I wrote about my views on the Scottish Independence referendum last week. I don’t intend to make a habit of it. This will be my last post on the subject –at least until closer to the time- but I do have a few things left to say about (and to) people south of the border. And that’s not to ignore people in Wales and Northern Ireland. In the first place, I grew up in England and live in Scotland, so I’m more qualified to speak on the issue from that point of view and don’t feel I should pretend speak for how people in the other two countries feel. In the second place I think -as my piece today will speak to- people in those countries are likely already familiar with there being two (or more) sides to this debate.

We’re starting to see English figures in the media –through websites and twitter- express their opinions on the referendum. This is a good move. The conversation needs to widen. Although the vote is only for people who live in Scotland, there will still need to be strong working relationships between all the countries of the current UK after independence, so it’s vital that we raise the level of debate across the UK as a whole.

Many of these voices mean well. They are comedians, writers, musicians and artists who have started to realise that the No campaign is all about negativity, and they want to engage and make an argument for why they feel Scotland should stay in the UK. The problem is that many people in England don’t really have a frame of reference for the conversation, and so their comments can come across as ignorant.

And I do not mean ignorance as we often use it, as a wilful lack of understanding or a choice to be either stupid or rude. It’s a loaded term but I mean it in a very unloaded way. They just don’t get to see the other side. South of the border (though this may be different in the borders and areas closer to Scotland) there simply hasn’t been the same levels of conversation and debate that have been growing up here.

To grow up in England is really to only get one side of the debate given to you on the issues of self-rule for the other countries of the UK. It’s to be told that all of the UK (including the rest of England) is subsidized by London. It’s to have any alternative voices, such as Alex Salmond, become figures for ridicule and lampoon. More than either of those, it’s to be presented with the emotive ideas that countries who want to break away and manage their own affairs are somehow motivated by a love for historic battles and hate everything English.

Some people simply accept that version as the truth. Others, such as the more questioning or progressive members of the population, can feel that there is something amiss, bit still have no frame of reference for knowing what it is. People in Scotland get angry at this, and say, well why don’t they read up on it more? I might then ask those people to stand on the spot and give me a detailed analysis of the political issues of the West Midlands over the last fifty years. A region that has it’s own long history and has a larger population than Scotland. Then do the same for Yorkshire. Stand and talk to me about Wales. Or Cornwall. Even the dreaded London which, much as many of us use it as a scapegoat, has a much wider and richer history and culture than simply Westminster and bankers. Without having any frame of reference it can be very difficult to even know where to start, and we all need to remember that people down in England haven’t been having the same level of debate that we’ve had up here.

The issue of the referendum, and Scottish Independence in general, comes up sometimes in my conversations in Glasgow. But it comes up every time that I speak to someone down in England. That speaks to people who are being starved of information. People who could engage fully with the debate once given more than one side of the conversation.

I can understand why people in the Yes camp have not been all that bothered with engaging south of the border. It’s up here that the vote will be cast. It’s the people up here who really need to be up to speed with all of the issues come polling day. But after independence, Scotland and England will still need to be working together, so it’s important that people down there are engaged in the debate and aware of the issues. If we stand back and just let the No camp dictate the message that England gets, then we are allowing them to create a division, to stir up a large nation of people who will be thinking they’ve just been told to ‘fuck off’ by Scotland.

I know this because it used to be me. The first 26 years of my life –give or take a few adventures across the border into Wales- were spent living in England. When I came north I came loaded with only one side of the debate. And this is as someone who prides himself as a progressive, left wing (when not anarchist) thinker. I like to ask questions and I never trust authority, and yet, somehow, by osmosis, I only had one side of the independence conversation in my head.

And the first couple of years in Glasgow actually helped to enforce that. Because there are people up here who hate the English. There are people who will say stupid, insensitive things to me when they hear my accent. They do exist. But they’re also a tiny idiot minority, one that I had to learn to look beyond and ignore. And, let’s be fair England, there are also plenty of people south of the border who say stupid ignorant things about the Scots and think it’s acceptable to use the terms “Jock” or “Scotch” to describe them.

It took me time –years- to get some of that programming out of my system and to stop being an English idiot, even though I was trying hard not to be that very thing. So, to people north of the border I would plead patience. When you see people down in England saying some loaded or ignorant things, take a deep breath and engage with them in a conversation. Give them the other side of the story, not a shouting match. I promise you it’s worth it. And it will be even more worth it once the countries go their separate ways.

And to people south of the border? Read on.

The version of events you are being given isn’t the only one. I’m not going to cross the line into telling you it’s the wrong version, because that is something to be decided over the coming months. But there are other voices you need to be aware of. Voices like National Collective, Radical Independence and Women For Independence.

First let’s talk currency and assets. My own personal (and therefore unimportant) view is that Scotland should have it’s own currency and peg it to Sterling for the first few years, see how things go from there. I think attempting to do anything else is just a needless complication in the debate. But the position of the Scottish Government is to use the much talked about ‘Sterling Zone’ currency union, and it’s a view that is backed by many experts and would keep transactions costs down for people on both sides. The UK Government is saying they will not allow this –even though the people of the UK have not yet democratically elected a Government to be in charge by 2016 when Scotland would go independent- and are making crass comments about currency not being “an asset to be divided like a CD collection.”

The version of this story that you are getting in England is that Alex Salmond is on some personal campaign to be unreasonable and expects that he can still use the currency of the UK even after telling the UK to ‘get lost.’ You’re also being told that he is ‘threatening’ to default on Scotland’s share of the UK debt if he doesn’t get everything his own way. You are being given a story about a very unreasonable man making stupid demands.

In truth the only party being unreasonable in this is the UK Government. They are refusing to pre-negotiate on any aspect of the break-up, and so they are the ones creating all the “questions” that they then demand the SNP must “answer.”

The simple fact is that Scotland is currently part of the UK. As such, it has a proportional stake in all of the assets of the UK. It has a stake in the BBC, it has a stake in the military, in the civil service and, yes, in both Sterling and the Bank Of England (which, despite it’s name, was nationalised to become an asset of the UK in the previous century.)

So if and when Scotland (or any other country or region) of the UK decides to leave the union, it is reasonable to take with it a share of the assets from that union. That new state would also, reasonably, take part of the liabilities of the union. The Scottish Government are proposing to do just that. The UK Government are refusing. If the logic of Holyrood is followed through, Scotland takes away a shared use of Sterling and the other assets that it has helped to build, as well as a portion of the current UK debt. If the logic of Westminster is followed through, Scotland suddenly becomes an oil-rich country with zero debt and its own currency, while the people of the remaining UK are left to foot the bill for all the failings of the union. Think that through, and you’ll see which side is causing the problem.

I mentioned oil. Yes. Oil. I don’t like talking about it. I look to the future and would rather discuss an economy based around green energy. But if we have to talk about the black stuff, let’s talk about it honestly. There are 30-40 years of oil left in the north sea. One comment that a fellow Englishman made to me last year was, “of course, whether Scotland keeps the oil depends on how the UK Government agrees to break up the territory.” I get the feeling that’s a genuine belief. Let’s dispense with it now as patronising English nonsense. The oil is in Scottish waters now as part of the UK, and will be in Scottish waters after independence. The reason it’s ‘owned’ by the UK at the moment is because Scotland is in the UK, not because the UK deems to allow Scotland to have some land and water.

One of the reasons it becomes important to labour the point over oil is to help puncture another myth. “London subsidises the rest of the UK,” or “Scotland can’t afford to be independent.” Both are wrong. It could actually be argued that the rest of the UK subsidises London, since more tax money is spent there than anywhere else, but that’s beside the point. The real issue is that Scotland can afford to go it alone. Hell, any country can afford to go it alone, it’s just down to a decision about what it means to ‘afford’ it. What that looks like, and what model of social security and governance is affordable, is a decision to be made by that independent country. You will often hear that Scotland has free prescriptions and free universities, and be told that more ‘per head’ is spent in Scotland than in England, and you will be told this in a way that suggests Scotland is getting more out of the UK than it puts in.

The truth is that Scotland get’s slightly less back than it puts in –once oil is taken into account- but that the Scottish Government has different priorities with it’s budget than their UK counterparts. The people of England don’t get less money spent on education and health because Scotland is stealing the money, they get less spent because the UK Government chooses to spend less.

And all of this leads onto my final points. And the most important points for people south of the border to realise in this whole thing; What it’s actually about.

This whole referendum is being framed to the English as “Alex Salmond VS England.” That’s rubbish. More than that, it’s a lie. You are being lied to by your government and your media, and they are getting away with it.

Alex Salmond is a democratically elected First Minister, and he leads the also democratically elected SNP. They deserve more respect than to be painted as troublemakers and upstarts (though I tend to like troublemakers and upstarts.) But even then, they are not the issue. The independence referendum is about five million people choosing how they want the country they live in to be run. Salmond and the SNP represent one aspect of that (and deserve credit for being the ones who have put the referendum on the table,) but they are just part of a larger issue.

I’m proof, if you want it. I’m English. I don’t like nationalism. I don’t like the SNP and would be highly unlikely to vote for them as the first government of an independent Scotland. I’m not even a great fan of Alex Salmond.

And yet, I’m voting ‘yes.’ As many other people will. As will writers and artists and musicians and office workers. Shop keepers, civil servants, business owners. As will Labour voters, Green voters, anarchists, immigrants and even some Tories. As will people born in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Because this referendum is not a one-man show and it’s not a one party ticket. It’s a chance to do something different, and to show that we are sick of being lied to and spun. You can join in. You can start to demand the same. You deserve the same. But first you’ve got to start demanding it. Because don’t listen to the spin of the No camp, nor to some of the empty arguments of the Yes camp- You are not all Tory. England, the real England, has a proud history of radicals, troublemakers and progressives. The founder of the modern Labour party may have been a Scot, but it was in England (and Wales) that he found people who would stand with him. It was from England that the world took Thomas Paine, one of the most important troublemakers in history. It was in England that ‘The Battle Of Cable Street‘ happened, even if it’s hard to imagine the Left having that kind of guts now. And don’t just take my word for it, here’s Mark Thomas, in his book Extreme Rambling;

What could be more English than rambling? In 1932, over 400 ramblers took part in a mass trespass in Derbyshire at Kinder Scout: in defiance of the police, they walked onto the mooreland to, ‘take action to open up the fine country at present denied to us.’ According to the Guardian, the walkers sang ‘The Red Flag’  and the ‘Internationale’ on the way………..It is, for me at least, a perfect example of an event that defines Englishness, where hundreds of working people risked arrest in order to enjoy the view.

England, this is your chance just as much as it is Scotland’s. You’re occupied at the moment by a minority group who control and dictate their agenda to you. You are represented by politicians who ignore your real spirit and voice. It’s time to take it all back.

And with that, I’ll shut up about the whole issue now and go back to writing books.

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132 Comments » for Scottish Independence; An Open Letter To England
  1. Connor Robertson says:

    Thank you, brother, for the best piece I have read on the whole charade.

    • ellie says:

      Just a point on the issue of oil. As an independent Scotland, The Crown Estate would still own all the land,sea and minerals. Scotland would receive a percentage of the revenue.

      • That would be in discussions as the people of Scotland are Sovereign not the monarch.

        • Matthew says:

          This is one of the ones that should be really easy.

          The Crown Estate has 2 sorts of assets; substantive ones such as real estate and prerogative ones like mineral rights and the sea-bed.

          Both are easily divisible: those located in the remaining UK stay with with the Crown Estate; those in Scotland assigned to a new body, the Crown Estate Scotland perhaps, established by Holyrood.

