Saturday, October 21, 2006

Conservatives Should Be In Favour Of Scottish Independence

It doesn't take a genius to look at the electoral map of the UK to realise that the only party that shouldn't be pro Scottish independece is Labour. For the Conservatives, the debate is a little more complicated and has to balance traditional Unionist instincts with electoral reality.

There is now a distinct possibility that the next election will deliver a hung parliament. These have a chequered history in the UK and have typically been short-lived. The 1929 hung parliament survived until the election in 1931 and the 1974 hung parliament didn't even last a year. A key issue for the Tories will, once again, be the lack of seats in Scotland and Wales.

In the 2005 election, the number of Scottish seats at Westminster was reduced from 72 to 59 in order to rebalance the system following the formation of the Scottish Parliament. The results were Labour 41, Liberal Democrats 11, the SNP 6 and the Conservatives 1 (Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale). While this wouldn't have meant a Conservative government in 2005 (the overall results were Labour 356 seats, Conservatives 198 seats), it would give the Tories a better chance of winning at the next election.

The constitutional jumble that has been created by a meddling Labour government has already created a two tier system of MPs, with Scottish members able to vote on issues that do not impact Scotland. It is difficult to see how this "West Lothian question" can be resolved in the near term and there seems little likelihood of the costly Scottish Parliament being aboloished, so where do the Tories go?

The Unionist instinct would say "keep the Union intact at any cost". However, the alternative may not be that bad. The divide between England and Scotland has grown wider and wider over recent years and this was highlighted earlier this year when a number of high profile Scots refused to support the England football team in the World Cup, reflecting broader public opinion. They've never really wanted to be governed from London and the resentment continues to deepen.

Today, a strong European framework exists for Scotland and England to be close political and economic partners. Indeed, an independent Scotland might stimulate economic growth on both sides of the border. There would be no barriers to people or trade and Scots could continue their roles in all aspects of the English economy. If there is an EU dividend then perhaps this would be it. National borders are no longer as meaningful as they used to be.

The argument that this would lead to a break up of the rest of the UK doesn't hold water. Northern Ireland continues its drift further and further away from Westminster control anyway and Wales has no economic option other than to stick with England.

Edmund Burke said "You can never plan the future by the past." It is time to look to a future without Scotland.


Tom Paine said...

I agree Scotland should be independent, but it should not be allowed immediately into the EU. The UK is the member state, and if Scotland leaves (or, preferably, is expelled) the UK is should apply like any other new member and show cause to be admitted.

It has a bloated public sector, heavily subsidised by England. The only three consistent net contributors to the EU budget are the UK, Germany and Austria. The German-speaking countries are full of nice guys, but why exactly should they simply accept the burden of subsidising the Scots' socialist fantasies? They won't, as the history of the Act of Union shows, even be thanked for it.

For at least three generations, independence should mean just that. Scotland standing alone, as Wallace would have wished; not Scotland as a flea jumping from one dog's back to another.

It will need at least that long to pay down its share of the UK national debt to a level it can sustain, given that it will lose the UK's AAA credit rating for sovereign debt, which will become more expensive in consequence. Although I think most Scots Nats blithely assume, the swine, that they will walk away from a debt whch simply did not exist at the date of the Act of Union.

Master of Stair said...

Tom Paine raises an interesting point, but fails to mention that they can take our live, but they can never take our freedom!

essexpot said...

The mountains look on Aberdeen, and Aberdeen looks on the sea, and pausing there to scritch my arse, I dreamed that Scotland might still be free!

Anonymous said...

"Wales has no economic option other than to stick with England"

I cannot agree with that. Wales has the same population as Eire, and would do well out of the EU in the same way. Wales has a stronger national identity than Scotland, and its language survives as the living language of a quarter of the population, with the rest able to understand at least some Welsh. I cannot see a Kingdom of England and Wales lasting long: and would not want it to. If Scotland becomes independent, so too must Wales.

Anonymous said...

What is this absolute rubbish about independence! Its complete madness! The world is a big place, and if one looks on goggle earth we (the UK!) are a tiny blip!!! Don’t be a fool and make that tiny blip even more tiny and insignificant! The one thing you can be sure of is that out of the three resultant tiny blips formed from this foolish scheme, England will be the only one approaching significance! Scotland and Wales are not the oppressed nations under English rule they were 300 years ago; this is the 21st century!! Wake up! We are the UK today! If you go back far enough, we could just as well chalk up every town, as I'm sure they were owed by different tribes at one point, with spears and weird bare skin costumes etc!!! As has been pointed out - Scotland has English in, England has Scottish in (and we dont consider ourselves in another country)! I'm amazed this stupid idea is even being entertained! If this happens, it will be a triumph for stupidity over common sense!

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