Debate: Scottish Independence

Saturday, 12th May 2007 at 9:00 UTC 2 comments

For those who haven’t been reading it, there has been a bit of a debate going on in the comments of one of my posts on the Scottish Election results.  I decided a couple of days ago that it was probably better to start a fresh than keep writing bit-part answers to everything and anything people posted.  This, therefore, is my attempt to answer as many questions as possible.  Debate will be continued in comments below no doubt.

First of all, I’m assuming here that full Scottish Independence would be a long process, with a lot to play for, of which most would be between status-quo and some kind of improvement.  This independence would take time to develop, but would eventually be total.  For instance, Scotland could be outside of the IMF’s political sphere, challenging the ubiquity of that organisation.

The practical benefits to Scotland will be a more accountable system of law making, that doesn’t rely on MP’s who spend most of their time outside the country.  With Proportional Representation from the outset, and a cooling of the political heatwave that has seen the SNP wipe out both brands of socialists, a more diverse government, which would have to remain more flexible to public opinion, could begin to emerge.

There are some issues on rules about transnational parties.  Traditionally it has been illegal in most parts of the world for a party in one country to stand candidates in another.  Either way, as independence takes hold, I would expect to see Westminster parties being split along the border, or simply being kicked out by the electorate.  If they are not, then that is the electorate’s fault.  When full independence is achieved, only through diplomatic influence and global power wrangling would the Westminster monster have any control over Scotland.

I’m a firm believer that the more people sharing power the better, and the Scottish parliament already has more seats than Scotland has at Westminster.  Add to this the fact that Westminster imposed candidate short-lists would be harder to justify.  Would this automatically mean progressive politics?  No.  Would this mean a chance for progressive politics to shine through?  Yes.  A lot of this is about creating opportunities and the psychological framework for emancipation.

Statistically, Scotland’s response to climate change would be embarrassing for Remainder-Britain (it already is): Scotland has hydro generation and wind farms in abundance already, and is doing much better with its own rail system.  In some areas rural bus services are better than in much of England.  Indeed, it is possible that ScotRail might be taken off of First’s hands at the earliest opportunity. Implemented properly, this could mean a shift towards integrated transport in Scotland.

Money earnt by the country will stay there, and with an economy which is improving fast, this will become more worthwhile over time.  Scotland already does a huge amount of business on its own merit, rather than that of Britain as a whole (especially in Tourism, in which they have successfully set themselves apart in recent years).

They will no longer be funding a wannabe super-power, instead able to cut the amount of tax money spent on the military.  Even if a Scottish military force was retained sufficient to remain in Nato, they would be spending far less.  And Nato membership is not a forgone conclussion, though some would try and make it one.  Not choosing to join would probably be electorally worthwhile and would have the knock-on effect of weakening Nato.

The Trident issue is an interesting one.  Initiatives such as Faslane 365 rely on making the retention of such weapons very costly.  Suddenly having to relocate them could be very costly.  It would also be very unsafe for England.  One of the reasons we have managed to keep our missile system is because we have moved it to a place where accidents are no worry for the 9 million inhabitants of London.

Instead, moving it to Davenport could mean that the heat is turned up as Londoners suddenly have a vested interest, as does everyone in the Southwest, South Central and West Midlands.  Ergo NIMBYism rises, weapons become politically unsustainable.  The other reason why Scottish would give their nukes back is because they’re mostly sick of having to house UK nuclear waste already.

Not being a world super-power would have significant effects.  This isn’t to say that some damned fool Scottish Prime Minister wouldn’t try to set himself up on the international stage, but it would be much less likely.  If we want to take down super-powers, splitting them up into smaller pieces is definitely a step in the right direction.

I hope this has answered some of the questions I had when I started this article.  I shall have to deal with regional assemblies later, because they are much more complicated.  But I shall end the same way as I did in a previous comment, by saying that, somewhere along the line, the psychological effects of dumping Westminster-centrism do become highly important.  If we want to get power out of the Palace of Westminster, we must find places to start that process, and removing the right of Westminster to dominate the Scottish seems a perfectly reasonable place to start.


Entry filed under: democracy, Participation, Politics, Scotland, Scottish Parliament.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Greg  |  Thursday, 17th May 2007 at 23:40 UTC

    Well, I seriously would have read this and commented by now, except that my degree’s suddenly got a whole lot busier. Our dreaded group software engineering project has suddenly cranked up, amongst other things. I may get round to reading at the weekend, if not, sorry you got persuaded to write it!

  • 2. Graham Martin  |  Thursday, 17th May 2007 at 23:50 UTC

    Nah, it was worth it. Still not certain that I’ve got everything thought out myself. G


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