Business As Usual?

I see no reason why an independent Scotland would not function as an acceptable simulacrum of a prosperous country: assuming it is as true an independence as can be achieved in the post-industrial world instead of a secessionist destination in which greater control is passed to another body (the EU) and the rest of the ripped-up UK stuck back together with Sellotape (Scotch tape for our American readers).

It is safe to predict that she will not match the affluence of Norway or Switzerland as has been promised. More like New Zealand or Portugal. Not that I have anything against those two countries, which are better than many places: such as Lewis on a wet Sunday afternoon if it were to vote to leave an independent Scotland.

The question occurs, though, why do it? Various chatter on social media and blogs suggests that down-at-heel economically depressed areas of Scotland show a preference for independence, and I can appreciate that the electorate there realize they are not benefiting from the status quo and that anything would be an improvement.

The impression that comes across, however, from the Scottish Government’s White Paper on independence is the wistfulness where promises of post-YES benefits are predicated on being given a clear run and the Westminster Government, in defiance of its position as dictated by the Edinburgh Agreement. Entire, voluminous sections given over to highfalutin predictions such as extracting a severance fee from the DWP before EWNI were able to access its full services again and promises of unrestricted prosperity in foreign trade compared with two or three pages on mundane issues like farming and food supply.

A similar lack of forward planning coupled with a presumption that, in the event of a YES vote, EWNI will put aside her own self-interest and rush to accommodate an independent Scotland, Deputy First Minister, Fish-heid NicMoonface said:

Unfortunately, this paper misrepresents the realities of independence in several key respects – an independent Scotland will still enjoy barrier-free trade with the rest of the UK, which is in everyone’s interest – and the only serious threat to our membership of the EU is Westminster’s proposed in-out referendum.

I should say that EWNI would be the judge of acquiescing to barrier-free trade; whose legislature Scottish representatives, having had removed themselves, would have zero influence over. Figures vary, but some 10% of current UK domestic trade is between Scottish firms (do not discount how much of this is part of the UK-dividend) compared with 20% for North America and 40% for the EU. In contrast, virtually all of extra-Scottish trade is with the United Kingdom.

It is an arguable position to say that Scottish interests are sufficiently divergent from those of the UK as a whole to make independence preferable. Where this argument comes unstuck, however, is the implicit admission above that they are the same.

Nor is it a given that the Scottish electorate is naturally pro-EU compared with the insular English.

The CBI’s mandate to speak for Scottish businesses is contested, such as by a former deputy leader of the SNP who describes the mere double figures of Scottish companies on the CBI roll (although, judging by his blog’s tagline, he appears unsure of just which other nations form the United Kingdom).

Pro-YES SME portal, Business for Scotland fleshes out these objections. Some points it makes are quite plausible, others less so in their reliance on an EWNI rushing to accommodate an independent Scotland. And the continued insistence that a currency union with Ster£ing remains on the cards is bizarre.

That said, whatever the myriad faults of the SNP are, I agree with Alex Massie that it is not a fascist movement.