Except in fairly extreme circumstances, it's probably a bit silly to call for a boycott of anything. But from a personal point of view, I might find it necessary to give the Yahoo UK home page a wide berth in future if there's any repeat of what happened today. Basically they've taken a Telegraph opinion piece from a man who evidently holds the entire nation of Scotland in sneering contempt, and summarised his main argument ("there is a fatal financial contradiction in the Scottish National Party's plans for independence") on the home page as if they were reporting 'news' or 'fact'. Why Yahoo have even chosen to republish such a rambling and utterly unoriginal diatribe is rather baffling (can we look forward to an article putting forward the alternative view, and if not, why not?), but at a minimum we were entitled to expect a disclaimer that this was merely one man's opinion, not a truth being passed down from God.
Anyway, let's take a quick look at Jeremy Warner's article itself, starting with the title -
"Why would Scotland turn itself into Greece?"
I don't know. This, and a number of other questions equally unrelated to the subject of independence, are likely to remain an impenetrable mystery. Why, for example, would Cat Deeley want to turn herself into the Taj Mahal? Why would a mauve bison want to materialise on Jupiter and start singing the greatest hits of Girls Aloud? We quite simply DON'T KNOW.
"What Scotland will in fact be voting on is whether to give its devolved government a mandate to negotiate independence."
No, it won't, actually. That was the wording of the original proposed 'consultative' question that the Scottish government could have asked with or without the UK government's consent. The actual question will be much more direct.
"Now obviously, Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, has his wish list. It goes something like this. You keep all the national debt, we keep all the oil..."
Sigh. No, Jeremy. What Mr Salmond is actually proposing is as follows -
* Scotland 'keeps' only the oil in its own sovereign waters.
* England, meanwhile, keeps the oil in its sovereign waters.
* Scotland 'keeps' a share of the national debt in proportion to its share of the UK population.
Tell me, Jeremy, exactly what is so unreasonable or unrealistic about this 'wish-list'? You wouldn't be the first unionist who appears to think that London should have proprietorial rights over the natural resources of another sovereign state, but it would be no less entertaining to hear you attempt to justify such a startling proposition.
"Salmond is demanding a whopper of a divorce settlement, even though he is, as it were, the guilty party."
Yes, folks, you heard that right. If you want to exercise your right under international law to self-determination, you are 'wronging' someone else. You must consequently make financial reparations for your 'guilt'. There speaks the authentic voice of unionist journalism in London.
"To put it mildly, to vote for fiscal and political separation, but for the continuation of monetary union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland, is a contradiction in terms. If there is one thing we have learnt from Europe’s experiment in monetary union, it is that it won’t work unless accompanied by fiscal union and political federalism."
And if I've learned one thing in my life, it's that "2+2=22"-type assertions by the assistant editor of the Telegraph are not necessarily the same thing as hard fact. But in any case, what is actually meant by "federalism"? Is this an example of the Eurosceptic worldview that cannot distinguish between the actual meaning of the word "federal" (entrenched decentralisation of power) and the dystopian fantasy of a centralised "superstate"? In a genuinely federal UK, for example, Scotland could be expected to enjoy considerably more self-government than it currently does, and all the powers held by Holyrood would be far more entrenched. At present, the Scottish Parliament could theoretically be abolished at any time by Westminster, which also retains an unrestricted power to "legislate for Scotland".
"In Europe, the strategy has been to start with monetary union, and then, however implausibly, make everyone march in lockstep towards fiscal and political union....
Scotland would be doing the whole process in reverse. It starts with fiscal union, and then… well, who really knows? I’m damned if I can figure it out."
Then why allow yourself to be handsomely paid for wittering on about a subject you openly admit you don't understand? All the same, you seem to be implying that an independent Scotland that is fiscally constrained by being part of a sterling currency zone could end up enjoying even less autonomy than it currently does under devolution. Let me give you a small hint here - it wouldn't. Seriously. I suspect you know that, Jeremy, in spite of all this disarming self-deprecation about your lack of knowledge.
"The point is that monetary union doesn't work unless those involved are in pretty much perfect economic, fiscal, monetary and political alignment. We are therefore left with one over-riding question about Scottish separation: beyond bravado and grandstanding by a small cadre of senior politicians, what precisely is the point of it?"
Well, let's be ultra-generous and suppose for the sake of argument that Jeremy's assumption of a need for "perfect alignment" isn't the utter tripe we all know it is. What could an independent Scotland still do under the extreme type of economic constraint he implies? Well, how about this for starters -
1. It could get weapons of mass destruction off its soil.
2. It could opt out of London's illegal wars.
3. It could decide its own immigration policy.
4. It could tighten restrictions on the ownership of guns.
5. It could revitalise Scottish public service broadcasting.
6. It could decide its own law on abortion.
7. It could settle its own overseas aid budget.
8. It could reach its own extradition agreements, ending the outrage of the UK's unequal agreement with the United States.
9. It could properly control energy policy and the railways.
10. It could end the war on the poor and vulnerable by assuming control of its own welfare budget.
OK, we give in, Jeremy. Quite plainly the stuff of trivia, every last one.