Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Six months until the Scottish independence referendum. We are Better Together

I know of noone who does not love Scotland as a country, for its characters, for its history and for its whisky, amongst many other things. I hope all would agree it is a special place, with lovely people, gorgeous purple moors, great white beaches and the worlds finest golf courses. It has made a stellar contribution to Western thought and civilisation, from Adam Smith, Alexander Graham Bell, Robert Burns, Watt, Sean Connery, all the Flemings from 007 to the creator of penicillin, and comedians from Billy Connelly to Andrew Neil [ok he is not a comedian, but he dices and slices politicians, and that can be very entertaining].

But the reality is that the union between England and Scotland – a gigantic political fact for over 300 years – is under threat. Now we face divorce, and like all divorces this is going to be messy and expensive. The prospect is of liberation – a new beginning. I know a few English who want to get rid of the subsidy of the Barnett formula, but these people are few and far between. Most English I know are strongly of the view that we are Better Together.

The Scottish government has published a White Paper explaining how on earth it is supposed to work.
On the issue of the pound and currency they are unravelling before our eyes.
On immigration and their status as a nation state they fail to realise that we would need border control at Carter Bar.
On Europe they do not want to be a member of the EU or Euro, yet want all the benefits.
What about Britain’s nuclear missiles, and the need to use submarine bases in Scotland?
What about Scottish regiments in the British Army?
The British Broadcasting Corporation?
Answer came there none.

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, spelt out some truths on his visit to Scotland. If Scotland wants to become independent then bizarrely it will need to come cap in hand to the rest of the UK on so many things:
- will the rest of the UK continue to act as a bank of last resort?
- will the rest of the UK continue to subsidise Scotland?
- The SNP need to recognise that you cannot spend 30 years saying England and the rest of the UK are terrible, parsimonious and do not let Scotland have its own way... and then want the rest of the UK to bail them out after they have won independence.

The economic argument against independence is won. That may well not be enough to win the Referendum, but Salmond and his crew are devoid of the economic facts of life.
One thing is clear: If there is to be a divorce it will be unutterably wretched and painful, and it will eliminate the most successful political union in history.
So phone your Scottish friends and make the case. This fight matters to us all. We are Better Together.