Scotland? Independent? Gie’s a Break.

Scotland? Independence?

Gi’ me a break.

This little country’s miserable mealy-mouthed politicians begin to unravel at the thought of all that responsibility. Having to run things ourselves? Having no one to blame? No way hen. Am no goan there.

But ever since the Condems embraced Austerity-for-the-great-unwashed and Osborne’s punchable fizzug started popping up on Newsnight, making me boak over my dinner, the doubts about the benefits of unionism have been building.

A family wedding encounter with Little Englander You sure you can afford it? You got a job? Or are you here to steal our jobs? Eh? You Scots are a theivin’ lot of subsidy junkies. Whinging and spending our money. Go back where you come from, why don’t you. You lot need to piss off back home. Nobody wants you here. (Charming man. This genuinely was his response to my eldest innocently asking him, as father of the bride, if he wanted a drink.). And I was well on my way to manning the Border and instituting passport control and shoot to kill.

But what the hell is ‘a country’? And supposing there’s a satisfactory answer (this is personal – the answer might satisfy you but I’m not convinced turf wars are me) – is Scotland really a country?

Alex Salmond (Leader of the governing Scottish National Party) has been cleverer than his opponents. One step ahead. But, like all politicians who’ve been at the top of their party – and leader of their country – for too many years, the lustre’s beginning to lose its sheen. Taking power for granted is dangerous. Complacency leads inexorably to mistakes. And he’s beginning to be found out. For an empty vessel. A charlatan medicine man peddling dodgy claims. He has been living on hypotheticals and appealing to emotive nationalism and patriotic Scottish jingoism for years. And when attacked and asked to explain his rationale or the basis for policies adopted he has done a fine line in deflective defence and logical fallacy: I say to the honourable lady, she may ask where the money is going to come from but I say I have faith in the ability of this proud country to….blah blah blah’. Aka ‘you are unpatriotic anti-Scottish and pro-Condems’. With a strong whiff of: ‘you are a stupid fud’.

‘Country’ comes from the late Latin ‘contra’. Meaning ‘against’.
Country: country is a region legally identified as a distinct entity in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with sets of previously independent or differently associated peoples with distinct political characteristics. (Wiki – which will do me for now).

So, Scotland can be said to be a formerly (1707) sovereign state. ‘Against’ England. Politically distinct (enough) from England to have to sign a Treaty to bring the United Kingdom of Great Britain into existence.

The truth is muddier than that. I’m no royalist – but the Royal Houses of Scotland and England had been inter-marrying (and fighting each other) for centuries. The DNA of this mean little island has a glorious mongrel pedigree. Romans. Celts. Picts/Britons. Angles. Saxons. Normans. Jutes. Flemings. Vikings.

We are a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns as my sexist old Granpa always said. All progeny of the original man. I prefer original woman. But it comes down to the same thing. He never could think in terms of ‘it’s ma baw’ – and neither can I.

It’s true though that the further North you go from London or the Home Counties the more ‘left-leaning’ local politics become.

Scotland has a well-developed preference for re-distributive economics, with a heavy emphasis on social justice, community, looking after your vulnerable, striving for equality of opportunity. Even our old Conservatism (before the 1950s the natural party of power here) was community-minded, soft. more paternalistic MacMillan than free market Friedman.

Scotland provides a useful boost to Westminster coffers of course. Oil revenues. Whisky revenues. Corporation tax. Income Tax. Stamp Duty. Car tax duties. And the rest (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2011/06/21144516/10 )

Of course Scotland’s been ripped off by its neighbour for centuries. That good man Blair re-drew the marine boundaries in 1999 ensuring that ‘English waters’ stretched up to Carnoustie. That’s deep into Pictish Scotland for you non-Scots readers. http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2012/01/scotlandengland-maritime-boundaries/
and the government’s own confirmation of this: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1999/99112601.gif

A cynical Westminster move to ensure that devolved powers did not disadvantage England too much. And to make pro-Independence financial arguments even more difficult to make.

We currently contribute more than we take (you have to count the Oil and Gas and Whisky revenues here – not do the usual Telegraph/Daily Mail wheeze of happily ignoring them). But we take more back per head of population than our union partners because of the Barnett Formula. England (or the South of England at any rate) could survive without us. No doubt. And Little England-er from the wedding demonstrates a real desire to be shot of us. But they still want our cash. And a diminished UK of GB is bad for the global reputation. So the Unionist parties defend the status quo.

