In 2004 Alex Salmond, along with other SNP MPs, sought to impeach Tony Blair for taking the United Kingdom into war in Iraq on a false prospectus. The attempt failed, running into the sand when Blair resigned as Prime Minister to make way for Gordon Brown in 2007.
Had Scotland voted Yes to independence in 2014, the same Alex Salmond would surely be facing calls now that he be impeached. Never in our history has there been a dodgier dossier than the Scottish Government’s independence white paper.
It was a grotesque con—a wilful deception—that Scotland could obtain independent statehood cost-free. The Scottish Government misled us about the woeful condition of the nation’s finances, lied to us about our EU membership, and blustered its way through a hopeless policy—if indeed you can call it that—on the currency an independent Scotland would use.
Fortunately, enough of us saw through it, and the SNP’s pet project was defeated.
Alex Bell, the SNP’s former head of policy, has confessed to the truth, even if his former paymasters remain in stubborn denial. “The SNP’s model of independence is broken beyond repair,” he wrote last November. He’s right.
The independence white paper was called Scotland’s Future. It was pointed out at the time that an anagram of Scotland’s Future is “Fraudulent Costs”. Little did we suspect that the fraud was quite so spectacular.
This is not just about oil, although its plunging price is part of the story. It’s really about one hard economic fact: you cannot spend and save the same money at the same time. Scotland spends more than it earns in tax receipts. Upon independence, therefore, Scotland would have no choice but to cut spending, raise taxes or borrow more and, as a new, untested, state, the cost of its borrowing would have been eye-watering.
Now, there is a noble case to be made for independence. It’s a case that admits all of this, accepts that it’s all true, and says that we should vote for it anyway. Of course freedom has its price, a Nationalist could say, but it is a price we should be prepared to pay. Personally, I’d never sign up to this—I think it’s mad—but it is at least honest. Unlike the case for independence that Mr Salmond sought to make in 2014.
The last person to be impeached in the United Kingdom was a Scot, Henry Dundas, in 1806. The charge against him was misappropriation of public money. He was acquitted, but he never again held office. What a state Scotland would be if one of its first acts upon independence was the impeachment of its First Minister Alex Salmond. He, like all of us, is fortunate indeed that his dream died on 18 September 2014.