          Apart from any other consideration there really cannot be any sane argument against an independent Scotland having full sovereign rights over its territorial waters.

          I can see that some would wish to make a change from “Crown” lands to government lands by some other name. I can’t see the point; the property is held by the Crown as representative of the state, not in the person of the monarch, and has been governed, in Scotland, by Parliament since 1832 (it was 1760 for England and Wales). So a change would be cosmetic.

      • ronnie anderson says:

        Ellie, the whole point of the mans piece is for people in the Uk to become informed,you have missed that point. On Scotland becoming Independent its all change, no more Westminster rules,no more the Crown owning the seabed,shore,swans ect, the people living in Scotland will be sovereign, irrespective where they came from,its a divide & conquer tactic used by the all powerful state Westminster Politicians, & Corporations,enriching themselves,& making people poorer.

        • elaine says:

          I didn’t miss the point of the piece. I pointed out misinformation. Have a look. This explains it better than I can.

          • Jake says:

            He couldn’t even get his simple mathematical model in the form of a Venn diagram correct for his analysis of the current situation. Not sure if it’s meant to be some sort of a geographical representation (with Scotland being physically cast adrift on independence), but no overlap between Wales & NI, or between Wales & Scotland, or between NI & Scotland? And only a tiny overlap with dominant common denominator England? That wouldn’t provide a strong basis for the current union.

            The Crown Estate argument isn’t really an argument at all, lacking all credibility and not muted by any notable figures. Transfer of oil revenues is undisputed, the bigger question mark is over the volatility, particularly in the long term, of the oil reserves and markets.

            As a floating floater, I am genuinely concerned at the lack of credible substantive arguments about the Independence Referendum in general. The Better Together campaign appears to suffer more in this respect, possibly because of (at least a perception of) only needing to create or perpetuate uncertainties around the realistic practicalities and practical realities of independence. The Yes campaign is not much better, possibly feeling obliged to present an opposite position or approach on pretty much every issue.

            Unfortunately, it seems like the outcome of the Referendum may be based as much on myth and hyperbole as on substantive political issues.

          • Simon Hodges says:

            Jake,
            Not sure what arguments you’re reading on the substantive side. There’s one above your comment by Jay which is pretty eloquent.

          • JimMc says:

            Naw – Sorry got bored after about 3 minutes, condescending clap trap. Although it’s bollocks if your mickey mouse explanation was true crown estates profit goes to the UK Treasury which is a shared asset so Scotland would get their share of all Crown Estate profit, including land portfolios in London and the rest of England, including the seabed around England and Wales. See the flaws in your argument.

      • john king says:

        The crown estates extend to twelve miles from the shoreline, the the oilfields ate in the eez
        exclusive economic zone which is Scottish waters

      • Arthur says:

        The Queen only owns the seabed out to something like 12 miles. Most (all?) of the oil is further out than that.

      • Allan says:

        The crown estate only has rights that don’t go beyond the 12 mile limit.

  2. Richard Spence says:

    I am English and share many of your opinions on Independence but the not about currency union. The SNP present this as “Our Pound” and that they are being bullied. In reality what they are asking for is a temporary currency union which would be a beacon to currency speculators and a genuine risk to the rUK. For sure, all the assets should be divided fairly (BBC, Gold, etc) but a currency union is not one and it is not fair to expect the rUK to sign up to, especially under threat of debt default.

    • Michael Campbell says:

      Richard, the only threat of debt default is: if Westminster bars us from a currency union AND our assets, which currently the Bank of England is the primary custodian. I happen to agree with you that there should be a new currency as I can see that over the next 50 years there will be a strain on Scotland and on the rest of the UK as there will be an increasing need for divergence. However, both sides would benefit from a reasonably short period of continuity. I think the Scot’s currency would end up being stronger, which would bring its own problems of competiveness. As for the BBC, well since it is mainly funded annually I think we could do better with a new Scottish Broadcasting Company. Incidentally, the rough equation of monetary ownership gives about 10% of the pound to Scotland. From a standing start and for a wee Country that’s a fair wad. If I am honest? I think it would be only a matter of time before we negotiate membership into the euro, but I think that fate awaits the whole of the UK anyway.

      • Richard Spence says:

        from a pro-independence side a temporary currency union seems benign and the rUK is being unreasonable in refusing this. In reality a “reasonably short period of continuity” would be a beacon to currency speculators and a disaster for the rUKs economy. Currency traders would bet on the timing of Scotland’s withdrawal and or the eventual price of Sterling.

        What appears to be on offer is:

        A temporary CU that will screw your economy.
        We don’t pay the debt and screw your economy.

        As I say no issue with independence per se, but a temporary CU is bonkers. Personally I am convinced it is a Indyref tactic by the SNP so as not to scare the horses.

        • Richard McHarg says:

          Scotland cannot default on the UK’s debt!

          The debt belongs to the UK, not Scotland, or for that matter, England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

          If Scotland walks away with no assets and no debt, the people who lend to the UK won’t be going after Scotland for non-payment, because Scotland didn’t take out the loans. The lender will expect their payments from the UK.

          The Scottish Government are the ones being completely reasonable here. They are offering to take on a share of the debt in return for a share of the assets, including the Bank of England.

          And, since the pound is a fully tradeable international currency, no one can stop Scotland using it. That leaves the uncertainty over a currency union.

          Refusing a currency union reeks of vindictiveness, particularly in the way that Westminster politicians have been delivering that message. There has been no acceptance of talks at all from Westminster.

          The problem I have is the way Westminster assumes ownership of all things, so, consequently, assumes that it can dictate the course of events. Salmond is pushing the agenda, and they have been rattled.

          This referendum is about self-determination. England has to stop assuming it’s about them. It’s not, so it’s about time the politicians in London started to behave like adults and accept Scotland’s right to self-determination.

          After all, they are happy to promote the right to self-determination for folk in Gibraltar and the Falklands.

          • Richard Spence says:

            “Refusing a currency union reeks of vindictiveness” assumes that a currency union is good idea for the rUK and would that is would be relatively benign and have no economic side effects.

            The problem is – as Carney pointed out – the CU would be massively asymmetric and require iScotland to sign up to swingeing restrictions on what it could or couldn’t do in terms of borrowing and interest rates. What this means is that it would be in iScotland’s interest to leave the currency union as soon as possible.

            So it is baked in from the start that iScotland will leave. Imagine the Euro when France could leave at any moment? The temporary currency union would be a currency speculators wet dream.

            Furthermore, I cannot find anyone outside of Scotland suggesting that a temporary CU would in anyway be a sensible idea. If you have any links to the contrary I would be genuinely interested in reading them.

            So it is not a matter of “vindictiveness” it is simply a bonkers idea.

    • Peter Hogg says:

      Hi Richard, could you do me favour and read this article, I don’t think people south of the border are getting all the facts about whats going on in the UK just now and you are probably not doing enough research, maybe because you think it doesn’t affect you, but it will. I respect your opinions and your beliefs if they are your beliefs and not just what the media is feeding you. If you do research these issues you will find that Alex Salmond is trying to do whats best for the Scottish people and the rUK by trying to do this as amicably as possible but the Government at the moment are putting up all the barriers. http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2014/02/25/the-fiction-of-the-continuing-state/

      • Matthew says:

        I may be being unduly cynical, politicians bring that out in me I’m afraid, but I don’t believe that Alex Salmond is trying to do what’s best for the Scottish people, at least in some of the positions he’s put forward.

        What I think he is doing is trying to present the electorate with the least alarming consequences for voting yes. Yes, and you will still be members of the EU, yes and you’ll still have the pound in your pocket.

        Unfortunately neither are in his gift. A currency union requires agreement from Westminster and if all the main parties say they’d not agree to it then it looks unlikely. (Actually I think it would be the wrong answer for Scotland, but that’s a slightly different point.)

        The problem for an independent Scotland would not be establishing its own currency but how a decision to do so would affect its accession negotiations with Europe and the presumed requirement to eventually accept the Euro. Having it’s own currency would be seen by some as a first step on that road and I suspect that the insistence on a currency union is in large part made in an effort to avoid a row about the Euro.

        I think the reluctance to address the Euro issue is going to be damaging. My guess is that an independent Scotland would at first choose to use Sterling unilaterally and so, without their own currency, avoid European strictures on policy, the ERM and the Euro. If so then sooner or later Scotland’s fiscal an monetary needs will diverge from the UK’s (and I’d bet on sooner) but the sensible decision to abandon Sterling will be delayed, perhaps much delayed, to avoid the Euro row that would ensue and that would be much to Scotland’s disadvantage.

        I would have been far more impressed by the yes campaign if they’d said a currency union was their preferred option but failing that they’d establish a pound Scots at parity and as part of their negotiating position in Europe seek the same derogation from the Euro as the UK had, acknowledging that they might not get it.

        • Duncan Mason says:

          Perhaps I’ve missed something but isn’t that almost exactly what the Yes campaign has said many times over? Several prominent Yes campaigners have been quite vocal about their desire for an independent currency. Official SNP policy is the CU but even they have said there are several other viable options of which a currency board seems the most likely.

        • Andrew Morton says:

          With the best will in the world, you’ve just proved the author’s point. What the media in England haven’t told you is that Scotland couldn’t adopt the Euro even if it wanted to. To enter the Euro, you must :

          A Have your own currency
          B Have your own central bank
          C Sign up to ERM II for at least two years
          D Meet five convergence criteria

  3. Penny Spinks says:

    The trouble is quite simple as I see it, a lot of English living in Scotland just want to stay British.

    • Robert Leslie says:

      Everyone can still call themselves British, as it is a geographical term. For example, we speak about Norwegians, Swedes and Danes – and folk in part of Finland – as being Scandinavian, and they are all independent countries.

    • Sean Lewis says:

      And a hell of a lot of English born who live up here would like nothing more than to not be British, and all that goes with it … I for one, born in the affluent south, will be one of the first in line to hand in my British passport and gain a Scottish one. Thought, in truth I live on a small island where many would love to be independent of both England and Scotland …

    • Anna Dallimore says:

      …and a lot of us who are English and choose to live here do not want to stay British, Penny. This country and its people need a government which understands the particular problems of remote rural and island areas as well as the cities. We have a chance to create a truly fair and just society; let’s take it.

    • Irene says:

      And there’s an awful lot of English living in Scotland who are also voting Yes.

  4. Kate Benson says:

    I find your article fascinating as someone born to a Scottish father and an English mother and having lived in England since 1969. One issue which is beginning to loom very large for me – selfish though it might be – is that those of us who don’t want to be dominated by the current politicians will lose even more power to govern ourselves when the Scottish section of the electorate disappears. Has no one realised that the Labour Party will cease to exist as a viable second party once the Scottish vote is lost – or are the Tories quietly laughing up their sleeves at what for them is a win-win situation?

    • David Greenshields says:

      That is inaccurate if you remove the Scottish vote from the results of all the general elections in the last 50years their outcome would have still been the same. It is this total lack of influence that is driving the need for independance for Scotland.

      • ken mcdonald says:

        Actually, Scottish votes have only affected the result of one UK general election in the past 100 years.

        The argument that Scotlands votes elect Labour Governments is pure myth. English voters decide the UK government.

