Response to English boycotts of Scottish goods

I saw recently that an English shop has advised a Scottish supplier of biscuits that it wouldn’t be able to stock its products post-independence as it has a “Buy British” policy.  The shop stated that it doesn’t stock Irish goods for the same reason.  I wish I could find the article again but I don’t think I’ve misrepresented it.

On the face of it, how can you argue with a company operating a long-established principle consistently and in line with changing political considerations?  Well there are some things worth thinking about on either side of the debate. For a start, how far back does this policy go? For example, following Irish independence, did businesses in England, Scotland and Wales boycott Irish produce?  I don’t know but considering our wretched treatment of the Irish, it would have taken the biscuit.  But I guess the Scots won’t want to protest on that basis.

So what about whisky and salmon which we English hardly produce at all?  Well to be consistent, the shop would have to either not sell such products at all, or have a two-tier “Buy British – if possible” policy. So the biscuitmakers of Scotland would suffer while whisky giants like Bells would get off Scot-free.

So what of products which England does produce but not in enough quantity to meet domestic demand?  I noticed that Tesco assure us that all their beef is from Britain or Ireland, presumably because there isn’t enough beef produced in Britain alone.  The “Buy British” shop would have to think about their policy on this one.

Then how do you make sense of the fairly well-accepted principle of sourcing local products where possible?  This could be complicated for businesses say in Carlisle and Berwick who source local Scottish produce on that basis.

Then what about existing  campaigns in Scotland to buy Scottish produce?  We English are perhaps more likely to go for the “Buy British” policy and include Scotland in that.  So are the Scots operating a double-standard even now, while within the UK, which the English can put right after independence?

Ultimately, the biggest problem for England with treating Scottish suppliers less favourably following their exit from the UK is that our businesses can expect similar repercussions.  English businesses which stand on principle are likely to indirectly harm fellow English businesses.

So my conclusion is that while “Buy British” is a principle that any English business would be entitled to stand upon when dealing with businesses located in an independent Scotland, it is in fact a principle not worth standing upon. This is because of the ongoing close business links between England and Scotland which are not worth risking.

My advice to English businesses which operate a “Buy British” policy is to use the independence referendum as a means of generating goodwill with existing Scottish business partners rather than seeing it as a potential stumbling-block.  They could do this by assuring Scottish partners that their business relationships are highly valued and will not be affected by the outcome of the referendum. If the clarity of the “Buy British” principle is compromised any further as a result, then what the heck : it wasn’t that clear in the first place.



18 thoughts on “Response to English boycotts of Scottish goods

  1. Surely Scotland will continue to part of Britain, just not part of the U.K. I spoke to an English couple recently who pleaded with me (as a representative of Scotland) not to leave. Surely, It’s a matter of geography that Scotland isn’t going anywhere?

    • Thanks for your comment. Well Britain will always exist as a geographical entity, to which Scotland will always belong. I have always thought that the “Buy British” policy referred to the UK as a political. But I can see that if Scotland leaves the UK, the “Buy British” concept can continue, but refer rather to the geographical entity. That would save a lot of linguistic hassle.

  2. Hey bud.

    I saw the same article (across 2 papers). It looked very much like a PR piece to me. At no point was the English shop mentioned by name, just vague hints to what they would do, however as is typical with a PR driven piece the “slighted” biscuit company had its name mentioned very heavily by para 3 (the norm for PR).

    Now there may be some truth to the piece, but when I read the whole article (covered by at least 2 newspapers), it felt like PR piece and was designed to promote the biscuit company and the fact they managed to tie into the referendum debate made sure that this small company that next to no-one had heard of, suddenly gained some national prominence.

    That out of the way, the piece still raised some good questions over “Buy British”. In the strictest terms even with a Yes vote, I will still be British and Scotland will still be British. I will be British because being part of the UK is not the same as being British.

