Shock of the Century
Brian Taylor of BBC politics fame had a seemingly off-record quote about the startlingly obvious yesterday...
Firstly, a UK minister told me, with considerable emphasis, that the government at Westminster was “not neutral” with regard to Scottish independence.
A few years ago Jack Straw was more forthcoming with the real reasons. There has been a change of management in Westminster since then but no change in policy.
“historically England called the shots to achieve a union because the union was seen as a way, among other things, of amplifying England’s power worldwide.
A broken-up United Kingdom would not be in the interest of Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, but especially not England.
Our [England’s] voting power in the European Union would diminish. We’d slip down the world’s GDP tables.
Our case for staying in the G8 would diminish and there could easily be an assault on our permanent seat in the UN.”
Forget all the nonsense you hear about preserving the Union for emotional or patriotic reasons. The quote from Straw shows the real nuts and bolts of why there is opposition in Westminster to Independence.
However Straw misses the economic element in this too. A clear example of the economic strategy of a government that is firmly “not neutral” can be seen in the changes that were made (somewhat sneakily) by the Blair government (and this was not the first time it had been done) to the sea border between Scotland and England details of which can be found in the report “The National Borders of Scotland“…
Imposition of the Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999:
On 13 April 1999 the UK government promulgated Statutory Instrument 1999 No. 1126, purported to be Constitutional Law and entitled “The Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999”
Hidden under some chat about fishing waters was the real purpose of the exercise
Very conveniently, nothing in that document limits its applicability to fisheries. That lack of limitation was not accidental. On 24 February 2009 The Times published „Secret plan to deprive independent Scotland of North Sea oil fields‟.12 It stated, in part:
Documents detailing secret government plans in the 1970s to prevent Scotland laying claim to North Sea oil have been seen by The Times. They show the extraordinary lengths to which civil servants were prepared to go to head off devolution, which was seen then as inevitably leading to independence.
Treasury officials also advised that the boundaries of Scotland’s coastal waters should be redrawn and a new sector created to “neutralise” Scotland’s claim to North Sea oil – a step that was taken.
The “step that was taken” was the Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999, which illegally moved Scotland’s North Sea border to the north, thereby transferring some 6,255 statute square miles (5,540 nautical square miles) of Scottish waters to English jurisdiction (see Figure 5). Besides being a clear violation of the Treaty and Acts of Union, this transfer has a direct deleterious effect on the finances of the Government of Scotland in that no taxes or licence fees derived from activities in the illegally transferred area are credited to Scotland in the periodic Government Expenditures and Revenues Scotland (GERS) reports.
None of this is particularly surprising to many supporters of Scottish Independence. It may however come as a surprise to those in England who wonder what this Independence thing is all about. I tend to meet people with 2 different attitudes in England. There is the friendly “if that is what you want to do then it is your choice” group or the slightly less conciliatory “f*** off you ungrateful…”.
Although one of those sentiments is clearly more friendly (and sane) than the other, both of those are in marked contrast to the UK government line which was and remains “oh no you f***king don’t”.