Blazing Saddles and the Tory suicide bumbler

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  By G.A.Ponsonby
 
There is a memorable scene in the classic Mel Brooks movie Blazing Saddles when the black sheriff, confronted by townsfolk brandishing guns, grabs his own gun and puts it to his own head.
 
“The next man makes a move and the ni**er gets it” he says to the mob. 

“Hold it men, he’s not bluffing” exclaims one of the ringleaders, “He’s just crazy enough to do it” says another.

  By G.A.Ponsonby
 
There is a memorable scene in the classic Mel Brooks movie Blazing Saddles when the black sheriff, confronted by townsfolk brandishing guns, grabs his own gun and puts it to his own head.
 
“The next man makes a move and the ni**er gets it” he says to the mob. 

“Hold it men, he’s not bluffing” exclaims one of the ringleaders, “He’s just crazy enough to do it” says another.

George Osborne and his hapless sidekick Danny Alexander rode into town this week brandishing guns pointed at their own heads.

“Don’t vote yes,” said Osborne to the bemused Scottish onlookers “or the UK economy gets it”.

It was one of the most surreal scare stories yet dreamed up by the anti-independence campaign and it relied on an almost total suspension of economic reality for it to work.

According to the Conservative Chancellor, should Scots opt for independence in 2014, then the rest of the former United Kingdom – namely England, Wales and Northern Ireland – would block any agreement aimed at creating a sterling zone.

In short, Osborne would refuse to consider any setup that would see Scotland continue to use the services of the bank of England, an institution incidentally that Scots actually already part own.

But the most bizarre part of Osborne’s game of bluff was that the losers, should he see it through, would be England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Scotland you see is a rich country, very rich in fact.  There’s the small matter of the black gold and the amber gold – oil and whisky respectively, and there’s also gas.  Of course Scotland has other industries that generate significant wealth – tourism, food & drink and financial services to name but three.

It’s a very healthy source of revenue to help with the balance of payments in a sterling zone.  These revenue streams are available now to Osborne, and boy was he lucky this week that they were.  Without the North Sea, then George was staring at ignominy as the only Chancellor to preside over a triple-dip recession.

Few realise that North Sea revenue was a key component in the avoidance of a triple-dip this week.  Figures from the ONS show that mining & quarrying – the heading under which North Sea oil & gas extraction comes – grew by 3.2% in the first quarter of 2013, a rise largely attributed to increased production in the oil & gas sector.

If a newly independent Scotland was indeed spurned by a Westminster Chancellor as economically illiterate as Osborne claimed to be, then England, Wales and Northern Ireland would be hard hit.

Last year, Oil and Gas UK published figures which estimated that North Sea oil and gas production alone boosted the UK’s balance of payments by £32 billion in 2010, almost halving the UK’s deficit.  It contributed £40bn to the UK balance of payments in 2011/12.

Of course an independent Scotland would accrue these receipts to a Scottish Exchequer, but a currency Union would see the rest of the former UK benefit indirectly through the balance of payments which these figures would contribute to.

North Sea revenue has helped ease the UK’s balance of payments deficit for decades.  This was hit a couple of years ago when Danny Alexander and George Osborne came up with the wheeze of hitting firms with an unexpected tax hike that caused investment to stall and production to drop.

In an indication of just how valuable North Sea assets are, that policy was soon reversed.

Experts claim that the size of the UK’s deficit could lead to the pound depreciating and a fall in living standards.  The pound is now worth 20% less than it was in 2008 and the expected increase in exports has been offset by more expensive imports from the EU

Osborne’s threat to veto a mutually agreed currency union would exacerbate the already precarious situation for the rest of the former UK.

The suicide bumbler and his economic Jihad was a scare story so ridiculous it deserved to blow up in his face like a giant custard pie.

Unionists though flocked to the chancellor’s side and the bizarre lemming like scenario was presented to the Scottish electorate as though credible.

Some though, despite knowing it was risible nonsense embellished the story by injecting the spectre of the euro into the narrative, even though no country can be forced to join the euro.

Ham-acting

One was BBC Scotland’s Business and Economy Editor, Douglas Fraser who decided that, rather than educating the Scottish electorate on the merits, or otherwise, of a currency union that a bit of ham-acting and flippant presentation of ‘options’ [that nobody was advocating] was what the debate required.

The item was introduced with ever so large pictures of euro coins in the Reporting Scotland studio backdrop.  A portent of the poor quality analysis to come was evident when a caption appeared that miss-spelled George Osborne’s name.  The carefully selected vox-pop, again relying on the euro, merely served to compound the shallowness of the item.

Fraser’s Reporting Scotland stint followed an earlier predictably ‘balanced’ analysis on Good Morning Scotland, in which he again relied heavily on the spectre of the euro.  So carried away at one point was Mr Fraser that he actually stated the SNP wants to join the currency and threw in a reference to Greece for good measure.

Labour were also in favour of the euro under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown refused to rule out joining, famously listing five economic tests that if passed meant that the UK would have adopted the currency.  But that is neatly airbrushed out of the BBC narrative that must paint the SNP as the only party ever to have considered the euro.

We want certainty, say Unionists … a refrain echoed by the BBC.  But of course it is with the BBC’s help that this latest ‘uncertainty’ is being promoted and given credibility.

What currency will we be using if Scots vote Yes in 2014?  The pound, and Scottish ones at that.

If George Osborne adopts the same stance in post referendum negotiations following a Yes vote then the Westminster delegation will forcibly eject him from the room … whether he has a gun to his own head or not.

Blazing Saddles