No: Would Scotland still be on the Political Agenda?

By John Close 

Scottish Independence debate

This is a touchy one for some people so I feel like I should start with the disclaimer that 1) I don’t in any way dislike Scottish people or Scotland as a whole, and 2) that in my ideal world this wouldn’t even be up for debate and Scotland would forever remain part of the UK.

Saying that, it is an issue that peeves me off like nobody’s business. I JUST DON’T GET IT! Why would any sane country (I’m looking mainly at the Government of said country) try and move away from a union which has basically kept it on the political map? No offence to any very nationalistic Scots out there, but do you really believe that an independent Scotland would have even a fraction of the political clout that they enjoy as part of the UK? I for one certainly don’t. It’s thanks to money, weapons and friends in high places that Scotland has any power at all, and as I see it, an independent Scotland would have very little of these at all.

Let’s start with the last of the three, which is arguably the most important in maintaining a world leading political position. Friends; everybody needs them and none more so than a country trying to break free and make it alone. But would Scotland have any if it left the UK? Part of this debate hangs on whether it would be able to remain part of the EU and therefore stay pally with the mainland after it basically told its only bordering country where to go. The Scottish government says that it will use the time between the referendum and independence to negotiate its membership, but the planned 18 months hardly seems enough time to do that. Especially if tricky situations come up about whether Scotland has to join the Euro, or sign the Schengen agreement as any other new entrant would by EU law.

And if Scotland loses out on its EU membership, it would also lose out on any money it was banking on receiving. The Schengen opens up a can of worms. Would we have to have some border controls between a Schengen Scotland and a Non-Schengen UK? It seems ridiculous that any kind of border would be implemented, but it legitimately could be in order to prevent abuse of the system by people from mainland Europe moving into the rest of the UK through Scotland.

Then there’s weapons, and for this we have to look to NATO. This is also heavily linked with ‘friends’ problems which could plague an independent Scotland, because if you haven’t got friends in Europe you could really do with some in North America, especially the US. The Alliance have already signalled that they would have problems with Scotland joining the group, mainly due to the removal of the Trident nuclear deterrent from the UK base at Faslane. This could cause all kinds of problems for Scotland as they would no longer be protected by the guarantee of intervention by the US if anything went drastically wrong and the Romans descended once more. Granted, this is incredibly unlikely, but it does also raise the slightly more credible argument of Scottish defence, however unnecessary it may seem.

The SNP (current ruling party of Scotland) have laid out plans for the defence of their realm, which is all well and good, but the main issue I see here is that they would lose that certain sense of security that comes from knowing the guy with the biggest stick in the playground has got your back. It’s not enough to make you soil yourself, but it’s enough to make you wearier of what’s going on.

Now to the big one, the one that everyone’s talking about; money. The SNP say that an independence vote would make Scotland richer. And in this they do have a point, there’s every chance that by going independent Scotland would enjoy huge amounts of wealth from the taxation of North Sea oil and gas reserves. But even that isn’t exactly certain, nobody knows just how the lines will be drawn and how the oil and gas will be divvied up. Although it seems silly to suggest that Scotland won’t get the lion’s share of the reserves, they can’t tell us exactly how much they’ll get, because they haven’t negotiated it yet, and plumbing for independence when you don’t know whether you’ll be able to foot the bill seems slightly irresponsible to me.

Aside from the natural resources in the sea, Scotland would also have to shoulder some of the debt it has accrued as part of the UK, though this is likely to be a small percentage of the total $1.4 trillion, and could well be paid back to the UK in some of those tasty oil and gas fields we were talking about earlier.

The big economic issue with independent Scotland is that it completely lacks a financial centre. Nowhere in Scotland is there a city that could rival London for dominance of the economic landscape, and this in turn means that it may struggle to bring in the big boys of the finance industry who already have a strong foundation in the City. Oil and gas are all well and good while the prices are high, but basing your whole economy on commodities whose values aren’t assured seems to me like a gamble too far.

Only time will tell whether Scotland can make it as an independent state, if it ever becomes one at all. I just worry that the grass may seem greener on the other side (or at least some people may tell you it’s greener) until you take the plunge and find it’s really covered in manure. At the very least I’d like to see a better thought out plan presented first, one that comes AFTER the negotiations about oil/gas/debt, and sets out exactly how an independent Scotland would keep its place at the forefront of the world both politically and economically without the help of the rest of the UK.

No doubt anyone reading this has quite strong opinions either way, so do let me know if you think I’m spot on, or even if you think I’m a rambling idiot.

8 Responses

  1. Lindsay

    BetterTogether spend most of their time moaning about “cybernats” daring to take them on at a personal level, strategically ignoring their own online cohort of rabid reactionaries, who certainly can dish it out too. They desperately call in the debts owed them by UK big business to try and protect their own positions and interests, repeating by rote their meaningless mantra of ‘you’re too wee, you’re too poor, you’re too stupid”, babbling on about Barnett, seriously slagging off Salmond as if he’s the sole player in the independence movement and threatening financial meltdown if we so much as dare to think of leaving. They promote fear, uncertainty and doom instead of positively pointing to the challenges and opportunities a new future will bring – because it will be a new future, regardless of the referendum outcome. I have been waiting to hear one valid reason why the decisions that affect Scotland shouldn’t be taken, wherever possible, in Scotland? The silence has been deafening!

