On the prospect of a referendum on Scottish independence: initial thoughts

The first is that nothing has happened so far in the debate provoked by Cameron’s high-risk, and previously occluded, plan to play Call My Bluff with the Nationalists in Scotland to disabuse me of my view of referendums. I would suggest that the reason the arguments over the timing and the form of question are already overheated is because the actors involved understand perfectly well that plebiscites are exercises in manufacturing consent for projects that have already been chosen by …

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On Ireland and the case for Scottish independence

One wonders whether in the future small and medium-sized countries will begin to worry when commentators start using their economies as case-studies: whom the gods of economic history wish to destroy, first they make them examples from which wider lessons should be drawn? Everyone remembers that this was the case with Ireland and its apparent economic miracle. For free-marketeers, Ireland showed the virtues of providing a business-friendly environment with its competitive cuts in corporation tax. Young George Osborne, for example, …

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