    • Michael Campbell says:

      Kate. I don’t think the Tories are doing any laughing at all, in fact I think they are terrified! Thanks to their feeble policies and their unpopular governance I think more and more of their vote will go to UKIP. I think with a little more backbone from labour they will amass the majority of the LibDem vote and it will result in a two way squeeze which will oust the Tories for the next 15 years. If Scotland votes for Independence does not carry an intent to hurt anyone else, maybe it will benefit everyone else. The desire is to use the resources we have and produce, in ways that will help the people better than can be achieved from the bigger and more generic solutions coming from Westminster. I agree that devolution has gone some way to improve conditions, but I believe Independence can take us much further. I would then hope that this template would be adopted by the rest of the UK to improve the wellbeing there.
      By the way Kate, recent studies seem to suggest that when the UK has enjoyed Labour governments, it has been because of a great swing from English voters, so don’t be losing hope. Hope is what I have and no amount of scaremongering is going to dissuade me. If someone can show me that it would be a disaster at any time in the future then of course I would change my vote (might even change if the disaster was for the rest of the UK). but no one has made any such claim let alone demonstrate the fact, so as far as I am concerned, I’ve bought a one way ticket.

    • Duncan Kennedy says:

      As David Greenshields correctly points out, the Scottish vote has had no impact on the result of UK general elections in the last 50 years. But even if it was crucial every time, the people of England should get the government they vote for. Denying the people of Scotland their right to choose their own government as a way to also prevent the people of England getting the government they vote for is hardly democratic!

    • Paul says:

      If you check online how many times The Labour Party their Scottish MPs to win a General Election since WW II you will find out it was only 2 or three times

  5. Chris Cairns says:

    Hi Jay,

    ‘Well said’ doesn’t come close. I apologise – I’m sure you’re more interested in what response you get from south of the Border. But, as a Scot with many friends down there, let me say this mirrors exactly my experience and my sentiments.
    My only additional comment would be to say that, since 99% of Scottish media is owned and controlled from outside our borders, unfortunately, there are plenty living here – with a vote – who are just as ill-informed. But that’s another issue.
    Excellent piece. And now I’ll get out of the way for – hopefully – some newly enlightened English friends of yours to voice their thoughts.

  6. scott says:

    Might just go and read one of your books after that. Thoughtful and thought-provoking. The debate needs more contributions like this.

  7. william nixon says:

    Thank you. a very reasoned outlook. Unbiased and to the quick.

  8. Beryl Gray says:

    let just all ditch london and tek the rest of england with the scots and all get idependence from those arrogant bastards in london and the whole bloody lot of the merchant bankers live in and around london to hell with them

    • Michael Campbell says:

      Don’t go sitting on the fence Beryl. Seriously, I am more inclined to want Independence so that we can do things differently. I would love if those who felt the same way decided that they would want to come with us along that road.

    • Phil Ramsden says:

      Oh for God’s bloody sake, what an unhelpful and ignorant comment in response to a measured and thoughtful piece. I live in Tottenham, where merchant bankers are thin on the ground, and where our share of arrogant bastards is, I’d say, no higher than the European average.

      Londoners are often described by Northern English people as “rude”. But think about it. We never do this to you. We never spend our time bitterly denouncing Yorkshire because of all the posh bastards in Wetherby and Harrogate, or the Northwest because of all the arrogant moneyed types that infest Alderley Edge. We’d be *exactly* as correct to do so as you are, which to say not correct at all. Get a little nuance, for God’s sake, like the author of this very good article.

      London is a complicated place, with a complicated history and a wonderfully complicated populace. Come down here and have a look at us in our chaotic, polyglot glory. We don’t resemble David Cameron, most of us. And while we might not meet your gaze (because if you met people’s gaze in this place you’d never stop meeting gazes), unless you call us “merchant bankers” (which is rude in two ways down here, remember) I guarantee no-one will tell you to leave. Nuestra ciudad su ciudad.

  9. Gordon Downard says:

    A well unbiased opinion of the true call, I hope that this will let the people down south and throughout the UK that we are not having this referendum to spite them but go take our own decisions…. Many thanks

  10. As an Englshman who grew up and went to school and university in Scotland, now living back in my native north-east England, I can relate to a great deal of what you are saying – including the lack of meaningful, non-rhetorical information, even here less than 40 miles from the border. If I was still living in Scotland I suspect that I would be leaning towards a yes vote. However, as a resident of an English city continually neglected by Tory governments I am praying for a No vote. The person who commented that no elections in the past 50 years were affected by the Scottish vote is very wrong. There have been a number of instances of the Scottish vote combining with the northern England vote to keep the Tories out of power. Even in this parliament the Tories would have had an outright majority without the Scottish vote.

    As time passes I am becoming more convinced that David Cameron and the Tories want a Yes result. Every time they open their mouths the words say ‘stay’ but the actions and tone say ‘please leave.’ I am left in disbelief that they do not know that their arrogant words, tone and actions will solidify the Yes vote.

    I love Scotland but I also love this great city I was born in. It breaks my heart to see my country, England, becoming more and more dominated by selfish right-wingers as the population feeds on lies and misinformation and becomes more and more intolerant, selfish and unforgiving. A United Kingdom without Scotland would be a country heading further right and further away from social justice. Scotland, along with many from this part of England, has provided a great deal of leadership in making the United Kingdom a fairer place than many in the ruling classes want it to be.

    If I was you I’d vote Yes, but I’m begging you, in the selfish nature that is enveloping this country, to please vote No.
    Sorry, but I can’t help myself.

    • J. R. Tomlin says:

      Do you really think that they are in coalition has kept the Tories from doing anything they wanted? I don’t. The LibDem have in no way been a moderating force in the coalition.

      And he is largely correct. Only twice in the last 50 years have the Scottish MPs made any difference in the GE. But more importantly, it would be as wrong to force an unwanted Labour government on England as it is to force an unwanted Tory government on Scotland. Maybe instead, work should be done to stop Labour from being nothing more than Red Tories.

    • Peter Hogg says:

      Hi Craig, respect for your post. But no matter what happens the right wing parties including Labour will always be in power, the problem with the country just now is that the private sector banks have a free roll in printing or should I say creating money when ever they think the short term profit is viable. So the Economy is dictated by these greed merchants, that’s why we are in so much public debt which is over 1.2 trillion pounds. So the so called UNITED Kingdom needs to vote in a Government that is willing to radically reform the monetary system that we currently use. But I don’t see this happening any time soon. I personally will vote yes in this referendum, not for my own personal gain but for the gain of our future generations. We need to build an Economy that will benefit everyone not just the wealthy, that’s what Scottish people believe in

    • Just as many English have moved North, many Scots live South, including me. I should no longer care; but independence will include the closing of the Faslane base and, I hope, the secession of one part of the UK from the “war without end”. For those reasons alone I remain a Scottish Nationalist, and would advise the English to follow suit, wherever they are.

    • Lester Knibb says:

      I think there are a lot of people in your position, north and south of the border, Craig. The desire to be independent is, in my view, predominantly a heart-felt matter and it is the ‘head-only’ politics of margaret thatcher that has effectively brought us to this point. Monetarism and consumerism has become the new value system and all but replaced family and community spirit. The latter still linger strongest in the areas furthest from Westminster, and amongst other local/national cultural issues, brought about the opportunity for independence for Scotland. I don’t believe it is in the best interests of Scotland, England or UK as a whole, but frustration is driving the pace. The Yes voters are taking a mighty gamble with the fortunes of the country and its inhabitants, because there are no answers to the ‘after’. Nor can there be. Be assured, if we jump, then we will sink or swim, (of course) but the wrench will certainly cause untold misery and cost in the (unknown length of) short-term, both sides of the Border, and we will – all of us – never be the same again. So we want change, do we? Then let us be prepared, because we don’t really know what we are taking on. Unfortunately the Scots have been independent before, and it took the gamble of Darien to bring us all together. It would be a shame if another gamble separated us. We can continue to provide the ‘leaven’ in the UK that Scots have provided (even to the world) for centuries, sending some of our best away from home. Would being independent stop that drain? Only time will tell.

      • Alex MacLeod says:

        Please!!!!!! the gamble of Darien. What it took was a campaign to destroy the ambitions of a thriving country but force and gunpowder in order to weaken before the kill. After that it was simple to award a few shillings to the seven earls and masses of English and Irish lands to help them build their wealth. The people had no say then. They do now.

  11. sick and tired says:

    No matter whether Scotland is independant or not and which ever party is in power I still forsee a bunch of lying crooks out to line their own pockets. Historically politicians have always been more interested in their own gains. Saint Salmond wants to be remembered for giving back Scotland its independance. First thing that needs to be sorted is the benefits system Way too many scroungers out there. Wee Eck is promising the unemployed and those on benefits that everything is gonna be great for them.Maybe hes going to have to put buses on to get them to the poling stations like Obama!

    • “scroungers”, seriously?

      Do you have any idea how hard it is to find work in the rural areas of Scotland? Or to get to work when you’ve got it? Do you have any idea how hard it is to find work, anywhere, full stop?

      Do you know what is required of people to get Job Seekers Allowance? Do you know how soul destroying it is to apply for job after job and get zero response? How humiliating it can be to sign on? To say nothing of how ludicrous the barriers are to getting Employment Support Allowance when one is ill and/or disabled.

      Take my own case. I can no longer claim JSA, because I am too unwell to apply for full-time jobs, or to make all the job applications required, or to remember to post my signing on form. I cannot claim ESA, because I can wash and dress myself, cook myself a meal and walk more than 200 yards. So I am without income. So, in my unwell state, I am attempting to create myself a business. How’s that for scrounging?

      (My apologies, Jay, for going way off topic, but I could not let that slide.)

      • Dorothy Lyon says:

        Well said Eleanor. NOT everyone that isn’t in work are scroungers. Plenty people out there getting no benefits at all like yourself and struggling. They only seem to hear about the ones who somehow manage to work the system , and get everything. The new policy of stopping money to someone who has illness to deal with because their wife works , albeit in a not highly paid job, is demeaning and utterly ridiculous. I dread to think how many couples have seriously had to consider selling their homes and got into debt. Good luck to you on setting up your business.

  12. Jim Fraser says:

    I really enjoyed reading your piece, Jay. It’s full of common sense and goodwill. Both things we’ll need in the future, regardless of the result of the referendum.

  13. Alan Dow says:

    Some of this I do agree with and some I don’t – it is a viewpoint from one individual.

    My real concerns are the fact that it has become a nit picking exercise. Full of details about this and that, currency, BBC, oil rig decommissioning, etc. If Scotland wants to become independent, it should because it is the right thing to do. If voters are trying to work out if they will be better off – then this is not about independence.

    Salmon and the SNP have been caught out. They did too well at the last elections to the Scottish Parliament and as such had to implement some of the more extreme measures, like a vote for independence. Their bluff was called by the Westminster Parliament approving it. If they lose then it unlikely to be another vote for a generation. You could argue that that they have over stretched themselves and the risks to the SNP are huge. Lose and one of the USPs disappears. Probably the start of the end for Salmon and just remember how mush the SNP struggled without him.

    As an example of this is the desire for a Currency Union. An independent Scotland would gain hugely with a Currency Union, having the BoE as the lender of last resort and in effect making the UK Government underpin Scottish debts. To make such a union work, all the major financial details (tax rates, spending, budgets, interest rates) would have to be approved by the UK Government. The influence of Scotland on the UK would be marginal, no better than they currently have – 5m people compared to 55m gives them very little influence. This is NOT independence.

    (And Salmon, as an economist, knows that a currency is not an asset. But that is for another blog!)

    • Targaid says:

      Sorry, my friend, but there had been only one occasion since the war when the Scottish vote has changed the outcome and that solely because the vote was narrow in the first place. I am afraid to say that Britain gets what England wants at the ballot box.

      • Targaid says:

        That was meant to be attached to another comment. The joys of tablet-typing!

