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I read this Breitbart article with excitement:  SNP Leader Alex Salmond won the second debate with former Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer (think Secretary of the Treasury) Alistair Darling after a lackluster first debate.

At the start it looked like Darling might win by throwing mud on Salmond’s ‘Plan B’ if the United Kingdom government refused to allow a full currency union. Anyone watching would think this was a rerun of the last debate in which Salmond struggled to answer the question, and he certainly fell flat when he attempted to suggest that he had come up with “three Plan B’s for the price of one”.

But as the mammoth 90-minute debate went on Salmond strengthened and pushed Darling to admit that an independent Scotland could use the pound without the permission of what was left of the UK government. This was a horrendous gaffe by Darling that is now likely to fill headlines for days.

Darling agreed with what Sandy has been saying for months at this blog!

Darling said: “of course we can use the pound, we could use the rouble, we could use the dollar, we could use the Yen…” It was a generic comment and no change in policy from Darling but it cost him the debate.

Salmond also made a persuasive argument that the UK would have to enter into a currency union or face the potential of loss of the allocation of the Scottish national debt by the new nation.  But as good at the Breitbart coverage was, it did not deeply touch on just how torched Darling was in this debate, just a day or two before voters can mail in their ballots.  I listened to the debate at C-Span tonight.

As to the NHS, Darling tried to link a strong National Health Service to remaining in the Union.  But Salmond argued persuasively that an independent Scotland could resist any attempts to privatize the NHS or charge patients to use it.  It was brilliant – although the NHS ought to be privatized and neither Salmond nor Darling has a free-market or libertarian bone in his body!  In fact, Salmond could have skewered Darling if he had read this blog entry when Darling said he did not want any part of the Panamanian banking system for five minutes!  The Adam Smith Institute actually cited some awesome stats on the banking system in the Central American nation which is one of the few nations without a central bank.

Salmond also seems to have adopted the emotional issues surrounding independence in an effective manner.  He cited the “will of the Scottish people”, echoing the first Irish President Eamon de Valera (who is no hero of mine) and made it a powerful slogan.  Salmond also tried unsuccessfully to get Darling to commit to helping an independent Scotland get the currency union.  Darling, fearing that his “concession” would be yet another gaffe in the debate (he would have been right) refused to do so.

Darling tried to assert that the SNP Leader and Scottish First Minister had not cited what would if the new UK refused to enter into a currency union but Salmond gave three answers, one was continue to use sterling.  (The other two were something like what Denmark does which is tie their currency to the euro and the other was to peg the Scottish pound to another currency like Hong Kong ties its money to the dollar.)

Salmond tied Darling down when the pro-Unionist could not name three new job-making powers that the UK would cede to a Scotland remaining in the Union.  It wasn’t quite as bad as Texas Governor Perry’s infamous debate non-answer in 2012 (Ron Paul of course confidently replied:  “I’d start with the departments:  Education, Energy and Homeland Security”) but it was telling.

I loved the free-wheeling style – constant interruptions of each other.

Salmond also promised a new constitution for an independent Scotland.  (The UK needs one too, to stop EU meddling such as prisoners voting in elections!)

Now here’s some criticisms:  Salmond sounds terribly ungrateful for nuclear weapons and how they kept Scotland during the Cold War free to make decisions of its own like independence.  Darling did not (or could not) make that point.  But Darling scored one of his few points in the loss of 8,000 jobs associated with the British Trident nuclear submarine fleet if it were moved to the new UK.  Salmond should have suggested Trident remain in Scotland and then the UK PAY Scotland for the privilege of keeping Trident there.

Closing statements:  Salmond won here too:  He took another page from the Sandy book – actually the William Wallace book – when he said the “…future of Scotland should be in the hands of the people of Scotland.” and used the challenges of independence as a rallying cry to unity.  It was very well done.  Salmond also made the point that independence is being decided peacefully at the ballot box (a choice Lincoln refused to give the South in 1861!) and he was thrilled to be a part of it.

Darling tried to say that Scots could have pride in accomplishments and yet remain in the UK.  But his points were primarily throughout the debate – we can’t take the risk – no, no, no.  It was negative and Salmond pounced on it.

Now, this debate is again on C-SPAN early Tuesday AM and there is a live blog at the Guardian (UK) website here!

Finally, some new ideas for Salmond:

1.  Make it clear:  If you vote NO I resign and we have a new government:  The SNP has no purpose now and Salmond is repudiated by his own people.  I think it can’t be any other way.  So say it and say it again.  Yes, it is a modified De Gaulle strategy but it is necessary.  (I think the SNP will break up even with an YES because it accomplished its purpose:  Independence for Scotland.  It might open up the nation for a free market libertarian party in Scotland which is desperately needed!)

2.  Wrap yourself up in William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and the Bonnie Prince Charlie.  Talk about how the Union was formed:  The MPs in both England and Scotland voted yes but the Scottish MPs arguably ignored public opinion as was said at this official Parliamentary site on the Union of 1707:

In October 1706 the Scottish Parliament met to consider and ratify the Articles of Union. Publication of the Articles triggered widespread unrest. Violent demonstrations took place outside Parliament House, and inside there were fears that the building would be invaded by protesters.


A total of 96 petitions were presented against the union, most in November and December 1706, during the debates on the Articles. They were designed to show to undecided MPs the widespread unpopularity of the proposed terms.

It is possible that the petitions and their messages had some influence in the changes made to the Articles. But the Duke of Argyll, one of the leaders of the Scottish Court party, said that petitions were little more than “paper kites” – a revealing insight into how governments of the day regarded public opinion.

And there were two rebellions against British rule – in 1715 and 1745.  After 1745, the wearing of the kilt was prohibited for a time.  Hardly a popular union.

The 1707 Act of Union sounded more like the EU’s idea of union!

If YES wins, the bill is in the mail to the new Head of State of a Free Scotland:  Alex Salmond!








About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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