Opinion: Scotland voting Yes, surely not!

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TWas Scotland only to be offered a referendum to which the answer would be No? From the press today one would think this was the case. Did the Westminster bubble think Scotland would not dare to cut the apron strings?

Political commentators from south seem not to have recognised that the Yes campaign is not a vote for Eck Salmond and the SNP, nor even for nationalism. It is a positive decision for Scotland and its future. Scotland has substantial natural resources and independence will be our coming-of-age, although some of the commentariat suggest apocalypse will be the only outcome. It’s bound to be a bumpy ride but change also provides new opportunities to embrace. Economists and bankers warn of the currency and economic risks but one can have little faith in powers of prediction so comprehensively undermined by the crash of 2008.

Members of the Scottish diaspora have questioned why they cannot vote in the referendum – they could if they return: to participate in Scotland’s future, residence is a requirement.  As a Scot who moved to England in 1977, aged 20, and returned to Scotland in 2008, I was surprised by how marked the differences between both countries are. I do not expect to continue to vote on Warwickshire or Surrey’s future having chosen to make mine elsewhere – it is for the ‘local’ community to decide.

Much is still remembered here from the Thatcher days and the contempt shown by Westminster establishment towards Scotland is not forgotten (or forgiven). Scotland does indeed have many ills but if Better Together (and its lamentable campaign) is to be believed then one wonders why these still exist given the 300 years in which they could have been addressed. Becoming independent of a state which introduced the bedroom tax (how many MPs, with a 10% pay rise looming, have more rooms in their state-funded accommodation in London than are necessary?) and tuition fees, while overseeing the privatisation of the NHS, which will also be at the mercy of TTIP, is not something of which to be ashamed.

Although Scotland, like England, suffers from overcentralisation of services, some implemented by the current SNP government, the next election post-independence offers existing political parties (and new) an opportunity to set out and implement their vision for Scotland’s future. So far, the major political parties, centred on London, offer only more of the same, often in patronising tones, not even recognising how different the electoral scene here is – Holyrood offers us proportional representation, no unelected second chamber, and separation of State and church – none of which are available in the Union. Community land ownership and local management of renewable energy generation are far more developed in Scotland than in England, perhaps needing to be, given the history of landlordism: for too long we have been tenants afraid to speak up and out.

Localism and federalism are dear to Liberal Democrats. Our party must be prepared to step forward with a positive and radical manifesto for all in an independent Scotland when the outcome is Yes on 18th September.

* Linda Forbes has been active in the party for over 30 years. She has been a PPC and committee member of local parties, regional parties, ALDC and LDEG.

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24 Comments

  • I agree with a lot of Linda’s analysis but not with her conclusion.

    As one specific issue Linda talks about “no unelected second chamber”. Immediately after independence there would be no second chamber of any sort. Whilst the Scottish government’s white paper specifies some features of its new constitution, such as a commitment not to have nuclear weapons, it is entirely silent on the issue of a second chamber. I would guess Alex Salmond will not be proposing a second chamber. In his Considerations on Representative Government John Stuart Mill points out the strong advantages of a second chamber in a system of party government. Parties being much stronger in government than they were in Mill’s day. In a nutshell, but read the chapter, a second chamber forces the government to explain why it is pursuing a particular course of action with a view to gaining consent for those actions. Consider the value of our existing second chamber in stopping Labour introducing detention without trial etc.

    At the risk of sounding too much like Alastair Darling I would not relish living in a state with both a centralised police force and no second chamber to challenge the executive power of the government.

  • Below is a quick assessment of Gordon Browns NEW powers. 20 years ago the power of the Daily Record may have carried this. It is actually much worse than Gordon Brown and others think. It is not just that the lies are exposed it is that the immediate and obvious underhand behaviour is uncovered and highlighted so quickly.

    http://wingsoverscotland.com/a-list-of-nothing/

  • Trevor Stables 9th Sep '14 - 3:08pm

    Here is one envious Englishman. Independence with fair voting at all levels and the chance to develop social liberalism almost from scratch, the answer is a no brainer. The real question for me now is will our Party decisively and urgently grasp the opportunity for a written federal constitution and an English Parliament elected by PR.

