Why Alex Salmond can’t answer the currency question

Last night, from my London hotel room, I tuned in to STV using an online web service.  It spoke volumes that the debate on whether the United Kingdom is to remain as it is, was not broadcast outside of Scotland.  Here in England, there was only the heavily edited highlights on television afterwards.  Some might claim there was a lack of interest outside of Scotland though I’m sure STV would argue otherwise, especially as the second the clock turned eight, my online stream cut out.  They were overloaded.


It remained that way for a good twenty minutes, the site was down and even when it came back, it struggled to cope with the load of people in the United Kingdom desperate to hear the debate about the fate of their nation.  No doubt there were several trying to tune in internationally too.  It really was mad that the BBC didn’t just broadcast it to everyone but then, we already know they’re doing their best not to cover the independence referendum in anything other than a bad light.

UPDATE: I’ve been informed that BBC and Sky both requested rights to simulcast the debate but STV wanted to keep exclusive rights.  Ratings make the world go round it seems ;)   I’ve also learned that apparently STV made the debate available to the rest of ITV (In Scotland, we get STV in place of ITV, with most of the scheduling matching what you get on ITV).  ITV apparently chose not to show the debate, perhaps they couldn’t find the advertisers to make it profitable enough.

When I did get a stream running, there was the typical questioning that we’d expect, the same promises, threats and jibes from both sides but it was one key question to Alex Salmond that really stood out.  In the event of Scotland getting independence, the plan is clear, we will be pursuing a currency union with the remainder of the UK for use of the pound.  However, months ago, all the parties in Westminster stood up and said they would not allow this.  It’s a stance which is absolutely absurd.  England, Wales and Northern Ireland would benefit hugely from being able to trade with Scotland using the pound.  The Bank of England would still have some form of power over the Scottish, generally, if anyone would be at a disadvantage of a currency union, it’d be the Scottish with the rest of Britain at a great advantage over them, not much different to how the Euro operates.  Though it is still the best choice for Scotland, being able to trade with the remainder of the UK is important and while we can do that with another currency, we know life will be a lot easier if our currency is the same, for both us and the remainder of the UK.  We don’t want farmers living in Cumbria finding they have to change their money at the post office when they sell their cattle in Castle Douglas for instance, that would be absurd.  Indeed, absurd seems to be the word I’d use for the question as a whole.

Even though we know a currency union is best, even though we know that the parties in Westminster have only said we can’t have one for the sake of disrupting the campaign, it seems that millions have fallen for it.  It’s a bluff, it’s an absurd bluff, one we know they can’t possibly hold to if Scotland gets independence, they would just be shooting themselves in the foot.  But what if it’s not?  What if they actually follow through with it?  They won’t, anyone who has any understanding of the matter knows, not thinks or believes but genuinely knows, as fact, that they will not stop a currency union.  But that’s not the issue here, it’s the What If question.  This is the cleverest tactic of the Better Together campaign.  They have made thousands of people fear the What If question.  And why do they know people will fear it?  Because they know Alex Salmond can’t answer it.

Last night, Salmond avoided the question all together, which makes the folk supporting Better Together point and laugh out loud as they call out, “look, he doesn’t know, he doesn’t know what Plan B, C or D is!”  Salmond didn’t perform well last night when that question was posed, he stumbled because he can’t actually say the answer.  The answer that every body already knows.  Darling proved last night that he knows the answers to his question, he listed them off.  Option B, we have an unofficial currency union, Option C, we use the Euro and Option D, we create our own currency.  Everyone knows these are the other options, even Alistair Darling.  Yet they try to claim that Alex Salmond does not, implying that he is the one single human being in Scotland that does not know these options.  It’s not that he doesn’t know what Plan B is, it’s that he can’t possibly be seen to say it out loud.

