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Lamont's attacks on monetary policy lack currency

Published on 1 June 2012

JOHANN Lamont has become fixated, all of a sudden, with the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England.

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For Labour in Scotland, this is a twist. No-one in those circles has mentioned money or policy since Gordon Brown did the long walk from Downing Street.Lamont reckons, nevertheless, that there is a SNP gaffe to be found in loose talk by Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister. The latter has been heard to say that Scotland would be demanding a seat on the MPC when we become – I think I've got this right – independent-within-Britain. Lamont is worried, supposedly, by Nationalist presumption.

It's either that or she means to bore us all to death in the aeons remaining before a referendum. This might turn out to be a cunning tactic. How many months can a sane person spend pondering the lender of last resort for the independent Groat?

Lamont wanted to know if Alex Salmond has been in negotiations with the governor of the bank. She then wanted to know what will happen "when Scotland is a foreign country". (Foreign to whom? one wondered). In short, she was spinning hypotheticals in "this constitutional quagmire".

As far as it went – not as far as you could throw it – this was fair enough. The SNP has a tendency towards glibness where the practicalities of its post-independence hopes are concerned.

Salmond nevertheless said Scotland is worth £30 billion to the Treasury, and could therefore flex a few muscles as a semi-independent state. Lamont denounced this as "meaningless assertion after meaningless assertion".

She might want to be wary of those. Week after week we are promised "a positive case for the Union". Week after week, Unionists assert – and this is worse than meaningless – that an independent country would not enjoy the same currency arrangements as the Channel Islands.

Yesterday, Lamont acted as though her heart wasn't in it. Ruth Davidson, for the Tories, had another catastrophe when Salmond produced the numbers to show that students from the north of Ireland are not, in fact, flooding our universities. For the LibDems, Willie Rennie turned up, still acting as if the Coalition has nothing to do with him.

If we are to have two more years of this, all concerned should get a grip. The only bright spot was an omission: not a soul mentioned the Queen, even as a monarch of last resort.

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