    • J. R. Tomlin says:

      His name is Salmond. He is the First Minister of Scotland, elected by the people of Scotland.

    • Evelyn says:

      The First Minister of Scotland is Mr SalmonD. He has a D at the end of his name :)

    • Arthur says:

      I am always surprised when people say that Salmonds bluff has been called over the referendum. Really? Do you think he’s been campaigning for most of his adult life for something he doesn’t actually want? Do you honestly think that there aren’t people in Scotland who really, honestly do actually want independence? There has *never* been a chance to vote for independence in Scotland. Why wouldn’t people who believe in it grab this one chance and fight for it? You might not believe in it, but surely you must accept that other people might?

    • Alex MacLeod says:

      Sorry but I think thats a load of tosh. MU is the preferred option, certainly during the transition period, to help both nations. There is nothing on this earth that can stop Scotland using the pound as its currency. Ireland done it for many years till they went euro. The point about union is to ensure the value stays the same in both countries and to ensure that both countries can work together to reduce the current debt and keep the economy stable. If you are not happy with that then I suggest you ensure that at the next election you vote in a government that supports your view. We’ll happily go it alone but we’ll take our share of all UK assets. Those being, proportional to population, around 10% of Bank of England, 10% of the UK’s share in all the baled out banks, 10% of the military, including their hardware etc. etc.
      Your final statement ‘currency is not an asset’ shows further your lack of knowledge and understanding of all this. England does not own the currency any more that the rest of the UK do. The Bank of England, 10% owned by the people of Scotland does.

    • JimMc says:

      Alan Dow @ -”As an example of this is the desire for a Currency Union” – The SNP took expert advice on this. It was outlined in the whitepaper on independence and was picked as the best solution for Scotland and rUK by a panel of independent experts including 2 Nobel laureates. Westminster are bluffing at the moment and will come round post independence, and even if they don’t who cares, it’s not about what currency we use it’s about controlling our own destiny and getting a government that we voted for to provide good healthcare, care for the elderly and free education for our kids. Come and join us you might like it.

  14. Ray says:

    Excellent piece. Personally, I will be voting ‘No’ and it’s, for the most part, for the very reasons that you will be voting ‘Yes’. Like you “I never trust authority”, however that leaves me with a more Libertarian outlook on how society should progress. In all honesty, I struggle to understand how someone who holds such views on “authority” can also be a socialist? Anyway, my fear is that a post independent Scotland will regress toward Socialism which, as much as the Westminster system frustrates me, for me it is a lesser of two evils. I would like to see a more federalist system where Scotland, as well as the distinct regions throughout the UK are given more control over their own local affairs and central government is minimal. Devo max if you like, but not just for Scotland, for all areas within the UK. I believe that, even if Scotland votes No, the argument for a more devolved system of governance will have been enhanced and as much as the Tories are loathed by many, it was Labour who grew the size of central government to the behemoth it is today and it is the Tories who are at least attempting to cut that back. Which for me is the right thing to do and I am happy for it to continue for the reasons stated above.

    • Jon says:

      Ray, I think your comment is very interesting and chimes with a number of themes I find common to discussions of independence.

      First of all, that the author assumes that because he’s not hearing it, there’s no intelligent debate about this in England. I think he’s fallen victim to the same press echo chamber he decries which suggests that rather than move beyond cultural baggage, he’s just replaced English cultural baggage with Scottish cultural baggage.

      Secondly, there’s a unifying effect which the referendum is having on disparate groups in Scotland with very divergent agendas. The ones cited by the author here aren’t necessarily the ones which would shape a post independence settlement (indeed, it’s probably not possible to keep them all happy) as the shopping list of policy promises (or rumours, really, since we have little detail) are often mutually exclusive – for instance an Irish corporation tax and increased welfare provision, or higher oil taxation revenues without crushing exploration. This is just lying to people, and isn’t conducive to an electorate comfortable with their electoral settlement, whatever the outcome of the referendum.

      Thirdly, that the best interests of the people of Scotland are best served by setting up another remote parliament. Edinburgh is closer to the Highlands, but just barely, and urban lowlanders don’t have that much in common with their Highland cousins. I can’t see anything on offer in the independence referendum (with the possible exception of the removal of Trident) that wouldn’t be better delivered by federalising the whole UK – pushing control of almost all aspect of government policy to local people at shire and county level, and hollowing out the functionaries and big- state bureaucrats who are the real guardians of the status quo (the minority group you’re referring to). This isn’t discussed by either the SNP or the Westminster parliament because it serves neither’s purpose but would be far more radical in my view. It seems to work in Germany and Switzerland too…

      I should say that the tone of this article is honourable, and thoughtful, and so the author should be commended – I’m not suggesting that it’s not a good piece, just that the conclusions aren’t necessarily borne out by the logic.

      Finally – I’d like to make a plea that, since there are those who have moved beyond bashing England and prepared to call others out for doing so (and for that, thanks) there are some who have replaced this with bashing London instead – Hi Beryl – (and the author mistakenly assumes that higher welfare spend in London is justification for the belief that the UK subsidises London, which is pretty absurd. Have you thought how many kids from across the UK and the EU would be unemployed if London didn’t exist? London, like any big city, has a symbiotic relationship with its environs – the surrounding area supplies people, and London supplies creative, cultural and economic networks which are value multipliers and pay vast tax dividends and provide employment.) London is a mighty cauldron, but it also houses vast numbers of people who have fled for their lives from elsewhere, or just to find a better life. They need help. In Tower Hamlets where I live, and the neighbouring boroughs, they’re not fighting for free prescriptions for middle class people – they’re running here from torture or repression, or just to find a better life. If you really are a socialist, perhaps the rather immediate challenges faced by the genuinely poor and disadvantaged ought to weigh more heavily than the imagined sleights of prescription costs on the middle classes the SNP seem so anxious to assuage?

      • Jay says:

        There are a few things I’d like to pick up on here.

        @Jon, you say I’m basing my post on a false assumption about the level of debate in England. Whereabouts in England are you? I’m not shy to own up to a fault and if there are places, groups, media sources you know of who are involved in a higher or more informed debate then by all means let’s credit and link to them so that others can read up on what they say and spread the information.

        You also say I cite a higher welfare spend in London as an issue. I think it’s important to point out that I don’t. I refer to “more tax money,” being spent, which is a much larger issue of public money being spent on and in the Capital. The welfare state is having enough people piling onto it in the media at the moment so I want it to be clear I’m not one of them.

        Finally, both @Jon and @Ray- you’ve both made points based around the idea that I’ve said I’m a Socialist. I should point out here that I haven’t said that. People are free to call me what they like, so I’m not taking offence, but I refer to myself in very broad political terms in the post. “(P)rogressive, left wing (when not anarchist) thinker.” I’m not going to patronise people by going into the history of those terms, but I would suggest I used such broad left terms for a reason, and that if I meant just ‘Socialist’ it would have been easier to put that. Again, I don’t mind, people are free to infer whatever political beliefs they wish and to call me whatever label.

        Anyway, thanks for your comments, I’m enjoying reading the discussion.

        • Ray says:

          I am aware that you didn’t refer to yourself as a Socialist, I made that deduction myself – “progressive, left wing (when not anarchist) thinker” certainly infers a socialist outlook on economic issues at least, and many of your points on political spending reinforce this. But if you’d rather shy away from that specific term that’s ok, unfortunately however, you can’t run a country on a broad ideology, those left wing thoughts need to be manifested in one way or another as a set of policies that would be enforced on others, all of course enforced with good intentions. My argument, which might appeal more to your anarchic side, is that it doesn’t really matter whether the folks calling the shots are in London or in Edinburgh, politicians in central government, in most instances, are not best the placed to be making decisions for you, your family or your community. I would argue that you and the people within your community are. We can intellectualise things all we like, but that’s really what it comes down to. Independence will deliver nothing but another set of detached politicians exacting and enforcing their ideology on others. Unfortunately for me, Scotland is one of the most Socialist. Welfarist countries in Europe and an independent Scotland will without doubt regress toward Socialism and that is my basis for voting ‘No’ – regardless of what you and I personally believe, it is what the majority of Scotland believes that would dictate the post independence political landscape and for this reason I personally think that we will better off remaining as part of the UK.

          • Jay says:

            I disagree with pretty much everything in that. If I’m honest I always find the Libertarian take on history and politics reveals far more about Libertarianism than about any of the ideologies it criticizes, even ones I don’t subscribe to. And I would find it odd to appeal to anarchism that, effectively, the best way to change is to vote to leave things as they are. But fair enough, thanks for your views.

          • Ray says:

            I would describe myself as Libertarian in the sense that, I trust people to run their own lives more than i trust others to run them for them. Which is my starting point. It’s not a criticism on other ideologies, it’s just a point of principle that puts it at odds with many other ideologies. I recognise the nobility in left wing ideas, I just don’t believe that when implemented as political policy, that they deliver in practice. At least economically – and I do believe that history is on my side on that one. I’m honestly not against the idea of independence, I just don’t believe that the consequent changes that will happen post independence will be changes in the right direction.

        • Jon says:

          Hi Jay,

          I’m in Tower Hamlets, London. I’m coming back from the pub (so apologies for typos!). We’ve discussed the implications for indepenence on energy policy (apparently, it’s more likely England would build another interconnector with France to benefit from cheap nuclear power than pay over the odds for Scottish wind power), the armed forces, and television production. It’s pretty wide ranging based on the expertise of the people I was drinking with!

          For me, this is a head and heart decision. I’m probably more libertarian than you (btw- how is socialist anarchy consistent?! Would love to hear!) or at least liberal in the classical sense and I think that recent interjections from grand firms like standard life are instructive but will have little impact.

          The decision won’t be made on a cold calculation of economics (because there’s none which stack up in light of the SNP’s commitment to EU collectivism) but it’s about local democracy and the heart. Which brings me back to my question- what can be achieved by independence that can’t be achieved by real federalism? Any takers?

          • Jim Fraser says:

            Jon, real federalism would be an interesting thing to see in Britain, but until now there doesn’t seem to have been that much appetite for it in England. (And without that it’s not going to happen, hence the indyref?) Mind you, whichever way the independence referendum goes I think the position of London within the UK/rUK is going to come under increasing scrutiny, since the tail seems to be wagging the dog.

          • Jay says:

            “It’s more likely England would build another interconnector with France to benefit from cheap nuclear power than pay over the odds for Scottish wind power.”

            It’s an interesting perspective, though I’m curious as to the source for the idea. The idea of Scotland charging England over the odds for wind power isn’t something I’ve seen up here, and I believe nuclear to still be equally unpopular on both sides of the border.

            “(btw- how is socialist anarchy consistent?! Would love to hear!)”

            You’d really have to ask someone who has said it is.

            “Which brings me back to my question- what can be achieved by independence that can’t be achieved by real federalism? Any takers?”

            This is where I’m struggling with the logic a little. Are we saying that the best way to bring power back to local people is to choose against bringing power back locally to Scotland, and instead leaving it with Westminster and then trusting that the state will grant some form of federalism?

          • Callum says:

            Jon- nuclear disarmament i the only thing I can think of. The problem of independence vs federalism is that independence can happen in the event of a yes vote in september, federalism will never happen; I dont think there is enough support.

