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Loosing the Bonds: A Dark Horizon? 12 September 2014

Posted by Dr Moose in Life, Ponderings.
Tags: , ,

I will admit that very often I drive my Good LadyWife  somewhat batty by being a bit of a last-minuter. I do, I suppose, have a moderately deep-seated attitude that things will sort themselves out, a sort of mild belief in providence. I’ll admit to a dose of cynicism, and maybe even fatalism (after all, we will all die, it’s compulsory, an integral part of the human condition – now there’s a blog post). I’m not really much of a go-getter and fail to plan, or at least, fail to execute plans in a sort of analysis paralysis, overwhelmed by the options. But I do think, I do ponder.

As most readers in the UK could surely fail to be aware, a referendum on Scottish Independence is imminent. Yet it would truly appear to have not really impinged on the popular consciousness, at least as far as the mass media are concerned, until the last week or two, and arguably even then only once the possibility that Scotalnd might actually decide to go it’s own way.

It would appear that everything has suddenly changed. I suspect the benign disinterest of most of the population, of England at least, still remains, but the Press and the policital establishment have been galvanised into clamorous action. Dire financial warnings are being uttered and accusations of scaremongering are being thrown back. Questions about how flags might appear, the position of the Queen, the distribution of military assets, the effect upon the consumer and the splitting of financial debts are all the flavours of the week. (Or, for those us voiceless, is that the flavour of the weak?) The call to independence seeems to tug more on the heartstrings of many of the electorate than their intellect. (And possibly vice versa among those of us who do not!) Is it time to throw off the pernicious centralising power of a distant capital, to move bravely into a bright future, or better together, knowing your enemy (that would appear to be Westminster!) and knowing that further devolution has already been promised.

I am not an economist, although I am affected by the economy. I am not a party political animal, even if the antics of politicians affect me, whether I like it or not. Apart from a family holiday and a couple of trips across the border I have no sentimental attachment to Scotland, even though I do think of my identity as British before English, although now I’m beginning to wonder.

I was asked by a friend for my reflections, hence this post.

A vote for independence is a vote for change. The English don’t seem to like change very much, we’re a conservative bunch. If the will is there, the way can be found. If Scotland votes Yes, the bonds will be released, one way or another. Since I don’t view the phrase “May you live in intersting times” as a curse (which is allegedly the Chinese intention) I’m intrigued by the possibilities.

Sadly some of the possibilities are not very pleasant, and remember that this is a situation in which I have no direct say. I won’t call the following a Nightmare Scenario, because there are far worse things that could happen (like Ebola getting loose in the UK or Russia starting to lob missiles about), but I wouldn’t call it hopeful. If Scotland votes Yes I forsee a potentially messy divorce and definite economic fallout in both directions, into an already weak economy that has probably had austerity forced upon it as political choice rather than an economic neccessity. That will hurt. As I noted above the English are a conservative bunch, but we are also, like it or not, a Conservative bunch: remove the more Left-wing sympathies of Scotland (as demonstrated in their attitudes to public healthcare and education) and the Remainder (as good a name as any other) will drift to the Right, which is not a propspect I relish. Neither, I suspect, does much of the Labour Party, and an appeal from them to Scots to think of the greater good, in an open admission of the Remainder’s need for them, especially if made in an open and candid manner, might have a big impact.

Nevertheless, if Scotland goes the Remainder moves to the Right. I don’t see this as anything other than a fact. If UKIP is not to pick up some spoils at the next election the Conservative party must move to the Right and make concessions, such as an In/Out EU Referendum for the Remainder. It may be good in terms of democratic accountability, but I believe that it would be a disaster as the Remainder is likely to vote Out. (Heart against head all over again, especially if Scottish independence is well-mananged). That too will have consequences: just think of the sheer administrative cost in terms of passports and driving licences, not to mention environmental and humans rights damage as whole swathes of EU-derived legislation are repealed. (Prices will rise too, as we discover that many EU immigrants currently happy to work in practical, useful, messy and low-paid jobs leave or are forced to leave. Wave good-bye to the boom in hand carwashing or the archetypal Polish plumber). And as the already functionally-privatised NHS… And that’s just at home, without any wider geopolitical consequences. For example, sooner or later there will need to be reform of the UN Security Counci too, and when that comes I suspect there’s a good chance of the Remainder losing it’s seat, certainly greater than now.

So, Yes, and an unhelpful, more Right wing and harsher future looks to sit upon the horizon.

There are plenty of other possibilities, naturally. A split may be far more amicable, and less doom-laden. It may even catalyse a greater desire for reform among the Remainder, but I find it hard to see anything actually changing significantly.

A No vote, which seemed for so long to be the default option, the likely solution? That holds more promise perhaps. But like everyone else this side of the border, like all the Remainder, I have no say. Whatever the result, I suspect it will be very close… and leave a lot of hurt people. Maybe it’s my cyncism creeeping in, but as much as I’d like to see positive change I don’t expect it. I may, of course, be pleasantly surprised. Wouldn’t that be nice?






1. Tim Hall - 14 September 2014

The possibility of England lurching to the right after Scottish independence is certainly possible but is by no means inevitable.

Another possibility is that it will provoke a backlash against the same forces that were seen as driving Scotland away from the UK, and are as true for Wales and the English regions. If the ruling elites are found guilty in the court of public opinion of destroying the union just to line their own pocket, there will be blood. Hopefully just metaphorical blood, but….

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