First question anyone must ask is why does the Scottish nation want to become independent from the United Kingdom of Great Britain?
There are several answers each as complex as the others and there will be debate, both heated and measured, about which answer is the right one. I know that whichever one I put forward will obviously be the wrong one because I no longer live in Scotland (though I did so for many years) even though my family still do. No doubt, there will be much debate with them also.
“Nationalism does not always advocate independence from states or empires. Imperialism can be a vehicle for a national mission or can strengthen minority nations. In certain contexts, these two anti-thetical concepts can be reconciled.”
The thing is, Scotland has to decide, despite the popular venom of anti-Westminster, anti-English, anti-this and anti-that, what is right for Scotland now and in the future. It may well be that the current ruling party in Holyrood have only nationalism as its main manifesto because it strongly believes that is the only way forward for the country and that all other problems will fly away like entrails once St. Andrew’s flag is firmly perched above Edinburgh, forever.
Reality though may require that the house is firmly put in order first, with all the little nooks and crannies dusted and polished to give a good inward and outward appearance to foreign investors and visitors. Remember, visitors are the eyes and ears of potential investors. A hint of hatred and you can forget any investment. There is a huge difference between enthusiasm and fanaticism. No investment would mean no independent Scotland. Currently Scotland has a huge deficit which needs balancing to make moving to Scotland a very attractive option.
All countries, throughout the world, have had ongoing poor relationships with some of their neighbours. Some are still very hostile to bordering countries. Scotland and England are no exception to this human possessive nature, but generally, nowadays, the two countries tolerate each other very well. Of course, you have to discount what the politicians say about each other, but at least they don’t run around shooting each other! A lot of families live both sides of the border, some families in Scotland have branches in countries all around the world. As do English, Welsh and Irish families. I know that families from Eire also have members of their families living away from the home country also.
These relationships are what makes our world; modern, cosmopolitan and enduring. Politics mostly reflect the feelings of communities, often developing the laws and traditions in which the communities feel comfortable and settled. Scotland has achieved that on a magnificent level and as a proud Nation it is highly regarded throughout the world.
However, I understand that as a cultural group of people, the Scots want to think of independence as a measure of controlling all of their affairs themselves and quite right too. They have, in the past, demonstrated that they have the capacity to run their own Parliament and make their own laws and virtually, at the moment, that is what they do. Now, they want to be more complete and feel comfortable in their own country, free from the imperialism of the United Kingdom parliament at Westminster. There is absolutely no reason why this cannot happen very quickly.
There are several events which have to occur before that can happen, apart from the legal matters.
- The Scottish population must be allowed to decide if independence is really what they want – separation in every respect from the United Kingdom.
- If they decide yes, then the existing Scottish Parliament must be dissolved and two different votes cast by the same voters in the Referendum; one for the majority party and another for the President of Scotland, or whatever title is popular at the time.
Then and only then, can Scotland begin the process of being truly independent.
Of course, there are down sides to all of this. The reality is that the Scots would have to raise funding for everything from their own taxation. There are lots that would be inherited from the relationship with the UK and doubtless these would be included in the terms of any new treaty. But the rest would have to be paid for by investment and/or taxation. You cannot rely on the IMF to lift Scotland’s independence finances to a more comfortable and manageable level.
Scotland already benefits from a large amount of investment and she would have to capitalise on this and more, encouraging investment from around the world. Trading with the rest of the UK may be affected, but it does not have to – negotiated terms would always be available. Trading with the EU is a different matter and I will not discuss that here because the two subjects are not inter-related as some would have you believe.
The conclusion is that Scotland can become independent, but it may come at a cost that some may not want to be burdened with. I would love Scotland to stay in the UK but can understand if they decide to become independent and wish them all success if they do.
John Colclough, Feb 2017
Added in March 2017:
There has been a lot of chatter about the farming and fishing rights for Scotland being held on to by the Westminster Parliament after Brexit. However, this is untrue and must be laid to rest if Scotland and the Scottish people are to move forward either to independence or to stay in the Union. The control of all UK farming and fishing was handed over to the EU Parliament under the Maastricht Treaty. So Westminster cannot hold onto the farming and fishing rights until the UK comes out of the EU, then it will be a matter of negotiating UK rights to fishing areas and farming agreements with individual nations within the EU.
Scotland could help in this massive task by remaining calm and sketching out what Scotland would prefer to see, rather than want as a right. The rest of the UK is in exactly the same position; they need to calmly decide on the priorities to be negotiated.
updated 20th March 2017
Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP have now decided to put a motion in front of Holyrood to hold a referendum before the UK leaves the EU permanently. It seems that the SNP are grimly holding the Scottish nation to ransom over membership of the EU. This could well be the death knell for the SNP, as there is no real mileage in continual u-turns with the Scottish electorate.
updated 20th April 2017
Theresa May, the UK Prime Minister, has asked UK Parliament for a snap General Election on the grounds that there is division from both the House of Lords and from MPs within her own Tory party. It is a fair request under the circumstances, in order to continue the major tasks of leaving the EU and ensuring a good outcome for all of the United Kingdom. However, this is also an unsettling time for Scotland because of the imminent council elections. This transition may see a different power base in the Scottish Parliament and hopefully some excursion away from the spendthrift culture which currently exists at Holyrood.
Let us get down to the real nitty gritty in my next article; Scotland’s Freedom from the United Kingdom.