Thursday, 19 January 2012

Scottish Independence

In 1776 a group Nationalists, political theorists, brigands, and well to do Colonists declared Independence from the Crown of England, believing they had a majority support. The fact they didn' and that the majority of Colonists were neither for nor against the Crown or Colonial cause didn't stop a successful rebellion.

Politicians at the time were worried about the financial dent the loss of the Colonies would have on a struggling British economy which was recovering from the debts of the Seven year war and establishing new garrisons in freshly acquired territories. Others were of the opinion that a separate "America" could stand on its own and it would only be a matter of time before they came crawling back to the crown and a merciful and forgiving King George III would welcome them back.

Now, three centuries on, the SNP - a democratically elected government in Scotland, which has always had an agenda for Independence, have moved for a referendum on breaking free of the Union but there is opposition from Westminster.

Before I go on, I should say that I am neither for nor against the break up of the Union. I do believe that the British Empire was only possible because of all the British peoples working together for mutual benefit. Scottish engineers and soldiers have brought about wonders and achieved great things alongside their Welsh, Irish and English counterparts and it would be mutually beneficial for us to stay together and support each other. However if it is the will of the Scottish people then it should be respected.

I also agree with Ed Miliband, if the process of a Independence is messed up, it is going to cause problems for future generations. There is a lot at stake and a lot to debate. Centuries of symbiosis and integration means there is a lot to "unzip" and share out; the NHS, military, rail, road and the clincher - North Sea Oil/gas.

The cynical voice in my head wonders if this isn't what is causing all of the problems and would we be having the same questions about Welsh devolution?
It is a serious question though, after all serious revenue is generated by these natural resources and at a time of economic down turn - we need all the income we can get.
Linked to this is the deficit - what is Scotland's share? Can England foist of a percentage to Scotland and what is a fair amount? After all it was a British Government that failed to legislate and regulate the banks, it was British bankers who cocked up equally so theoretically we're all in this together and we should all get out of this together.

Would you leave your friends in a bar when the bar bill came in without paying your share?
There is also the question of Nationals. Plenty of Scots and English work or live either side of the boarder with their families. Will passports need to be issued? Will there be an amnesty where groups can relocate home or to where they'd rather live just like in America in 1783? I have a friend who is half Scottish, born in Scotland but lived in England most of her life and dislikes Scotland and considers herself English, should she have to return to Scotland, or live with a Scottish passport in England?

Ultimately though, once there has been a referendum and the Scottish parliament has a mandate for independence, nothing would stop them from closing the boarders and declaring it immediately rather than working to a time table set by Westminster. After all its not like we'll march like "Butcher Bill" Duke of Cumberland over the boarder and reassert the rule of the crown. As a sovereign nation Scotland could appeal to the UN for help as a democratically elected Parliament with a democratically decided referendum England would be powerless. Hopefully though it won't come to that!

It is an issue that needs to be looked at and debated by both Holyrood and Westminster without media hype and bluster of personality for the benefit of both nations and peoples if the referendum comes back "Yes".

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