Forget Braveheart, Scotland – and listen to your head

Hands up who hasn’t seen Braveheart…..What? Really?
Well, all I can say is: you’re missing out. Everybody has to see a big, rousing, patriotic, belligerent film at least once in their lives – and Braveheart is the epitome of flag-waving, nationalist films. I dare anyone to watch Braveheart and not end up shouting: “force the fecking English out” in front of their screen. And yes, I’m aware that “fecking” originates from Ireland and not Scotland by the way, but it’s one of those words I love – I try to sneak it into my writings whenever I can: not as easy as it sounds, take my word on that.

Why the Braveheart eulogising you ask? I know you’ve guessed where I’m going with this really: don’t humor me, there’s no need. You are well aware that I’m treading the murky waters leading to the obvious signpost of the upcoming Scottish referendum for independence.

I’ve written about this several times in the past year but I’m not sure why – except that a referendum for independence seems to fascinate everyone. Scotland is obviously at the center of things but the whole of the UK seems to have such strong opinions on it too – I guess nobody likes the idea of being dumped. Europe is looking from afar, trying hard to seem indifferent but in reality very curious as to what the outcome of the referendum will be.

As it stands now, votes and results will be very, very close. Whichever way it goes, it is going to be won, or lost, by a tight margin.

Should Scotland vote for independence? I have not found a single English person who thought so. Not one, unsurprisingly enough. And why not? As I said above, nobody likes to get dumped. They take it personally and feel judged. If Scotland does vote “yes”, the English will harbour feelings of anger and bitterness for a long time to come. The bitter and angry remarks are present already at the mere mention that the Scots should even have the right to consider cutting loose.

Unless you’re resolutely left-wing, you don’t want any silly talk of independence – it makes you feel insecure, unloved and maybe even guilty of past crimes that your ancestors committed long ago. Crimes that should stay in the past, gone, forgotten, lost. There’s also the economic repercussions for the UK if Scotland chooses “yes”, so people are bound to have an opinion.

Ideally, why shouldn’t Scotland get its independence? It’s its fundamental and moral right to do so if it wishes. But since we are not living in Utopia – let’s leave all the airy-fairy views alone and look at things realistically:

Where will Scotland be if it gains independence? In an unknown wasteland, that’s where. Apparently, the idea is for independent Scotland to “keep” the pound. So the Scots will have severed all ties with England but will “share” its currency. I’m no economist but that makes no sense to me. How can that work when Scotland’s Central bank would then be in England? Independence means no more Scottish “say” in the UK parliament, no more Scottish MPs – therefore spending, borrowing, interest rates, all decided by a UK parliament that Scotland would no longer be a part of. As far as currency goes, that’s not independence but taking a hundred steps back.

Economically, Independence is the straightforward route to a minefield. Banks and companies have already made their exit plans in case of a “yes” vote. They are ready to flee and even if “no” wins by a margin – the word on the grapevine is that they will be too nervous to stay in an uncertain environment. After all, if the margin is small, even if it’s a “no”, how long till another referendum and more talk of independence? Alex Salmond has vowed there would not be another referendum anytime soon if independence is rejected but, let’s face it: businesses don’t “do” vagueness and uncertainty.

What good is an independent Scotland if it’s bled almost dry of funds? And what good will its “shared” currency be if it’s brought down by the independence win?
When the “yes” vote suddenly started gaining in the polls, the pound slumped on the international markets and £1.24 billion has already been taken out of British equity funds. And this was only a reaction to “yes” surging in the polls. What is going to happen if “yes” becomes a reality is anybody’s guess.

There is always the possibility of independent Scotland not being allowed to keep the pound as a currency but Alex Salmond has stated that in this case, Scotland would not pay its share of the UK debt. Which in turn means that it would affect the UK’s chance of regaining its AAA credit rating. Where is Scotland without the pound? Free of the UK debt, sure, but having a hell of a lot of trouble borrowing as a result.

Even leaving pure economic issues aside, an independent Scotland would have to carve its place on the European scene. No mean feat in the current European Union which has been battling to keep its economy together. The European Union is a mix of political alliances with the “strong” economies aligning while the “poor parents” are left at the mercy of the European Super Powers. Where would Scotland fit in all this? Again, it’s anybody’s guess but uncertainty is once more inevitable.

The issues arising from Scotland becoming independent are too numerous to list here: I’ve only just touched on them, but it all still looks rather bleak.
If Scotland stays in the UK, it has been promised even greater devolution by all the major parties. Surely, that is something to capitalize on and is worth hanging in there for.
We have been through a tough economic crisis in the last few years – striking out on your own right now,  for dubious reasons – seems foolish at best, and suicidal at worst.

I find it hard to believe that the Scots haven’t thought all this through. I believe that when it comes to it, independence will be rejected – I’m sure it will be a very close call but I predict “no” will make it by a hair’s breadth.
I think common sense will prevail.

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