  15. Johnpaul says:

    It’s not really a threat @RichardSpence – It’s a fact (and please don’t takeit that I’m goading you by saying that) I purely mean that the debt is part of the pound, part of the UK debt. If an independent Scotland use another currency, then there is no claim from the rUK to enforce an inde Scotland to pay it. It’s in with the bricks and not a means to bully the rUK, it’s just the way it is surely? Btw, I’d rather we just peg our own currency to the pound in any case but then I’m not a business owner with lots of money to move around and what have you, so it’s not a big deal to me personally. The meeting at Edinburgh purported to an amicable break up. We use the currency for a time until all has been settled say and then we look at other options, having took our part of the debt with us as is our responsibility in a currency union.

    I really like this article though. I’ll speak for myself, I’m not anti-English in the slightest unless you’ve taken home a stupid bonus year after year after putting this country into a very poor economic place, unless you believe that ostracising already ostracised people further is something befitting of your party (who could I be talking about, actually it’s quite hard to tell now!) Englands a great place, I have great great friends in England and would never use the fact they hail from somewhere other than the place of my birthright as a means to belittling them or making them feel uncomfortable in my company. I’m not naive, there are idiots out there who would, but I’m not one of them. I, like the author, would encourage all English people who feel oppressed like us Scots do, to see this as an opportunity to break free of this parasitic grasp that is currently residing in Westminster, and whilst they’re at it, maybe thank us Scots for showing them the way :-)

    • Richard Spence says:

      I’m not sure that it is a fact. If iScotland joined the Euro surely it would take its share of the UKs debt? The real problem with that position is that the “Divorce” would be really messy and that would be no ones interest – real economic damage on both sides.

      The key point I was making is that a temporary currency union is really a not starter from the rUKs – as many people describe here as “Scotland staying for a few years and then doing something else”. If you read around this subject no one out side the SNP is suggesting this is a good idea as it would be a currency speculators dream come true. Also all the balance of trade issues are only being delayed – so will get them anyway.

      For this all to work it has to be as near to a “Velvet Divorce” as we can make it – a win win. A currency union is not part of that solution.

      • J. R. Tomlin says:

        It is an established matter of international law that the ‘successor state’ keeps both assets and death. That is what happened, for example, in the breakup of the UK where the newly established states took no assets or debt but Russia kept both. The rUK wants to have it both ways, to be the successor state and keep the assets but force Scotland to take part of the debt. I can assure you that won’t happen.

        • J. R. Tomlin says:

          Ugh. Obviously I meant ‘the breakup of the USSR’.

        • Richard Spence says:

          it is not so much a keep the assets as not wanting to enter a temporary currency union. I cant find any one who thinks this is good option for the rUK – far from it.

          Reneging on the debts seems to be a zero sum game as it will cause havoc with both economies. The flight of the Scottish finance industry and perhaps plunging the rUK back into serious recession.

      • Arthur says:

        If the problem for you is that Scotland is asking for a temporary currency union, then why not ask Westminster to negotiate? A condition could be a defined period of union? A notice period? A permanent union? There are many options available. Westminster has said ‘no negotiations, you get nothing’ which doesn’t look very constructive from where I’m sitting.

        • Richard Spence says:

          trouble is – as Carney outlined – for a union to work iScotland would have to extraordinarily tight fiscal rules. This being the case iScotland would certainly want to leave as soon as possible – you are baking in uncertainty and a temporary nature from the get go.

          “no negotiations, you get nothing” is not fair analysis, as a temporary CU is just not in the rUKs interest – a risky endeavour considering the recent trials of the Euro. So it is unfair to demand it.

          • Richard Spence says:

            further more .. I have not ready any independent analysis that suggest a temporary CU is in the interest of the rUK.

  16. Charles Toshney says:

    It was the intransigent and hurtful policies of the Thatcher government that forced me to make a hard choice whether to stay on and see my childrens inheritance of living in a society that cared for all its people equally regardless of Nationality, Creed or political colour gradually be diminished, or leave UK. I was fortunate to have the chance to take up the offer to go and live in my wife’s country and reluctantly made the move. It still saddens me to this day that I was forced into making that decision by an unflinching and uncaring government.
    My father was convinced even in the 1970′s that under Westminster rule that was never going to happen in Scotland until it became independent. He wasn’t a greatly educated man but he understood the concept of fair play and equal treatment for all citizens of a democracy, it’s why he volunteered to join the Armed Forces when war broke out in 1939 leaving an infant son and wife like many other Scots did to defend his country against fascism. He returned with great hope that the war would have changed attitudes and that life would be much better for his family. He was wrong as Westminster went back to playing the same old boys games they’d been playing and there was very little changed and its only now that Scotland is asking for a fair share of the National cake that when all requests were ignored or filed ‘for future reference’ that Scottish independence suddenly doesnt seem such a bad idea. So now all the hens have come home to roost and the eggs are now in different baskets and they are wondering why!? I left Scotland 25 yrs ago but all my relations still live there. I also have English relatives and like England having lived and worked there I would not wish any of the English people any ill-will, but its easy to see even from my ‘outside looking in’ position I now find myself in that the ‘winds of change’ are now at Gale force and now nigh impossible to change. UK as one united nation vanished years ago and its only the same ‘old boys clubs’ that think they can carry on regardless and they are blind to the fact that ‘the fat lady has finished singing’ in other words its over, time up!

  17. james mc gahan says:

    thoroughly enjoyed reading the article,.wonder how many will read it through and digest the content,already spotted one negative post who seems to think the pound is the sole possession of the westminster government…seems there are some who are too blinkered to realise it is indeed a shared asset

  18. Kimberley K. Stone says:

    This is a great article. The only thing that i’d argue with though is that most Scots grew up with one side of the argument to. The exposed biased of the BBC in Scotland regarding the referendum is a testament to that. Hence a lot of confusion regarding identity and nationalism both in the internally within Scotland and the other three nations and externally within the UK. You’re very brave to write it though.

  19. Excellent. I agree with every word here. And it resonates further, being an Englishman in Scotland for the last 30 years.

  20. Cameron says:

    Great post, Jay. Have sent it to friends back in London who dismiss independence as “nationalism, and nationalism never achieved anything good in the world”.

  21. Paul Hockaday says:

    You can’t get much further South than me – on the South coast of England, just outside Portsmouth. I’m trying to understand why people in Scotland would like to be independent from the rest of the UK. Having read this article it seems one of the main issues is the remoteness of Scotland from Westminster, and a feeling that issues important to Scotland aren’t taken seriously enough by a British government. The rest of the issues addressed are more to do with how a split would be managed in a messy divorce scenario. All I can offer is that I live a mere 70 miles from London, and yet I don’t consider that any government policies do me any favours. It looks like our dockyard will stop building ships because the politicians have decided to give the jobs to Scottish shipbuilders instead. That’s life I guess – as long as the jobs stay in the UK I don’t feel cheated. What I’m getting at is moving the centre of Scottish democracy to Scotland is unlikely to make it feel less remote in reality. It will certainly be a more socialist government, as the red markings on the UK map at election time reminds us, the further North you go, the redder it gets. This also means that the chances of a Socialist government in the rest of the UK are extremely unlikely. I’m trying to imagine how this power shift will pan out over the next few years, and it doesn’t look pleasant. My view is that with Scotland as part of the union there is a healthy balance, so that an errant blue government can be replaced by a progressive red government an vice verse. As separate countries maybe we are likely to stagnate with our massive majorities respectively. So in summary, don’t be surprised that David Cameron and George Osborn aren’t trying too hard to get a No vote – its the best job security deal they’ve got. In short I’d prefer that Scotland stays part of the union, but if you vote to go I’ll respect your democratic decision and be grateful for my distance from the divorce proceedings.

    • Alibee says:

      You’re absolutely right, Paul! Cameron and buddies are really hoping we will say Yes…then that will leave the door wide open for them. Then God help England…you’ll always have a Tory government!

  22. Taranaich says:

    You’re a credit to Scots everywhere, Jay: being born in England, or anywhere else, is no barrier, for as long as you make Scotland your home, you’re as much a Scot as I.

    Others, such as the more questioning or progressive members of the population, can feel that there is something amiss, bit still have no frame of reference for knowing what it is. People in Scotland get angry at this, and say, well why don’t they read up on it more? I might then ask those people to stand on the spot and give me a detailed analysis of the political issues of the West Midlands over the last fifty years.”

    The thing is, I wouldn’t make any pronouncements on the political issues of the West Midlands because I wouldn’t PRESUME to know anything about the political issues of the West Midlands. If I want to speak about a complex and difficult subject, I would make a point of researching it as much as I could before I started to talk about it. If someone got angry about me saying something stupid about the West Midlands, I’d deserve to be chewed out. That said, I emphatically agree that engaging folk south of the border is not just desirable, but necessary: they deserve to know why this referendum is happening, what it means for them, and what it says about the state of the UK right now.

    The real issue is that Scotland can afford to go it alone. Hell, any country can afford to go it alone, it’s just down to a decision about what it means to ‘afford’ it. What that looks like, and what model of social security and governance is affordable, is a decision to be made by that independent country.

    That’s exactly it.

  23. micthemac says:

    I’m voting YES,and not voting SNP first scottish election(independence labour)
    it’s not an insult to Salmond,but proof scotland is a nation equal

    great write up

    ps–nearer the time expect union press to show no mercy,but a YES vote will be won grassroots

  24. Helen Lynn says:

    Enjoyed the article.
    I don’t pretend to be a great psychic but on the morning of the 19th of September the world will not have ended. A yes or no vote the day before will however be important. I’m not an economist, a historian, a writer or a politician. I however love the learned articles written by these folk; their influential, informative and smart and they make me think about how I should vote. What’s been most influential in my decision making however is the following. I’ve been a labour thinker most of my life. I’ve lived in Glasgow, Surrey, Guernsey and now Ayrshire. I work for the NHS. I’m a Scot married to a Scouser.
    On the morning that the SNP formed a government in Scotland I expected bolts of lightning and dead birds to drop from the sky. I’ve never been a nationalist you see and I dreaded the fall out. No fall out happened. In fact what did happen was that for the first time I could recall the Scottish government delivered policies in Scotland which suited the sensibilities of the majority of the people in Scotland. The NHS in Scotland worked better for which I was grateful. Visiting speakers from English NHS Trusts spoke of their envy of the Scottish NHS and their fear of what was happening to the NHS down South. I saw that the politicians in the Scottish Government seemed to care about Scotland and it’s people and I therefore smiled when the SNP were elected as a majority devolved government. Scotland felt safe in their hands; they had somehow allowed all the folk up here to be the hands that held Scotland.
    I’m still not a nationalist but I will be voting YES on the big day as I know that I and the 5 million or so others who live in this windy, rainy, bright and beautiful country will between us have the intellect, the drive, the brawn, the humour and the compassion to steer Scotland into a healthier more prosperous nation over the years. The specific detail of the bawbee/EU doesn’t worry me as we’ve enough economists, bankers, academics, scientists etc to help me sleep soundly at night.
    A prosperous Scotland is also likely to encourage a prosperous England; the two neighbours with “highly competitive” tattooed on there psyche! The UK ranks 22nd for something or other I was reading the other night with the Scandinavian countries and Switzerland up there in the top 10. We all know both Scotland and England should be up there along side them. Governing ourselves will enable that to happen hopefully.

    • Jim Fraser says:

      Helen, I think your sentiment is spot on: “between us (we) have the intellect, the drive, the brawn, the humour and the compassion to steer Scotland into a healthier more prosperous nation over the years. The specific detail of the bawbee/EU doesn’t worry me as we’ve enough economists, bankers, academics, scientists etc to help me sleep soundly at night.” I can’t imagine unpicking the Union will be easy but, with the goodwill of our friends in the South, it’s surely not beyond us.