If Salmond were to turn around and say all those alternatives, people would be quoting him for ever more as having declared what is the chosen currency for Scotland, they would pour press article after article screaming that he had given up and declared that we will not have a currency union.  Every discussion from then on would be, “have you heard, since they won’t let us have the pound, Salmond has said we’ll do Option X!  Is he insane?!”  And of course the answer would be yes, he would be insane, if there was a hope in hell that that would happen, because it won’t.  The aburdity of declaring that there will not be a currency union is gargantuan.  Why bother saying what you’ll do instead when you know for a fact that you won’t need to do it?  Why just give them something to use against you even though that something will never exist?

Alex can’t say what the Plan B that will never happen is because Better Together will just use it against him.  They’ve done nothing but try to scare people into thinking that an unanswered question means doom to a nation and this is the one single thing that, through the threat of a ridiculous press campaign, they can ensure will remain unanswered because they know it’s an absurd question to ask.  The problem is that it doesn’t sound like an absurd question and so the trap forms.  Answer an absurd question with an absurd answer that will be used against you to make you look absurd?  Or keep pushing the logical answer, the logical path that we all know is best for everyone not just in Scotland but the entirety of the people of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

There are so many reasons to vote Yes in six weeks time and all the other scare tactics have failed with clear and concise answers in response to them.  No wonder all Better Together can do is cling on to this one absurd question.

Airport security

20140805-063227-23547220.jpgMy current job involves travel. Three days out of my week are spent in London, which means my employer, at presumably great expense to them, puts me up in a hotel and has me fly down to the kingdom’s capital. I fly the Little Red at 0635 meaning my alarm must wake me at 0400 to ensure I’m at Edinburgh airport on time. I’m tired, not just in the early mornings, all the time.

It’s 0610, I’ll be boarding soonish, I’m surrounded by what appears to be half the Jamaican Commonwealth Games team, who will be on my flight it seems. I am wearing the same shirt and trousers this corporate job has me wearing every single week. I have the same stuff with me as ever, two shirts, boxers, a tiny bag that I’m not allowed to store my preferred toiletries in because they’re larger than 100ml in volume. Hell, I’ve had to tell my doctor that if he’s prescribing me anything, I can’t have it if it’s too big to take on a flight.

On the flight now, I tried choosing a seat at the back of the plane though the diagram has proven deceptive, apparently you can’t have a seat at the back, there are in fact ten more rows of seat that were not shown, on the website, behind me. The lady next to me says she thought she was to be at the back too. We both agree that Virgin Atlantic’s checkin system had a terrible user experience so it really isn’t all that surprising.

With all the same gear as I have everyday, I wonder why it is that the security scanners choose to start bleeping for every fourth time I head through them. I can rely perfectly that I’ve removed everything out of my pockets, I’ve taken my laptops out of my bag, I’ve put my phones and Kindle in my jacket pockets and I’ve removed said jacket for scanning. What am I doing wrong then? Why must the metal detector beep randomly anyway? Why must I then go through the body scanner? Why is it that even when the body scanner shows up nothing that they feel a pat down is necessary anyway. Oh and great, apparently my bag is now suspicious. It’s packed identically to how it always is but now my laptops need to have tests done on them, because terrorists are so prone to building incendiary MacBook Airs. It’s these false positives that piss me off. Nothing’s different to last time, or any other time I come through security two times every week. Yet a quarter of times, you decide something’s wrong. If you get it wrong 25% of the time for me, is it 25% wrong for those who mean us harm too? Or maybe you just have a 25% target to meet. I don’t know, I just know it pissed me off 25% more than my ordinary base level of pissed offness.

We’re boycotting marriage until it’s equal!

Bug and Me :)Today Her Majesty gave Royal assent to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act meaning that gay and humanist weddings will be able to take place in England and Wales. Living in Scotland, while part of the United Kingdom (for now), our parliament must pass its own bill before same sex marriage can take place here. With this in mind, my fiancé Heather and I have chosen to boycott marriage until everyone in Scotland, gay or straight, is able to marry!

We believe that if two people love each other they should be able to celebrate that love through marriage just as much as we can.  We honestly find the idea that this is even something that needs to be questioned quite baffling.