    1. Raymund Lynch

      It was Ted Heath, who’s bacon was saved by the North Sea oil.
      So no we’re sorry that we can’t assist this time in paying for flood defences that are required for the South.
      I feel sorry for their difficulties but I’m sure we can help the North of England with our developing industries.
      As the Glaswegians would say ‘it’s a no brainer’.
      So why fight against the goad; when you can enjoy the adventurous development of Scotland.
      Everybody knows that Scotland can look after itself and I know that the opposite parties’ Bosses in England are putting pressure on these poor struggling Scottish party bosses for an answer to satisfy Westminster bosses. But the bottom line is join the yes campaign like a number of well respected Labour leaders. You’ll only have a few months to put up with the pressure and then you can start developing Scotland in peace, with your new initiatives and finally feel free to constructively assist the citizens of Scotland, who will wellcome your comments and initiatives. Ray Lynch

  2. JPFife

    Let’s go through your article shall we?

    “It’s thanks to money, weapons and friends in high places that Scotland has any power at all…” Translates as If it weren’t for England Scotland wouldn’t even be noticed in the world. Scotland has no power at all: that’s the whole point of independence. Your statement is very insulting, though I suspect it was written with that in mind.

    “But would Scotland have any [friends] if it left the UK?” Denmark and other smaller countries are already on record as saying they will welcome an independent Scotland. Scots are liked worldwide, why wouldn’t we have friends?

    Eu negotiations are precisely that. Negotiations. If Scotland doesn’t want to accept any part of a treaty or condition it can negotiate. Your whole tone is based on the assumption that Scotland will accept every diktat made. We have the option to say no. Something we do not have within the UK as all negotiations and decisions are made at Westminster with zero Scottish input. If we are out of the EU then a matter such as Schengen doesn’t even apply.

    NATO is the same. We want to be part of it but if NATO says sod off we could go and play with the Russians or Chinese. I’d like to see the panic coming out of NATO if Russian or Chinese ships help us patrol our waters in the North Atlantic; chase Spanish fishermen from our fishing waters; and protect our oil rigs. We have options; again that’s the point of Indy.

    “…nobody knows just how the lines will be drawn…” International law is very clear on the lines.

    “…Scotland would also have to shoulder some of the debt…” That would only happen if Scotland gets a share of UK assets too. No assets no debt. And our percentage of the debt would be manageable without having to throw oil fields at England.

    “The big economic issue with independent Scotland is that it completely lacks a financial centre.” That’s funny, just a few days ago we were told that our financial sector was too big for a small country like Scotland to handle.

    “At the very least I’d like to see a better thought out plan presented first, one that comes AFTER the negotiations about oil/gas/debt…” Did you even read that sentence? A better plan present first, after negotiations? That makes no sense.

    “… even if you think I’m a rambling idiot.” Close but no cigar.

    A lot of your suppositions are based on the assumption that Scotland has no choices when Independent but it is the complete opposite: we will have all the choices. Also, and no offence intended, the perspective you are coming from seems to be the same old ‘Scots will fall flat on their face if it wasn’t for England’ one.

    We can run our country just like any other small nation on the face of this planet. We wont be a massive success or a massive failure but somewhere in between. Like lots of other countries in the world.

  3. Our team of dedicated writers has slaved over our keyboards night after night to produce over 650 carefully crafted satirical stories lampooning the worst idiocy of the UKOK campaign.

    Now you come along and, with barely an effort, produce satire of a quality we cannot hope to achieve, had we another 300 years in which to struggle.

    You, sir, are a comedy genius. We salute you!

  4. Bill Johnston

    What really worries me about going independent is the present size of our public sector. 1 in 4 in Scotland are employed in this sector. A recent SNP postcard through the door boasted the creation of thousands new government posts. We already have an unsustainable public sector.

  5. John Cox

    What a strange interpretation of reality, but thank you for a few more thousand Yes votes. Your quote says it all
    “though this is likely to be a small percentage of the total $1.4 trillion, and could well be paid back to the UK in some of those tasty oil and gas fields we were talking about earlier”.

  6. Annoyed

    The stock rebuttals – Scotland will rise to the challenges etc.

    What’s worrying is the acceptance that on its own it will be a mediocre little country with a volatile economy.

    Nobody posting in this article or the last can actually explain why they would want to take this risk other than patriotic bluster. I for one (as a Scot that won’t be allowed to have my say) will be absolutely gutted if a “Yes” vote wins. What a stupid pointless exercise it will turn out to be. Why the fk would Scotland want to be a small country like Denmark for goodness sake. Scotland has enormous level of powers inside the union, and judging by the number of Scottish ministers and Mps not sure how it’s under represented in Westminister. Glad to see some of the real arguements/debate coming out now about real issues like currency and EU membership. Oh but Osborne and Barrosa are just bullying right. Wake up.

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