10 reasons why we English should give an independent Scotland our blessing

1. Independence is normal. It is normal for a nation to desire independence. Most nations in the world are independent. Those that aren’t are usually so because they are tiny or they suffer political oppression. This isn’t the case for Scotland.

2. The United Kingdom is “abnormal”. This is not a criticism of the UK. I mean only that it is unusual that 4 nations have agreed, like the UK, to fuse into one state. All 4 governments need to justify to their own peoples their reasons for giving up sovereignty to a joint nation. They also need to review the arrangements from time to time. In simple terms, the Scottish referendum is a type of review.

3. No-one said that the UK must go on forever. Most good things come to an end. The UK exists only because 3 small Celtic nations have agreed to union with its large Anglo-Saxon neighbour. England can’t make this continue forever. But there will always be an England. England and Scotland don’t need each other to survive as nations.

4. Scotland has only 10% of the population of England and this can make it hard for us to work together in a political union. It is inevitable that smaller partners in a political union will make the bigger compromises. Scotland’s population makes it a very junior partner in the UK Parliament. We can’t be too surprised if sooner or later Scotland feels that the compromises are too much to bear. Rather, we should be more surprised that the union has lasted so long.

5. There is a poor relationship between the current UK and Scottish governments which shows no signs of improving while Scotland remains in the UK. The Scottish government is now run by a party which has the support of more than 50% of Scottish voters. This party (the SNP) operates in Scotland only and wants independence from the UK. It therefore has no interest in balancing the interests of Scotland against the rest of the UK. This is a recipe for political deadlock within the union.

6. We know where we stand better with an independent Scotland. Every independent nation acts in its own best interests. The UK has to act in the best interests of 4 nations. Those interests sometimes conflict. The Scottish government often tells the UK government that it is not acting in Scotland’s best interests. With independence, Scotland and the UK can pursue their own interests openly and negotiate with each other sensibly on this basis.

7. In healthy families, parents give their blessing to children when they grow up and fly the nest. The union has recently been likened to a “family of nations”. In unhealthy families, parents either don’t care about their children once they grow up or won’t let them leave home easily. Mature parents give their blessing to children when they decide to leave home, in spite of any misgivings or their own feelings. Whatever we feel about Scottish independence, we will do well to wish Scotland the best in its new national adventure, and remain on good terms.

8. A majority “No” vote is still likely to lead to an unhappy union. Polls show at least 40% of Scottish voters currently want independence. Many “No” voters will vote on the basis of perceived economic risks or because they don’t want change. However, there are now few Scots who still feel a positive attachment to the UK political system. Following a “No” vote, we can expect the UK political system to be continually attacked by the SNP and other Scots, and for Scottish disenchantment with Westminster to become stronger. We will do better to focus our energies on improving England rather than struggling to keep an unhappy Scotland in the union.

9. We have significant ongoing business links which need not be jeopardised by independence. England and Scotland are major trading partners. We owe it to ourselves not to let political changes put at risk valuable business relationships with Scotland. We also should not put at risk English jobs dependent on trade with Scotland. The SNP recognises the importance of maintaining projects with mutual benefit. If we maintain a positive attitude to relations with Scotland whatever happens in the referendum, we should not fear Scottish independence. If we take umbrage and treat people and businesses in Scotland worse after independence, we will be more to blame for any repercussions on fellow English people.

10. The shared history of England and Scotland means that we owe it to Scotland to let them leave on amicable terms. Scotland has been in union with England for over 300 years. We have fought wars together and helped each other have prosperity, to say the least. That counts for something. If Scotland now decides to leave the union, this won’t change our shared past. But we owe it to them, and to ourselves, to negotiate with Scotland an honourable exit from the UK, if that is what they want, and to build a positive future relationship as national neighbours on new terms.

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13 thoughts on “10 reasons why we English should give an independent Scotland our blessing

  1. Something else to consider is that the UK has historically had reasonably good relations with former colonies and constituent nations. Many of them won independence after violent struggles, with bloodshed and acrimony on both sides. The UK’s leaders eventually realised that they needed to have normal relations with the independent states. Nowadays, countries like the United States, Ireland and India are valued allies and trading partners. In the latter half of the 20th century, the UK government swallowed its pride on many an occasion in order to maintain good relations with colonies gaining independence. It could look to British history and the contemporary actions of other European nations for examples of what not to do.

