The Great Independence Game

It was perhaps inevitable that the SNP would let the victory in the local elections go to their heads. The thing is that their mantra of “independence, independence, independence” now seems to have spread to the media. I was driving around a lot this weekend and had to turn off the radio as I got sick of them going on and on about independence :lalala:, change the record guys! )-o

But still it does raise some interesting questions. For starters the SNP now seems to be contemplating more than one independence option. There’s Devo Max (when I first heard that on BBC Scotland I thought it was some new soft drink they were promoting :))) which would see the devolution of considerably more power to Holyrood but Scotland still part of the union. Then there’s Independence lite (independence for slimmer’s? Alex Salmond I assume might need to consider that one ;D ) which would see Scotland as a sovereign independent state but with an open border and still using the pound (or real fucking money as its called by Scots who go south) as currency. And there was me thinking independence was a matter of everyone going south to the border, mooning the English and saying “now get yous to fuck” before putting up a fence, guarded by specially trained killer haggis :D.

My take on this is that while I’m minded to support independence, it certainly has worked in Ireland’s favour, it has to been at the right time, in the right circumstances and on the right conditions. I’m not convinced yet that those have been met. I’m reminded for example of Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight rubbing it in Nicola Sturgeon’s face (different engagement here but still worth watching), the fact that the bulk of what ship building remains on the Clyde (her constituency!) is for ships of the Royal Navy. Will the Brit’s still be wanting to build ships in what is now a foreign country post independence? If so why Scotland? There are plenty of other shipyards in mainland Europe who could offer a much better deal.

I would certainly see some benefit in some more devolved power, notably on the issue of energy. And I bring that one up largely because Scotland at least seems to have some sort of an energy policy while Westminster doesn’t seem to have a clue. But I reckon these SNP lot have just watched Braveheart or Highlander once too often. And yes I know I voted for them (partially) but I also stated that voting for them did not necessarily translate into a vote for Scottish independence. In the middle of one of the worst economic crises in world history is about the worst time to even think about such a move.

Indeed the whole reason why “Devo Lite” or “Independent Max” (sorry I got those mixed up didn’t I :>> ) is precisely because the SNP knows that the bulk of Scots are not convinced. If they can’t get full independence then they know they’ll have to settle for something a little more subdued.

Of course if there’s one thing that could swing things in the SNP’s favour it is ironically enough, the Tory’s. The litmus test for independence is can Westminster keep its nose out of matters that are clearly Scottish affairs. If the answer is no, then devolution isn’t working so independence has to be considered. It was the consequence of Ireland being dragged into World War I and a heavy handed over-reaction by the British authorities to the Easter Rising that convinced Ireland that “Home Rule” (the 1910’s term for Devolution) wasn’t going to work as Westminster couldn’t resist the temptation to meddle in Irish affairs and pushed the nation towards full independence. Similarly the Tory’s need to realise that the biggest threat to the union right now is them and the more reactionary elements in their party, not Alex Salmond.

And all the indicators I see are that there is a real danger of this happening. In the immediate wake of the SNP victory I heard a couple of things on Sky and in the Telegraph that all but confirmed my worst fears. These Tory’s talked about how, oh, great! Leave then whose stopping you! you go out that door don’t think we’ll be letting you back in! Besides, the Scot’s can’t just break away like that, why if you look at this piece of goat skin here in paragraph three you’ll see King William IV says we’re BFF’s (unless they present him with a invisible pink unicorn), and why we’d need to hold a referendum down in England too (rather than Scotland dumping the English, the English might want to dump the Scots’ first), and transfer Scotland’s share of the debts to them, and keep the oil (naturally we found it don’t you know!), and we’d have to have a lengthy period of negotiation about it all (who gets to keep the cat and everything), but I’ve got cricket on Thursdays and oh, you’re just going to mess things up now! Think of the children (Wales?)!

All I’ve heard from the anti-independence lot is a lot of childish nonsense, exactly what the SNP want the Tory’s to keep on saying. What the Tory’s doing seem to realise is that such talk could easily stir many Scots towards voting in favour of independence. I suspect Alex danced a wee jig after the election. The best time for Scotland to try for indepedence, as the SNP see it, is when the Tories are in charge down south, as they’ll inevitably piss people off north of the border. The call on Cameron to pre-emit the SNP by initiating a referendum himself (which has been talked about) sounds to me like a really bad idea. I can all but guarantee that this would likely backfire, badly!

I also don’t think the Tory’s seem to realise that there are two golden rules of history. “Power is rarely given, its usually taken“. While it would be important to achieve an amicable divorce, in the event of a Yes vote (unlikely though that is), there will be a limit to Scottish patience on this. Beyond a certain point Holyrood will basically tell Westminster to feck off, hold a second snap referendum on what they consider should be the terms of independence and with the will of the people behind them, implement that unilaterally. If Westminster has a problem with that, they can go whistle dixie.

