Alex Massie

SNP to World: Help!

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How would the SNP have delat with the banking crisis? The FT's Jim Pickard points out that "This is a valid question. The rescue of the Scottish banks has cost British taxpayers an estimated £2,000 per household. If Scotland was independent, the figure could have been closer to £13,000. How would it have coped?“

Mike Russell, the minister for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, replied:

"It would have been slightly different, it would have probably been done in co-operation with other countries…we would have done it in partnership with everyone involved.”

Now perhaps the ECB might have helped and perhaps the Nationalists could have rustled up some cash from elsewhere but this seems hopeful in the extreme. Maybe London would have contributed given that RBS and HBS do much more business south of the border than they do north of it. But of course even if - hypothetically - London had contributed to a Scottish banking bailout (for fear of the impact their collapse would have had in England) that would itself illustrate the extent to which certain kinds of Britishness would continue to operate even after the "break-up" of Britain. That's not a bad thing from the nationalist perspective (though Alex Salmond hasn't been talking much about the "Social Union" recently) but to others it can only illustrate what they see as the essential pointlessness of the SNP agenda.

As for Russell's answer here, well, I think it means: "I dinnae ken. But help!" Well, as the old saw has it, ye ken noo.

Dramatic irony is provided, of course, by the fact that the banks and financial services were supposed to lead to independence, not put a brake on the Long March to McFreedom. Events, laddie, events...

[Thanks to Scottish Unionist for the spot.]

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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