scots, said in a speech that there was nothing in law that said Scotland could keep Sterling post-indy. The comparisons are hardly fair here, but after the Irish became independent they didn’t adopt the pound – they adopted the punt, which was tied to Sterling to the point that shop staff in the Republic would take Bank of England notes. People in Zmbabwe allegedly use Sterling for some transactions, too. Then there’s the scores of nations that use the US Dollar. Maybe Alex should invest in BitCoin?
Better Together may have tried to put Yes Scotland Under Pressure, but really, when the public realise what’s happening, it’ll be both sides asking Where Are We Now?