Sunday 29 May 2011

Why do people want independence?

I've met John Kay a couple of times and he's a good bloke with sound economic views. His latest article has caused a bit of a row:
Scotland would "gain little" by full independence, a key economic adviser to First Minister Alex Salmond has warned.

Professor John Kay said that while the move would "clearly be economically viable", increased financial power within the Union was more likely.

Given that Scotland's GDP per capita is close to both the UK and EU averages I've always accepted that an independent Scotland would be "economically viable", as does Professor Kay. He goes on to say:

"Scotland can get many of the advantages claimed for independence if it negotiates for more autonomy, while still staying part of the Union," said Prof Kay.
But that's only so if one is talking about economics. I have no doubt at all that most nationalists are motivated by questions of identity, not finance. Of course it helps their case if the economics look good but what they are working towards is for Scotland to be a normal country.

It really is rather unusual for somewhere to have its own national legal system, its own national Church, its own national sporting teams and representation, and almost all of the other attributes of nationality and yet not be independent. That's what motivates the SNP, not whether an independent Scotland would be richer or poorer.

If I could go back in a time machine to 1707 and change future history so that the words "England" and "Scotland" were never heard of again anywhere in the world and that both had been replaced by the word "Britain", Alex Salmond would not be First Minister. Indeed, there wouldn't be a Parliament in Edinburgh. Unless we'd sensibly decentralised Britain and moved its Parliament to the more civilised part of the country...


David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

David Farrer
I dealt with this in this post:  
Here are the final paragraphs:  
Some of us like myself put up with this while still being annoyed and just accept that the UK is a very unusual country - one that is a multinational state. (Confusingly, the US is a multi-state nation.) But for many Scots this issue is all consuming, and more than anything else in politics they want to live in a "normal" country. So what's normal?  
Back when the SNP was founded "normal" meant independent, like Norway or Switzerland today. But most countries in Europe are now members of the EU - that's the new norm, however much we may dislike it. And that's why the SNP wants Scotland to join the EU. It doesn't matter to them if it all leads to a federal superstate - or worse, a non-federal superstate - as long as Scotland has the same status as everywhere else. While Scotland remains an invisible part of a country known to most of the world as "England", membership of the EU is seen as a better option by members of the SNP - the Scottish Normalcy Party.  

6 June 2011, 19:51:02 GMT+01:00
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Derek Buxton
I am always amused by Countries like Ireland and now Scotland wanting independance and when they get it promptly give it away to corrupt regimes like the EU.  The Irish fought for years and now they are broke, very clever, in an Irish soret of way.

6 June 2011, 12:32:52 GMT+01:00
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James Higham
You ask a perfectly valid question and one which those south of the border wouldn't mind answered either.

1 June 2011, 19:17:00 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer
You are certainly not the only one who thinks that independence could lead to a smaller state. Plenty of former Tory voters in Scotland agree. As I said in my previous comment, the likelihood is that we'd be much the same as neighbouring countries but most of them have somewhat smaller states than Scotland.  

31 May 2011, 10:07:05 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer
I agree that insufficient people have bought into the "normal country" argument so far. That may change however. Increasing (though unfortunate) integration into the EU reduces feelings of Britishness, I think. The considerable reduction in the British military presence up here will probably have a similar effect on "Britishness".  
On the economy, Holyrood isn't in much of a position to influence things at the moment. If we were independent then politicians could screw things up but the chances are that we'd be much like other northern European countries. Needless-to-say, if I were in charge there would be no taxpayer bailouts of banks or other private companies.

31 May 2011, 09:58:07 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

For me having powers or the location of the "Talking shop" has no relevance to the economics of the country. Independence or no independence it will make no difference to the economics of this country.    
Only thing which will make a difference to the economy in Scotland is the size of government, however I believe via independence the state may be reduced overall in size.  The economy in Scotland is based on hand outs or charity from London, with such a small private sector real economic growth is very limited.    
I think this upcoming referendum will be a good thing for Scotland even if people say no as this so called Barnet formula used to black mail the Scottish people will no longer be required, and a economy based on London handouts would vanish.     
May be painful in the short term, however it is time individuals start  standing on their own two feet rather than depending on government handouts.

30 May 2011, 20:49:02 GMT+01:00
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"But that's only so if one is talking about economics. I have no doubt at all that most nationalists are motivated by questions of identity, not finance."  
I have no such doubts either, the problem is that these people have made economics one of their key battlegrounds "it's Scotland's Oil" etc. The problem being that their identity issues are not shared by the general public who would ultimately have to be won over to their cause and hence why they have tried to make a rather awkward economic argument to bridge this gap. The other side have responded with an equally cack-handed counter attack (‘union dividend’ and other such guff) and the whole thing has become tedious and annoying. A campaign to make Scotland a “normal country” can only be effective if a sufficient number of people think it is currently abnormal, and I don’t think they do. Probably Professor Kay has read the runes correctly in this instance.  
Politicians have far less power over the economy than they would have you believe, the idea that they can revitalise the economy or radically change society are fantasy, however, “elect me, although there is not all much I can do about it” is not a slogan you will here any time soon. Scotland's GDP per capita being close to both the UK and EU averages is not the result of our choice in elected politicians, it is due to geography and history. Our economic fortunes may change for better or worse, but it will not likely be in the hands of elected officials. 

30 May 2011, 19:42:47 GMT+01:00