Here We Go Again

27 Feb

There is something very disturbing about the SNP.

On one hand, it’s a single-issue party (Scottish independence) and it views everything through the prism of how it may affect the prospect of actually winning Scottish independence. Thus it is quite happy to meddle in English-only affairs, secure in the knowledge that irritating English MPs will make it harder for pro-union politicians to make their case. On the other hand, it shows a marked lack of respect for the democratic process. The independence referendum had barely taken place before the SNP started trying to manoeuvre towards a second referendum. Clearly, our would-be rulers feel we didn’t vote right the first time around.

This does not bode well for Scotland’s future, should independence become a reality. The SNP has not really had to grapple with the issues that affect something as large and powerful as a nation-state. They have no experience whatsoever in governing on such a scale; dominating Holyrood does not give them experience at handling national issues. Indeed, their financial planning is best described as wishful thinking. Time has shown that their calculations of the economic power of an independent Scotland were either mistaken or flat-out lies.

Furthermore, an independent Scotland would effectively be a single-party state, based around a party that had already accomplished its raison d’être. The best we could reasonably hope for would be the SNP fragmenting into a number of different parties, each one representing a separate faction within the overall party, but history suggests that such fragmentation does not come easily. A far worse scenario would be something akin to the ANC in South Africa, which lost its way after winning the struggle to put an end to Apartheid. The shortage of effective competition allowed corruption to wend its way into the ANC’s heart.

So, why am I saying all this? This piece of muddy political blackmail popped up in front of me a couple of days ago. Apparently, Nicola Sturgeon believes that Britain leaving the EU is sufficient grounds for a second independence referendum.

There’s a great deal of muddy thinking here, but I’ll concentrate on the important matter. Would an independent Scotland be granted entry to the EU?

I’ve commented on this before, but really – I think the realistic answer is no.

The EU is fundamentally a political project – it is not built on sound economic judgement or common sense. (Greece should never have been allowed to join, let alone get away with lying to politicians too keen to expand to do even basic due diligence.) Many of the countries that will be voting on the question have good reason to make life as unpleasant as possible for Scotland, if the Scots separate from the United Kingdom and apply to join the EU. They have their own secessionist movements – they’re not going to want to encourage them. Scotland will have to jump through more hoops than Turkey before its application is even considered.

I’ve heard it suggested that Scotland would inherit Britain’s membership in the EU. Frankly, I doubt that’s possible. Britain is a far more powerful country than an independent Scotland – economically, militarily, politically. Scotland would face immense pressure to adopt the Euro at once – and, lacking the clout Britain brings to the table, would probably have to submit. Think about what the absence of a national currency has done to Greece and a number of other countries over the years. We would be exchanging rule from London (where we have a strong presence) for rule from Brussels, where we will be a very small fish in a very large pond.

And that is assuming we do get membership fairly quickly. What happens if Brussels refuses our application? We might wind up alone, with a resentful London to the south (and all the other problems I touched upon in my earlier writings). Being separated from both Britain and the EU would be very bad for us.

Leaving all this aside, the SNP has not asked the question it should have asked – the question that is in line with its self-proclaimed raison d’être. Is EU membership going to be good for Scotland or not?

And why, having worked so hard to gain independence from London, would the SNP promptly decide to surrender to Brussels?

The root of the problem with Brussels, with the European Union as a whole, is the sheer lack of accountability. We have far more sway in London than we do in Brussels.

But then, the SNP has a lack of accountability too.

15 Responses to “Here We Go Again”

  1. Rob Godfrey February 27, 2016 at 7:29 pm #

    IF (and it’s a fairly large ‘IF’) Scottish voters come out majority ‘remain’ yet the English vote causes a ‘leave’ victory, I could see why a second referendum would be at least considered, as to why the EU would let Scotland in afterwards, well as the breakaway of a member state they would not be, but as a region that broke away because a member state left? That is a different thing entirely and says to the nations with secession movements that leaving is a bad idea.

