The Scottish Parliament recently had a debate on Scotland’s future, in which pro-independence MSPs put forward positive and well-reasoned arguments (well, maybe not so much in Kenny Gibson’s case) for independence, and unionists put forward the usual mix of misinformation, scaremongering, bombast about the size and power of the UK, and nonsense about “sharing the risks and rewards” (although Nicola Sturgeon was sure she heard Ruth Davidson say “risks and their wars”, which would have been far more accurate). However, none of these arguments were as ridiculous as the one put forward by Johann Lamont when she said the following words: “Had Scotland been a separate country right now, I believe we would be seriously looking at creating the type of union we currently enjoy”.
No, seriously, those words actually came out of her mouth. Unionists often accuse independence campaigners of using conjecture rather than facts, but rather than sit bemused by the audacity of such a hypocritical accusation, let’s have a look at a few…
First of all, the geography of the world is not static. At the turn of the 19th century, there were 20 independent countries. By 1900, this had more than doubled to 49. Over the next 100 years, that number exploded to 192, and the 21st century has so far seen independence for East Timor, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo and South Sudan, giving us the current tally of 196 countries. (Before you go picking me up on my adding skills – which are flawless – remember that Serbia and Montenegro’s independence led to the dissolution of one state into two, so 192 – 1 + 5 = 196!) Clearly, the world is on a continuous trend towards increasing numbers of smaller nations. You can guarantee that the number of nation states in the world will surpass 200 long before the end of this century, and Scotland is by far the most obvious would-be state to become number 197.
Secondly, this number always increases. That is, no country, once it gets its independence, decides a few years down the line “nah, this is rubbish – let’s go back.” The only exception to this rule that I can think of is East and West Germany, but obviously there were genuinely extenuating circumstances in this case. So East Germany apart, no country has given up its independence since the age of empires came to an end.
A third point – possibly the most important one of all – is that Scotland has never voted on its place in the UK. There was no vote in 1707, and there has not been one since. 2014 will be the first time Scots have had a chance to directly say whether or not they want any aspect of their lives ruled by London. On the two occasions where we have been asked if we would like a Scottish parliament, we have said “YES!”, although we were ignored the first time. Quite simply, Scots have NEVER voted to be ruled by Westminster, but we have a 100% record of saying “YES” to Scottish parliaments.
With all this in mind, it is utterly ridiculous for Johann Lamont to suggest that an independent Scotland would, given the chance, vote to form a union with England. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. This absurd notion is completely at odds with reality, because countries simply don’t vote to lose their independence, and it is totally against the way the world is progressing – it would, in fact, be a totally regressive step.
Think about it. For an independent Scotland to start a union with England, there would need to be a union movement. Now, there are plenty of independence movements throughout the world – Europe alone has many, including Scotland, Catalonia, the Basque Country, Britanny and Sandžak - but there are no movements (to my mind, at least) seeking to see their country annexed into a union with a larger neighbour. Indeed, the closest we get is Northern Ireland, but that’s about completing Ireland’s independence from the UK, rather than creating a new artificial union between two historically independent countries.
Even when a country gets into difficulties, no one ever thinks to try and rebuild old empires or unions. You won’t hear African nations asking to be recolonised; Iceland didn’t beg Denmark to take them back in 2008; and Ireland, despite recent difficulties, would not even dream of asking to rejoin the UK. Independence is priceless, and once a country gets it, there are no regrets. Lamont’s ludicrous idea should be treated with the utter contempt it deserves, and only serves to highlight the depths of imbecility we are going to be dealing with over the next two years. Scotland’s independence will come soon, and it will be permanent.