Independence: The issues

My excitement at the implications of the national election result on May 5th, has been tempered over the last few weeks with the realisation that, despite a majority in Holyrood being from a party whose principal raison d’etre is to obtain Independence for Scotland, it looks likely that Salmond will push the SNP to promote “fiscal autonomy” over the coming years, rather than Independence. He has already announced that this will appear as an option on the referendum ballot paper.

While fiscal autonomy appears at first glance to be a positive step on the road to Independence, however further examination leads me to think that it may well be an unnecessary detour. In 1979, the Scottish people voted for Independence and were denied it by the use of a rigged referendum. In the intervening 30 years, Scotland has grown in confidence and stature …and grown apart from the UK. Despite polls showing between 30-40% support for independence, this is likely to grow both as our nations financial precocity grows, unable to raise its own revenue and dependent on the largesse of an austerity promoting UK government.

Given that it is domestic finances that are likely to dominate the agenda over the coming four years, fiscal autonomy may appear an attractive option to address resource allocation. Depending on the design of the ballot paper, some independence supporters may be tempted to support Fiscal Autonomy, should the threat of the status quo loom large, if independence appears not to have significant support.

It is critical therefore that the independence movement build a strong case for independence both to win support and also that existing supporters do not get overcome with defeatism masquerading as realism. To do so, means rather than extolling the virtues of an Independent Scotland through romantic notions of destiny fulfilled, but time should be dedicated to identifying how Independence can shape both our future nation and the context in which it lives.

I look forward to seeing re-invigorated Independence supporters engaging not only with campaigns but with thinking around, what independence means, what its possibilities are and what kind of Scotland we wish to be.

Issues which must be examined, dissected and discussed include

- The share of the UK national debt that an independent Scotland would assume responsibility for
- The coastal territories of the UK, and the negotiation of the 1999 boundaries.
- The relationship with the ex-UK monarchy within a Scottish Republic and the ceding of Crown Property
- Scotland’s relation to the EU and our positioning within it
- The Scottish currency and our relationship with the Eurozone – or possibly the Sterlingzone
- Defence and International relations, including NATO membership
- Scotland’s positioning within the UN and access to committees and councils.

This is not an exhaustive list and there are no are there easy answers to the above. What is clear however is that unless an understanding of our future position in relation to the rest of the world is described, developed and communicated widely in advance of any coming election we may be denied a substantial opportunity to improve not only the lives of Scottish citizens but through the destruction of the exploitative UK state, the lives of the rest of the world as well.

First published on Bella Caledonia on 25th May 2011.

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2 comments
Ellie
Ellie

'The share of the UK national debt that an independent Scotland would assume responsibility for' I don't see what this has to do with the question of Do we want to run our own country or not. This is a question of how would we cope with any debt we agree is ours. 'The coastal territories of the UK, and the negotiation of the 1999 boundaries.' This is an issue relating to what lands and territories are Scotland's. They are not in themselves, related to whether we want to determine our own future. Think of it in this way. We will only want to run our own country if we can have control of the Bass Rock. If we can't have the Bass, then well, we don't want to rule ourselves. Sound reasonable? Of course not. 'The relationship with the ex-UK monarchy within a Scottish Republic and the ceding of Crown Property' Again, this has nothing to do with our will to determine our own future and govern ourselves. This is more 'We've decided to govern ourselves. Now, how will we go about it, what kind of country will we be?' 'Scotland’s relation to the EU and our positioning within it' What countries base their decions on whether to be a country or not on such a question? Either we want to govern ourselves or we don't. If we decide we want to govern ourselves then we can ask, 'So we want to be part of the EU?' I appreciate this was written almost a year ago. By the time we go to the ballot box, will the EU even exist? Look to Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Europe as it now is, is teetering on an implosion of some sort. 'The Scottish currency and our relationship with the Eurozone – or possibly the Sterlingzone' Again, our currency is irrelevant to the question 'do we want to be an Independent country or remain part of the UK?' What kind of coin we have is neither here nor there. Why restrict our currency to any relationship with the pound, or the Euro. Our currency is dependent on our geographical location on planet earth? Turkey is next to Greece. What currency do they have. Iceland is to our North West. What currency do they have? 'Defence and International relations, including NATO membership' This is a question about how we would defend our nation, ensure our security and what military relationships our country would form. I fail to see what it has to do with the question of 'Do we want to govern our own country?' 'Scotland’s positioning within the UN and access to committees and councils.' Again, what has that got to do with the question? Nothing. I can't imagine the palestinians saying, 'Well we could maybe form our own country, but we'd need to think about if and how we could be a member of the UN, because if we can't well that would mean there is no point in being our own country and making our own decisions'. These can be considered after we have voted, not before. We must decide if we want to govern ourselves. Are we capable. As capable as any other nation, of course we are. Do we want to? Do we want to attend to our own affairs or we want to leave it to the HoC and HoL? Other countries have formed in the past 100 years. How many of them asked these questions and made their decisions on the basis of the answers? Why would we?

mhairi
mhairi

Because we need to determine Scotland place on the wider international stage...otherwise we will fall back to a Dmax comfort zone.

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