Scottish Independence: Pan Loaves and Galadays
By Nat Butcher, Our Political Editor
BBC Scotlandshire has received the following statement from Brian Wilson, the former Scottish minister for tweed, who appears a bit miffed that the Scottish government has been laying out its plans for how independence will be achieved, when everyone knows that the whole idea of separation is simply stupid and terribly unkind to the English, who gave us everything we have today - including tweed!
It is rare that this channel is given an opportunity to publish such a well balanced and thoughtful piece of political thinking, and even more unusual for it to be penned by one so universally respected for the sharpness of his wit and the poetry of his prose.
We are humbled by the occasion and present this masterwork in its unedited entirety, in what we expect will be a turning point in the fortunes of the U-KOK campaign and their brave fight to preserve the union we all love and respect so uncritically.
Other people's nationalisms tend to look more benign from a distance than for those who live with the reality. Reassert the critical faculties, however, and they all come back to the same thing – dividing people along lines of identity and creating borders where none exist.
This is the scenario which Scotland now has to address. There is no surge of demand for independence, far less justification. Except in the minds of the paranoid, we are not persecuted, deprived, discriminated against or excluded. In social and economic terms we have no more or less to complain about than many other parts of the UK.
Hardcore support for independence comes in at about 20%, though there is also significant demand for more devolved powers. Presented with a list of issues that concern them, the Scots give the same answers as the English, with constitutional change limping in behind the usual frontrunners – jobs, health, education and a dozen others.
The difference is that Scotland now has to answer a question which only a minority want to ask: "Should Scotland become an independent country?" This is because, two years ago, 21% of Scots voted nationalist in the Holyrood elections, giving them an overall majority. The SNP hold the levers of power and have a democratic right to use them. Hence a referendum.
This week they went a little further. Having not yet set a date for the referendum, they announced that "independence day" will be in March 2016. The circuses are already being organised; others can worry about the bread. The intention is to create an air of inevitability in the march to independence, and they have the substantial resources of devolved government to assist them.
The polls suggest that the separatist campaign has stalled. When options are reduced to two, support for independence rises to 25-30%. But it would be foolish to assume it will stay there. By playing the long game, the SNP is counting on the question by late 2014 being between independence and the probability of another Conservative government, which might significantly alter the prevailing mood.
Those of us who do not want to break up Britain are not misty eyed wavers of the union flag. We simply believe that we are better together, and that there is no credible case for unravelling 300 years of shared history. We know that every progressive change that has benefited ordinary people in all of the UK has been struggled for and voted for by people in Newcastle and Liverpool as much as in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
And we know that if the SNP succeeds, it will not only be Scotland that pays a price, whatever hypothetical benefits are promised. It will also be our friends, families and comrades who are left to their own devices in a politically imbalanced "rest of the UK", facing a much more hostile landscape. There is nothing remotely progressive, for any of us, in that.
This week's offering from the Scottish government blithely promised that, if Scotland votes for independence, the whole thing will be done and dusted in 18 months. They cannot tell us what currency will be used or who will set interest rates, yet they can tell us to the day how long the negotiations will take.
Their entire economic case is predicated on claiming the vast majority of North Sea revenues, yet they assume the benign Tory government will cheerfully sign up to every aspect of asset division put before them in order to facilitate the big party at Edinburgh castle. They base their energy policy on assuming that English consumers will subsidise Scottish renewables while Scotland is making off with the oil revenues. They were caught lying through their teeth about automatic EU membership which, it is now clear, would not happen.
In support of their thesis that the process would take only 18 months, they – and remember this is an official government document rather than a party political tract – referred to 30 countries which had obtained velvet divorces from neighbours or colonial masters. These ranged from Mali through Montenegro to the Kiribati Islands in the South Sea.
The idea there is relevant comparison with unravelling 300 years of relationships, shared institutions and economic inter-dependence within the UK may be absurd, but it is indicative of the nationalists' approach. They know that they only have to fool most of the people on one solitary day, in the autumn of 2014, and the future will belong to them. It is a big prize, and the end will be used ruthlessly to justify the means.
Meanwhile, Labour's Ian David Son MP, chairchoob of the Scottish Affairs committee for Meeting English National Demands, Attempting to Castigate Independence and Openly Undermine Scotlandshire swedged:
"Ah'll tell ye whit, thon wee Tweedledumb knows fine whit e's oan aboot. When 'e says England wid be 'imbalanced' wi'oot Scotlandshire, he means Labour wid never win again if they didnae huv a miillion eejits North ay the boarder willin tae vote fur us just tae try an keep the Tories oot.
"If Scotlandshire votes fur separashun, we're f—ked in baith countries, and that wee pretendy wee Teuchter Wilson is daein his level best tae stoap that happening. He's even landit umsell a nice wee earner goin roond the wurld slaggin aff his ain country, jist tae stoap that dictator Salmond fae lookin too guid. A think they caw um 'the ravin ambassador fur Scotlandshire'. Magic!"
Guardian : Scottish Independence : Bread and Circuses
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