    As to how much good the EU has done, in my view a huge amount to limit the authoritarian streak of New Labour and the current Tory governments, to limit corporate power and protect working people, to be the only actually democratic elections I get to vote in (as a resident in a safe seat my vote is utterly worthless, and no nation where ~30% of the vote gets 100% of the power or a party with 4 million votes gets nothing is not democratic, at least not in a meaningful way), as well as be a huge trading block and force this inward looking, xenophobic island to open it’s eyes and actually liev and work with foreign people, again a great thing.

    • shrekgrinch March 1, 2016 at 10:10 pm #

      To be in the EU is to take orders from Berlin.

      Churchill must be rolling in his grave. We know Thatcher is.

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard February 27, 2016 at 7:36 pm #

    I wonder how many English would vote to expel Scotland and/or vote to let Scotland back (assuming it left). [Evil Grin]

    • chrishanger February 28, 2016 at 6:46 pm #

      Hard to say, really. There’s a LOT of mixed families – mine, for example.


      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard February 28, 2016 at 7:27 pm #

        That’s simple. Just let the SNP decide who are the True Scotsmen and expel them from England. [Very Big Kidding Grin]

        Note, the above comment was triggered by some nuts in AccordingToHoyt who are saying Sarah isn’t a “Real American”. [Sad Smile]

  3. Gaden February 27, 2016 at 10:57 pm #

    Good piece. Scotland breaking away from England would be a bad thing for all involved at this point in history. Both a stronger together then apart.

  4. Charlie Taylor February 28, 2016 at 1:38 pm #

    Some SNP supporters are insane, I was talking to one last night – anti-EU, against immigration and paying benefits but still always votes SNP.

  5. JamAbz February 28, 2016 at 5:14 pm #

    I’m not sure I would agree that it’s disturbing it’s just the sad political reality that all other parties have lost the public’s confidence. I have to confess I do vote SNP and I am concerned about the lack of political diversity. Scotland sorely needs new political parties to come forward and the old establishment is long past saving. For all the SNP’s faults I know they will fight for a better deal for Scotland but we need more options.

    I voted for Scottish independence because I believed it was the only chance to reform our country away from the shambolic main political parties which run the UK. Let’s be honest they are both shadows of their former selves and have long since sold their soles to their backers and the career politicians. We used to be a proud and great nation but we now seem to be ruled by the few with their self interests at heart. The whole of the UK needs reform to put power back in the hands of real people and not just a few so called elite. Devolution in Scotland has shown that there are other options and I have seen real progress. Infrastructure investment for example seems to be moving swiftly forward after being bogged down for 30 odd years. It’s not perfect but it is making a difference.

    I voted independence but only because of the lack of hope for reform within the UK. The entire political system needs to be reviewed if we are to rebuild this nation which I believe most people in Scotland and the UK would like. The independence vote was incredibly difficult for most people and forced to chose between 2 bad options.

    Firstly we need to address the house of lords ending lifetime peerages and taking control of membership away from the political parties. The upper house should be built by citizens and specific professionals (I.e doctors, engineers, lawyers etc) serving fixed terms and paid for their service. Their role is to scrutinise the laws and bills passed before them not act as a retirement home for those given titles.

    Secondly we need to look at the commons and firmly grasp the power away from career politicians, the establishment and the wealthy. Everyone should have a voice but no one should be able serve more than a few terms in parliament or use money to hold sway. Greater diversity in the number of political parties should be encouraged and greater cooperation in important areas such as eduction and the NHS is essential. Long term planning rather than constant reform is crucial.

    Thirdly we need to look at the structure of the UK. England needs a seperate parliment dealing with English issues. Its true Scotland is not happy with Westminster but even I would admit I would like to stay together in a true partnership such as a federal system. Each country decides it’s own affairs and anything involving all the UK goes to a joint session of the 4 parliaments.

    With respect the EU I like being in but the lack of democracy concerns me more than any migration issue. I haven’t decided which way I will vote but I am leaning towards out purely because I am concerned about the lack of say and the direction the EU seems to be taking which is clealry the eventual one state Europe. Wether the UK voting out triggers a second independence referendum for Scotland that remains to be seen. But if they vote different ways then the will of the Scottish people needs to be heard as that is Democracy. I can only hope both the UK and the EU undertake the reforms which are sorely needed of its going to be a rocky road ahead.

