Of Scotland, Independence and That Underlying Uncertainty

13 Scottish_flag


With less than a year until Scotland votes for independence, RICHARD LUTZ  feels the heat rising in the referendum debate.

‘The truth is, we don’t really know what Scottish people want, let alone what independence will mean.’  So writes Scots author Denise Mina in a recent New York Times article.

Well, at least she’s honest about her indecision and confusion. A trip north of the English border finds a profusion of opinions, and a great deal of unknowns along with, of course, testy debate, argument, poison, logic and fervent nationalist dreams come The Referendum next September.

Yes? No? In? Out? Independent? Bolted to the bosom of the UK? The issue twists and turns. It seems everyone has an opinion (which is good). But it seems alot of voters, and I mean alot,  simply are uncertain.

One issue..a big issue…is defence.
If Scotland goes it alone, what happens to Britain’s  £45bn per year military establishment with its Trident armoury based near Glasgow, its overseas commitments, its standing army, its seat on the UN Security Council?
Alot of unanswered questions about Scotland and the British army. This from The Herald, Glasgow’s morning paper, regarding a new Ministry of Defence analysis to be publioshed this week:

The MoD paper, the latest in a series of Whitehall reports assessing the impact of independence, casts doubt on Nationalist claims that an independent Scotland would inherit a share of UK armed forces personnel and equipment, then reconfigure existing bases to accommodate them.

It argues that an independent Scotland should not expect Scots servicemen and women to be transferred automatically from the UK military.

And in further extracts made public yesterday, it claims it would be costly and time-consuming to establish the combined army, navy and air force Scottish Defence Force from scratch.

Defence is, actually, where the nationalist platform defaults to a tired template. The go-it-alone movement wants a £2.5bn annual budget for its armed forces. The SNP foresees a force of 15,000 regular and 5000 reserve personnel. Faslane near Glasgow would be converted from a nuclear base to a “joint force HQ” and Scotland’s main conventional naval port, according to The Herald.
But does a new Scotland really need even that? It would have no enemies, and the modern threat of fundamentalist terror  isn’t fought with the old model of a standing army. It needs a a modern protective service based on intelligence, not brute force and guns.
One train of thought is: why not start from scratch post-independence (if it comes to that) and chuck out the hackneyed idea of a big uniformed army, an air force bristling with armaments and a bigtime navy?
Just have an effective Coast Guard, little else. Then, that £2.5bn per year can be  ploughed into what a free Scotland would need- more cash for education, industry and a costly but free health service.
The defence issue is just one unknown. There’s also the links with the £ sterling; Scotland’s shaky ties with the monarchy; a vituperative debate on who owns  North Sea gas and oil; and, the nation’s potential connections with the EU and NATO. Each one of these  will have a definite effect on not only the Scots but also the 50m people below the border and how they live their lives. Independence will hit the English hard.Though most do not realise it.
One Glasgow friend said to me: ‘What rattles me is that everyone looks to the SNP for policies on a wide range of issues.’
‘But if we go independent, it could be a Labour administration and it simply doesn’t want to show its hand on any issue. It’s frightened.’
Alot of unknowns. And less than a year to go before a vote that could change not only Scotland but England too.

8 thoughts on “Of Scotland, Independence and That Underlying Uncertainty

  1. Since the possible outcome of the referendum will affect England, Wales and Northern Ireland I think it’s wrong that only the Scots are having a vote. Imagine the amusement if the Scots vote to stay in and everyone else votes for them to leave. It’s enough to moisten yer sporran.

    • That notion is ridiculous. It’s currently a marriage (Act of Union etc), if one party in a marriage wants a divorce the other party doesn’t have to agree for it to happen, that thinking is taking us back to a time when one party was seen by the other as its own goods and chattles.

      • Sir, are you mad? The Act of Union was the final scene in a drama fought over centuries – one in which an imperial force sought to impose itself on a weaker neighbour through subterfuge and violence. The Act of Union legitimised this domination. Subsequently, the submissive partner in the act came to wield inordinate power by reaping the benefits of birth. Those benefits only becoming available, however, with external support. Suddenly, what started as an unequal partnership became one dominated by the more diminutive side. Thus, in all fairness, both parties deserve to have their feelings taken into account – if only to reveal the true nature of the relationship for all to see. And isn’t transparency, fairness and equality what today’s modern society all about? Let’s all have a say, I say.

        • The relative strengths of the respective parties both at the time of the marriage and of the proposed divorce are irrelevant as per the legitimacy of one party to withdraw from the union without the consent of the other party. The same principle applies if for example, one partner wished to leave a law firm, and would we say that the UK could only withdraw from the EU if all other member states agreed?

  2. There you go. Making the same old tired mistakes of the liberal left. Comparing bacon to egg – or should I say haggis with neeps? Nation states are different. Bound by laws and acts into which both parties conjoined – thus for one to break the agreement requires the agreement of both parties. As would be the case vis a vis the EU – otherwise penalties would be applied in the form, possibly, of economic sanctions.

  3. Yes, the UK Parliament has to legislate to facilitate Scotland’s cessation, but to ignore the result of a Referendum which that Parliament has already approved would be both unthinkable and demonstrate exactly the kind of high-handed arrogance which is a major factor in the desire for independance in the first place. Which is where the (historical) marriage analogy is most appropriate.

  4. On Scottish independence, I’m not sure the comparison your commentaters make with a marriage really works….the Act of Union was between states, not individuals and it was all a long time ago. But I like the rogue line of what happens if Scots vote to stay in the union but the English vote to kick them out !

  5. Although it seems likely at present that Scotland will vote No, perhaps the most interesting issue will be the effect of a Yes vote on the next UK Parliament. Under those circumstances Scotland would probably leave at some point during the next Parliament’s 5-year term, at which point all Scottish MPs at Wetminster would be disenfranchised. At a stroke, this could potentially turn a majority Labour government or Labour/Lib Dem coalition into a minority administration.

Comments are closed.