    Now whether or not businesses choose to interpret their buying policy that way is another matter. They may choose to say that buying “British” means buying only from the rump of the UK. Strictly that is wrong interpretation, as Scotland would be still be part of the British Isles, but thats up to them. However, I can see this happening as many view British identity, as being intertwined with being part of the UK.

    Again as for “Buy Scottish” or “Buy English”, I know both already exist, as I have seen both, but the are extremely small in terms of “Buy British”. Would the market for both increase after a Yes, and the same for buy “Welsh”, “N.I.”? I don’t think it would grow massively, as although we want our political independence and although many like myself call themselves exclusively Scottish and not British, I am quite comfortable with the “Buy British” branding, as I know the quality I am getting with goods supporting that logo.

  3. England citizens have to pay for University Fees and NHS Prescriptions, whereas these are provided to the Scottish as an entitlement. There is nothing wrong with wanting to support UK business and products, if Scotland wants to go independant they have to consider the individual effects to their business, some market research is called for. I hope such votes are based on intelligent decision making and not the Scottish Institutionalised bigotry against the English (which does exist by the way). The SNP keep on keeping on about North Sea Black Gold, but memories are very short, was it not the UK Navy that enforced the drilling borders, I can’t recall but I’m sure there was some cold war type incident with Scandinavian drillers in the 70/80s. How will Scotland defend their drilling borders without the UK Navy keeping the Status Quo? Oh of course Salmonds wish list is that they retain a large proportion of the UK Military, how is this going to be worked out. Well if its worked out on the Scottish Citizens Taxable income paid into the coffers, then divided on the same percentage, what will they end up with? (I don’t know the figures but I’m betting they are not that high), but Mr Salmond is probably expecting the military to be divided into 2. Voting should be on reasoned analysis, not grudge politics.

    • Obviously there are lots of practical issues for an independent Scotland to resolve. I think they need to be weighed in the balance against the natural desire for self-determination. From an economic point of view, I can’t see a better time to go for independence than now. Unless you say that there is never a good time because the economic complications will always be unavoidable.

    • The real x-file is why Westminsters lobbyist activities to prompte the NO vote has been dismally poor, either a Salmondgate event will be let out of pandoras box at the midnight hour, or Westminster has a covert fiscal adgenda, or the game is a foot to secure an irreversible parlimentary monopoly. Is there a secret agenda, here, remember the referrendum is irreversable (well maybe until the oil runs out).

      • Mr Salmonds requests for a fair division redistribution existing UK assess from private & public sector properties accumulated during the union, if what any politician is going to ask for, but surely this works both ways then? If assets are going to be divided on this basis, can Scotland claim full rights to North Sea Oil, e.g. they claim their right to be given and/or retain a fair percentage of existing private sector & ecology based resources. On this basis England & Wales surely have the same rights vice versa to retain a fair percentage of existing private sector & environmetal resources (i.e. North Sea Oil). I still stand firm that their is some conspiracy. If the Union breaks up how are agendas like the Falklands going te be dealt with, I’m betting Argentia Politician will cease the day and reboot the Falklands Political and Military Agenda BIG TIME !!

      • Thanks for your comment about distribution of assets, Jason. I am no constitutional expert but as I see it, assets and liabilities will be divided subject to political agreement, presumably in line with population share. I don´t think however that this will apply to territorial waters and by extension North Sea oil and gas reserves. I don´t know how to explain why there is a difference between assets based in the UK and offshore assets. In international law, the median line is generally accepted as the line of division of territorial waters. This puts at least 90% of the North Sea assets in Scottish waters. However, the rUK may try to rely on a dubious SI passed in 1999 (and also ratified by Holyrood) which allocates to England a further 6000 sq m of the North Sea.

        It will be ironic that the Falkland Islands will probably be a dependency of rUK as so many of its inhabitants have Scottish descent. I don’t know what extra argument Scottish indy gives to Argentina but it may not stop them trying to capitalise on it.

