Sunday, 7 September 2014

A chance for Scottish emancipation

It's the British political sensation of the year: will the Scots vote for their independence on 18 September? The most recent YouGov poll suggests, for the first time, that the Yes votes are in the majority (with 60% of those under 40 in the Yes camp).

The 1707 Act of Union merged the English and Scottish Parliaments. It was bitterly opposed by most Scots (most of whom did not have the vote) and supported in Scotland mainly by the nobility who had been financially ruined in the ill-fated Darien Scheme and were the main beneficiaries of the £400,000 grant to Scotland. Discontent was so acute in the remainder of the 18th century that there were two armed rebellions against the English (1715 and 1745) the latter leading to savage treatment of the defeated Scots and presaging a period (the Highland Clearances) during which Scots were systematically thrown off their land with no compensation.

In one sense that is ancient history which should have no bearing on how Scotland chooses its political future in the upcoming referendum. Scots should make their choice in the context of the 21st Century. Does political union with England serve its people better or not?

I am not a Scot (although I have lived and worked in Scotland) but I am still outraged by how they have been treated since the Thatcherite '80s. Their remoteness from London (a problem shared with some English regions) has meant that Westminster MPs are not as conscious of Scottish issues as they should be. Scotland is the UK's nuclear missile repository. They were the first UK region to endure the hated poll tax. And for more than 15 years there has been no more than one Scottish Conservative MP - in other words the now ruling party in the UK represents virtually no-one in Scotland.

That last fact has many consequences. For example the rise and implementation of a surveillance state in the UK has arisen without the Scots having any chance to challenge its creation.

To say that Scots are oppressed by the English jackboot is over the top. But it is still the case that policies that are devised by Englishmen are applied to Scots and many of these are deeply unpopular. Imagine that Scotland was an independent country and there was to be a referendum on whether it should surrender its sovereignty to England, allow the English to station their nuclear missiles in their countryside, be spied on by the English GCHQ, and be governed by a party that in no way represents Scottish aspirations. Would it not be unthinkable that Scotland would vote Yes?

So go for it Scotland! Being part of the UK allowed the English to screw you over completely in the 1980s by devastating your industry without softening the effects by using the North Sea oil bonanza: that fine resource was wasted on tax cuts for the rich and expensive foreign wars. Seice control of your destiny and vote Yes to independence!

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