Just seven months hence, on 18th September this year, the referendum on Scottish independence will take place. There are huge historical, political, economic and social aspects involved and none of them will feature in this short piece, despite the fact that – it seems to me – few people are actually taking the implications of a ‘yes’ vote seriously enough.
I hope I’m not betraying a personal slant on the outcome when I suggest that, quite possibly, the lack of cogent debate so far is actually to the advantage of the Scottish National Party’s leader Alex Salmond and his pro-independence associates.
I suspect that, from the ‘heart’ point of view, most Scots – if only they could be assured of economic stability (if you like, a guaranteed status quo) – would be inclined to vote ‘yes’.
Why wouldn’t any minority nation or grouping wish to be shot of a distant larger executive power, particularly one that – all throughout history – has been perceived, rightly or wrongly, to take its decisions seemingly without regard to the best interests of their community? Apart from anything else, ‘them down in London’ can be a convenient catch-all scapegoat for blame whenever anything goes wrong, or times are hard, in Scotland – irrespective of the truth as to where the blame really lies.
As an Englishwoman with strong Scottish origins, from a ‘heart’ point of view, I should be sad if Scotland opted for independence. I’ve always felt that one of the unique strengths of the United Kingdom was its constituent diversities – witness the wonderful sporting rivalries such as the Six Nation Calcutta Cup match between Scotland and England that will be taking place at Murrayfield later today.
However, my English ‘head’ is rather more robust and uncompromising in its attitude.
In my view, if Scotland votes for independence later this year, then that is fine by me – it’s the Scottish people’s right, and decision, to take.
However, if Scotland does go independent, then it also should have to take responsibility for its own destiny. For example, if within two or three years the Scottish economy goes down the pan, there should be no way back – i.e. specifically back into a UK that the Scots had so gleefully and recently departed.
Any attempt by the Scots to make the case at that point “Look, we were taken in by that idiot Salmond, and the romance of it all, but – now that the reality has set in – we realise we made a catastrophic mistake … can we just not come back and pick up where we left, massive welfare culture paid for by the rest of the UK, and so on?” should – in my view – be met by a two-word response, the second of them being ‘off’.
Especially when there’d be every likelihood, if Scotland was ever allowed back into the UK in such circumstances, that within a few years another bunch of ‘pro-independence’ agitators would be campaigning again for UDI on some different basis. And if that attempt to withdraw from the UK also failed, no doubt there’d be another … and another … ad infinitum, and/or unless and until one of them succeeded.
The vote this September should be a ‘once and for all’ decider.
That’s where I think those campaigning in the cause of a ‘No’ vote have being going wrong. Instead of those like David Cameron basically pleading for the Scots not to go, they should take the stance that this is a ‘once and for all’ referendum … and the Scots should be careful what they wish for. And mean it.