What is Scotland? A third of the UK land mass, 8.5% of the population…statisticians ain’t going to get close. Scotland is an idea, without mass, an idea that has developed over time which is shared unequally by Scots and non-Scots. Personal and collective – Scotland is an intangible asset.
On 1st January 2007, new accounting changes were implemented for Business Combinations. The section on intangibles reads:
Separately identifiable intangible assets (i.e. those capable of separation and transfer, or arising from legal or contractual rights) should be shown on balance sheet and not included as part of goodwill. The requirement in the original IFRS for the intangible asset to be capable of reliable measurement has been deleted.
I think the key sentance is the last one. You don’t need to be able to reliably measure the value of Scottishness to require it to be taken into account. Common sense really.
Demerging the Saltire out of the Union Flag can clearly be done. Accounting for it may be more of a problem, but one the International Financial Reporting Standards seem confident they can cope with. I never thought I’d say it but them there accountants look like they’re more creative than our unionist politicians.
The other intangible the new rules deal with is goodwill. Goodwill is an accounting term for the excess you pay over the value of the assets of the business. But goodwill is also about people. I feel goodwill towards the English, I’d just rather have an independent Scotland. The period around the Act of Union was marked by the navigation acts and the aliens act, not to mention the English army on the border with their guns pointing north. There wasn’t much goodwill. It would be good if the English could be a bit more grown up now. They too will have to vote to repeal the Act of Union. If they were businesslike, they’d treat the Scottish desire (expressed democratically) for a demerger as an opportunity not a threat.