When Duty Calls

We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.– George Orwell

A while back someone posted on twitter (if it was you, let me know and I will update this) that the London Scottish Conservative Society’s “Five Reasons Why the Union is Better Off with Scotland in it” were exactly the best reasons for Scottish Independence so I thought it might be an idea to go through them.

Number 1 – The Acts of Union created one of the most enduring relationships in the history of the world. Why fix something which isn’t broken?

The Pax Romana created one of the most enduring relationships in the world but there is no doubt about who benefited most from it.

Additionally, I think the contention would be that it is broken. A system where all the nations incorporated in this union often don’t get the government they voted for and don’t have control of their own financial affairs can’t be said to be working too well. Furthermore, a system where the financial system causes resentment on all sides also cannot be said to be working too well.

Their article also goes on to say that Scottish Independence would provide a “brutal knock to British Identity” –  one of the main problems of the Union is that British and therefore English identity tends to ride roughshod over all the others when it suits.

They also say that the Welsh could be next. Go on the Welsh.

Number 2 – The impending Scotland Act will make Scotland more accountable for its own public spending.

Oh no! You mean we could choose for ourselves! The horror of it.

Their article says…

“Splitting up the Union would be a clumsy overreaction to a resolvable problem; by tidying up the devolution settlement through legislation, we can ensure a fair and mutually beneficial relationship.”

Well, it has been 300 years of tinkering and nobody is happy with it yet. I also thought they said the system wasn’t broken?

Number 3 – Scottish independence could mean the UK’s largest trading partner has a different currency entailing greater risk, cost and bureaucracy

There are no current plans to join the Euro and that would seem to close the case here but what is bizarre is that their reasoning for this statement then morphs into something about immigration. The bold is mine…

There is a real risk of an immigration crisis should Scotland’s economy struggle on its own. Faced with a declining population, the Scottish administration is openly in favour of immigration and should times grow intolerably hard it is not difficult to see where those in search of work would head

A couple of problems here. The first is that Scotland’s population is projected to rise, not decline. The second is the last thing I put in bold. If you think that sentence through carefully, aside from the whiff of racism, it doesn’t sound very much like any sort of Scottish society this, does it?

Number 4 – An independent Scotland would entail a significant loss in HMT revenues from the North Sea

They say…

The stakes and the sums involved are sufficient to ensure years of international litigation over revenues which would be central to an Independent Scotland’s budget plans.

This of course would be a loss to the UK account, not the Scottish one. How difficult the litigation has to be depends on how unnecessarily or unfairly greedy Westminster wishes to be.

Number 5 – Scotland’s contribution to Britain’s armed forces is far greater than its population share

I think this is quite clearly something that shows the unfairness of the thing and not a reason to stay in the union.

Finally, in their conclusion keep an eye open for a couple of interesting things. Look out for the bold again…

Those are some of the more logical grounds for why England should want to stay in the Union, but truth be told, the reasons run deeper. Despite the family politics of the thing, most of us believe in Britain and want to be British.  In the words of David Cameron, we are stronger together and weaker apart. They say you can’t choose your family; in 2014 that will be demonstrably disproved.

At least at the end there is a stark admission that these are reasons for England to try to keep a hold of Scotland, not for Scotland to stay in the union, but we also get the strange “can’t choose your family line. I think 100 interpretations could be put on that so I will leave you to decide for yourselves what that one means.

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  1. MartinB says:

    Of course, like all good families, it comes time when those treated as children eventually decide they’ve had enough of it and want to leave home.

    They’re still family though, and still come and visit.

  2. Siôn Jones says:

    Regardless of the political arrangements of the Island of Great Britain, we who live here would still be British. Just it would be a geographical term rather then a political one.

    1. stevenluby says:

      In who’s eyes would the people of an independent Scotland be seen as British?
      Of these islands there would be The United Kingdom and Northern Ireland,Republic of Ireland,Scotland.
      Would the Scots see themselves as British still? They would and should recognise their historical part played in the United Kindom in years to come,but would see themselves as Scottish.In a generation or two I would be surprised if the Scots still had thoughts or feelings of being part of Britain.
      But at least our children and theirs will be taught that Scotland has a history before 1707 then the history of Scotland within the U.K and after 2014.
      But the feeling of still being British should and will leave as the gulf between Scotland and England’s national goals and desires increase in opposite directions.

