Graham of Anywhere

Graham's blog: politics, poetry, and introspection

Scottish Independence Is Misguided

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.
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sudo   I wanted to comment on this, then, I simply made a whole blog entry in response :)
esty_2991   Sounds like the whole Quebec independence bullshit... A waste of time. money, and energy. Sorry you have to go through it.
burder01   Well, I kinda support the idea of Scotland breaking off. Hey, my country did the same thing with England.

But sometimes it might seem a bit over the top, but it will allow you're country to acutally have a vote at EU, UN and things like that which are currently being represented by England.

But one question, is you're country moving towards total independance (ie Republic of Scotland) or going the way of Australia and New Zeland (ie Commonwealth of Scotland)? Republic or Commonwealth?

There is a huge difference then.

Dez, xoxo
grum   Australia, Canada, India and all the other colonies eventually gained independence from the United Kingdom, not England. And that was a positive transition as it marked the end of the British Empire and finally laid to rest the colonial era.

We're talking about something quite different here. Scotland is part of the UK, as is England and Wales, and Northern Ireland. Scotland isn't represented by England at the EU because England doesn't have a seat -- the UK does. Currently there are British MEPs from all four UK nations.

The whole thing is silly because the SNP is trying to break Scotland away from the UK despite the fact the UK Government is run by a Scotsman and despite the fact the Scots MPs have power over the rest of the UK on some matters that English MPs can't affect in Scotland. So who has more influence? Both those arguments have only recently been made possible, admittedly. Throughout the past 300 years, Scotland has not had an equal share of influence over the UK.

Perhaps if this was 1908, then I'd be more pro-independence. But even still, it's all petty-squabbling. Who's got more power? The Scots or the English? It doesn't even matter! We're all on this island together and it's only pride that stirs up the competitive nonsense.

If we did separate, I'm not sure if they are planning to become part of the Commonwealth -- I'd very much doubt it. Either way, it makes no difference in reality. Being part of the Commonwealth merely means you have the British head of state as your own head of state -- ie Queen Elizabeth II. It's symbolic but nothing more.

*Edit: apparently being part of the Commonwealth doesn't necessarily mean that Lizzy is your head of state. There are 32 Republics within the Commonwealth. You learn something new everyday. Normally as a result of Wikipedia :)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commonwealth_of_Nations
merlin   What form of government is the SNP trying to enstate? A republic, Lizzie II as Queen of Scotland or install some Jacobite pretender? If it were the last option it would start such a wonderful bitch fight within the noble houses of Europe whilst the rest of the world stands around laughing.
grum   Heh, the return of the House of Stewart, how bizarre would that be. Alas no, I've double checked, and the SNP are in favour of Scotland becoming a Commonwealth nation, interestingly, with Lizzy as head of state.

Impressed that you know of the Jacobites! Outside of Scotland, or perhaps the UK, I'm sure that part of history is relatively unknown.
merlin   :D Glad to have impressed. I am a bit of a history geek and such a wonderful aberration as the Jacobites is very interesting.