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13 April 2014

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MartinJ

Speaking as someone who is half English and half Scots this news disappoints me but doesn't surprise me. The country that Cameron presides over is increasing London-centric. Investment is minimal in the towns and cities of northern England (and Scotland). A sense of divergence is also palpable in places such as Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester.

Scotland, Wales and northern England traditionally depended on employment in the armed forces as a way out of poverty. That option is now largely absent. Instead of investing in military personnel successive governments have allocated a shrinking budget to the overpriced and largely useless Typhoon and retention of the Trident delivery system for our nuclear arsenal. Surely its only a matter of time before Britain's continued membership of the Security Council's P5 will be formally challenged.

robt willmann

Great! Time to separate. But many new details to deal with. And new expenses but without some expenses associated with Britain. At least the Scots, if they become independent, can figure out their own solution to societal issues.

Next up ... Ireland.

Charles I

Former NATO head George Robertson apparently disagrees w/r/t NATO or nuclear weapons.

"Although any separation after the Sept. 18 referendum would be peaceful, it would trigger years of messy negotiations over the future of the British nuclear weapons program, North Sea oil reserves and the pound. Former NATO secretary general and British defense minister George Robertson said in a speech in Washington this past week that for the United Kingdom to “shatter this year would be cataclysmic.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/us-remains-a-wild-card-in-scottish-independence-vote/2014/04/12/6afb39f3-96d2-487a-ab4f-cde8de596424_story.html

Lord Curzon

Sir,

I believe it's a tragedy that will have severe repercussions in the years to come. While Scotland may get more under the present arrangement than is their due, an independent Scotland is a chimera. Alex Salmon and his ilk are peddling emotion over living in a straightened economic reality that'll see Scotland gasping, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said 'no' to a currency union, which means it would have to sign up to the EU - at which point economic independence goes out the window! The flight of capital from Scotland to the safe haven of the rest of the Union would be massive.

Alternatively, perhaps EX JOINT WARRIOR currently ongoing is Cameron firing a warning shot across Salmon's bows, a la Putin!

Charles I

Thomas Home Dixon has just written on the economic situation as a driver of fracturing countries. While citing more authoritarian states as Turkey, Thailand Venezuela and Ukraine, in the last sentence below he makes one apt comment on political consequences of economic grievances more widely applicable.

"The fundamental cause of all this unrest – in such a variety of societies – is likely slower global economic growth. The Institute for Economics and Peace notes that countries experiencing recession “have decreased in peace at a greater rate than the rest of the world.” The unrest is a downstream consequence of the recession of 2008 and 2009, which flipped the global economy into a persistent low-growth state, as countries, firms, and households around the world hunkered down and focused on paying off debt. Consistently high prices for oil and food have reinforced this stagnation.

The political effects have been most dramatic in middle-income societies with corrupt authoritarian regimes, rapacious elites, wide economic inequality and small and economically insecure middle classes. In these fractured societies, stalled economies have dashed economic opportunity and deepened grievances – especially among cohorts of young people who have relatively good education but very few good jobs."

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/whats-behind-these-fractures-stalled-economies/article17925027/

Plenty more of that ahead. "Intelligent" systems are going to oust many a thinking tech/financial service/accounting/legal professional as these functions are outsourced to computers. They are naturally being introduced in the most advanced economies first.

William Herschel

Whatever England was, it no longer is. In the two debates between Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg, 69% of the English public polled by the Guardian and the Sun (read The New York Times and The Post) favored Farage. 69%. The British Isles are sick of globalization, multi-national corporations, European Union, and limitless immigration. Scotland wants out. I don't blame them.

oofda

Can the Scots afford this? The Brits have already said that Scotland would not be on the Pound.

On the other hand, it might be an opportunity for the Norwegians to come back!

Fred

I'm sure Vladimir Putin would be happy to send Foreign Minister Lavrov to Edinburgh to discuss an economic union. The Scotts could always propose leasing out that old Cold War submarine base. Think of the revenue that would generate.

David Habakkuk

William Herschel,

'Whatever England was, it no longer is.'

You are partly right, and partly quite wrong. The kind of opinions that Farage professes are ones you could have heard in any public or saloon bar in the Home Counties for as long as I can remember.

Among crucial things that have changed: in the past, people who held these opinions commonly felt a certain sense of intellectual inferiority confronted by people like Nick Clegg. Partly because of the way that opinion has shifted, partly because of his very considerable intellectual and political gifts, Farage gives such people a spokesman who can give as good as he gets.

Another interesting element in Farage is that he a German wife, by whom he has two children.

Traditionally, British Euroscepticism was a mixture of two quite different elements. One was Germanophobia, rooted in an unfortunate propensity of my countrymen to retreat into Second World War nostalgia; the other was a dislike of subordination to remote and unaccountable bureaucracies.

For my own part, I have always hated and despised British Germanophobia -- partly because I was fortunate enough to be influenced by two German Jewish refugees, who taught me about the many admirable aspects of German culture.

However, I have increasing sympathy for the other 'Eurosceptic' strand, which thinks that European institutions are commonly run by the kind of 'liberals' who give 'liberalism' a bad name.

Tyler

The trend of the technocrats is towards more 'unity' at more and more distant levels of power.

The trend of the people is that they want more local control and not to be ruled over by people thousands of miles away.

This is a global conflict, and its going to be interesting how it all plays out.

walrus

When my son was teaching Sailing in Edinburgh a few years ago, people were spitting in the street in front of him because he was wearing a yacht club shirt with a crown embroidered on it. He had similar experiences in Ireland when it was discovered he had a British passport as well as Australian. The hatred is real.

My own opinion, which is untested, is that the Scotch and Irish are sick of being lectured to and lorded over by Oxbridge educated snobs of all political persuasions.