  • Eddie Sammon 9th Sep '14 - 3:18pm

    You can’t take Salmond, the SNP and nationalism out of the debate just like you can’t take the Tories or NHS scare stories out of the debate.

    I wouldn’t be as fussed about independence if the SNP had a good plan, but they don’t. They talk about a more equal Scotland, yet want to be softer on multinational corporations than the Conservatives. It seems as though they think cancelling Trident is going to pay for everything.

    It’s not economists and bankers “warning of a crash”, it’s already begun to happen with billions not just leaving Scotland, but the UK as a whole. Of course, things won’t end up being that bad, but it doesn’t look like a scene from a Yes Scotland commercial either.

    The Scottish establishment also needs to stop scapegoating Thatcher and realise Labour played a part in the de-industrialisation of Scotland too by making Scotland so state dependent in the first place.

    Well, I respect your view, but I think the SNP have been an injustice to Scotland by selling them this false promise based on a belief in 20th century nationalism. Independence should be the last resort, not the goal.

  • Ian MacFadyen 9th Sep '14 - 3:47pm

    It is demeaning of Scots to talk of Scotland’s “coming of age” in this referendum, when Scotland is older than England and it was Scots who, from before the time James VI became king of England, pushed for and created this Union that the Yes campaign wants to destroy. This is the SNP narrative to do down the Scots and present their solution as salvation from being done down. That is how nationalism always works. Voting Yes is not an act of confidence in Scotland. It is accepting the nationalist rhetoric that has done down Scotland.

    I want a No vote. I want us to remain together, because we Scots want to remain together, because we Scots reject nationalism and all its narrative, We are too intermingled to start restoring borders that were removed three centuries ago. Families are spread across these islands. Let’s stay one big family.

    I want federalism, with the same powers for Wales, Northern Ireland and England (and Cornwall, separately) as for Scotland. I want a genuine federalism, not an Austria-Hungary arrangement. All of the United Kingdom should be involved in theses decisions. Voting on the future of Scotland is not a local matter like the future of Surrey (I mean no disrespect to one of my former homes). A decision on Surrey does not risk destroying the country and does not therefore affect everyone in these islands. The decision by Scots next week does affect everyone and could destroy the United Kingdom.

    I am a proud Scot and a proud Briton and want to continue in a united United Kingdom. I hope my fellow Scots with the vote in this referendum (unlike me), especially Liberal Democrats who be currently saying Yes, will reject the nationalist delusion and vote No.

  • “Localism and federalism are dear to Liberal Democrats.”

    So is the idea of political union.

  • I would suggest that, should Yes win (which I still do not think particularly probable) the correct response is *not* the knee-jerk one which many English appear to endorse of imposing punitive anti-Scottish policies, but rather to make independent Scotland a generous offer of some sort of federation on equal terms.

    It seems to be taken as a truism that a No vote can be revisited, while a Yes vote is forever. This does not have to be the case. After separation, Scotland and the rUK would still retain many common institutions and interests. Both countries would benefit from a formal structure by which they could act in concert. There would be an option of creating a loose federal structure of which rUK, Scotland, and maybe even Ireland could be components.

  • @David-1
    These are very noble suggestions, but why would a UK government of any stripe bother with the reforms you suggest? The last week has put it beyond doubt that Westminster have an interest in these matters exclusively when they detect an electoral threat in the north. Once that threat is extinguished – which it will be, forever, by a No vote – they’ll go back to sleep.

    Throwing away your leverage over politicans, and expecting them to do what you’d like anyway, sounds like a good definition of insanity.

  • @keaton — I’m not sure you read my remarks in the way they were intended (you seem to think I was arguing for them in the event of a No vote, when actually it was the other way around), but to answer your first question: “Why would a UK government respond (to a Yes vote) with the proposals I suggest?”
    Obviously, they might not. The choice would be one between trying to salvage *something* (in the form of a loose federation, rather than a Union) instead of *nothing*; versus trying to curry favour among the froth-mouthed UKIP sort by engaging in a lot of anti-Scottish rhetoric and obstructionism. Do I count on this government, or any government, to try to do the right thing? Absolutely not.

