The debate about Scottish Independence is full of absurd statements. It is absurd for the better together to suggest that an independent Scotland wouldn’t succeed. This goes for the British government too. It is equally absurd for the Pro Independence side to claim that everything will be rosy and that all of Scotland’s problems will disappear on a wave of ‘Scottish Oil’ revenues.
The currency issue has been flogged to death and in my view has been firmly demonstrated that should a new Scotland try and use the UK Pound as their currency it will very quickly come unstuck. You have to remember that the current Union of 1707 was brought about by financial problems in Scotland being bailed out by England. No one would want a repeat of that and I am sure that wouldn’t happen but it has all the makings turning the whole Scotland project very sour very quickly. I’ll give you just one example.
At the moment several banks in Scotland have the right to issue bank notes. These notes are treated equally as Bank of England notes but are clearly Scottish and freely circulate through Scotland and much of northern England. However, after independence, would they actually have the same value if there wasn’t a formal currency union? Nominally they might but who would really accept them outside of Scotland with all the uncertainty surrounding their true value? It might also be the case that within southern Scotland, given it’s close proximity to northern English cash machines, people might want to use Bank of England notes and coins, just to be on the safe side. (The cash machine at the Morrision’s to the north of Berwick upon Tweed would have to have an armed guard!) If this were to happen then very quickly there would be a run on Scottish banks as people would withdraw their Scottish pounds and replace them with English pounds. Of course none of the Scottish banks that can print money are actually Scottish, thanks to the financial crash, as they are mostly owned by the British Government.
This, of course, is a totally absurd situation and would never happen – probably. However, this links into another absurd situation – immigration. The current British government hasn’t got a clue what it is doing about immigration. The situation defines any sense of logic – the more a country’s economy expands the more it will attract people from outside who want to make a better life for themself. It is also true that an economically successful country needs immigrants, no matter what their skill levels, which will in turn help boast the economy. However, as opposed to recognising this, the British government is trying to pretend it has some magic plan that pays no account to what the country really needs and will reduce immigration – just at the time that an ageing population needs young, fit people to pay for their care in their old age. The result of all this is chaos.
So what is the Scottish Government’s post independence policy on immigration? They want to encourage many more people to move to Scotland – to help boast their economy and pay for the care of the ageing population etc. They also want to keep the common travel area with the UK. So what this means is that whilst Scotland will be welcoming in as many immigrants as they can the UK will be trying to restrict them and so you could be left with the absurd position that some one might be turned away at Heathrow airport but welcomed at Glasgow airport and because there is a common travel area once that person has entered Scotland he or she can catch the first train south and enter the UK. The alternative is that a fence be built along the English/Scottish border and passport controls points set up. Now that would be absurd.
In truth the absurd situations above can and probably would be resolved as it is in neither country’s best interest for such matters to come about. That would be absurd – right? That is unless you expect all of the problems to be sorted within 18 months of the vote on the 18th September 2014 and get everything that you want on the assumption that the other party in the negotiation hasn’t got it’s own agenda and will be under great pressure not to be too generous for all the illogicality that comes with patriotism and nationalism. Now what kind of absurd world would you live to think that is going to happen?
I firmly believe that an independent Scotland can work. I also believe the UK will thrive and perhaps be a better place without the west Lothian question hanging over its head. I believe given all the bluster and hot air around at the moment sane heads will sort out the problems associated with the separation of Scotland and England (sorry Wales and Northern Ireland but that in truth is what this is all about). I also believe that once the dust has settled we might find we live in a better world on these windswept islands off of the coast of Europe. Perhaps I am just absurdly optimistic.