JohnH

Didn't I hear just last month that elections to break up countries were illegal under international law?

Oh, right! That was Crimea. This is Scotland.

Now where do Kosovo and South Sudan fit in?

William Herschel

The facts are on Farage's side. He has abundant intellectual and political gifts, but he also has the facts. The 69% who said he won the debate are not sufficiently stupid to mistake their current state for bad when it is actually good. The notion that 69% of the English public are brainless barstool loudmouths is incorrect.

turcopolier

JohnH

Presumably the UK government will accept the vote whatever it is. The queen, of course, will still be queen of Scotland. Curling parties at Balmoral will continue. The Scots are lucky. God did not create the UK or Canada for some special purpose of his/her own. All they need say after secession is "What we ask is to left alone." pl

jerseycityjoan

The EU has been pretty negative about independence -- they may well not admit Scotland. The two big banks up there may not stay.

If independence means fewer jobs and less income and more dependency on the state by more needy people, is that acceptable to them? Is a separate Scotland able to provide the same social benefits as the UK? They will certainly lack the rich of London to tax.

Obviously it is up to the them to decide. I cannot help but suspect that those who vote Yes assume the EU will back down, admit them and then subsidize them as they have Ireland.


jerseycityjoan

On the topic of NATO -- By cutting its military forces so severely, the UK has thrown much more of its defense on to us by default. I assume Scotland will not attempt to have a real military, so their defense will on us too.

Isn't it time for NATO's rules to mandate that countries must spend a certain percentage on defense or lose their NATO membership? Frankly in some ways the best thing we could do for them would be to leave NATO ourselves.

charly

Scotland is a big oil, gas & electricity (the expensive hydro kind and the cheap wind kind) exporter. Do you think that they can afford it?

Not having the British Pound but a Scottish currency is likely beneficial for Scotland. Their imports from the rest of the UK are mostly in pounds but their exports to them is mostly energy and that is dollar based so having their own currency is good for the Scottish economy.

charly

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said 'no' to a currency union but is that to get a no vote or because it is better for Britain to not have a currency union. My guess it is the former and they will change their mind after a yes vote. Politically that is easy to do by saying that the currency union is only temporarily. Also Denmark has their own currency and is of the same size. EU/EFTA makes claims of real independence obvious somewhat laughable but the same is true of the whole UK and independence. But Scotland would be obvious more independent under the EU than under Britain that is itself under the EU.

ps. Why would there be capital flight, especially if most land in Scotland is not owned by Scots.

tv

Reminds me of the spirited discussions I had 13 years ago in Quebec City with separatist students.
My point - and it applies even more to Scotland is that there was/is no long term economic viability.
After the dwindling North Sea oil and gas drys up, what are Scotland's exports?
Whiskey and sweaters?
Besides the oil and gas, Scotland lives off of English subsidies.
And all three of the UK parties have been unified in saying that the pound out of bounds.
"Yes" has an emotional - if immature - appeal.

kao_hsien_chih

The situation is not as straightforward as a clash between local vs. central authorities. In a sense, the possibility of Scottish secession from UK is driven by the expectation that the Scots could lean on the Eurocrats instead of London and get a better deal. This is partly what motivates the problems in Belgium as well and, in some sense, this is what troubles Ukraine and Russia also (since Ukraine's geography and economic linkages to Russia should mean that they ought to maintain close ties to Russia, but the attendant political dependence does not make some in Ukraine happy--especially the Russophobic Galicians.)

Will EU accept an independent Scotland as its member? I was thinking that that was a forgone conclusion, were Scotland to break free of London, but if there is any serious prospect that they might not make it into EU, then the analogue to the goings on in Ukraine becomes much more pertinent!

Charles I

We still have to shell out for part of the tours bill.

steve

For those interested, a good article on some of the financial implications for an independent Scotland, particularly since Cameron has ruled out Scotland continuing to use the British pound as its currency.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-10/quebec-bonds-show-scottish-separatists-size-matters-u-k-credit.html

steve

I'm a bit surprised at that.

I have Irish cousins in both Dublin and suburban London. Both Ireland and Scotland have so many of their countrymen living in England that there never seemed to me to be much of a personal level animus.

The two times I have been in Ireland, it didn't appear to me that anyone gave a hoot that someone carried a UK passport--since many of their British acculturated relatives did.

On a political, not personal, level of course there is some hostility.

steve

I think Nato should be looked at in more than a dollars and cents calculation as to what country pays how much.

Nato is a market for the US arms industry, it is a huge bureaucracy employing thousands--beyond the actual numbers of an individual nation's troop size, and it is an instrument of US foreign policy in many cases.

I don't really think there is much of a need for the "defense of Scotland", really any more than there is for the defense of the Netherlands.

Mutual defense may be Nato's stated purpose, but it functions on far more levels than that.

I agree beyond that, that Nato has outlived its original, core purpose, and its continued existence should be questioned.

Grimgrin

My family is of English Canadian extraction. On purely emotional grounds then, I am neither a particular fan of regional independence movements nor of the idea of the breakup of the UK. I will admit then, that I am biased in this discussion up front.

Here's the SNP's white paper on an independent Scotland:
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/11/9348/0

It's full of hand-waving and basically boils down to "Everything good that you like, we'll keep for free, everything bad that you hate, we'll get rid of. While cutting taxes for corporations and providing universal child care". Between that, and Salmond's support for "Fred Goodwin" or his earlier statements about an "Arc of Prosperity", I tend to think the Scots are in for several years of severe pain if they separate.

robt willmann: If there are still any people in the English government of the old "Perfidious Albion" mold they'll get the idea of Northern Ireland being given the opportunity to join Scotland prior to any final settlement made part of negotiations.

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