The Scottish National Party (SNP) is a large political party in Scotland, currently in power with a minority government led by Alex Salmond. Said party has an ultimate goal and that goal is an independent Scotland which is no-longer a constituent member of the United Kingdom. A nation in its own right for the first time since 1707 with Edinburgh taking over from London as the top-level political centre. Freedom for Scots and a destiny of our own making. Now, isn't that lovely?
Well, no, I don't believe it is. I think it's dangerously misguided and a result of pride rather than rational thinking. In my opinion, the Scots have every right to be proud of their heritage but we have no right to be proud of Scotland today, and even less right to view ourselves as a supreme nation worthy of dissolving the union that binds the nations of these isles.
I'm not necessarily a supporter of the European super-state for reasons that would justify another entry altogether, but in this day and age we should be dismantling divides and not creating new borders. Finding reasons to differentiate ourselves from our neighbours is ill-advised because it creates rivalry. Admittedly, the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England have been rivals for the most part of history and continue to be rivals to this day, hence the desire of some to separate, but lets not exacerbate the situation. Before the union, we were almost continually at war. I can't ever imagine that being the case again, but carving up the island of Great Britain could have negative consequences. Ireland, anyone?
Pessimistic visions aside, there are other fundamental issues like the need for Scottish armed forces, stock exchanges, embassies, immigration policies, energy policies, and the list goes on. We're lucky in the sense that we control some things from Edinburgh anyway such as education, health, transport and the like, but everything else would be highly expensive to create. Great Britain is a small island of small nations and the UK overall gets a good deal by combining its resources to the benefit of the kingdom. It would seem crazy to abandon all that and go it alone.
Moreover, on the financial side of things, the SNP has long been trying to persuade Scotland that we're losing all the money from the North Sea Oil and we get ripped off by the Treasury when it comes to the Budget allocation for the nation. I cannot prove whether the income from oil or the Budget allocation provides the best deal for Scotland, but apparently as it stands, the UK Government's spend per person is higher in Scotland than it is in the rest of the UK. I'd imagine that's true because infrastructure costs in the rural areas will be immense. Even if that statement is incorrect, and the money made from North Sea Oil is much greater than the return we get via the Treasury, it still rings true that oil is a finite resource. How can you build a country on the back of an industry that will cease to exist in 30-50 years?
Stability and finance are the biggest arguments I have against independence, but you also have to consider the influence and empowerment of this small nation. It certainly can't be said that we're without either. The current Prime Minister, Gordon Brown is Scottish. The previous Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is technically Scottish too because he was born and raised in Edinburgh, despite has parents hailing from Yorkshire. The Cabinet has had many Scots ministers at the helm for the past decade. This has not been the case for most of the union's history, but we can no-longer say that Scotland is governed by the English. Also, let us not forget that much of Scotland's affairs are now dealt with at home in the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, in the heart of Edinburgh. Indeed, it's now the English who are now disadvantaged as Scottish MPs in Westminster can influence matters that pertain to England only, because said matters are devolved to the Scottish Parliament north of the border. It's an anomaly known as the West Lothian Question. With a Welsh Assembly and a Northern Irish Assembly, England has become the only UK nation without its own, dedicated, house of representatives. The SNP can no-longer claim the Scots are under the thumb.
What about Scotland in the wider context of the world? Would we have a higher profile post-independence? Our own seat in the European parliament? Perhaps our significance would eventually diminish as we are swallowed up by the EU and relinquish our Scots law and our Sterling bank notes too. As a small nation, we could perhaps rely on neutrality and geographic fortune as part of the Euro periphery to save us from those who may wish us harm, but I fear we could not rely on the Scottish Parliament to save us from the political prowess of Europe. Would we really stand alone, in a brave new world?
To my follow Scots: let ourselves not be blinded by pride and let us not be deceived by foolhardy and unwise politicians. As for the concept of Britishness, well, you can take it or leave it but please do not bear meaningless grudges against your neighbours. Let me remind you that the union with England was a result of a corrupt Scottish aristocracy who were motivated by greed. We were not won, defeated or conquered, but sold by our own. Nonetheless, over 300 years of peace and unity on our island has ensued. Destroy it at your peril.
Graham's blog: politics, poetry, and introspection