While we might be momentarily distracted by the freak weather or the result of the Wythenshawe by election this morning, we need to pay attention to what has just happened in the battle over Scottish independence.


The issue will have big consequences for the economy of the North although debate here has been minimal. Perhaps that will now change because what has happened this week is momentous. For the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems all to say explicitly, and in advance, of September’s vote that there will be no currency union between a continuing UK and an independent Scotland is highly significant.


All talk of keeping powder dry, not showing one’s hand and keeping the Nationalists guessing is out the window. We are now in the business of threats and warnings.


If the Scottish people vote for independence they will either have to invent their own currency or use sterling without any formal agreement with the Bank of England, a risky proposition.


It’s a huge gamble by the unionist parties. It may kill off the lingering possibility of a yes vote. Fear of being personally worse off or risking Scotland’s economy are the key stumbling blocks for Scottish Nationalist leader Alex Salmond. However it could work the other way. The tripartite declaration of war by the unionist parties could galvanise the Braveheart spirit. It could induce a “so be it” mentality amongst wavering Scots.


One has to ask why the unionist parties have taken this step? Up to now the received wisdom was that a yes vote wasn’t going to happen and the less said by politicians south of the border the better. But now we’ve had the Governor of the Bank of England and the Chancellor making interventions in Scotland and David Cameron proclaiming from “Mount Olympus” in London on the issue.


The truth is panic has set in because of a narrowing of the opinion polls.


It may be no bad thing that we are all clear now about what is at issue. I have always thought that Alex Salmond, brilliant politician though he is, was a “cake and eat it man”. Don’t forget he campaigned for a third question on the ballot paper. Devo max would have given Scotland even more devolved power and money, short of independence. That’s what Salmond expected Scots to vote for and David Cameron was right to deny him the fudge.


Salmond used to favour the Euro as his preferred currency but for this referendum had come round firmly to staying with sterling. But an independent Scotland bound into sterling would allow Salmond to pretend he was free whilst retain the insurance that if everything goes belly up, as it did with RBS etc in 2008, he could rely on London bailing him out.


Well now you now Alex, you’d be on your own.






Business needs to get the message, ordinary people are angry.


I was at the meeting in London on Saturday when Ed Balls committed Labour to a 50p income tax rate for those earning over £150,000 a year. Before I could get the train dear old Digby Jones and Curry King Gulam Noon were spluttering about Labour lurching to the loony left.


Two days later RBS reveal the latest £3bn bill that we have to pick up for bankers disgraceful behaviour .


Now I know business and banking are different activities, but the continuing banking scandals are eroding people’s confidence in capitalism and certainly putting them in the mood to soak the rich.


What is so disturbing about the continuing banking scandal is that the mentality that led to the crash in 2008 has not fundamentally changed. Investigations are on going about the Libor scandal which continued way beyond 2008. In relation to RBS, 80% owned by us, they announced no bonuses this year BUT their chairman Sir Philip Hampton wants a shareholder vote on paying 200% of salary bonuses next year!


So it should be no surprise that Labour Leader Ed Miliband isn’t on the prawn cocktail circuit wooing business and he may have nudged a more reluctant Balls into making the 50p announcement early. Miliband sees the way the political wind is blowing and is keen to capture the fairness argument.


The first test of whether he’s right or not will come in the Wythenshawe and Sale East by election. Launching the campaign Labour had their Deputy Leader Harriet Harman having a game of indoor bowls at a lifestyle centre and risking headlines about missing the target. In the event the launch went reasonably smoothly for local man Mike Kane who is the party’s standard bearer.




The main point of interest will be the performance of UKIP. They’ve achieved second place in a string of recent northern by elections and will want to repeat the feat in Wythenshawe.


I’m told they are denying my claim that they opened nominations for the by election before the late MP Paul Goggins was dead.


Well I have seen an email from Party Director Lisa Duffy saying “Paul Goggins is seriously ill and there may be a potential for a by election, whilst we wish him well we need to plan for eventualities!”


People have a laugh with pint swigging Nigel Farage and find his anti establishment rhetoric refreshing. They should also bear in mind the party’s darker side and the fact that their policy of withdrawing from the European Union could wreck our economy.


Labour are clearly keeping an eye on UKIP. Their Wythenshawe Voice leaflet gives five reasons why they aren’t the answer, and at a Fabian conference I attended in London last weekend the point was repeatedly made that some working class Labour voters, as well as Tories, were attracted to UKIP’s policy on immigration.



I see the Chelsea boss wants to end replays in the FA Cup because of fixture congestion.


Excuse me. Teams like mine, Plymouth Argyle, don’t suffer from fixture congestion. As our ex boss Ian Holloway said once, that’s because we’re like a tea bag, not in the Cup very long.


Lower division clubs make some badly needed cash from replays and Premier League clubs with their budgets can afford big squads precisely to deal with lots of fixtures.


I yearn for the days when teams went to third and fourth replays. That would make yours eyes water Jose!


The FA must stand up for the minnows.