      1. Frank Garden says:

        Always Scottish never british

      2. MartinB says:

        Agreed – the various populaces of Norway, Sweden and Denmark still (largely) see themselves as Scandinavian, despite it being just over 100 years since the last time either of them were united in a single political state.

      3. Siôn Jones says:

        OOPS! Touched a bit of raw nerve, there, didn’t I? It wasn’t my intention.

        My suggestion is that once the United Kingdom has been dissolved, (and we all know that it is confused with Britain, or Greater England as it is known in the saxon mind),, then the term Britain will revert to its original meaning – a geographic term in the same way that Benelux or Scandinavia, or the Balkans are.

        Don’t forget that the Manx and inhabitants of the Channel islands are British without being part of the UK. There is no threat implied there.

        1. MartinB says:

          Yes, that was what I was thinking too.

          And there is most definitely a common thread of culture among these islands which even Ireland shares, while overlaying its own distinctiveness, as do all the other areas.

          I’d also add that there are a good few people over the Irish Sea who are relaxed enough in their own nationhood to describe themselves as West Brits, understanding that their (if not that of all everyone in their nation) culture does look eastward somewhat. And this while still being very happy to retain Irish citizenship and domicile.

          Identity is a complex beast, no?

    2. TiptoeBoy says:

      So long as there remained a rUK calling itself “British” then I doubt anyone in an independent Scotland would use the term. It could only be used in the Scandinavian sense when all countries of the present UK are independent of each other.

  3. stevenluby says:

    Perhaps in the way we may see ourselves as Scottish then European other than British:-) i do doubt that the Reb.Of Ireland see themselves in a British light…………

  4. Duncan Spence says:

    “British” might also refer to those cultures who inhabited the islands of Britain before the colonisation by Angles and Saxons from continental Europe. The significance is perhaps not entirely geographical.

    1. Nara says:

      Yes – slightly ironically, the original British or ‘Brythonic’ were the Celts, while now the Celtic countries dismiss the idea of ‘Britishness’ as another word for ‘English’. I still wouldn’t call myself British though. Bad connotations, especially with the British Empire. Really, it was the English Empire.

      1. Scottish gardener says:

        Spot on

  5.  The admission that these are reasons for England to try to keep a hold of Scotland, not for Scotland to stay in the union, is almost correct. It is the institutions of The City of Westminster not England that want to hold on to the revenues that flow from Scotland. The great and almost perpetual Scotland v England rhetoric is the “Jewel” component in the “Great British” divide and conquer strategy.  Press Play for they’re too wee, too and stupid subsidy junkies it’s our taxes etc, etc. colossal media energy is spent fuelling that lie and colossal time is spent by ordinary people trying to bridge that mythical divide. There are only  three Westminster institutions obsessed with securing the revenues from Scotland for as long as is feasibly possible. They are The Treasury, The Treasury & The Treasury. The UK Treasury is the chair organisation of a very select members club of Westminster institutions staffed by permanent mandarins and secretary’s hell bent on the maximum benefit of a minority elite.  England, the colonised and subjugated mass of this elite, have got little or nothing to do with it. See Boris Johnston for details!!

  6. Paul Cochrane says:

    I take the Englebert Humperdink approach….’Please release me, let me go, I don’t love you, anymore!’

  7. pmcrek says:

    So,

    1. The union is old.
    2. You’ve got enough powers already.
    3. Trading with other countries is bad and doesnt work.
    4. Oil is a burden that only we can manage for you.
    5. A Higher proportion of Scots are in the army.

    I think I can come up with a list of 5 better “reasons” myself.

  8. Ralph Roberts says:

    Fantastic!

  9. CUtommy says:

    Number 1 – The Acts of Union created one of the most enduring relationships in the history of the world. Why fix something which isn’t broken?

    Even the most vociferous defenders now accept that the ‘Union’ is broken. This is a partnership in which one party (England) has 533 votes and the other party (Scotland) has 59 votes on all matters including what powers are devolved to the smaller party. The only way to resolve this imbalance is to renegotiate the terms of the ‘Union’. This can only be achieved when both parties have the power to negotiate, i.e after Scotland has voted for independence.

    The current arrangement disadvantages Scotland as it is based entirely on the relative size of population. Future partnership arrangements would include strategic importance and energy and other natural resources as part of the mix.

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