Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Some rambling thoughts about independence

I'm not Scottish. I'm English, to be more or less precise about things. Actually I prefer to think about being a citizen of the UK, although that has caused confusion in the past! We were in Chicago staying at a local motel. I'd put "UK" on the form as our country of origin. The owner thought that meant Ukraine and complemented me on my English language skills!

Anyway, back to independence. In a few months time Scotland will decide whether to remain a part of the union or not. It sounds simple, but as with all of these things it's actually quite a complicated issue, made ever more complicated by history, or so it seems. Now, not only am I not a Scot, but I'm not an economist and I'm no great student of either history, politics or social sciences. I'm pretty neutral about who should vote too. I don't have a "West Lothian" question to raise.

What I do wonder is why the arguments in favour of staying in the union seem to be predicated upon a foundation of fear about what might be lost. don't go independent, you'll lose the pound, membership of the EU is not a given, all those sorts of things. Are there no better arguments pro union that these? Surely there are things about the union that are positive beyond a common currency a shared defence force and oil revenues.

Perhaps, what the arguments lacks something to do with interdependence, working and living together in a society not divided by our historical mistakes and prejudices, but shaped by a mutually positive future. You don't have to have an old Roman wall between you and Westminster to wonder about some of the decisions that are made there. I lived in London in the early 80's and watched as the then government dismantled the coal and manufacturing industries of the Midlands and other regions of our country. I only had to jump on a train back to my home city of Nottingham to see that central government appeared to be out of touch life away from the metropolis of London.

So here's my plea. If you're going to say anything about why Scotland should vote to stay in the union, then make it positive. If they vote for independence than we will work out what to do with the currency, what to do about sharing out the debt and how to negotiate our way through a period of change. Hopefully we'd support them in a bid to be part of the EU in their own right and we wouldn't become protective of the border!

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