The situation of financial crisis, coupled
with a hugely unpopular Westminster government that has found itself entirely
incapable of coming up with any solutions
beyond throwing more and more of our money at the banks, would seem a
perfect opportunity for the SNP to make their mark and assert the need for an
independent Scotland. With unemployment poised to reach two million and share
prices continuing to fall at the SNP conference, Alex Salmond has been reduced
to calling for the return of ‘Scotland’s money’ and blaming the collapse of
Scottish banks on the Union. Supposedly independence will save us from such
catastrophes in the future.
When the Bank of Scotland was in trouble in
the middle of September Salmond attacked the “spivs and speculators” who had
laid into a fine institution of Scottish finance. As is clear to all, the
economic crisis is in reality nothing but a plot by some shady figures in a
dark smoky room, designed to attack particular banks they happen to have a
national vendetta against.
However, the SNP have been left smarting by
developments over the last few weeks. In 2006 Salmond, a former banking
economist, cited Scotland as potentially having a place in Northern Europe’s ‘arc
of prosperity’ alongside other small nations such as Ireland and Iceland. Salmond has attempted to defend this by
arguing that except for Iceland
the other countries are not yet tipped for recession by the IMF. This means
nothing as the list grows everyday and the Irish workers are finding themselves
made liable for the failing of the major banks.
The old tale spun by the nationalists where
Scotland was to be a haven of economic growth, based on the strength of its
financial services sector seems thoroughly discredited, given recent events.
Clearly Salmond was just as caught up in illusions in the capitalist boom as
Brown and Darling, all be it with a tartan twinge.
development of the financial crisis has exposed the weaknesses of finance
capital internationally. The supposedly
modern prosperous and secure economies of the ‘arc of prosperity’ have been
shown to be vulnerable, with Iceland being left in a particularly precarious
situation. These economies were relatively unregulated and entirely dependent
on finance capital. As a result the economies of these countries were
effectively reliant on the ability of the banks to play the world market; to
place winning bets with other people’s money. All was well until the emergence
of the financial crisis. Iceland
is a tiny country and its banks had taken out risky investments resting on
activities all over the world. The government is powerless in the face of the
recession and due to attempts to bail out the banks that were in debt to an
amount several times the countries GDP Iceland is in effect bankrupt.
So this is the bright future the
nationalists have promised Scotland!
Or for some parts of Scotland
it is already the present; several Scottish local authorities are now in
serious financial trouble having taken out investments with Icelandic banks
that have now gone bust. In real terms this means the potential loss of
services and jobs and begs the question of why local authorities that cannot
find enough money to grant pay rises of above 2% to low paid staff have enough
funds to play at being venture capitalists.
In Ireland unemployment is beginning
to rise and the government has secured the banks to the equivalent of 125 000
Euros per person. The Celtic Tiger is no longer the ferocious beast it once was
and could well be in danger of extinction.
If Salmond had his way, Scotland would follow the same model. Edinburgh would have its
own stock exchange and the Scottish economy and government would become even
more dependent on the major financial institutions as the country became a playground
for finance capital. If the last few weeks have shown anything it is the effect
this would have on the lives of working people.
For all their trumpeted differences with
the national government, the SNP have supported every measure they have taken
to bail out the banks. Speaking of responsibility and a state of emergency
Salmond revealed himself to be the servant of the very “spivs and speculators”
he criticised. For all bankers are spivs and speculators, the market could not
function otherwise. Whether flying a Union Jack or a Saltire, the Westminster
and Hollyrood government have both shown themselves to be upholders of the
wealthy and privileged failures at the expense of the rest of us.