  25. Derek says:

    (a Scotsman writes…)

    If there is a “yes” vote, it will be interesting to see what the fallout is – in terms of what happens in the UK that’s left. I suspect that it’ll be fine in the long term but the short term might be a bit unpleasant.

    Take nuclear weapons as an example; we’d like rid of them, so the subs require a new base….somewhere…. Who’s going to say yes to that? The positive outcome perhaps being that the UK (in total) becomes the first of the nuclear states to ditch the weapons.

    CND is the only political organisation that I’ve ever joined.

    I also think that the Labour Party will have to re-discover its true self in order to present real opposition, and that the Green party should seize the opportunity and try to grow to fill the gaps.

    What an exciting year this is going to be!

  26. David Lindsay says:

    Congratulations on an excellent article. A must read. Congratulations too, to all who contributed to the comments. It is a refreshing change and proves that we can have a grown up debate. Finally, please don’t wait to long before commenting on independence again. We need your participation.

  27. David says:

    Micthemac
    You say you are voting yes good on you but you say you will be voting labour first election there wont be a labour how could they stand for election in a country they tried to destroy. It would be very hypocritical of them to stand for a country they do not believe should exist.

  28. Jay says:

    Thanks to everybody who has commented so far. I’m reading all of them. If you’ve commented but don’t see it on here yet, don’t worry, It takes me a little while to get to them but I’m approving all that come through.

    And I’ll echo what David says above; the tone and quality of the comments is a real credit to you and the debate. It helps to make the point that there is more to this than some people are seeing through the media.

    J.

  29. Sid says:

    As someone who grew up in Scotland and now lives in England, I couldn’t agree more that many English people don’t have the capacity to understand the full story. As a Londoner, I also understand how much the idea is fed to people in the capital that it is literally the only place to be, and how easy it is to accidentally find yourself with that same mentality. A lot of flippant superior language is thrown in my direction regarding independence, and it has heightened my sensitivity to the deep cultural differences between Scotland and England (the main gaping chasm being that many English doesn’t understand / acknowledge the difference). That said, many do, and even if they don’t, are fair and open-minded people with no biased outlook. I just don’t think many of those people are politicians. It’s hard to have that kind of outlook when you’ve been GM raised through eton and Westminster.

    I’m against independence, mainly because it makes me have genuine emotions of abandonment, and I don’t want England to lose the dilution of the tory vote that Scotland provides. I think the split would leave left-leaning people like me politically bereft. But I can understand why it would be beneficial to Scotland. And I can also see how a no-vote will feel like a ‘win’ for the UK government, which is not how this debate should play out. I’d quite like it if the rest of the UK could just seceede from Westminster.

  30. It’s refreshing to read a balanced debate. I was born in England but I read that we Jacksons were ‘cleared’ , first from the highlands and again from Ireland to the U.S. During my research into this I started to understand the hurt (sometimes expressed as hatred) the Scots feel and it has its roots in London.

    The independence debate has uncovered the key issue of money lending as a control mechanism. This has led to Mark Carney (boss of a private BOE – check their ‘nominee account’ corporate status) telling Scotland it will need to cede some Sovereignty if it wants the pound. Why is a private, London banker in a position to discuss Scotland’s sovereignty? And why did all three main parties dutifully follow his lead to unanimously conclude that Scotland can’t have the pound?

    Alex Salmond is an economist and also studied medieval history. He’s also very astute and he knows exactly what the problem is and where it lies.

  31. Graeme McAllan says:

    Or, after a “YES” referendum, the SNP Government takes a vote in Holyrood confirming and declaring the Sovereignty of the Scottish people, which is legal under international law, the treaty of union and the Edinburgh Agreement, so it’s not UDI. Then, promptly declares Scotland’s Independence WITHOUT NEGOTIATION bringing immediate diplomatic, international and legal recognition by a swarm of UN members, offering support, congratulations and wanting to establish direct trade links to he new “iScotland”. This instantly torpedoes any “Project Fear/Better Together/Ye Cannae Dae That” objections at the international level, allowing us to “discuss or dictate” the acceptable terms of a severance agreement. It’s a “Velvet” divorce, same model as the Czechs and Slovaks used, so it has been proven to work ;)

    I intend to attach this response to every “Better Together/Project Fear/Ye Cannae Dae That” thread that raises its ugly head – please feel free to do the same, or if it annoys you, just ignore it and go on about your day ;)

    • Ooh, yes! Love it, Graeme. I shall quote and post liberally :-)

    • Matthew says:

      Unfortunately in law you’d be wrong.

      Oh, it’s possible that such a declaration might eventually get de facto international recognition, but de jure Holyrood doesn’t have the legal competence to make any such move.

      Moreover walking away from everything that negotiations could bring would be absurdly foolish. A new-formed Scotland really wouldn’t want the chaos this proposal would bring.

  32. Patricia Reynolds says:

    Wonderful article..insjghtful and to the point!
    You highlight clearly that with few months to go..the message is not
    being heard in a mature, realistic manner, The media has much to answer for
    here in this important debate.

  33. Jeff Moore says:

    From 1938, the means of tender was referred to as the Irish pound, after the Constitution of Ireland changed the state’s name. The Currency Act, 1927, Adaptation Order, 1938 was the actual mechanism by which change took place.
    Decimalisation[edit]
    Decimalisation of the currency was discussed during the 1960s. When the British government decided to decimalise its currency the Irish government followed suit. The legislative basis for decimalisation in the Republic was the Decimal Currency Act, 1969. The number of pence in the Irish pound was redefined from 240 to 100, with the penny symbol changing from “d” to “p”. The pound itself was not revalued by this act and therefore pound banknotes were unaffected, although the 10 shilling note was replaced by the 50p coin. New coins were issued of the same dimensions and materials as the corresponding new British coins. The Decimal Currency Act, 1970 made additional provisions for the changeover not related with the issue of coins.
    Decimalisation was overseen by the Irish Decimal Currency Board, created on 12 June 1968. It provided changeover information to the public including a pamphlet called Everyone’s Guide to Decimal Currency. The changeover occurred on Decimal Day, 15 February 1971.
    Breaking the link with sterling[edit]
    In the 1970s, the European Monetary System was introduced. Ireland decided to join it in 1978, while the United Kingdom stayed out.[4]
    The European Exchange Rate Mechanism finally broke the one-for-one link that existed between the Irish pound and the pound sterling; by 30 March 1979 the parity link between the two currencies was broken and an exchange rate was introduced.[5]
    This period also saw the creation of the Currency Centre at Sandyford in 1978 so that banknotes and coinage could be manufactured within the state. Prior to this banknotes were printed by specialist commercial printers in England, and coins by the British Royal Mint.
    1979–1999: Independence[edit]
    Until 1986, all decimal Irish coins were the same shape and size as their UK counterparts. After this, however, all new denominations or redesigned coins were of different sizes to the UK coinage. The new 20p and £1 coins were completely different in size, shape and composition to the previously introduced UK versions. When the UK 5p and 10p coins were reduced in size, the Irish followed suit but with the new Irish 10p smaller than the new UK version and the new Irish 5p slightly bigger than the UK version. The Irish 50p was never reduced in size (as in the UK).
    Replacement with the euro[edit]
    On 31 December 1998, the exchange rates between the European Currency Unit and the Irish pound and 10 other EMS currencies (all but the pound sterling, the Swedish krona and the Danish krone) were fixed. The fixed conversion factor for the Irish pound was € 1 = IR£ 0.787564. On the next day, a virtual euro was introduced and the exchange rate was GB£ 1 = € 1.42210,[6] making GB£ 1 ≈ IR£ 1.12. By 1 January 2002, the day when the physical euro was introduced, GB£1 was worth about IR£ 1.287.[7] Following the appreciation of the euro since its launch and the fall of Sterling in 2007-2009, as of May 2012, GB£ 1 was worth about the equivalent of IR£ 0.98.
    Although the euro became the currency of the eurozone countries including Ireland on 1 January 1999, it was not until 1 January 2002 that the state began to withdraw Irish pound coins and notes, replacing them with euro specie. All other eurozone countries withdrew their currencies in a similar fashion, from that date. Irish pound coins and notes ceased to be legal tender on 9 February 2002,[8] although they are intended to be exchangeable indefinitely for euro at the Central Bank.
    On 31 December 2001, the total value of Irish banknotes in circulation was €4,343.8 million, and the total value of Irish coins was €387.9 million. The Irish cash changeover was one of the fastest in the eurozone, with some shops illegally ceasing to accept pounds after the first week or two. With a conversion factor of 0.787564 Irish pounds to the euro,[9] 56%, by value, of Irish banknotes was withdrawn from circulation within two weeks of the introduction of euro banknotes and coins, and 83.4% by the time they ceased to have legal tender status.
    Withdrawal of coinage was slower, having a lower priority, with only 45% of coins withdrawn by 9 February 2002.
    All Irish coins and banknotes, from the start of the Irish Free State onwards, both decimal and pre-decimal, may be exchanged for euro at the Central Bank in Dublin.
    Hidden inflation[edit]

    When decimal currency and the euro were in turn introduced, many people in Ireland believed that prices had been improperly raised by traders taking advantage of the confusion,[10] exchange rates notwithstanding.
    In the case of the euro the government took special measures to try to prevent any unnecessary price changes, which ultimately proved ineffective. The changeover coincided with an economic boom in the country, and inflation was moderately high. People were eager to blame price rises on merchants taking advantage

  34. Gavin says:

    Nice article.

    I think though that most of the misunderstandings about the UK vs Scotland both historically and in this referendum are down to many people seeing UK=England rather than England being a stakeholder in the UK the same as Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. A question I asked a friend a few weeks ago when he mentioned that the UK, by which he meant England, were supporting the other countries in the Union was why they didn’t just leave? It took a while for him to grasp the concept that England is just a UK member country the same as the others rather than the Owner.

  35. Jim mooney says:

    Born a Scot I have worked in London, Belfast, theMidlands, Aberdeen prior to leaving the UK and have the warmest regard for the people of the British Isles, with the dishonourable exception of their politicians. My support for the No vote is based entirely on my conviction that anything that the SNP want that badly must be bad for Scotland and Britain. That said I find the clarity of many comments I have now read in this forum refreshing Nd thought provoking.

    • John M says:

      Quote
      “My support for the No vote is based entirely on my conviction that anything that the SNP want that badly must be bad for Scotland and Britain.”
      This comment, but I may be wrong in my assumption, suggests that you feel that the independence vote is a vote for the SNP or Samond which it is not. Many uninformed people comment that “I will be voting NO because I don’t like the SNP or Alex Samond.” This is not the case as this vote is simply one question “Do you think Scotland should be an independent country”.
      If the people of Scotland vote YES to this question the present devolved government will negotiate with the present UK government on an exit strategy and in 2016 the Scottish people will vote for the first government of an iScotland. In this scenario I cant see that the SNP will continue in its present form as its main aim will have been fulfilled. As for Mr Samond it has been muted, although not confirmed, that if independence is gained he will stand down at the 2016 elections.
      If the people of Scotland vote No to the same question then Scotland will remain part of the UK and in 2016 the Scottish people will vote for a new devolved government.

  36. John says:

    I think there are a couple of issues here you are only partially addressing.

    The first is that the perception in rUK is that the Scots are considering “leaving”. This is because of the way the debate and vote has been framed. The perceptions that the words, dates and terms were as Alex Salmond wanted, and that the rUK have no say. Whilst I struggle to see how the rUK could have a vote – the lack of engagement and the appearance that Alex Salmond intends to dictate all the terms – is bound to get a re-action.

