Wednesday 27 August 2014

Scotland's Vote 14: Career advice from Salmond

An old friend of Alex Salmond was unhappy in his job, and asked him for advice. This is how their conversation went:

SALMOND: I think you should quit your job, then have them hire you back as a consultant, on exactly the terms you want. You will participate in only the projects you want and no others.
FRIEND: Sounds great, but what if it doesn't work?
SALMOND: It will work.
FRIEND: Yes, but what if it doesn't?
SALMOND: Why wouldn't it? You're good at your job, right?
SALMOND: Then it is clearly in their best interest to work with you. You've helped build up the company, so you're entitled to their cooperation after you leave.
FRIEND: Yeah, but my boss doesn't see it that way. He said if I leave, he's never working with me again.
SALMOND: He will do what I say is the sensible thing, because that's what people in positions of authority always do.
FRIEND: That isn't strictly true. I need a plan B. Should I look for another job, start my own business, or take early retirement?
SALMOND: Yes, you can do one of those.
FRIEND: But which one?
SALMOND: You don't need to choose one, because your original plan is best for you and it will work out just fine. As long as your boss understands it's what you really want, he will agree.
FRIEND: It's not totally under my control. I really do need to think about which of these three fallback options is best for me.
SALMOND (getting angry): What is the matter with you? You have three different alternative plans! That's better than having only one! Plans are like buses, it's great when three of them turn up at once. There's no need to discuss it any further than that.
FRIEND (backing away slowly): OK, Alex. Thanks for the help, but I have to be going now.

The parallels with Monday's referendum debate on currency union should be obvious.

A few other points:
  • It is curious that on the one hand, the SNP believes the Westminster establishment is cruel, rapacious, and cares nothing for the welfare of the British people. On the other, they claim Westminster will reverse its firmly declared policy and agree to Salmond's plan for currency union. This will happen because of... what? Salmond's charming personality? The British state's sense of natural justice? Putting your faith in these things is a rather large gamble.
  • In the debate, Salmond kept repeating that he wanted a mandate from the Scottish people to have a currency union. If the government and people of the rest of the UK do not want a currency union, as appears to be the case, it will not happen. Under those circumstances, it does not matter how fervently and sincerely the Scots desire one.
  • Salmond insists no one can stop Scotland from using the pound. Any person or government can "use the pound" in the sense of having a bank account denominated in sterling; but only the Bank of England can issue new pounds on demand in order to act as a lender of last resort. My bank account in sterling does not give me operational control of the Bank of England, and the same would hold true for an independent Scotland.
I've spent a lot of time on this issue, but it is important. I will explain why in another short post, before moving onto other topics.


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    1. Removed an unintentionally hilarious comment from a spambot, which thought this was a serious article about career advice.