    In 2014, after a peaceful, democratic campaign for independence and a recognised referendum, it would be fitting for the UK and Scotland to part ways amicably. This would set a good example for the rest of the world, to both independence movements and central governments which would lose territory were the former to succeed. Conversely, it would not send a good message to the world for the UK to respond to a peaceful separation with mutually destructive bitterness and spitefulness.

    John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, praised the Scottish referendum process. David Cameron, quite rightly, also praised it. British politicians responding to Scotland gaining independence by “punishing” it, at the behest of xenophobic press commentators, would diminish the UK and reduce its standing in the eyes of the world. Kerry and Cameron used the example of Scotland as a positive counter-example to the Crimean referendum; if Cameron and other British politicians have the UK’s interests and the interests of its allies at heart, they would realise that an appearance of hypocrisy on Scotland would undermine these.

    Actions speak louder than words, and the actions of the UK following the Scottish referendum, whichever way it goes, will inevitably say much to the world.

  2. I’ve a read a few of you’re posts and would first like to thank you for your,welcome,contribution to the debate.

    I have noticed however and I may be wrong.That you appear to conflate UK with Westminster and it’s vassals.
    UK is the term used to describe the monarchy’s realm.GB and NI is the term used to describe Westminsters area of control.

    This may come as a surprise to some of your readers but Scotland will still be part of UK after the YES vote.

    What will be dissolved is GB and NI.Which will create probs for the NI legislature as they will have to decide who they will prefer to align with or if they want to go it alone.It will also hopefully awaken a more diverse political discourse within England and Wales.

    There will of course be idiots like the Ox/Cam academics who assert that Scotland ceased to exist,with the 1707 union,and England didn’t but just increased in size.

    Bar that,well done.Keep up the good work and thank you again.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I don’t quite get your constitutional distinctions, but I am interested in getting this right. My understanding is that the name of the political entity controlled by Westminster is “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” If Scotland leaves, then the political entity will be the same, minus Scotland, and could even use the same name if it wanted. I don’t see how this presents a constitutional problem for N Ireland. I know Scotland intends to retain the Queen as head of state, but would that not be like any Commonwealth state like Australia or dependency like the Channel Islands? I don’t understand the concept of the monarchy’s realm, other than a word to describe the collection of various countries for whom she is the head of state.

      • The UK is the Queens realm,formed 1603,and GB & NI is the political construct originally formed in 1707 with the addition of Ireland in 1820 and then finally altered to the 1922 amalgam we have today.(I think my dates are right)

        As the ref is not on the monarchy,the Queen will still be head of state in Scotland.And will revert to her proper title here as Queen of Scots.You will notice difference in terminology,in England she is “The Queen of England” and is the sovereign of those peoples.In Scotland,the people are sovereign.

        Hope I’ve helped and not hindered.

  3. No I’m sorry that is not correct. Britain in England and Wales. In 1603 the Union of the Crowns meant that Scotland and Britain shared a monarch but remained separate countries. Great Britain was formed when Scotland joined in 1707. Ireland joined in 1820 but partly left when the Republic was formed. If Scotland leaves the UK then it is for rUK to determine what it is called but Scotland will no longer be part of the UK, it will be Scotland and, like Canada etc it will share a monarch with rUK. (Other names being used in discussion are EWNI and rather mischievously fUK).

    Thank you for a sensible, mature and well informed English contribution to the debate. Thus far we’ve either had angry reactions from those who feel rejected, or “love bombing” again stemming from fear of rejection. As you have identified this is about us and our desire to see our political aspiratons reflected in Government not about any feelings positive or negative towards our English neighbours.

    • If we follow that logic then we have to say that there is no “union” and therefore can declare UDI.

      GB cannot continue as it is the name given to the union of Scotland and England.

      The UK will because it’s the monarchs realm.If we are not in UK then the Queen is no longer our head of state.

      You forget that it was the monarchal union of 1603,when James VI took the English crown,that created the UK.

  4. Read through a few of your articles and enjoyed the “view from the other side” and will bookmark this page and visit much more.

    Can i first thank you for the honest open approach of your blog and say it’s refreshing from others who see the referendum as an anti Scot/English debate rather than Scotland having a very different political outlook.

    And invite you to WingsoverScotland for a chat with the many readers there who would really appreciate your comments and opinions.

    I myself have no doubt regardless of the result the people of Scotland and England , Wales and N. Ireland will carry on their friendship as before. We have a shared history and a long friendship that will not be undone by politics.

    Thank you

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