    However, for those non-Scots who support Union, perhaps the most efficient thing you could do right now would be to point out — via whatever channels are available — that running the saltire up the Downing Street flagpole will produce nothing but derision; whereas an unconditional offer to remove Trident from the Clyde might have considerable effect.

  • I am still hoping against hope for a “no” vote. For one thing I have family in Keith.

    However, in the event of a “yes” vote, I am personally absolutely against a currency union, and I think that any such proposal should require the consent (in a referendum) of the population of the rest of the UK.

    Unions require the consent of all parties. If Scotland has withdrawn it’s consent to be part of the political union, then it makes me feel physically sick, but as a democrat, I have to accept that the political union is over.

    But what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and the Scots need to recognise that if the population of what remains of the UK does not want a currency union with an independent Scotland then that dimension of union is finished as well (whether you think we’re nuts or not is immaterial).

  • Linda,

    Oh dear.

    “Scotland has substantial natural resources”

    Linda, your knowledge of economic development appears very limited. The. Reason Norway is such a remarkable economist story is that it succeeded in spite of the vast currency flows (as a portion of GDP) the oil generated. Norway took hard choices, it refused to divvy out vast sums of cash to failing industries, it’s governments didn’t use it to buy off different voter interest groups, it established a sovereign wealth fund to prevent the oil destroying it’s economy and culture. All I have ever heard about the use do Scottish oil suggests the plans are to use it more inline with countries that have been damaged by their natural resources rather than helped.

    To assume that the level of self denial demonstrated by the Norwegians is easy or normal is to dismiss their achievement over the last 40 years. If your plan is (if you were to get the yes vote you desire) to learn from that successful neighbour I suggest a little more appreciation of how hard won their success has been.

    “and independence will be our coming-of-age,”

    Very demeaning to scots in general, I know it is fashionable to trash any involvement in British history these days but you insult many great achievements of Scotland over the centuries. The Scottish enlightenment, the engineering achievements of scots (in Scotland, working out side Scotland and along side other UK citizens) as just the first two to mind.

    It is sad that so many on the Yes campaign have such a negative view of Scotland and it’s history.

    On those more minor points

    “although some of the commentariat suggest apocalypse will be the only outcome. It’s bound to be a bumpy ride but change also provides new opportunities to embrace”

    Well, you are just quibbling with these people (that you appear to have such a low opinion of) over description. I also imagine, of the acres of print expended on this, few will have described it as apocalypse. Your choice of bumpy could be read quite euphemistically, to mean very painful (and that could be for both sides). So really your straw man doesn’t stand up.

    If the Scottish population have a strong desire to leave a shared union with their family south of the border the pain would not be an issue so there would be no need to play it down.

    “Economists and bankers warn of the currency and economic risks but one can have little faith in powers of prediction so comprehensively undermined by the crash of 2008.”

    Well actually many economists and bankers did know that something bad was coming, it is not the knowing that a problem will arise but knowing the timing. The people who were convinced that everything was fine and dandy were politicians (most famously one from Fife, but Salmond was a big fan of the ABN merger when bankers knew liquidity was drying up and something was going wrong).

    Most people over the age of 25 know that there would be a recession at some point it was just a matter of being able to spot the timing. If someone tells you they can always call that right they will be speaking to you from their terraforming plant on Mars or they are lying.

  • JUF

    “But what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and the Scots need to recognise that if the population of what remains of the UK does not want a currency union with an independent Scotland then that dimension of union is finished as well (whether you think we’re nuts or not is immaterial).”

    Not wanting a currency union is not nuts, it will be a bit worse for cross boarder trade so sub optimal economically if everything went to plan, but as things don’t always go to plan (under normal circumstances go fairly badly off about every 8 years) without the required institutions of a shared state the only option is the pressure release valve of a floating currency.

  • @Psi agreed. But the yes campaign have this view that the rest of the UK has to agree to a currency union because they say “it is overwhelmingly in all our interests to do so”.