And while we’re talking about it, the door swings both ways here. If Scotland has to take on its share of the UK debt, then surely that entitles Scotland to its share of what that debt was run up paying for. Shouldn’t Scotland not also get 1/8 of the Royal navy, including a 1/8 of the Trident submarine fleet plus nukes (while Scotland may not want to hang on to these I’m quite sure the Chinese or Russians would pay top dollar for a Vanguard class sub!), 1/8 of the air force and 1/8 of all overseas territories? Speaking of nukes surely Scotland would also be entitled to a copy of all the intellectual property (i.e. the nuclear blueprints!) they represent? Also, the high unemployment and virtual welfare colonies that are parts of Glasgow are largely a fault of Tory polices that were generally opposed by Scottish politicians. Similarly the banking crisis is a fault of spiv’s and speculators in London. Is it fair that Scotland should inherit a debt run up by Westminster implementing policies that they opposed?

The second rule of world history that the English forget is that “possession is nine tenths of ownership“. The bulk of the oil and natural gas from the North Sea is landed in Scotland. It will be very easy for the Scots to take control of that regardless of what any law says down in England. All Alex Salmond will have to do is engineer some plausible excuse to turn off the taps (despatching the Elf ‘n’ Safety mob comes to mind, there’s nothing that they can’t find fault with and get declared a safety hazard) wait about 15 seconds for the phone to ring, its Cameron conceding (much like in this film) that the oil is in fact Scottish, now could you please turn the taps back on! The oil companies :> incidentally, so long as the Scots respect the current status quo for existing fields, will inevitably throw in they’re lot with Holyrood. They’ll fight tooth and nail against independence, but if it happens anyway, they’ll back the wining horse. It’s exactly what they’ve done throughout history in other parts of the world. Whatever guarantees they get to putter in they’re sandbox and keep making billions.

Of course I know there are lots of English who say “get on with it” or “great we can get rid of those soap shy work dodging Scot’s benefit scroungers – result!” Actually, these people need to realise that Scottish independence would have serious implications for Britain. Firstly, it won’t be the United Kingdom anymore (as well, you’re not united!) so you’d be faced with the problem of what to call the place? Greater England? (might piss off the Welsh), Lesser Britain, or Kingdom Wednesday? My personal favourite “Little Britain or New Improved England (wt 20% less dour, tight, grumblers!) :DD. Either way I vote for this as the new national anthem ;).

But seriously, the removal of Scotland would mean the loss of the oil industry and Scotland’s energy industry (including most of the UK’s hydroelectric and wind power capacity) as well as a significant quantity of its manufacturing industry, leaving behind a lopsided top heavy English economy even more beholden to finance in London than currently (of course Scotland would wind up with the reverse, an economy too heavily slanted towards energy and manufacturing with a small financial services industry). And again the loss of the oil means a loss of the oil revenues and the issue of energy isn’t just about money, its about control. All the money in the world is of little benefit when the lights go out and without Scotland it will be practically impossible for Britain to avoid being heavily dependant on energy imports from abroad…although a good deal of that “abroad” will of course be North of the border or Ireland!

Also there’s the issue of the EU, Britain would lose all the Scottish seats in the EU, and its influence over EU affairs would be decreased. If the SNP ultimately join the Euro (would be silly now, but probably a good idea later on when the current crisis has blown over) then the pressure on Britain to do the same will be significant, especially as a Britain with an economy 10-20% smaller will now be more vulnerable to speculative attacks on its currency without Scotland (or the oil). And of course there will inevitably be a lot of Euro notes in unofficial circulation (as is the case in Northern Ireland which also shares a land border with a Eurozone country).

There are also the strategic matters to consider. Why do you think those trident subs operate out of their not-so-secret base in Faslane? It’s because it’s a nice sheltered port relatively close to their patrol area in the North Atlantic. If the subs had to come from Barrow-in-Furness instead, it would take them longer leaving them vulnerable to enemy attack (increasing the risk that they’d be knocked out before firing a shot). The ability of the Royal Air force to protect the subs would be greatly reduced (if not eliminated altogether) as with those Northern Scotland airbases gone the current Tornado fleet simply does not have the range (thought this could be solved by getting some decent maritime patrol aircraft…now where are those Nimrod’s stored…oh, wait the Tories cut them up!). Personally I would argue that Britain’s (don’t laugh) independent nuclear deterrent would now lack a good deal in the credibility department, if it doesn’t do so already. And those Carriers being built, you do realise that the only dry dock big enough to take them in the UK is in Rosyth? What happens if one of them hits a mine or something and needs to be patched up? Perhaps the 1/8 of the navy the scots should get should be the two Carriers! And least you think I’m going a little far here, why is it you think that the British were so keen on hanging on to Ireland back in 1920? Hint, it has nothing to do with a love of potatoes or Guinness and everything to do with Ireland’s ports and airstrips. There’s a lot of very good reasons why the-powers-that-be in Whitehall have a coronary at the mention of the word “independence” 88|.

So while I’m not expressing unwavering support nor opposition to independence, I would say that both sides need to think very carefully about their future actions. The SNP need to come up with a good enough reason for independence other than quotes from Braveheart :##. They also need to explain why independence now is so important and why it won’t be better to wait a few years until the current economic crises are a little closer to resolution. And the Tory’s need to realise that there are a host of good reasons why David C goes white at the mention of the topic. And also that the Tory’s need to be on best behaviour here as if there’s anything that could swing things the SNP’s favour its unwanted interference in this matter from them!

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