"One can't believe impossible things."
So said Alice to the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
Unlike Alice, First Minister Alex Salmond has certainly been practising. In fact he has been practising so hard that last week he managed to believe one impossible thing which is so mind-numbingly stupid it could easily count for six separate impossible things rolled into one.
Last week, Salmond said that if an independent Scotland was denied a currency union it would refuse to pay its share of the UK debt. He said:
"If you deny us the financial assets then the UK will get stuck with all the liabilities."
In this he was echoed by John Swinney the Finance Secretary who, in another BBC debate, stated that:
"... if the UK is going to seize the assets then it is welcome to all the liabilities and we won't be having any of them if that is how the UK behaves."
Never mind the confusion between assets and institutions, this assertion, that; if denied a currency union an independent Scotland would refuse to pay its share of the UK debt, is surely one of the great tragic-comic moments of the campaign.
I say 'tragi-comic' because, unlike Mr Salmond, we are not in Wonderland but a real country with business, savings and pensions.
Any new country in the world has to prove to potential investors and the international financial markets that it is a safe and reliable place to do business with and in. Unsurprisingly, defaulting on your first debt payment would not exactly inspire the markets with easy confidence. It would lead to the Scottish government having to pay a lot more to borrow money which would impact heavily on its public spending. Personal credit would also be more expensive for ordinary Scots as banks (without a lender of last resort) would keep more money in reserve. Summing up the impact this policy would have on Scotland Danny Alexander said
"Mortgage rates would go up, credit cards and bills would go up and the Scottish Government would have to resort to the bond markets equivalent of Wonga to raise money to pay for public services in Scotland.'
Gordon Brown warned that Scotland would become an 'international outcast' if it refused to pay a share of the debts. Even the chair of the First Minister's Fiscal Commission Working Group Crawford Beveridge said that such a move "looks like a default and it smells like a default."
In the light of this withering critique the claim by the Scottish Government that, since the UK has already said it was legally liable for all UK debt Scotland would start life 'debt free' (Shona Robison) looks reckless, misleading and uninformed.
The best response to the SNP's piece of economic lunacy was from Charles Kennedy, who said that if the policy was enacted
'on day one of an independent Scotland, never mind London and the terrible people down there, the international markets would have you for breakfast lunch and dinner."
Clearly this policy is a terrible idea. But let us pause just for a moment to consider the implications of the SNP sticking to their guns on this point.
There are two logical possibilities on offer.
1) Alex Salmond and the rest of the SNP actually believe what they are saying. If correct, this is terrifying. Deep in Wonderland imagination really is the only weapon against reality.
What about the second possibility?
2) Alex Salmond and the rest of the SNP do not actually believe what they are saying but know that they need thousands more votes to win the referendum. If this is the case it would follow that they are willing to say absolutely anything to gain more votes no matter how ridiculous or damaging.
Two conclusions are available to us. Either the leaders of the SNP are idiots with about as much economic understanding as your average rock, or they are ruthless electioneers who believe that the ends justify the means. Neither conclusion shows them in a terribly good light. Either way, this insane position is still SNP policy.
The independence referendum is nearing its conclusion and all the major issues have been debated. For every single one many of the assertions and arguments put forward by the Yes Campaign have been shown to be false. It is clear that there would be no currency union with the rUK for example and EU entry would be difficult, long-winded and almost certainly result in a worse deal for Scotland than at the moment.
One would expect then for the polls to be widening rather than closing, especially considering that First Minister and his Finance Secretary have abandoned reality altogether and have flung themselves down the rabbit hole.
It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.