Has devolution been a ‘disaster’? Scotland should stop pursuing independence – Conservative Article
Since as early as the 9th Century, Scotland has been continually fighting against England. Kenneth I. MacAlpin may have been one of the first Scottish kings who was keen on forcing Angles out of Scotland; no wonder, they both found themselves on the same island in close proximity.
Therefore, the Act of Union 1707 helped both countries put past grievances behind and start anew. The union was mutually beneficial. England could provide Scotland with much needed economic and material support. Scotland, in turn, could help with the issues regarding the French and the potential Jacobite uprising which would be dangerous to the Crown’s interests.
This alliance has proven to help both sides. Especially considering the widespread destitution, which, in part, was Scotland’s own fault. Scotland’s poor attempt at colonialism, the infamous Darien Scheme, ruined the Scottish economy for years to come. The fiasco used one-fifth of the country’s total net worth; there is no wonder that it contributed to creating the union.
It has been hundreds of years since these events and Scotland is calling for independence once again. But is there any point to do so? Simply, no.
Not that long ago, another writer at POI wrote a very similar piece. I agree with most of his arguments, however – we should not, at any point, allow the Scottish Independence to happen.
Boris was right to call the ‘devolution a disaster’. Simply look at education! It’s been falling steadily over the recent years, specifically under the SNP. If people want independence simply from reading the GERS report, there is clearly no political understanding here. The SNP cannot be trusted with leading an independent country unless they prove that they know what they’re doing. Most of the crucial matters are already devolved anyway and it doesn’t inspire much confidence. So, is the independence feasible?
First of all, sure, Scotland has been falling away from English ways for quite some time. As early as the massacre at Glencoe, through Thatcher’s poll tax, and Brexit; these have absolutely ruined the English in the eyes of Scots. So calls for a change started and, we ended up with Blair’s (it’s always Blair, isn’t it) introduction of the Scotland Act 1998. The Act got Scotland their first devolved powers and lo and behold, that led to the continuous expansion of Scotland’s powers.
But not everyone feels the same way. Shetland blatantly expressed their interest in going independent as a Crown dependency (similar to Jersey in the Channel Islands) in case Scotland goes independent. They would take their oil with them and rightly so.
What about the economy? Scotland spends more than it contributes to the UK. As confirmed by The Institute for Fiscal Studies, Scotland’s implicit deficit is increasing to 8.6% of GDP in 2019-2020, which is 6% higher than in the UK as a whole. Calculating this considering the pandemic, the numbers may spike up to 26-28% of GDP. North Sea oil revenue fell by £642 million and this was due to the drop in oil prices mid-pandemic. Can they really still rely on oil? Doubtful.
That’s not all, though. As per Barnett formula, Scotland receives 11% of the allocated funding, which is collected through English taxes. This means that should Scotland become independent, the magic money tree disappears – Scotland would not be able to afford such privileges like free tuition, free prescriptions etc.
Taxes would have to be raised to meet the spending. Years of austerity would be likely to follow, even with the revenue from the North Sea oil or other exports. But Scotland would also be required to take on their share of the national debt. As it is also Scottish issue as much as it is English. This just adds on top of the deficit and will inevitably drag Scotland down, along with Fuhrer Sturgeon.
This calls for another important argument, precisely the costs of setting up a proper independent nation. The idea that Scotland wouldn’t require defence is short-sighted at best. A strong military is essential at the start to prove that the country can be stable and defend itself if needed.
What about currency? As Scotland would leave post-Brexit, they would be unable to transition to Euro instantly. A lot of proponents of independence suggest using Scottish Pound. However, this leads to multiple risks relating to monetary value decreasing in a very short space of time, thus lowering the quality of one’s life and leading to more poverty and very likely – austerity.
A new currency would make receiving loans very difficult. Similarly, Scotland would require its own central bank that would support the currency. The currency not backed up by gold is low in value, which would cause complications and a potential economic ruin for Scotland.
So, is there a case for a second Scottish referendum? Absolutely not.
Scotland should understand that the union is mutually beneficial, and it should be safeguarded at all cost unless they fancy themselves an economic ruin on par with post-soviet Eastern Europe.
Written by Junior Conservative Writer, Dinah Kolka
Point of Information
We should respect the will of the people, not just one side of the debate – A Labour Response
Scottish independence is a complex and divisive debate. It is one that has left me on the fence for quite some time; the arguments for both are pretty compelling.
Multifarious evidence points to an independent Scotland as having grave economic consequences. Consequences that Dinah covers quite convincingly I have to say. However, it still remains true that Brexit has hindered relations between Scotland and the UK, with 62% of Scots voting to remain in the EU in 2016. This is enough of a reason for Scotland to want independence. Simply put, they are not getting what they want by staying a part the UK.
Ultimately, if it is a question of whether or not Scotland should have another referendum, I would encourage one. And not because I am for or against either side, but because democracy is more important than a political opinion here. Dinah’s claims that Scotland “should understand” her opinion otherwise they have no political understanding completely undermines the democratic process.
Regardless of your view on Scottish independence, if the people want a referendum they should get one. And everyone “should understand” that this decision is one that respects the will of the people.
Written by Co-Chief Labour Writer, Abi Clargo
Independence may not be viable, but you’re showing us why they want it – A Liberal Response
I understand Dinah’s principle of economic viability meaning that an Independent Scotland is not a realistic possibility. However, the tone of the article emphasises something that the Conservatives and Unionists often do when discussing the prospect of Scottish independence, or even devolution: patronise.
The attitude taken to Scottish nationalists is “settle down dear, you don’t know what’s good for you, let England do everything for you”. There is no acknowledgement of the fact that the Scottish Parliament was voted for by 74.3% of the vote. It is clearly wanted by the Scottish people to express a Scottish voice on the UK stage, rather than being shouted down by England.
As a nation, Scotland has the right to self-determination. It should be permitted to, at the very least, make use of their devolved powers rather than being run from London. The Westminster Parliament, with only 59 Scottish MPs, do not necessarily have Scottish interests at heart, whereas Holyrood does, and can work in tune with Scotland’s needs, which are different to England, Wales, and Northern Ireland’s. For example, Scotland voted to Remain in the EU, and as a nation is now being dragged out against its will. It is a significant part of the case for another referendum.
There is a difference between devolution and independence, and they should not be simply condemned together in the same breath. If Dinah, alongside the Prime Minister, wishes to condemn any question of Scotland leaving the Union, surely, rather than belittling any desire for independence (and presumably creating stronger, more defensive pro-Scotland sentiment,) they should endorse devolution.
If you so believe that Scottish independence will be the apocalypse, then surely devolution is the key to quell the nationalist movement. Furthermore, the article makes the assumption that the SNP will always be in power, with no hope for any other party to ever take the reins and make improvements where the current administration has failed. With assumptions like this made by anti-devolution Unionists, it is no wonder that Scotland still wants independence.
Written by Guest Liberal Writer, Emma Hall