  6. philippeO February 29, 2016 at 4:53 am #

    ” The independence referendum had barely taken place before the SNP started trying to manoeuvre towards a second referendum. Clearly, our would-be rulers feel we didn’t vote right the first time around. ”

    In fairness, party in democracy do repeatedly push their favorite issue when they defeated. Quebec had referendum twice, and Quebecois still push for another. Democrats keep pushing for gun control, and Republicans keep pushing for abortion limitations repeatedly. Big legislation, like Reform Act 1832 or Catholic Emancipation is result of many numerous previous attempt of legislation.

    ” They have their own secessionist movements – they’re not going to want to encourage them. ”

    I’m not sure about this. There are theory of “Europe of Regions” that many pro-Euro groups adhere. It argue for weakening of national governments, with its authority go to EU (defence, currency, foreign policy) and Regions (language, culture, education, etc).

    Basque, Bavarians, Lombardy independence movement, etc have same position with SNP. Its hardly unique.

  7. Lars E D March 1, 2016 at 8:10 am #

    a independent Scotland would be nice but then again….it is not greener on the other side of the fence.You would loose more then you gain acctually.Before you can gain independence you have to make sure (real sure) you can afford it.How will the health insurence sysem be taken care of (if you have it),who will pay for roads,train and other (because england wont).How will you gain income for a independent Scotland? Oil? well look around.The Oil-price is going down…its not a secure income anymore (many people have lost their jobs within the oil-industry here in Norway just the last few months and its sinking…it wont be better for Scotland)…so again…how will you support a independent Scotland?well i sure dont know but getting independence at this date wont do it.All you gain is a bitter England.

    -money to keep up the infrastructure
    -money for healthcare (to buy medicines from outside the country since i doubt Scotland makes it themself)
    -the nation security (money for army,police,firedepartment etc)
    -Money to pay the council members and the politicians

    and so much more

    hate to say it but oil-industry and bagpipe music wont support it all (and i would recommend high taxes like we have in Norway)

    beside all this i do love Scotland…i really do (might have been a Scotsman in my last life if that was possible) and i do hope that Scotland does get its independence but right now its way to early and to unprepared to take over (it all comes down to money).Wouldnt recommend EU at all.Just look whats going on in Europe at the moment.

    ofcourse this is all my opinion so your welcome to disagree 🙂

  8. shrekgrinch March 1, 2016 at 10:07 pm #

    “Think about what the absence of a national currency has done to Greece and a number of other countries over the years.”

    Translation: It is forcing them to live within their means. How is that a bad thing?

    • chrishanger March 1, 2016 at 10:17 pm #

      Basically, a country facing financial problems can devalue its currency relative to other currencies. Greece cannot do that with the Euro, as exchange rates and suchlike are pegged by the EU rather than an individual country.


  9. shrekgrinch March 2, 2016 at 11:17 pm #

    “Basically, a country facing financial problems can devalue its currency relative to other currencies. Greece cannot do that with the Euro, as exchange rates and suchlike are pegged by the EU rather than an individual country.”

    Yes, I know. Keynesian BS politicians use to make that excuse. No country has ever gotten prosperous by devaluing it’s currency. Only a stable currency delivers prosperity. Else, Zimbabwe would be richer than the folks living in Singapore right now.

    When you devalue a currency, there are losers and the loss to them have to be calculated. When you do, you’ll find that the NET loss is often higher than whatever ‘gains’ were made for those who benefit from the devaluation. Usually, Savers, Consumers and Creditors that had nothing to do with investing in government bonds get nailed big time, for example. Whereas a default only materially impacts those directly involved with those assets, mostly.

    Furthermore, it just band-aids over the root fiscal and other problems that got the politicians to do the devaluation in the first place, instead of addressing them.

    Greece can default (temporarily), slash/abolish tax rates that force capital and workers into the vast underground economy and do other reforms like in the labor markets — all w/o having to leave the Euro.

  10. Puffin April 7, 2016 at 12:37 am #

    I don’t think the SNP should actually want complete independence. Why do I say that? Because then when anything goes wrong, they can’t blame Westminster anymore.

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