    The sharing of assets and liabilities is getting confused by the currency debate.
    - Without doubt they should be shared equally at the point of separation.
    - What is at issue is whether there should be be an ongoing commitment to pay (either way).
    - Currency Union carries with it a number of unavoidable obligations.
    - Decisions will need to be made about many other topics, for instance – the parts of the Civil service currently working for the whole of the UK, based in Scotland. There will be some negotiations over terms and a price. Both the rUK and the Scottish Parliament will have to decide whether the terms are acceptable or not. If not then the default can only be that the functions and work will be separated and relocated, not that there is an ongoing commitment to pay them…
    - For currency Union to work there has to be an agreed and common Fiscal and Taxation policy – if not sooner or later it will fly apart – see “Black Wednesday” and at great cost to any government attempting to prop it up! This can’t be an automatic right – I’m not convinced it’s even feasible. George Osborne and Ed Balls may both be cavalier and irresponsible – but neither are so stupid as to commit to that upfront – and they haven’t.

    So it is and has to be indeterminate…

  37. Al says:

    Thank you for this article – very thoughtfully written. I was born and brought up in the south east of England, of Scottish parents and now live in Scotland so I’ve seen both sides and have allegiances in both places. Having been firmly in the No camp for a long time I’m now swithering wildly ahead of the referendum.

    One thing that strikes me in the whole debate is the arbitrary nature of the boundaries we create. One comment above, ‘Britain gets what England votes for’ is interesting – surely ‘Britain gets what Britain votes for’, at least inasmuch as FPTP allows; it just so happens that many of the people who don’t want what Britain gets live in a particular part of the country (by which I mean, not Scotland specifically, just not the SE of England). Post-independence, how would Holyrood square the circle of ‘The Highlands get what the Central Belt wants’, I wonder? A potentially endless series of Russian Dolls…

    Another thing that I’ve been chewing over is this whole claim (not the author’s, but in the debate as a whole) that Scotland is ‘more socialist’ by nature. I wonder what exactly people mean by that. How socialist is it, for example, to say ‘that 90% of the oil is ours thankyouverymuch’ and for us 5m people to take it away from the majority of the British population who have had a very large stake in the exploration and exploitation of the resources over the past 30 years? It’s easy to portray London and the SE as a bunch of self-serving bankers, but as one of your commenters has indicated, London is also a haven for thousands of people freeing oppression and hardship, and the SE and other parts of England/Wales/NI are home to millions of very hard-working ‘ordinary’ people who currently benefit from oil income too. How progressively left-wing is it to keep all the filthy lucre for ourselves and let them get on with it?

    While on the subject of oil, I’m also puzzled by the SNP’s using oil revenue as the cornerstone of the economy of an independent Scotland, given that it is most definitely, whatever the result in September, a finite resource. In 50 years’ time, where will the revenue be coming from? I’m not saying that we couldn’t find alternative revenue streams, but I’m depressed by the lack of vision and discussion of what exactly these might be in the debate as a whole. Beyond a rather romantic vision of a brave wee country striking out on its own, making its own decisions for its own people (and there is plenty to be said for that), I’m afraid that I don’t see much discussion of how Scotland intends to pay to achieve these admirable aims in the longer term. It seems to me that much of the problem that has led us to this referendum in the first place is a lack of longer-term policy making and vision on the part of Westminster – compare the UK with Norway in terms of how it has chosen to spend (or save) its oil revenues, for example.

    On the other hand, the look on David Cameron’s face in the event of a yes vote is almost worth all that.

    • Evelyn says:

      You perhaps are not aware that Scotland will NOT be reliant on oil. The oil is a bonus. We can afford to run our economy without the oil. :)

      • Al says:

        That may well be the case Evelyn. My point though is that if that is the case, the voters are not being told about it by either side, and I want to know where the money is going to come from.

  38. neil says:

    The post speaks of sharing UK assets, then surely this also means sharing not keeping for itself (an independent Scotland) the revenue generated by North Sea oil on the UK Continental Shelf. The revenues generated from oil in UK waters belongs to the whole of the people of the UK. Scotland can have a share of this asset if it wins independence from the rest of the UK. Can’t quite see why Scotland thinks its all theirs. 60,000 people from Newcastle work in the North Sea oil industry.

  39. Marilyn Floyde says:

    I am a woman and therefore pretty damn unrepresented by this string of comments. I have to say that I hate and loathe – and am pretty much freaked out by – nationalism in any of its incarnations or disguises. Since last century I have been a European citizen. I have taken full advantage of that and have lived in several EU countries and count myself truly fortunate to have people from many different countries as my friends and co-citizens. I can only vote in EU elections, so I have no say in Scottish Independence per se – and neither shall I have any say in the UK out-of-Europe referendum if/when it happens, despite paying UK taxes. In fact – I have not lived in the UK for 14 years – to me the place is anathema. And an independent Scotland is, frankly, ludicrous. Instead of splitting we should be uniting in Europe to present a real economic, political and cultural global alternative. This debate isn’t about Queen and Country – flying the flag – North Sea oil – it’s about the descent into tribalism; seeing other human beings as friends or enemies or strangers. (The last two provoking prejudice, intolerance, aggression and war – the causes of last century’s hatred and widespread slaughter). So – carry on you men – you’re programmed to fight, after all. Do you seriously believe that we women haven’t the imagination to know what it’s like to live where and how you do? I don’t pretend to speak for women in any way – I’m well aware of the traditional role that women have played in encouraging conflict. All I’m saying is that none of this nationalistic posturing – this conflict – has any place in a world dedicated to peaceful, global survival.

    • Just curious Marilyn whether you feel underrepresented simply by the comments on this thread, or by the independence movement as a whole?

      While conscious that your mind is made up, I’d just like to point you in the direction of Women for Indy – but there are passionate, committed female campaigners on both sides of the debate. As there should be, while figures show that women still make up the majority of undecided voters.

      • Marilyn says:

        Thank you for responding – Yes it’s only by this string of comments, which is overwhelmingly masculine. It’s good to know that there are some women in the debate.

    • Evelyn says:

      This debate isn’t about Queen and Country – flying the flag – North Sea oil …

      Indeed. It is about Scotland having full fiscal control in order to enable the Scottish government to access all revenue streams, instead of living on pocket money. As a woman I know I would not be happy if my husband came home with 100% of his wages and handed me a small percentage, so that he could spend his large precentage on goodies chosen by him to be kept on his side of the bed.

  40. Helen Lynn says:

    Many female comments that I read Marilyn. I don’t think it’s about tribalism at all. It’s always easier to manage situations and people when you have a close up of all the circumstances. That’s why both Westminster and Edinburgh have been so keen on localities and the concept of community. Swap the word community for Scotland and it makes sense to manage all the resources close at hand. Scotland is made up of a wide diversity of people from all over the world who have chosen to bed down here ….from Ireland, Wales, England, Poland, Romania, Pakistan, Oz, Croatia etc etc. and what each of them have in common is a strong feeling of having a Scottish identity. The Scots are renowned around the world, as they are travellers themselves, for being inclusive and welcoming of all. Yes we like to party and rant but it’s a good natured guttural rant. We sound aggressive but I suspect the rain on the vocal chords is to blame for that. The point is however that good sound management of the land and whoever resides upon it is bound to make for happier residents. Happy residents will make for happier and more welcoming behaviour towards ones neighbours, who will be most welcome to holiday and party with us anytime they wish to visit. Scotland sees itself as part of the world family, part of Europe, indeed part of Britain but that doesn’t mean we can’t also be an independent country called Scotland who governs itself supremely well. Now pass the champagne and you are most welcome to join me x

  41. graham says:

    at the end of the day scotland will vote no by a large margin

  42. graham says:

    what a long a boring article ,says nothing ,but wants a socialist state in scotland

  43. graham says:

    the author has his own agenda

    • John says:

      By and large what I’ve enjoyed about the blog & comments are that a wide range of views have been articulated and most of them providing some new insight or understanding of another peoples perspective.

      I don’t (think I) have an agenda – but I certainly have some viewpoints…
      I don’t expect everyone to agree with them, but I’d like to feel I’d been listened to.

      What I got – in summary – was that the rUK needs to get engaged in the debate and are not getting a full and clear picture of the views of the people in Scotland who will be voting.

      I disagree – to some extent with “In truth the only party being unreasonable in this is the UK Government. They are refusing to pre-negotiate on any aspect of the break-up, “.
      - I certainly would agree that all the politicians are attempting to manipulate the story to suit their agendas… but what would be the reaction if something had been said e.g. “… we would consider negotiating with Scotland over a currency union…”
      – would anyone suggest that the rUK politicians were acknowledging the breakup was feasible?
      – if there was separation, but agreement couldn’t be reached – would they be accused of going back on their word?

      I can see lot of downsides to pre-negotiations

      So congratulations ;) you’ve got me to acknowledge that some politicians might for once be using some sense…

  44. Matthew says:

    One thing that I don’t really understand here – which has seemed to be the elephant in the room over the Independence debate. Scotland and England share a Head of State and have done for a little over four centuries. The original union happened when, by chance, the rules of ascension meant that the then King James VI of Scotland also became King James I of England, and the ascension rules have basically been in line ever since. Thus we will share a Head of State (who is also the head of each of the governments and the head of the respective churches in each country because both have an Established Church) – why does independence actually benefit the Scots? Especially given the recent revelations that the Queen and her eldest son have had more of a hand in British governance than we might have previously believed.

    Also, as someone who’s just come back to the UK from working abroad in a very parochial country, with a work visa and all the associated rules and bureaucracy and paperwork, the idea of creating more borders, rather than reducing them seems to me to be a massive retrograde step. European Union (and yes, I support the Schengen agreement, and wish the UK was a part of it) is designed to start doing that, and it’s an (in my view) essential part of our progress as civilisation that artificial differences such as borders be things we work to reduce. Borders engender fear (nowhere more so than where I was working and the debates about “illegal immigration”) – should we really want a C21 Scotland to be creating more barriers rather than fewer?

  45. Catherine says:

    I am English, with a Scottish spouse, living in England. It seems to me that Scotland has the best of all worlds, with a Scottish Parliament to represent Scottish interests, and representation in the UK Parliament in Westminster. If you vote ‘YES’, you are voting to give up your right to representation in the UK Parliament, therefore a ‘yes’ vote is a vote to give up your power not to increase it. Also, Westminster gets most of its politicians and Prime Ministers from Scotland, who will govern the UK if Scotland votes for separation?

    • Jay says:

      You’re quite right that a YES vote will give up representation in the UK parliament, but surely that’s the point of becoming independent?

    • Jim Fraser says:

      Catherine, if we vote Yes, we give up repeatedly getting Tory governments we don’t vote for.

  46. Amy says:

    I’m English (Geordie) with a Scottish mother, an Irish father, a Scottish boyfriend, I lived in Scotland, I’m now in England. Some questions (other than what am I meant to describe myself as – I always went for British…):
    Is Scotland still financially viable after the 30-40 years of oil run out (and if not, what’s the plan?)
    Would Scotland be admitted to the EU, or would there be the same long process that e.g. Romania just completed?
    If it’s not immediate – what effect does that have on trade – of the oil, but also e.g. contracts – as being in the EU comes with trade privileges?

    And my personal observation: we live on a small cold rock in the north Atlantic that’s falling into the sea. We (as the UK) are sliding down the UN Development Index. We’re behind Estonia and Israel, barely above Greece. The climate is getting more erratic, food prices globally are rising, charters are being passed to protect the moon from mining operations and in the last few decades swathes of the world have gone from foreigner-friendly to violent oppressive regimes. I understand the desire for self-governance – I didn’t vote for this government and barely anyone else in my home region (with a similar population to Scotland) did either – but to me, there’s a need to look up and out and work on global issues, because the days where national boundaries mattered ended decades ago.

