So; should Scotland vote for independence next month?
It would be tempting to say that this is nothing to do with me; I’m an Englishman, who lives in England and I should leave the whole thing to the Scots. However, whatever the outcome of the referendum, it will have an impact on the country I live in, so it seems only fair that I should have a say, even if I don’t get a vote.
I have to admit that I’m not entirely happy with the notion of Scots independence, but not for the reasons you might expect. I believe that the UK as a whole, is far too London-centric. In truth, my native North-East of England is culturally (as well as geographically) closer to the Scottish borders than it is to the South-East of England. From my perspective, the fundamental divides in the UK do not lie along Hadrian’s Wall or Offa’s Dyke, but between London and its satellites and the rest.
My preferred solution for the UK would be an increased federalism, that gave a high level of autonomy not just to Scotland, but to Wales, the West Country, Yorkshire, the North-East and so on. This sort of thing works perfectly well in other countries, so why not here?
However, it doesn’t look as though a federal UK is going to be on offer anytime soon. In the absence of my favoured option, were I living in Scotland, I would be almost certain to vote for independence. I instinctively prefer smaller political units and I distrust an establishment which is concentrated in and concentrates on one part of the country.
But what about the economy? What currency will the Scots use? What is Alec Salmond’s plan B? I hear you ask.
To which I answer; you are asking the wrong questions.
The economy is important, but it isn’t the most important thing in life. In truth most people in the UK are far richer than people in most parts of the world and this is unlikely to change whatever happens at the independence vote. But we have been sold a lie that politics is all about “the economy, stupid”. Human happiness and well-being consists of more than just how many toys you can buy.
The reality is that there will be transition costs associated with independence. Whatever decisions are made about the currency and such like, a colossal upheaval like this will cost money. But this still isn’t the right question!
The most important thing is; What sort of country to you want to live in?
Personally, I am unhappy with our current constitutional settlement and I would cheer the Scots on if they had the opportunity to change it. Who knows, Scottish independence might lead to a more federal England, eventually.
But this is none of my business!
My suspicion is that the no vote will win and this issue will be off the agenda for a while to come, though the question of Scottish MPs voting on English and Welsh questions when the reverse is not true, won’t go away anytime soon.