Sunday, 26 February 2012

Scottish Independence

This morning, I have spent a little time musing over the various different arguments for and against Scottish Independence.
Most of the analysis and comment seems to look at the issue from a Scottish perspective but not at the potential ramifications this would have for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

As Scottish Independence could effectively mean the end of Great Britain, this could mean the end of membership to NATO, the United Nations, the EU as well as the end to over 12,000 international treaties as England, Wales and Northern Ireland are only incorporated because we are signed up as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

This is coupled with the domestic issues of a Scottish split from Union in relation to defence, the NHS and how much of the national debt will be apportioned to Scotland.
I know that Independence for Scotland may be attractive to some Conservatives especially as Labour has 41 Scottish MP's and the Conservatives have 1 and would mean that Labour would be consigned to the political history books but I genuinely believe that we would be poorer if Scotland were to leave the Union.

I agree with David Cameron in that Scottish Independence is a matter for the Scottish people but where I differ is that I believe any referendum on Scottish Independence is also a matter for the rest of the UK too.
With many Scots living in this town and other parts of the UK why should they be prevented from having a vote whilst the English, Welsh and Irish who live in Scotland would have a vote. As 82% of the UK is made up of English, Welsh and Irish surely the majority should have a say on the future of their country? 


Skulamus said...

I appreciate your sentiment regarding the economic and prestige deficit that you think may happen if Scotland became independent.

I do not think that David Cameron really believes that it is a matter for the Scottish people . If this were true he would not have questioned legality, timing and questions involved in the referendum.

I appreciate that you are one of the first Conservatives to admit the potential loss to the rest of the UK. However if the coalition government and it's predecessors had been more appreciate of this, the case for Scottish independence might not seem so attractive.

We are fed up being told that we are subsidy junkies and are too small and too stupid to manage our own affairs.

You need to nurture a relationship especially if you are against divorce. There has been no evidence of this from current and previous governments.

You feel that the rest of the UK should have a say in the constitutional questions regarding Scotland .Funnily enough that is how a lot of Scots feel regarding a lack of a say in Westminster.

I have already made up my mind a long time ago. Some of us are less interested in prestige and matters regarding wars etc. If a positive case for the union is to be put to Scotland, it needs to be much more specific in outlining the real benefits.

phil w said...

I have been listening to many of the discussions with respect to Scottish Independence – here are my views.
1. The majority of English want Scottish Independence for all sorts of reasons:
a) We believe in fair play and self determination and if a majority of Scots want independence then they should have it.
b) We are sick of the likes of the sanctimonious Alex Salmond portraying the English as desperately wanting to hang on to the Union and control the Scots – we don’t. Generally speaking we could care less.
c) The Scots have long complained that the Tory English have no right to rule Scotland. They forget that with the exception of one election (TB in 1978) the majority of English have always voted Tory - so every Labour government we have been “saddled” with has been the result of Scottish and Welsh votes - that’s what happens when you have a Union - and you either go with it or leave.
d) At the moment, we appear to have a Union partner (i.e the Scots) demonstrating blatant racial discrimination against the English uniquely. The position with respect to university fees is an absolute disgrace.

2. On the overall subject of referenda, I would like to draw an analogy with being members of a club.

If a particular group of members of a club (or Union) are not happy with the club they are members of, and want to leave and make their own club (Independence) – then fine. They should pack up their things and go without any animosity either way. Freedom! - and all that!

However, that same group (Scots) cannot decide that they don’t like some of the rules of the existing club and unilaterally impose a change of rules on the whole of the membership (i.e. the rest of the UK). If the rules of the club are to be changed then all the members’ views have to be taken (i.e. a UK referendum).

“Devolution max” is not a decision that can be taken unilaterally by the Scots and is therefore not an appropriate subject for a referendum question – certainly not as a “next best” option on a referendum on full Independence - as it cannot be delivered by the Scottish Parliament unless Westminster (i.e. the UK Parliament representing the people of the UK) wants it – and that would only happen as a result of a UK referendum. My feeling is that a UK referendum would not agree to “devolution max” - not without a whole new, fairer redistribution of the UK coffers than that currently provided via the Barnett Formula and not without a fairer distribution of votes through the regions of the UK and not without Scottish MP’s right to vote on English issues being removed (– rendering them pretty much a waste of space as the Scottish Parliament votes on Scottish issues).

3. If Scotland leaves the UK then it must have its own currency – or join the Euro. We cannot have a situation where an Independent nation uses the pound Sterling – and is potentially in a position to affect the value of our currency without reference to Westminster. This is simply not tenable.

4. In any “departure” discussions, Scotland must take its share of the debt burden – including that of RBS – a Scottish bank.

5. I don’t care whether the Scots believe that they will be better off financially if they leave the Union - and I do not care if the remaining Union is richer or poorer as a result. Independence is a huge cultural change for the Scots and the issues should transcend arguments about the costs. If North sea oil tax revenue is the reason they want to leave the Union then let them take it and good luck to them – the Union does not exist so that the rest of us can have a “share” of North sea oil revenue – nor does it exist to disproportionately shovel money from the south east of England to other regions just so the Union holds. It is supposed to be far more meaningful than that.

In summary, the right to self determination transcends all others. The Scots should have a referendum and decide whether they want Independence or they want to remain equal partners in the Union. Sorry, the half way house is not an option.