Cameron, in fact, continues to defend ‘the union’ despite paralleling Scottish Independence arguments in his Euro-Referendum ‘In or Out’ speech. Reform the terms of our Union he shouted. (And then the wheels came off because it wasn’t clear whether he’d push for a ‘No to Europe’ vote if he didn’t get what he’s yet to explain he wants from illusory negotiations that aren’t going to start unless DC wins a majority for his party).

Phew. What a grand wheeze. Defended by that very odd man with the strange voice – William Hague. A desperate attempt to unite his own Conservatives; scupper the electoral chances of UKIP; deflect attention from their dire economic policies and distance them from their Coalition partners. The electioneering starts here. There will be a General Election by next May.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cartoon/2012/oct/15/scotland-independence-referendum

David Cameron Alex Salmond Scottish independence referendum
A Belltoon. David Cameron to the Left and Alex Salmond to the Right. 

Where are our Scottish politicians when we need them though?

In the middle of all of this Westminster disarray they could be making hay. No?

No. Alex and his cohort of incompetents are running to the aid of their unionist opponents. They’re revealing – with their every response – their lack of answers to the thousands of questions Scots have. Worse – the answer to many of the hard questions appears to be: Westminster will continue to exercise that power.

UK to continue to control Green Energy subsidies? Adoption of Sterling? Control of interest rates by the Bank of England? The list is growing by the day. What’s the point of Independence, Alex?

I wish politicians – wherever – would grow up. Would grow a set.

Be honest. Stop treating us all like idiots.

Scotland would have no easy road if it chose Independence. It is not a rich country. Though it’s richer than the unionists pretend. There would be hard political choices to make.

Free prescriptions? Or free transport for pensioners? Or free personal care? Or maximum class sizes and teaching time? What service do you Change? Reform? Get rid of?

But that’s the mark of a grown up state.

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12 thoughts on “Scotland? Independent? Gie’s a Break.

  1. Spot on. Though there are a lot here who would rather we were an isolated wee country attached to nothing.
    At the moment it's too close to call.
    If pushed I reckon it'll be a 'No' to Independence vote. The appeal to national pride butters no parsnips. Folk are anxious about cash and how it would all hit them in the pocket…

  2. I'll give it a read Fly.
    Thanks.

    That's the thing about politicians and political rhetoric though – aren't they all 'rogues' who would sell their granny doon the river if it meant they got the votes?

  3. With the question of the EU 'In/Out' Referendum being raised last week – it might be the ideal time for Scottish Independance to occur!

    With this latest period of uncertainty breaking out across Britain it is less likely that we will attract and/or keep many of the large Trans-National Co-orporations who like to operate within Britain due to their slightly lower tax rates – they use Britain as their gateway to the EU as they can export products for free. The likelihood of them investing further is reduced by the uncertainty of whether we will remain in the EU or not.

    If Scotland gained independence and joined with the EU – these companies could choose to operate from us. Supporting our economy, creating growth and creating a vast number of jobs. I agree that support for independence is thinning out – but it really shouldn't. Latest reports show that we would only be £1 less better off a year. I think that the SNP have never really BELIEVED that they would win the referendum – and now that it is drawing closer they are shitting themselves. Which is a shame. I don't know how much longer we can be controlled by the Conservatives. A party who have no mandate to govern south of the border. I don't want to be controlled by the south of england – nor by people who are underqualified for their jobs.

    I think I came to the battle for independence too late – but I really hope that it wins. For our country's sake. Even Fiona (a scottish/german hybrid) agrees with me on this point – Cameron is the laughing stock of Europe. And of Scotland.

  4. It's all ifs and buts kid.

    Ok – so our current laws are EU-compliant so entry would 'technically' be much easier/quicker for us than for countries which are applying from a non-EU start (Turkey for example).

    There's still a process to go through though. And there are many Scots voters for whom a federal Europe is just as much a negative choice as a United Kingdom…

    The Cameron EU Referendum speech was designed to speak to his own back-benchers – all those for whom UKIP is looking ever more attractive. It's effect? To destabilise investment and increase continental views of the UK as a basket case.

    It's intersting times we live in. Just imagine – amongst the possibilities opening up we have an outside chance of an Independent Scotland in Europe and a seperatist, increasingly isolated England/Wales/Northern Ireland… Who'd have thought!

    I thought Fiona's view was interesting – increasing German impatience with a UK which has more opt-outs than Germany but which contributes less to the EU pot than Germany. Merkel's comments were very much of the 'The UK needs Europe more than Europe needs the UK'.

    I'm fence-sitting Megan.

    I've never been 'nationalist'. Though the attractions (emotional rather than fully fledged rational) are exerting a greater pull.

