It looks as if Scotland is going to have a second referendum on becoming independent. The First Minister is putting a vote to the Scottish Parliament, which will vote in favour. The UK Prime Minister would rather not have another referendum but will find it politically impossible to say no. The argument will be over the timing: the First Minister wants it before the UK is due to leave the European Union, the Prime Minister afterwards.
I’ve long thought that it’s ultimately inevitable that Scotland will become independent. (Demography dictates that Northern Ireland will eventually become part of Ireland, leaving the Former UK as just England and Wales.) It’s a matter of heart not mind.
It makes no sense economically for Scotland to become independent. Scotland spends a thousand pounds more per head on public services than the other parts of the UK, and the collapse in the price of oil means that an independent Scotland would have a very shaky economy. The Scottish Independence Party will argue that Scotland can stay in the European Union, meaning that it won’t face the economic downturn that will probably follow the UK leaving the European Union. The UK Prime Minister will point out that Scotland’s trade with the rest of the UK is four times that of that with the European Union. And the European Union’s line is that Scotland cannot stay in the Union but will have to leave with the rest of the UK and then reapply. So a vote for independence could leave Scotland in no-man’s land, outside the UK and outside the European Union.
My dear friend Peter, who lives in Edinburgh, thinks it insanity for Scotland to leave the UK and campaigned actively for it to stay in the last referendum. If I lived in Edinburgh (and I might if the endgame is Scotland in the European Union and England outside) my head would tell me to vote against independence.
But my heart would probably tell me to vote for independence, and this time independence may come. Firstly, loving Scotland in an unashamedly Romantic way, https://richardswsmith.wordpress.com/2016/12/05/what-scotland-means-to-me/ I recognise that it’s a very different country from England, with different values, traditions, and history. This stark difference was illustrated by the way that Scotland voted heavily to remain in the European Union, while the UK as a whole, and particularly most of England, voted to leave. Secondly, many Scots feel that Scotland is “occupied” like a “colony” by the English. This feeling is particularly strong when the UK has a Tory government. The collapse in the Labour Party means that the UK as a whole will soon have a stronger Tory government–and may have one for decades to come. Thirdly, we learnt in the Brexit referendum that economic arguments, particularly when presented negatively, do not prevail. Fourthly the SNP has some very accomplished politicians, while the Scottish electorate resents being threatened by English politicians. Finally, this relates to the blog I posted earlier about “people from somewhere” being misunderstood by “people from anywhere.” https://richardswsmith.wordpress.com/2017/03/13/people-from-somewhere-anywhere-and-nowhere/ I suspect that even more Scots than English are “people from somewhere” and are fed up with “people from anywhere” governing them.
Scotland is headed for independence. Friends from outside Britain must wonder what kind of craziness has gripped us in Britain. Perhaps it’s the political equivalent of dementia: we are just too old.