Free the lands of the north

There is no depth to which the Unionists of the (possibly soon to be dis-)United Kingdom will not stoop in order to scare the people of Scotland into staying in the Union:
Like Boris Johnson, my sense is that Scotland will eventually vote no. But what a kerfuffle we are seeing in the meantime. A once mighty economic and political power stands on the brink of dissolution. Only now is the world, and the markets, waking up to the potentially seismic geopolitical and economic implications.

But rather than witter on about the threat to Britain’s place in the world, I want to focus instead on what kind of economy awaits if Scotland does decide to take the plunge.

The first thing to make clear is that Scots have absolutely no idea what they are getting into. [Didact: This is actually almost surely true.] I mean this in a literal, rather than a patronising, sense, for virtually all the terms of separation have yet to be negotiated. However, one thing is clear. Whatever the outcome of subsequent negotiations on the terms, it won’t result in the feather-bedded welfare nirvana promised to them by nationalist campaigners. The currency issue alone is what’s going to make this impossible. Scotland is being taken independent on the basis of a false prospectus. What to do about the currency has always been the major flaw in the case for independence, and it remains very much the big deceit at the heart of the Yes campaign. One of the reasons why the polls have been narrowing in favour of a Yes vote is that Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister, has been highly effective in convincing voters that Westminster is bluffing over the pound.

And up to a point, he’s right. One of the major mistakes made by the unionist establishment is that of lecturing the Scots about what’s good for them. Scare tactics about the pound have only succeeded in further fanning the flames of independence. It was the wrong approach. They should simply have said, you can have the pound if you want, but just be aware of the price. There’s nothing in principle to stand in the way of monetary union with the rest of the UK, even if the leaders of all three main political parties have said they won’t allow it, nor could Westminster stop Scotland unilaterally adopting the pound – so called sterlingisation.

But both approaches would deny discretionary monetary policy, would severely limit fiscal and financial independence and would certainly be incompatible with the Scottish National Party’s vision for an independent Scotland, big on welfare and apparently impervious to fiscal constraint.
Let's be clear about one thing: neither side of this debate is truly in favour of freedom.

The Unionists want to preserve the United Kingdom because it is a political and economic union that has brought tremendous wealth and prosperity to its citizens over the past 400 years, ever since King James VI of Scotland succeeded to the English throne after the death of Queen Elizabeth I.

However, there is absolutely no good reason to keep the Scottish people from exercising the national sovereignty that they desire. Scotland is their country- anyone who has ever visited it (I have) can tell you that the Scots are a people entirely distinct from the English, with their own customs, traditions, and social mores. The union between England and Scotland was created amicably; it is best to let it end amicably as well.

The Unionists foresee economic disaster if Scotland decouples from Britain. Notice that this is the exact same set of arguments used to deter nations from exiting the fiscal and monetary black hole that is the European Union. Sovereign nations are told that they are to surrender any and all control over their national economies, their borders, their cultures, their very identities, and in return they get- what, exactly? Sweet nothings whispered by their masters that everything will be fine? That they are simply seeing things, and that their freedoms are not, in fact, being stripped from them at gunpoint?

For these reasons alone, the Scots should seek independence. Their land is theirs by right, and only they should have a say in how it is ruled and administered. And if they make a hash of it, that's their bloody problem.

Which brings us to the reality that the Scots face now.

The Scottish people are far more left-wing than their English brethren. They believe openly in near-Swedish levels of welfare-statism. They believe very strongly in high taxes, heavy spending, and loose money. They had strong socialist tendencies when I visited them ten years ago; I am given to understand that those tendencies have only gotten stronger in the intervening years.

No nation that is in favour of heavy-handed statism, of generous welfare budgets, and of loose fiscal policies can possibly be considered a true friend of freedom. Of course, by this measure, almost every civilised country on Earth would qualify as inimical to human freedom, including the USA- but that's hardly news to anyone who actually lives here.

