A colleague of mine wrote a great blog post about why he’s voting “Yes” in the referendum on Scottish independence. I have written a rather long comment in response, and have decided to post it as a blog post.
I really enjoyed reading this. It’s definitely more compelling than a lot of the “Yes” campaign’s material. It has also made me want to pen a response.
I feel a great deal of mixed emotion around the Scottish independence vote. I have a fair amount of Scottish blood flowing through my veins (not to mention a Scottish name). Of course, this doesn’t really mean anything or add anything constructive to the debate. But on a purely emotional level, I have a strong sense of sentimental appreciation of being a citizen of the United Kingdom. Also, living in the border country of Scotland and England, I feel little distinction between the two lands.
That said, I embrace small government and the ability of local areas to function in the way that they see fit. I am no supporter of the current political status quo.
You say that constitutionally, Scotland’s people have no practical say in the government of the United Kingdom. I don’t see how this is true. Constitutionally Scotland’s people have exactly the same say as everyone else. Your point is that even if no Scot voted for the Conservative Party, there could theoretically still be a Conservative government in Westminster. But that’s very different to saying that Scots have no say. The problem that Scots have in this instance is shared by many English people in parts of England and the problem is with the way UK governments are elected.
Of the 59 MPs Scotland has, 40 of them are Labour. For the 13 years prior to 2010, it could be said that Scotland had a disproportionately larger say over the government of the United Kingdom. Not to mention a Scot in one (or both) of the two highest offices (Prime Minister/Chancellor) in the UK government for the entirety of that period. It’s also looking likely that 2015 will see a Labour government return to Westminster, so the favoured party of the Scots will be back in office.
Furthermore, Scots have a greater say over how they are governed via the Scottish Parliament. This certainly elevates Scots above the English in terms of direct government. And, as you point out, Scottish MPs vote on matters that only affect the English. So by proxy, Scots even have a say on the government of England.
In terms of the Scottish not taking responsibility, I agree to some extent. Although I feel this is a subjective generalisation. Is it fair to say that the Scottish, as a nation, whinge about the English? Or Thatcher? Perhaps it is. I’m not sure. I can only respond with anecdotes and generalisations which equally don’t count for much.
I agree that there’s no real reason to be worried about division. But I’m not sure on your point about currency. Yes, plenty of countries do rely on the currencies of others. But there are few examples of highly developed, economically sophisticated countries basing their entire financial system on the currency of another sovereign nation. In a worst case scenario, Scotland could be seen as a very risky place to do business.
Fundamentally, I agree with you that it won’t be cataclysmic if Scotland decides to become independent. However, I do think both the remaining UK and Scotland will be worse off if it does, and that it will be an irreparable and enormous shame.