  47. Andrew graham says:

    Currency union worked perfectly well with Ireland for 50 odd years, I for the life of me can’t see any obstacle to prevent this. The Irish incidentally ended up defaulting on their debt to Britain however it didn’t stop Britain continuing trading with them.

  48. Eubha says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading the article and all the contributions to this hugely important debate, and I think I’ve learned a lot more from this than from all the media coverage, positive, negative or hysterical. Gives me a lot to think about!

  49. Simon Hodges says:

    100% agree with you – beautifully put. As an Englishman, I lived in Scotland for 6 six years, now Netherlands. I’m still hugely passionate about Scotland.

    100% agree with you about this being a chance for the whole of the UK to subvert bizarrely patronising power structures. Patronising, however, underrates the entire tragedy of it. Shocking use of argument and closed doorness. I’ve written elsewhere that the currency union is entirely possible. Currency is such a fluid thing and NO ONE has ever been able to build a decent theory of how it works. Only Keynes and Hume have written credible works and they still flounder. Scotland and England ALREADY HAVE a currency union and it works fine. Some fiscal co-ordination may be necessary but it would be anyway. Where labour can move freely (as it does not around Europe and does around America) currency evens itself out.

    Love how you’ve evoked the radical liberal England. I believe it is its true pulse. A country that had a major revolution before the US and French, though hardly talks about it. Howard Barker’s Victory is a wonderful dissection of how powerful the movements around that time were. Even though capitalism took over and ran the whole show executively, the real England still exists. Now needs to stop being so quiet.

  50. Jamie Stevenson says:

    A very good read and interesting comments .

    I was a wee bit peeved at the suggestion that socialism is some how a laughable concept though . Or worse, being a socialist is nasty .

    They way I see it socialism or a social justice is at the heart of the matter here because like it or not Scotland is a ” socialist” country . The vast majority of it’s people vote for a party who preport to be be socialist parties or actually believe in socialist policies .

    This is why , over the last fifty years we have seen the independence movement and the total rejection of the conservative party and it’s policies have went hand in hand .

    To me Scotland and England have politically drifted apart .Westminster seems to be moving to worryingly right wing point of view that is alien to the mindset of most Scottish people .

    The problem isn’t the fact the socialist SNP giving the middle classes free prescriptions . The problem is the fact we are now in tge 21st century and still living in a country with an archaic class system .

    Oh and it should be pointed out that prescriptions are free to everyone not just the middle classes

    My name is James and I’m a socialist . I will be voting Yes because I believe we need to change the way things work .

  51. Tom says:

    The repeated comments about oil running out in 30/ 40 years and “what then” are beginning to annoy me. The rUK government have miss managed the revenues that have come from oil for the past forty years, I do not hear anyone mentioning the fact that yes the oil may run out in forty years, if as the rUK we are still governed by Westminster, what are THEY going to do when this money is no longer there, as an independent Scotland the oil revenues could and probably will be used and invested in Scotland for the benefit of the people and business in Scotland and thus we can plan for the future without oil, maybe a bit like spending 40 years of your life working and not having invested in a pension for the day that your working life comes to an end. Can David Cameron look anyone in the eye and say, TRUST ME we have invested in your future, we are using the oil revenues wisely and once the oil money runs out we have this great fund that we have invested in that is going to maintain your life style. Bull s**t. the people benefitting from this money are the old school boys with the correct stripes on their ties, We have had successive governments bow steeply to the requirements of the financiers and banks, can they not see that our reliance on the money from the City of London banks and finance is making the rest of the country a whore to service this so called industry. With independence Scotland has a chance to invest in Scotland’s future, maybe even develop a sovereign fund similar to Norway’s oil fund, which has the largest pension fund in the world which is invested and set aside for its people, where is the rUK’s pension fund? in case you have not worked it out yet, YOU are the pension fund for the rUK, you will be working until you are 70 before you qualify for your pension, in ten years you could be having to work until you are 75, and by the way its your kids that will be working till they are 80 to pay for your pension. So independence is a chance for a small part of the UK to buck the trend and do things another way, a way with a social conscience for the benefit of all and an eye on the future that our offspring are going to inherit.

    • Kate Benson says:

      Hmm, remind me, where did Tony Blair and Gordon Brown hail from? Oh yes, they were Scots. They didn’t change anything about how the oil was used. But no, can it be true that Scottish politicians might not be perfect either? There are now and have been for a long time a lot of Scottish politicians representing English constituencies. I don’t see them behaving any better towards their electorate than the English ones. I’m sorry but I have no more faith in politicians just because they claim to be doing the best for their people. I don’t believe any of them have our interests at heart and will wait with baited breath to be proved wrong!

      • Jim Fraser says:

        Kate, the problem with Tony and Gordon wasn’t really that they were Scottish, it was that they followed the well established Westminster model of spending the money on other things (As Mrs. Thatcher spent it on unemployment benefits when millions of people were out of a job) rather than set up an oil fund. All of them were short-sighted (unlike the Norwegians) and their nationality really doesn’t come in to it, I think.

      • Tom says:

        Kate you are quite right, I have no faith in any politician, although perfection is not a word that I would associate with a politician, there are very few who could hand on heart say they are trying to make things better, without exception they are self serving and corrupt to the core, you can see that at a local level, where your local council (politically run) can consume your hard earned cash at an amazing rate, but seem totally unable to provide basic services, simple corruption is ignored, from the council joiner who manages to build a house almost completely from council supply stocks, or maybe the local businesses that are back handing the correct council officials to ensure that they get contracts, under the present system we are powerless to prevent this low level corruption never mind the corruption that is going on at a higher level. The Farquhar and Findlay brigade can only survive by having there friends in high places ensuring that the public works contracts go to the right people, I am discussed at the fact that every aspect of our society is controlled by the country’s elite to the extent that the media and press are unable to unearth this huge injustice to the country that these people inflict. The fact that Brown and Blair hail from Scotland is neither here nor there, like all politicians they Brown nose (no pun intended) there way up the ladder and invariably seem to find themselves being offered highly paid positions within companies that have benefitted from there association. I firmly believe that the system and its ingrained corruption is a fortress that cannot be assailed. But I do believe that as an independent nation we will have a chance to make a difference,

        • Kate Benson says:

          Thank you for your comment Tom. I wish I had your faith but time will no doubt tell.

  52. Drew says:

    Brilliantly written piece. Thank you for that.

  53. Lord Raymond Robertson says:

    As to what was said about the pound.
    As far as I am lead to believe we have a Scottish pound here in Scotland and always have done,
    The fact that for every pound we on Scotland have in circulation there is an equivalent amount of Gold held by Scotland in the Bank of England and if we were to come out of the monitory system then the Bank of England would have to refund the amount of Gold that is held there to cover the Scottish currency promise to pay the bearer in sterling.
    I must congratulate the original writings everyone else is commenting or replying to.
    Its one of the best if not the best I’ve read so far.
    Something everyone should share and hence inform the ignorant (not meant to be derogatory to anyone)

  54. lumilumi says:

    Sorry to come to the discussion so late but I only found this blog via a link today.

    Thank you, Jay, for a well written and well thought-out article, and thank you all you BTL commenters for thoughtful and wide-ranging comments without the bile and invectives too often found in many online fora. It’s been a pleasure reading them all and they’ve given me much food for thought.

    I’m a Finn who lived in Scotland – and hopes to come back – but I’m back in my native country for now. I don’t have a vote in the referendum but I still maintain an interest in Scottish and UK politics. Maybe I shouldn’t stick my oar in but as a defender of democracy I will. :-)

    As an outsider I view Scotland’s referendum probably differently from UK people. I cannot have that emotional “country ripped apart” idea peddled by the BT No campaign. I’m not that interested in currency and EU and Dr Who and other minutiae – those things will sort out themselves – the key point for me is democracy, and the democratic deficit that exists in the UK in general and Scotland in particular.

    The UK system of FPTP single MP constituencies benefit the two biggest parties and stifle all others (= all other political ideas). It’s getting farcical now that the Tories and their lapdog LibDems and the opposition Labour all sing from the same hymn sheet to woo middle England swing voters, who decide the election – and all these parties move ever rightwards to lure possible UKIP voters.

    The Scottish Parliament has a form of proportional representation – originally expressly designed to prevent an SNP majority. Anyway, because of the PR voting system, Holyrood is inherentlently more democratic than Westminster. It’s quite a feat that the SNP got a majority in a PR system in 2011. In 2010, the Tories failed to gain a majority in Westminster under FPTP, which should’ve been easier. Maybe the English and Welsh UK voters don’t like the Tories as much as the Tories’d like to pretend.

    As to Holyrood, Labour loved it, when they could rule the roost. Until they lost the Holyrood election in 2007. Since then, their contribution in Holyrood has been curiously childish and tantrummy. Which probably contributed to the SNP landslide in 2011. The voters didn’t like Labour’s style of smear and fear opposition politics and the SNP minority government did a fairly good job and people voted them back in with a landslide and now there’s going to be a referendum on independence. That’s what Scottish people voted for. A bit of damn democracy that has Westminster gnashing its teeth. It wasn’t supposed to go like that!

    Labour in Scotland just cannot get over the fact that people haven’t endorsed their god given right to lord it over Scotland forever. They hate everything SNP, even vote down their own initiatives if the SNP take them up because of their tribal hatered.Their silly, irrational hate politics is alienating more and more traditional Labour voters. Labour for Independence is gaining traction, old Labour stalwarts are coming out for Yes to independence.

    Labour’s Scotland branch’s problem is that they’re not a Scottish party, they take their lead from the big yins in London, who’re only interested in electoral success in England for the Westminster Parliament. Ideas and policies that would benefit Scotland are off the table to secure Westminster success.

    Tories are irrelevant in Scotland – more pandas than Tory MPs – as regards Westmister. Due to the PR system, Holyrood has 15 Tory MSPs. That includes a party leader hopeful from a couple of years ago. He wanted to ditch the Tory party and start a new, not-Tory Scottish right-wing party. He was defeated by the English party favourite, the jolly head girl Ruth Davidson. The Tories are looking increasingly silly in Scotland. At least they’re sort of honest. A Tory is a Tory and you know what to expect. (New) Labour is Tory-lite but they pretend to be something else, the most hypocritical and duplicitious party.

    The LibDems are also becoming increasingly irrelevant in Scotland. Now they only have 5 MSPs in Holyrood. The northern boys Tavish and Liam make noises (apparently not echoed by their constituents) about Orkney and Shetland not wanting to be a part of an independent Scotland… and… er… partitioning their own country and having their own island homes as rUK enclaves amid Scottish waters? Tavish and Liam are not stupid, they know that there’s no oil within the 12 mile limit which would accrue to Orkney and Shetland as rUK enclaves amid Scottish waters. They just want to scare and obfuscate their local voters into voting No to preserve their own political careers and the hope of dead stoat around their shoulders – in the UK, of course. Independent Scotland won’t have an unelected House of Lords.

    Sorry for the long post but this is what it looks like to an outsider. It’s all getting bogged down in the minutiae, and the real objective, better democracy for the people of Scotland, is getting lost – that’s probably what the BT No campaign want. They don’t want inspirational, aspirational ideas to get out there and gain traction. They want neolib TINA thinking to beat down ordinary people and keep them in their place. How dare the jocks think outside that box!