Cognitive Dissidents – Why The People Of Scotland Should Think Very Carefully Before Voting For Independence
Scotland wants its independence, and that is only right and proper. After all, it was dragged into the Union of Great Britain and Ireland (as it was called at the time) by English military force. The Scots fought bravely and well, but England simply had more soldiers and Scotland eventually had to capitulate. Anyone who’s seen Braveheart can tell you that.
Well, actually no. That’s not what happened at all. Scotland was not dragged into The Union at all. Scotland had to become part of The Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (as it is now called) because of a massive gambling debt. The people in charge of the country’s finances bet Scotland’s collective shirt on a huge investment bubble in South America. The bubble inevitably burst and Scotland had to seek help or go bankrupt.
So, in 1707, it joined The Union to avoid financial ruin and countrywide starvation. That was over three hundred years ago and things have changed. Mr Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland, wants independence.
That’s no surprise. It would be a bit weird if Scotland’s Prime Minister didn’t want independence. However, he seems to want the kind of independence that University students enjoy. Independence with the knowledge that, if things go wrong, there’s always a warm bed to sleep in and a hot meal made by your mum not too far away.
Mr Salmond is enticing The Scots to take a vote for independence whilst making some rather rash assumptions. The main two being that Scotland will get to keep Sterling as its currency and that it will also get automatic membership of the EU.
Neither of these looks terribly likely under current circumstances. Westminster and The Bank of England have both declared that Scotland being allowed to keep Sterling as its currency would not be an option, though that’s probably just political posturing.
Spain is wrestling with Basque and Andalucian Independence issues. It doesn’t want Scottish Independence sending positive messages to its own independence seekers, so Spain has hinted that it will veto Scottish EU Membership.
The thing that puzzles me is why Scotland wants independence in the first place. At the moment, Scots enjoy many privileges that the English do not. Scottish MP’s get to vote in Westminster and influence political decisions in England, while English MP’s have no such say in the running of Scotland’s affairs.
Scottish students enjoy a free University education while their English counterparts have to pay through the nose for theirs, even if they study in Scotland. Medical prescriptions are free in Scotland but incur a charge in England. To me, this seems like the best of both worlds.
If there was a referendum in England to reverse the situation and restore free higher education and free prescriptions, I’d be voting yes like a shot. I don’t get why anyone would want to disturb this particular status quo. The only answer I have been able to come up with is National Pride.
This is not the first opportunity Scotland has had to vote for independence. Back in 1979, there was a referendum to decide whether or not to have Devolution, which is the sort of “independence lite” that Scotland enjoys now. It was considered the first step towards getting a fast tracked process to ensure Scotland became a fully separate country.
Scottish National Pride was running high in the months before the big vote. Scotland had even qualified for the world cup in 1978, whereas England had not. At that point, it looked as if a landslide “Yes” vote was a foregone conclusion.
Independence made sense. The North Sea Oil money was flowing at full pelt. Back then, everybody who got the right grades went to University for free, so education wasn’t a consideration. Everyone was charged for prescriptions back then mind, but the charge was literally just a few pence, so healthcare didn’t enter into the equation.
When it came to the crunch though, Scotland voted “No” to devolution back in ’79. Well, actually it voted “Yes” 51.62% to 48.38%, but there was a controversial proviso in the referendum rules that 40% of the electorate had to say “Yes” and the overall turnout was only 63.8%. Unfortunately that turnout, high as it was, magically transformed a near-as-dammit 52% percent to a nowhere near-as-dammit 33%. So, no deal. No devolution for Scotland in ‘79.
Scotland does have devolution now though, has had since 1999. And in September, the Scottish Nation votes for Independence. Personally I hope they vote “No”. I hate the idea of having to produce my passport in order to travel North of the Border so I can sit on a deck chair laughing at leathery skinned, middle aged couples killing themselves trying to “bag another Monroe”. I don’t relish the prospect of trade restrictions meaning I have to source my supply of Tunnock’s Tea Cakes on the black market.
Though on the flip side, Scotland would have the option to restore its monarchy. The thought of genealogists tracking down some grizzled old bloke called Shuggie from East Kilbride and declaring him King has a certain appeal.
My reasons for wishing a “No” vote are not entirely selfish though. Politicians are all lying bastards. Alex Salmond: lying bastard. David Cameron: lying bastard. So my concern is that the Scottish People are asking themselves the question “Do we want independence?”, rather than the question they should be asking themselves, which is “Which one of these conning fuckers is conning me the most? And what are they conning me about?”
My other concern is that this is just not the right time. The world is still a very precarious place financially. The green shoots of recovery are still a bit anaemic looking. It’s not the time to be going it on your own for anybody. There is a famous scene in “Braveheart” where William Wallace tells his army “Hold….Hold….Hold” as he picks just the right time to attack. This is definitely a “Hold…Hold…Hold” situation Scotland is in.
When the good times roll again –and they will roll again- that’s when Scotland should go for independence. It should run at the world, naked from the waist down with its bollocks flapping in the wind, and grab everything it so richly deserves.
It shouldn’t bother with all this nonsense of petitioning Westminster with a referendum either. It should just declare its Independence unilaterally. Sure, if it came to a fight, there’s more Englishmen than there are Scotsmen but Scotland has all the Nuclear Weapons. Just saying.
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2014