It could very well be that an independent Scotland would end up an economic disaster area. But that is their problem, let them sort it out. The Scots have historically not been very responsive to outside interference and molly-coddling; indeed, before their peaceful union with the English, the Scots caused no end of headaches for their counterparts to the south.

(Ever seen "Braveheart"? Good movie, although it took a LOT of liberties with the source material. That movie did, however, get one very important aspect of the historical story of William Wallace right- he was a giant pain in the arse for the English nobility.)

I conclude with a warning to the English. If this vote is as close as it looks to be- roughly 50-50 for and against, judging by the latest polls- the end result could very well be outright civil war in Scotland. This is a quagmire into which the English absolutely should not get involved- they should remember what happened to Ireland.

And indeed, Ireland is a model for what could happen here. For years, many predicted the same terrible disasters that are being bandied about now that Scotland seeks independence. And most of those fears turned out to be completely baseless. Yes, the Irish made a horrible mess of their economy for decades- but they kind of sort of figured it out eventually. (Their incredibly stupid decision to enter the European Monetary Union notwithstanding, that is.)

Let the Scots go. Let them be their own people, in their own land. Let them stand or fall as free men and women. Their country is the most breathtakingly beautiful I have ever seen; their people are a tough and hardy race; their culture is unique and rich and beautiful. Theirs is a God-blessed land; they are a God-blessed, and blessedly stubborn, people.

As Carey pointed out, "whom God loves, He corrects"; if indeed the Scots make a mess of things, they'll figure out how to fix it one way or another in the end.

Comments

  1. This all sounds quite similar to the Quebec vs. rest of Canada situation. Quebec continues to have a loud,, but diminishing, portion of its population who think that independence will solve all their problems.

    Things they haven't seem to thought about:

    1. What they're going to do about the roughly $8B shortfall they're going to have when the equalization payment tap gets shut off.

    2. The rest of Canada will very likely drop the whole bilingualism thing and therefore any services from the Federal Government and all government work places will be unilingual English only.

    3. Residents of Quebec who work for the Feds will suddenly hit glass ceilings at work since preference is given to Canadian Citizens...of which they aren't any more (or at least shouldn't be) and being able to speak French will no longer provide them with any advantage.

    4. The Natives who live in northern Quebec have said more than once that if Quebec decides to leave Canada, then they will leave Quebec and rejoin Canada, taking all their natural resources with them.

    Running up to the last referendum, both the Canadian Prime Minister and US President (Clinton I believe) stated that Quebec would have to negotiate its way into NAFTA since that treaty is only between Canada, the US and Mexico. Also, Montreal used to be the financial centre of Canada but all the major banks etc. moved to Toronto after the last referendum stating political uncertainty as their reasons.

    A friend of mine had a coworker who was very pro-independence and was seriously pissed off after the "yes" side lost the referendum. My friend quipped "Well, you guys asked the wrong people!". At that time had their been a referendum in the rest of the country, Quebec would have been out on its ass.

    Have the English given any thought to what will happen to their armed forces should Scotland leave? During the last referendum the Canadian government quietly transferred all the F-18s from their base in Quebec to Cold Lake Alberta for "exercises".

    In the case of both Scotland and Quebec, they are welcome to break off but they should both keep in mind that if they make a hash of their independence the price of being let back in might be very steep indeed.

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    1. Yes. This whole debate does come across very much like the whole palaver over Quebecois independence back in the day. And for the same reasons.

      One of the very few voices that seems to be talking any kind of sense here is of course Nigel Farage's. He points out that if Scotland votes for independence, there are a whole host of unanswered questions that will suddenly become very important- including the question of whether EU law will take precedence over Scottish law.

      If the Scots want to break away from the United Kingdom, then so be it. But upon their heads rest the consequences- and I imagine that once people have a good long sober look at them, they might just decide to stick with the hated English instead.

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