Backwards Alex Salmond

Alex Salmond, Scottish PM and leader of the Scottish National Party, today presented his plan for Scottish independence. The referendum is planned for September 2014, and if  independence is approved, it will be declared on March 24th, 2016. His plan keeps the British pound and maintains the Bank of England as the economy’s lender of last resort, thus ceding all monetary policy control and imposing nontrivial limitations on fiscal policy, too. Salmond also envisions a smooth and immediate EU accession process, though he remains helpfully opaque on the actual details of how this would unfold. He argues in favor of all this with a few references to a more just and democratic Scotland, and then, oddly, by claiming that only with an independent Scotland can a dynamic, growing, job-creating Scottish economy develop.

Isn’t all of this exactly backwards? In what universe is an independent Scotland with no control over its monetary policy, and limited fiscal policy options better off than it is now? For maybe the next fifty years, sure; Scotland can accumulate North Sea oil profits without sending large chunks of them down to Westminster. But after that? Unless Alex Salmond plans on magically investing these profits in precisely the right way so as to turn Scotland into the economy of the future (some post-industrial combination of healthcare research, finance, and automated high-end manufacturing? Tidal energy?), it’s really difficult to imagine an independent Scotland is  economically better off than one that remains part of the United Kingdom.*

*The only plausible (utilitarian) argument in favor of Scottish independence would be something about a democratic deficit (unclear how true this actually is). Otherwise you’re treading on the (nonsensical?) territory of independence being the only way for Scots to “fulfill their national destiny” or something equally squishy and unhelpful