    Even if it is, we have the right to vote for a decision that is against all our interests.

    Just as Scotland has the right to vote yes even if that will be overwhelmingly against all our interests IMHO.

  • @Psi and @JUF

    What we really be nuts is to lose control of interest rates because you don’t like David Cameron or believe that the rUK would allow a foreign country a say in monetary policy without political union…

  • @ATF – I think we’re violently agreeing 😉

  • @JUF

    People reaching agreement on the internet? It’ll never catch oon!

  • @David-1 9th Sep ’14 – 7:41pm
    You’re right. I misread your comment. I’d claim drunkenness, but given the timestamp that might not make me look any better. Apologies.

  • ATF & JUF

    An out break of three lettered agreement, very rare.

  • Survation poll out tonight, tweet allegedly from the boss of the company says, “it’s quite something”. MY guess Yes comfortably in the lead!! Polling been done between 5th and 9th September. Either way this poll could be the real game-changer.

  • Julian Tisi 10th Sep '14 - 5:30pm

    So much in this article is straw-man demonisation. Apparently this is Scotland versus the patronising Westminster establishment, representing Thatcher, the Tories and everything else guaranteed to whip up nationalist fervour.

    One thing ought to be remembered about this referendum. Only Scottish people living in Scotland will get a vote. This is between one group of Scots who see remaining part of the UK as being in Scotland’s best interests and another group of Scots who see separating from the UK as being in Scotland’s best interests.

    This isn’t Scotland versus everything Scots hate. This is one group of Scots against another group of Scots. The rest of us can plead for you guys to stay with us (and I hope you do) but we don’t get a vote. So don’t accuse us of trying to deny you something. This is your decision.

  • The other thing that’s interesting is the final paragraph. It almost seems to imply that if the vote is yes, somehow the LibDems will continue to exist as a single party north and south of the border. I think that one of the first things to happen will be that all of the parties will split completely – separate leadership / membership / manifesto, since the first item on the political agenda will be the divorce settlement and I can’t see party structures surviving the animosity that will ensue. Scots LDs will find that they have more in common with Scots Tories and Labour than with LDs in the rest of the UK.

  • Steve Comer 10th Sep '14 - 7:28pm

    As an Englishman who supports a YES vote on the 18th, I find the ‘stay with us’ line insulting to both the Scots and the English. There will always be close links between the people of England and Scotland, just as there are between England ans Ireland, or Sweden and Denmark. Yet those links between people do not depend on an Imperial Westminster Parliament running our lives from SW1.
    A yes vote will crack the discredited Whitehall/Westminster over-centralised means of Governance, a NO vote will mean business as usual, just as it was after 1979. We need a proper informed debate about the future of devolved power. Liberals used to say a lot about this, but the only MP that has addressed this in the last few days has been Graham Allen.

  • Steve Corner

    If the only argument for a Yes vote is it will make constitutional change easier the campaign has serious problems.

    The current government gave everyone in the UK a vote on some constitutional change (AV, not the choice I would opt for but an improvement and likley stepping stone) yet all parts of the UK rejected it Scotland included.

    This argument sounds a lot like “people don’t like our proposals, so we’ll find a way to force them on them any way”

    People should vote Yes if they want a separate state from the UK as that is the decision they are being asked to make. All these “Vote Yes because it will probably give you something else later” arguments are dishonest and dangerous.

    There are many changes I would like to see but I would argue putting those changes either to the peoples representatives or to the people directly, no wink wink nudge nudge I’ll get you what you want by the back dor stuff.

    That is one of the things that has peopledis illusioned with politics.

  • @Steve Comer – the choice is now effectively between independence and devo max.

    If the vote is for devo max and this is not delivered then we will quickly find ourselves back here again but with an overwhelming majority for full independence.

    If devo max is delivered then it will lead pretty quickly to greater powers for the Welsh assembly and some form of English devolution, and the emergence of a federal system.

    If the vote is for independence then I think that the establishment in rUK will be far less likely to devolve power away from Westminster, and the centralising tendency will come to the fore.

    So if you want the kinds of change you’re talking about, then you should be hoping for a no vote.

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