14 September 2014

Scottish Independence

I suppose I've no say in the matter, I've certainly not got a vote.

However, the Scottish referendum is something that has been intruding into my thoughts quite a lot recently. In a world where everyone is trying to effect closer ties, the Scots seem to want to go it alone. I believe this is because nobody understands what this means. The campaigning so far certainly hasn't made it clear and I guess it's because nobody ever imagined there would be a Yes vote.

What are the reasons for voting 'Yes'?

1. Alex Salmond

You get to have this man as president/ prime minister.
My impression is that he makes Tony Blair look trustworthy and George Bush look smart. The chip on his shoulder isn't going to disappear, ever. When times get hard, he'll just blame everything on the intransigence of the English as usual.

2. Job Creating Powers

According to the Yes campaign, this is what it's all about. An independent Scotland would be able to create more jobs. No they wouldn't.
Really, it's like saying everyone will be taller and better looking. They won't. Think about it.

3. Have your own money and spend it on what you want

Hmmm. What money? I believe that Scotland runs on a deficit, this means they have less money than they spend. It's the fact that the UK Government decides what share of the overall budget is devoted to Scotland that sticks in the Yes people's craw. Wait until it's the International Monetary Fund that decides. Wait until pensions depend on China lending you a few more quid.

The whole 'why can't we still have the pound?' question can be answered simply. If you want the pound you can't be independent. The big financial decisions will still be made in England, that's the way it has to be. If you want the Euro, you're very welcome to it (see below).

4. Europe

Scotland gets to be an independent country and play its part in the EU. 
Not possible, apparently. At least that's what the EU are saying. There's a queue to join the EU and Scotland will have to take their place in it (behind Albania, Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey and others).  Don't take my word for this, ask John-Claude Juncker.
Oh, if Scotland are eventually let into the EU, they will have to adopt the Euro. That's one of the rules of entry.

5. If it all goes pear shaped we can always go back into the UK

Again, this isn't an option. Once you're out, you're out. The referendum isn't like a general election where if you vote the wrong way you can correct matters five years later, then do it again five years after that. This is it, once and for all.

It's not any of my business, really. I don't live in Scotland and I'm not Scottish. I have some friends in Scotland, that's all. My bet is that they'll all be voting Yes.

The key issue for me, though, is the practicality of an independent Scotland. A lot of very inconvenient and expensive things will have to change. Currency is one, EU is the other. No pound, no EU membership.
It will also mean that we have to control the border between England and Scotland. Not because we want to, but because it has to be. The're can't be free passage from non-EU to EU. Also, Scotland will have a different immigration policy. EU apart, England can't allow people who Scotland decide to let in to also have access to the rest of the UK. Controlling the border will be difficult, costly and very damaging to the Scottish economy. Think about it.

The Yes campaign has run on the basis that all matters will be up for negotiation after the vote. That everything will be done sensibly and reasonably. That nothing detrimental will happen. That denying Scotland the pound would be unthinkable. That the EU will automatically let Scotland in.

Just because no pound, no EU and a closed border would be disastrous for Scotland doesn't mean it doesn't have to happen. It does.

I fully expect the Scots to vote yes. It would be my gut reaction if I were them. Show the English and the Tories and the rest what they think of them.

If they do, the lack of fun will begin, I fear.

Of course, I could be wrong. I really do hope so.

photo credit: Jonnee via photopin cc