An undecided’s view of Scottish independence

Probably unwisely, I have recently been involved in a number of Twitter debates about independence and have seen comments like ‘what’s the benefits of the Union’.  What I find particularly irritating about many people who are pro and anti independence is that neither will acknowledge that there are advantages and disadvantages to both positions and we must personally decide on how we trade these off.

1.     Economically, there is no question there will be short-term disruption. Business and the markets don’t like risk and they will take the lower risk option of favouring rUK rather than Scotland. If a Scottish Govt demonstrates economic competence, this will sort itself out. In the longer term, it is completely impossible to judge which option is better and both sides are dishonest in this respect in claiming that they can make such a prediction. Issues such as the EU etc. will also sort themselves out in time.

2.     The principal benefit of independence is that democracy is localised. A Scottish Govt can make decisions that are legitimised by the people of Scotland.  I don’t much like the fact that the current campaign is confusing the issue with all sorts of other policy issues, such as the removal of the Trident base from the Clyde. This is a decision to be taken by the elected Scottish Govt. at the time of independence which will NOT be the current govt.

3.     There are two important benefits of maintaining the Union. One is increased resilience – the ability to deal with emergencies be these financial, medical, weather-related, etc. Larger entities always have more resources to do this. Iceland and Ireland are examples of small countries that could not deal with a financial emergency. Denying that emergencies such as financial emergencies won’t happen in future is simply naive.

The other benefit of maintaining the union is that it maintains what is a truly open market rather than the EU’s formally open market but which is no such thing. Each country quite naturally has a tendency to prefer its own goods and services and Scottish providers will lose out. A very obvious example of this is in shipbuilding. Political pressure in England will mean that contracts for navy vessels will not come to Scottish shipyards.

To my mind, these are the key national issues and individuals have to make up their own mind about which they prefer. My preference is for local democracy but (having some professional interest in the area) I am seriously concerned about resilience, in an increasingly uncertain world.

Of course, they are not the only factors that affect voting as individuals in particular situations may vote according to their circumstances. My guess is that very few shipyard workers will vote ‘yes’ because of fears for their jobs.

The other factor that influences voting decisions is a human one – do you trust the people who are representing you?  In this respect, I am less torn – I don’t trust the current lot one bit. The truth is that independence will have short-term negative consequences and costs and their inability to acknowledge these and their apparent ignorance of how to negotiate (you NEVER make threats before starting a negotiation as it simply antagonises the other party) is shocking.

Had the Scottish Govt. declared that they would immediately call a general election after a yes vote and that parties could put forward their own positions on independence priorities, I would have had no hesitation in voting ‘yes’. What we are being denied by the current government is local democracy as we are not just voting ‘yes’ to self-government but also to a raft of other policies that we may or may not agree with.

Consequently, I’m tending to ‘no’ but in the unlikely event of an outbreak of honesty from our politicians, I’d be happy to change my mind.

5 thoughts on “An undecided’s view of Scottish independence

  • September 1, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    I would have thought that one of the biggest issues is “What monetary system will an independent Scotland use”. Surely this question should not be still in the air at this late stage. I has to be settled as a matter of priority i would have thought.
    I have a foot in each camp as you may well know but the pound is “The Queens i believe” and therefore i would think Westminster have a legal right to pull that plug on Scotland having the same pound and its standing in the world financial markets if its a yes vote.
    So where would Scotland be without the pound in a yes vote? Somebody please tell me and don’t voters have a right to know just what plan “B” is..

  • September 1, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    The currency is obviously an issue and had Salmond said ‘we want to keep the pound and we will negotiate with the Uk government on how best to do this’ there would not be the current hoo-hah about this. The UK government is quite right to say ‘no’ to a currency union without an institution to manage that union and it would not be, IMO, to Scotland’s benefit either. Plan B is obviously simply to use the pound without a formal union but I think that it would be inevitable that when Scotland was admitted to the EU, it would be forced to use the Euro. Salmond won’t say this of course as he knows that’s not what people want.

  • September 13, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    I can not think of anything more important in determining a country’s independence than it’s ability to decide where and when it’s young soldiers go to war. In the last twelve years or more the UK government, at the behest of the Americans, has engaged our young men and women in wars of doubtful legality having little or nothing to do with the defence of Scotland. Not only have they damaged peace and security in the areas concerned but have turned us into participants. Now we are to see the utter absurdity of Nigel Farage with his obsession about Europe joining the London establishment all of whom cannot see that the entire UK has lost its independence to the USA. Scotland needs to vote ‘Yes’ to safeguard the lives of our brave young men and women and to ensure that if and when they are called upon to fight, it is for Scotland. That is what true independence must be about!

  • September 17, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    I came across your website by accident as have lately been compulsively surfing the web about the referendum. Getting fed up with looking at ‘yes’ and ‘no’ – decided to have a read of don’t knows. I have to confess to being a firm yes and also one who’s decision is largely an emotional one. My family on my dad’s side were urban, traditionally leftist and supported home rule. They felt in the old days that once universal suffrage came about, the working folk of scotland would bring about home rule. After two world wars the labour party in scotland dropped this principle as you may know, and so those of the left that still felt this was still important began the move to the SNP. I’ve come a long way since I was young – the complexity of the world often defeats me and makes it hard for me to act with certainty on many issues. I am now still leftish, but with a stronger understanding of the need for individual liberty. I am a green – but disagree a lot with fellow greens on social policies etc. I think that the internet is changing everything in ways that many of us, including those in government, do not understand. International politics is like a high stake game of chess I now see, where the players have no choice but to act even if there appears to be no good move, because the consequences of not making one are even worse. I do believe that globalization is not working for the benefit of the majority of the people on this planet and I agree (never thought I would!) with Tariq Ali’s take on the nation state being, for all it’s arbitariness, being a means of various collectives of ordinary people being able to put the brakes on this process where it is against their own best interests. How we feel about where the boundaries for these collectives should be is central to this referendum and in all honesty I just don’t believe a lot of people on both sides when they say that they have carefully and logically set out the pros and cons and arrived at their decision. The older I get the more I see the interplay of human psychology and logic in myself and others. As a yet undecided voter I would say that you are the exception to this and or perhaps someone who is equidistant to being politically Scottish and British. Political identity is an ever evolving thing and I really believe there is no morally right or wrong way to see this. I have no emnity at all towards people who don’t share my feeling and I can feel human empathy towards people who may feel distress at the partial dismantling of a United Kingdom. I hope if the ‘no’ vote wins that their voters will have some sympathy for those who still believed that Scotland should be a nation state. We are a thrawn lot are we not, us unenglish of Britain. We are the constant reminder that to be British is not to be English. The English copyright to Britain has sometimes come very close to being complete, but never quite. My ‘logical’ reasons for the yes are those of the greens. I believe that a peaceful but emphatic green revolution needs to start as a matter of urgency and that the Scottish Greens are uniquely placed to kickstart this. Whatever you decide Ian – all the very best of luck. There are awful people on both sides of this divide and I fervently hope none of them get to hold sway.

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