  5. I read your post whilst I was away for the weekend and wasn't able to respond but now that I'm back and have been thinking much more about it I realise that I am even more overwhelmed by the complexity of the practicalities of the issues involved. Emotionally I am split too. I have for most of my life taken the view that there are two historical evils that have wracked the world: religion and nationalism. If, however, I could separate the emotional aspect from the practical aspect then I thought that the task might be easier. No. The question for me at the moment is whether we will ever get enough accurate and proper information on the practical issues involved in independence rather than the emotional issues of politics. Cynically I would suggest that the great sadness is that the number of people who will consider and analyse the facts will be so small as to have a negligible affect on the outcome of the referendum.

  6. I had (a 3 hour – ooops) lunch with a politico-pal today. He's an independence leaning ex-Labour Party member. he supports Independence – but cannot bring himself to vote for the Nats – I know how he feels – years of the Nats being synonymous with Twats.

    He vehemently believes that the Yes Campaign will be drubbed. Properly routed. That makes him sad but his analysis (which I am sure is right) is that the No Campaign, by forcing the Nats onto the defensive, by bombarding them with demands for detailed answers to complex questions (that in reality would require a minimum of 10 years negotiation) have already stolen the lead and that this can only intensify.

    He reasons that it'll be the next generation before we get a Nat result.

    I agree with him.

    And I agree with your assessment of the two main historical evils.

    I do believe however that – in terms of the definition of 'country' given by wiki (above) – Scotland's political landscape is very different from our union partner. We have our own law (entirely different and based on Roman Law); we have our own Education System; we have devolved responsibilities that have led to very different choices being made in terms of social care, healthcare and for local Councils.

    But our choices become difficult or sometimes impossible to see through – because the Barnett consequentials mean Westminster Governmental budget decisions have direct effect here.

    Unfortunately I agree with your last sentence. Saddest of all, eh?

  7. I wonder whether it'd be popular Mark? To be honest to the electorate as opposed to being a slippery a'hole who'd sell their granny if it meant votes?
    I was thinking of giving it a go.
    My party of choice are looking for candidates.
    But I think I'd be chewed up and spat back out. I think my skeletons would rattle – and if they didn't the press would eventually make some up for me. Or my kids would suffer. Or something.
    Ordinary folk don't become MPs or MSPs. The party machine churns out sausage meat and voting fodder.
    And that's the pity of it.

  8. The status of the UK politics: England, Scotland, Ireland confuse me the more I read about the histories– a large dysfunctional family it appears– as often is the status of the States, across the pond. When one uses the term United Kingdom is that the same as Great Britain? Where does Canada and Australia fit into this scheme?

    Forgive me: I thought Scotland was independent… or declared independence back in the Nineties? But what did it entail? More bureaucracy and less action?

    I think I need to explore my World History books again, slowly reading over the details.

  9. I'm tickled that you're interested D-G. Thanks for reading.
    Technically, the term 'Great Britain' refers only to the main island which encompasses England, Wales and Scotland.
    Scotland – formerly a sovereign country – united with England and Wales in 1707. This was not universally welcomed and there was civil unrest for almost a century. Scotland's law and legal institutions remain very different from the rest of the UK of GB – it's education system is separate too.
    The full name – since 1927 approx – is really 'The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland'.
    Eire = Southern Ireland (administrative centre = Dublin)- it's partition from the North (think: Belfast) in 1921 created two distinct administrative units on the former island of Ireland (this is still the source of war on that island – aka 'the troubles').
    Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have devolved governments. i.e. they are granted a modicum of self-determination within the bounds of the Statutes which created the devolved parliaments/assemblies. They are still not sovereign or independent countries. They are dependent upon the Westminster Government (London-based) for their budgets (Grant-in-aid). And Westminster retains responsibility for things like Defence etc.
    In some ways it's a federal set-up. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland still send representatives to Westminster (London).
    Some English folks are increasingly pissed off that they don't have their own devolved Parliament – and that representatives from the other devolved countries can vote on matters that have impact only upon England. I can understand their reasoning. But there seems no stomach for fully-fledged federalism amongst the English electorate.
    Canada is a remnant of the old British Empire which ruled the world… It's a completely self-determining country but part of the so-called 'Commonwealth of Nations' which was 'created' when the Empire began to die. Australia is the same.
    The UK of GB is a constitutional monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II is also Queen of the Commonwealth Realms – which include Canada and Australia.
    That's a simplistic gallop through the main bits…
    Scotland's devolved Parliament is currently controlled by a Scottish National Party majority – they have long campaigned for Independence for Scotland (in Europe). The other political parties in the Scottish Parliament are largely pro-unionist parties and they wish to retain union with England etc.

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