  4. Some of my recent blog posts have dealt with the dismal effort from Westminster to muster a No majority. I think they are mostly lazy and too scared to go walkabout in Scotland to speak to people face-to-face. They don’t have the common touch and people everywhere appreciate that, especially up north and in Scotland and Wales. There’s no real love for the people of Scotland in Westminster. For them, the union is more about high-level, international politics.

  5. If Westminster thought that they were loosing something, there would have been a bespoke campaign, with plenty of clean and dirty tricks, to prmote the NO vote but there has’nt been, infact it I concur that it has been below poor. I know it sounds improbable but has anyone thought that covertly Westminster acutally want the YES vote to win, they obviously beleive that they are going to gain something or this suits their long term plans,

    ‘How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?’ Sherlock Holmes

    • I know the pro-union campaign has been so poor that it invites conspiracy theories suggesting that they secretly want independence. However, I don’t think it’s true. Cameron and Osborne really are Greater Englanders on the world scene – union with Scotland is a necessary ingredient to this. They will look stupid on the world stage if Scotland goes. At the same time, the Better Together leaders have probably told them to stay away from Scotland because they are a liability. While the polls favoured a “No”, they could say this was a good move, but not now. They are in a bind. It would have been better if they and English politicians generally had grasped the nettle in 2012 and gone north to face the flak. I think Scots would have eventually given them respect – even if only grudging for the Tories – and some kind of consensus could have been forged. But this needed a new type of politics – or perhaps a revival of an old type of politics – which Cameron, Osborne, Miliband and Balls don’t have the personal qualities to pursue. So the actions of English politicians during this campaign, have proved to Scots – and to me – that the Westminster system is really as decayed as the SNP have been telling us all for some time.

      • If the YES vote is victorious, all politcal parties will need to, draw a line in the sand and look to the future building a mutually respectful and benevolent policy of complementarism and friendly relations. Any tit for tat political point scoring will only damage the economies and goodwill of all UK Countries. A lot of bridges will need to be built, and not burned.

  6. “They don’t have the common touch and people everywhere appreciate that, especially up north and in Scotland and Wales”

    Your damn right they don’t, considering the recent tensions in London Teresa May authorises the Met for the purchase of 3 Water Canons (which are capable of causing fatalites, don’t believe the hype with Boris Johnson agreeing to be shot by a water canon, any medical pro could see he was suffering from severe shock and nausia and that was only a short exposure in a risk assessed environment). Why the need for Water Canons? look out for the Media Licence replacement for the TV licence (every one with a mobile phone will have to pay the equivalent to a TV licence), unfair? Remeber the Poll Tax riots. Not to mention new laws to uncap DVLA based fines, so you can be fined £10K to £30K for a speeding offence? The purchase of water canons is not a preventive measure, it’s a pre preparation measure to forthcoming legislation… watch this space.

  7. I really can’t see why there has not been a referendum addendum with a clause whereby the Scottish Electorate have say 4 years (or maybe 8 years) to put independance on probationary period and after that period a second referendum to opt back in or stay permanently out will be given. Of course England & Wales would also have the right to a referendum to re-include Scotland in the Union. Does that sound reasonable, after all if Scotland fall, due to the UK economy structure this could also cripple England & Wales.

    • Sounds interesting but I think independence is not something you can do on a probationary basis. More to the point, I think very few of us in England (even Scottish MPs) had any inkling of the earthquake which was to come from the Yes campaign. David Cameron didn’t take indy seriously and so accepted the request for a referendum without even a debate in Westminster. Now he’s panicking at the last minute. The Yes campaign have got Nigel Farage batting for them now so perhaps that might give them the final push they need!

      • No matter what Mr Cameron comes up with it,s too little waaaay toooo late!!

        The only end game cards left to play are a) some reverse phsycology, lobbying how much better off the average English/Wales household will be better off without Scotland in the union, or b) what conservatives are best at, to open pandoras box and manipulate a Salmondgate scandal !!!

        What is a Politicians greatest archenemy? Events my dear boy, events !!! (can’t remember where the quote came from).

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