An Independent Scotland ?

mCTGa42I have decided to take a chance and write a piece on Scottish Independence in the absence of volunteers from our Scottish readers. I feel I must begin by ingratiating myself with my Scottish friends by pointing out that I was born and bred in Cardiff and hold on to my Welsh heritage. I regard myself as a fellow Celt but I also regard myself as British and proud to do so.

I worked for a large part of my career in Scotland and for part of that at the national level. Two of my three children were born in Scotland and continue to live there along with all my grandchildren. I make no bones about it, I love Scotland, the Scots and Scottish culture. So, short of being a Scot I feel I have a considerable feeling for and understanding of Scotland. Now that I have got that off my chest does that pedigree guarantee a balanced article? I will let you decide.

Over the years I have watched the growing debate over independence with great interest along with the building of one the most significant political careers in modern history. Alex Salmond has that canny knack of shielding a ruthless and devoted fervour with the all the charm and humour that is required to disarm people and carry influence. Unfortunately, politics being the business it is, it feeds on such skills and many in parliament practice them be that at Holyrood, Westminster, Stormont or the Welsh Assembly. It is therefore essential that we are all able to separate the rhetoric from the facts in reaching a conclusion on some of the most important political issues facing us.

Scottish independence is not an issue of support for or opposition to Alex Salmond, but I fear it will develop as such. Personalities always emerge as an influential factor, hiding the true facts and objective arguments from our gaze. One MSP has already stated that not supporting the SNP is an expression of anti-Scottishness which, in my view, was a very clumsy attempt at dragging the whole debate down to its lowest common denominator. Alex Salmond has already given us some clues as to his approach by reference to the bullying by Westminster and the interference of David Cameron in an attempt to polarise views on emotive arguments not the facts.

I intend to ensure that I will make up my mind on the merits of Scottish independence on the basis objective arguments not on antagonistic feelings that have their roots in an irrelevant history. Where history does have relevance is the fact that a 300-year-old unity has been to the benefit of the whole of the UK and should not be undone without very good reason.

What might those reasons be? At this stage I am unsure but what I am sure about is that it will centre on such issues as: the legal rights to north sea oil, a Scottish currency and the setting of interest rates, sharing out of national debt, defence and protection of borders, nuclear deterrents, and diminished presence in the UN. These issues, and others are critical to any decision as, combined, they give us the model for government that would emerge and on which we can all express a view. I fear this will not be encouraged from the SNP who will attempt to throw a cloak of invisibility over the arguments especially where they do not suit their purposes. Cameron has already spotted this danger by referring to Salmond’s “neverendum” which he clearly feels is the tactic of keeping the arguments going to wear people down and work out the future as you go along rather than creating the vision from the outset. The lack of clarity is the greatest danger that we face and accepting that I will have no vote in the referendum I nevertheless have a very strong interest in the outcome.

I get the feeling that the Devo Max option is being promoted as the consolation prize but in my view it does actually represent the goal that the SNP holds dear given that they know a positive vote on independence is unlikely. However, the Devo Max option is far from straight forward and is a recipe for further future conflict which plays into the hands of Salmond and his colleagues. It offers power without responsibility. How can anybody be asked to vote on an issue so important without all the facts at their disposal?

We all have preconceived notions on this topic. I am unashamedly in favour of retaining a United Kingdom but am willing to be convinced that it would be in everybody’s interest for Scotland to go its own way

  • df4577

    Posted at 2012-01-26 17:47:42

    As a Scot born and bred and one who has spent his business career here in Scotland I am dismayed at the the prospect of another 1000 days of point scoring and lightweight contributions from politicians of all parties.

    This is supposed to be about us Scots and those EU citizens resident here and entitled to vote making an informed choice through a referendum on Scotland becoming an independant Country.

    As such the electorate surely is entitled to have placed in front of it the facts and for these to be presented in a very clear and concise way as we consider making that informed choice about what could be the biggest decision of most of our lives.
    So far there has been little of this and I suspect having watched a debate on Scottish TV last night that this will continue to be the case. My dismay with the level of debate is linked to the lack of facts that can be clearly evidenced about the advantages and disadvantages of independance and the seeming lack of awareness amongst politicians of the need for business planning and clarity and transparence about where the business case can either be made or not.
    There is nothing that I am currently aware of that might be described as even as a draft Business Plan for a future independant Scotland and nothing that shows clearly how that future will be funded on an annual or rolling basis or what expenditure will be incurred to ensure that the books balance. I would actually like to see what I might be voting for in economic terms.

    Can we have less posturing, rhetoric, and sound bites from those who should know better and please give us facts that can be evidenced and clearly presented so that we can all understand them.
    If we can then I might be able to make an informed decision about how to use my vote!

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  • Graeme Harvey

    Posted at 2012-01-26 17:12:23

    As a Scot brought up in England from the age of 5 and returned home aged 26, I have always been of the belief that it is the English who need Independence from us. Scotland and England have been united for over 300 years, in that time together we have built ran and lost one of histories greatest empires. We still have world wide connections and respect, many nations still look to us for leadership in many different ways including legal, financial, technical, commercial and governmental. Independantly both the English and the Scots are fiercely proud peoples and very much like good friends or family members we will fight among ourselves but woe betide any outsider that tries to interfere.
    The Union was necessary to bail out a Scotland that was virtually bankrupt after a disastrous venture into colonialism in Central America. During the entire period of the Union, Scots have been involved at the very top of commercial and governmental life. From my own experience I have seen repeated criticism by scots of the Westminster Parliament with scant regard for the fact that the ones causing the scots the most problems were in fact Scots themselves. A look at the make up of the last Labour Government is a good example.
    There are so many unanswered questions regarding the proposed future structure of an Independant Scotland that it is difficult to support that proposition. We all share the same small island and we all have our own regional identities, dialects, customs, histories etc. There is no reason why we should not all continue to work together as a team while retaining our regional character. I am against the breaking up of the Union. The Union is a partnership which should be nurtured not torn apart.

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