Hank the Hallucination to Ed Balls: “Dude…Get Real”


By Mark McNaught
For those of you who did not live in Austin Texas in the 1980’s, Hank the Hallucination was an iconic newspaper comic strip character from a local series called Eyebeam.  Hank was actually nominated as a candidate for President of the Student Council at the University of Texas in 1982.  

By Mark McNaught
For those of you who did not live in Austin Texas in the 1980’s, Hank the Hallucination was an iconic newspaper comic strip character from a local series called Eyebeam.  Hank was actually nominated as a candidate for President of the Student Council at the University of Texas in 1982. 
Despite Hank’s lack of physical existence, he won over actual human being and later advisor to Bill Clinton / CNN pundit Paul Begala.  Lamenting on his loss, Begala opined “I cannot help but feel Hank’s platform is illusory at best ….  I must say that the candidate himself lacks substance.”

I thought of Hank when I read yet another scare-story from a floundering mainstream rag uncritically reporting Ed Balls’ threat to expel Scotland from the pound after a vote for independence, especially if he becomes Chancellor. 

According to a hallucinating Balls:

“The idea of the pound operating as a sort of parallel currency in Scotland is utterly economically incoherent.  It would be massively destabilising.  There is no financial institution without a proper regulator and lender of last backing.  Unless he – Salmon – wants to join the euro, a separate currency is very problematic for a small country like Scotland.  Alex Salmond is trying to have his cake and eat it and he can’t.  I think he is living in a dream world if he thinks that’s going to happen.”

The nightmare of rough negotiations would follow, the r-UK would make Scotland’s life hell, so Scots should just enjoy their colonial status and lack of self-governance and vote ‘no’.  We got it.  Heard it before.  Yadda yadda.  Whatever man. 

This argument for maintaining the massive North-Sea petroleum revenue stream going directly to the UK treasury and WMD’s in Faslane is undoubtedly familiar to Scots.  It is but one flower in the bouquet of the time-tested “weak colony cannot survive without powerful imperial overlord” arguments.  “International institutions will never forgive Scotland for dumping their best mate Westminster and would spitefully exclude them, thus making Scots even wee-er and poorer” is in there too. 

For Scots still undecided on how to vote, ask yourselves how many former British colonies exploited for their raw materials and strategic position are currently clamouring to get back into Westminster to ‘enjoy’ their benevolent protection?

Ed Balls, along with the rest of Westminster, should ditch the bluster and get real over what their threats would actually entail over the pound, the Monarchy, the Commonwealth, NATO, the EU, and all the other institutions that Scotland would purportedly be expelled from for seeking self-determination.

To carry through on his threat over the pound, Ed Balls needs to explain what mechanism exists for revoking the pound from Scotland, even though it is already a shared currency.  The Channel Islands use the pound, and are not part of the UK.  Why can’t Scotland? If the UK did punitively concoct some scheme to exclude Scotland and follow through, why not simply form a petroleum-backed fiscal union with Norway, thus making energy more expensive for the r-UK?

Would it not be more disruptive to exclude Scotland from a currency union than to include it?  Dude…get real.  The r-UK will rapidly find a way to keep Scotland in a currency union after independence.

We haven’t yet heard many threats over Scotland being expelled from the Monarchy.  This is unsurprising given that this archaic feudal institution has zero democratic legitimacy.  The r-UK should be delighted that Scotland might be willing to keep the Monarchy until Elizabeth’s reign comes to an end, then choose to upgrade to an elected head of state.
As for the Commonwealth, I laughed when the BBC reported that Scotland’s entry was ‘not automatic’ following a vote to abandon the Westminster system of government.   This is despite the fact that the Commonwealth exists because most of its members did exactly the same thing.  If even the Commonwealth puts onerous conditions on Scottish adhesion…dude…weak.   Scots can bail and let the Commonwealth play games with itself.

As for NATO, why would members not be able to find a way to keep a non-nuclear Scotland under its umbrella, despite its increasing irrelevance.  What is the point of excluding Scotland?  Even if they do, there are many Scots who would be delighted to leave NATO.  After a ‘yes’ vote, luminary NATO minds will figure it out.

As for the EU, there is no mechanism to expel EU ‘regions’ which become independent, and the risk for Scotland being kicked out is greater if they vote ‘no’.  Is EU really going to expel Scotland if they vote for independence? Get real.

The broader point is that once Scots vote for independence, these institutions will adapt and find a way for Scotland to remain in, if that is what Scots desire.  These institutions need Scotland as a member to retain their relevance and legitimacy, both of which would be greatly diminished if Scotland were expelled from them.  The message would be: exercise your right to self-determination, and you automatically become an international pariah.  They don’t want to go there…man.   

Westminster is beginning to fathom how their status will be affected after Scotland votes for independence.  The British ’empire’ will be definitively extinguished, along with any pretension of ‘world power’ status.  They will need to decide whether they want to reinvest in their nuclear ‘deterrent’ with Trident nuclear submarines stationed in Portsmouth or better yet Embankment, or if they want to ditch nukes and invest in making the r-UK a more just and equitable society. 

If they expel Scotland from the pound, NATO, the Monarchy, the Commonwealth, the BBC, or whatever else they can think of, the r-UK will be diminished, not Scotland.

Scots will do just fine after independence, no matter which institutions needlessly find a scheme to punitively exclude them.  Ed Balls, Westminster, and the rest of the to-be r-UK should follow Hank’s advice.  Stop hallucinating that Westminster is the centre of a great democracy that equally represents all its citizens and countries. 

After Scottish independence, Wales, Northern Ireland, and maybe even England will seek alternate constitutional arrangements, perhaps even before.  Dude…get real…and plan for how the r-UK will deal with Scottish independence, not the other way around.  You will owe it to your remaining citizens.