When Duty Calls

I wrote this article for Bella Caledonia last week…

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WHEN DUTY CALLS

We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.

- George Orwell

A while back someone posted on twitter (if it was you, let me know and I will update this) that the London Scottish Conservative Society’s “Five Reasons Why the Union is Better Off with Scotland in it” were exactly the best reasons for Scottish Independence so I thought it might be an idea to go through them.

Number 1 – The Acts of Union created one of the most enduring relationships in the history of the world. Why fix something which isn’t broken?

The Pax Romana created one of the most enduring relationships in the world but there is no doubt about who benefitted most from it.

Additionally, I think the contention would be that it is broken. A system where all the nations incorporated in this union often don’t get the government they voted for and don’t have control of their own financial affairs can’t be said to be working too well. Furthermore, a system where the financial system causes resentment on all sides also cannot be said to be working too well.

Their article also goes on to say that Scottish Independence would provide a “brutal knock to British Identity” –  one of the main problems of the Union is that British and therefore English identity tends to ride roughshod over all the others when it suits.

They also say that the Welsh could be next. Go on the Welsh.

 

Number 2 – The impending Scotland Act will make Scotland more accountable for its own public spending

Oh no! You mean we could choose for ourselves! The horror of it.

Their article says…

“Splitting up the Union would be a clumsy overreaction to a resolvable problem; by tidying up the devolution settlement through legislation, we can ensure a fair and mutually beneficial relationship.”

Well, it has been 300 years of tinkering and nobody is happy with it yet. I also thought they said the system wasn’t broken?

Number 3 – Scottish independence could mean the UK’s largest trading partner has a different currency entailing greater risk, cost and bureaucracy

There are no current plans to join the Euro and that would seem to close the case here but what is bizarre is that their reasoning for this statement then morphs into something about immigration. The bold is mine…

There is a real risk of an immigration crisis should Scotland’s economy struggle on its own. Faced with a declining population, the Scottish administration is openly in favour of immigration and should times grow intolerably hard it is not difficult to see where those in search of work would head

A couple of problems here. The first is that Scotland’s population is projected to rise, not decline. The second is the last thing I put in bold. If you think that sentence through carefully, aside from the whiff of racism, it doesn’t sound very much like any sort of Scottish society this, does it?

Number 4 – An independent Scotland would entail a significant loss in HMT revenues from the North Sea

They say…

The stakes and the sums involved are sufficient to ensure years of international litigation over revenues which would be central to an Independent Scotland’s budget plans.

This of course would be a loss to the UK account, not the Scottish one. How difficult the litigation has to be depends on how unnecessarily or unfairly greedy Westminster wishes to be.

Number 5 – Scotland’s contribution to Britain’s armed forces is far greater than its population share

I think this is quite clearly something that shows the unfairness of the thing and not a reason to stay in the union.

Finally, in their conclusion keep an eye open for a couple of interesting things. Look out for the bold again…

Those are some of the more logical grounds for why England should want to stay in the Union, but truth be told, the reasons run deeper. Despite the family politics of the thing, most of us believe in Britain and want to be British.  In the words of David Cameron, we are stronger together and weaker apart. They say you can’t choose your family; in 2014 that will be demonstrably disproved.

At least at the end there is a stark admission that these are reasons for England to try to keep a hold of Scotland, not for Scotland to stay in the union, but we also get the strange “can’t choose your family line. I think 100 interpretations could be put on that so I will leave you to decide for yourselves what that one means.

 

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