We are proud to be allies of equal marriage and want to help spread the word.  For all those who do think there is an issue, to carry on Stonewall’s message, some people are gay, get over it!


Bitter Together – Stop Banning Debate!

This video keeps being taken down because people who don’t support Scottish Independence don’t like its hard truths.

Now I don’t currently support independence but I do support grown up debate.  Don’t ask me to take it down, I won’t.

Alternatively download the video here (You may have to right click and choose to save it that way).

Hudud and Escape, a novel by Andy Barratt

On the 4th of November, I spotted a strange term trending on Google+, “#nanowrimo2012”.  I had no idea what it was or how much I would find myself tagging posts on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ with #nanowrimo after I found out exactly what was going on.

NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month.  The challenge?  Write or begin a novel with 50,000 words in 30 days.  I’ve wanted to write a novel several times, I’ve even tried.  Particularly stalkerish readers may even remember posts on this blog from years ago where I stated that I was writing one.  They all failed and, after going back to them, they were all awful.  30 days and 50,000 words?  I thought that was doable.  I’d had an idea for a story floating in my mind for a few days, just a single opening scene, so I wrote it and had my first 4,387 words already done.

I found myself wanting to write more but with work during the day, I couldn’t write until evening.  This turned out to be a blessing as the ideas I had during the day were able to form into full chapters, ready to write in the evenings.  Then these day dreamed chapters became collections of chapters.  After about a week, I knew the entire story.  I actually had a full story, from beginning to end, in my head.  That’s something I’d never been successful with in the past.

On the 26th day of NaNoWriMo, I’d finished my first draft, I’d started late and finished early.  51,723 words written in 22 days!  By the 29th, I had my 2nd draft and so I took a break.  I saw people saying I should claim the domain name for the title of my book so I did that too.  I also wrote a site which I’m quite proud of, put on your headphones and head over to www.hududandescape.com where you can read the first chapter.

I’m now working on my third draft and soon, I hope, I’ll be looking for people to represent it, to see if it’s something people think is worth publishing.  I believe it is but then, I expect many bad writers think what they write is a masterpiece.  I know the feedback from those who have read it so far has been good though and I hope they’re not just being nice to me.

Check out www.hududandescape.com and if you know of someone who you think might be interested in publishing it, please show them the site too.

My Favourite Area

This morning it was raining on my walk to work.  Now it often rains and whilst I find it depressing, I am generally used to it however this morning, the rain was cold, harsh, unyielding and most importantly, its angle fell directly upon my upper legs as they lifted one at a time in my 30 minute walk to work across Edinburgh.

I have experienced cold rain in Edinburgh but it’s the angle that upset me most, now my upper legs are frozen but the worst part?  My favourite body parts are frozen!  I remember when I was a kid I would often visit an elderly couple down the road who had lots of animals in their garden, ducks, chickens, peacocks, rabbits and cats.  Now these cats were Manx cats, for those of you who don’t know, a Manx cat is a cat mostly commonly found on the Isle of Mann that is missing its tail.  Usually with a small stump left in its place.

I often thought that Manx cats looked like they must be quite uncomfortable, with what looked like a stump where their favourite body part had been snapped off and this morning, as I sit here with my favourite body parts frozen, I can’t help but think of the Manx cats and feel a little frightened in case something falls off…


In other news, I’m considering re-branding this site from “Computer Scientist” to “Computer Badass”… I’m not entirely sure how well it would go down on my CV and business cards which share the same branding but these are things to be considered.

Google Maps has its oddities too

While we’re all jumping on the band wagon of pointing out that iOS6 Maps having bad maps (it does by the way, truly awful maps), let’s not forget that no body is perfect…

Not the first issue that I’ve found on Google Maps, let’s not forget what I found on a TomTom satnav a while back, Google AND Apple were based on Telemaps which meant that the same issue crept onto Google Maps too.  Thankfully, TomTom got in touch on that occasion and fixed the issue quickly.