A political relationship based on declining historical sentiment
September 21, 2014 11:05 AM   Subscribe

"This country, when it was ever known on the global stage under the union, was associated with tragedy, in terrible events like Lockerbie and Dunblane; it's now synonymous with real people power. Forget Bannockburn or the Scottish Enlightenment, the Scots have just reinvented and re-established the idea of true democracy. This—one more—glorious failure might also, paradoxically, be their finest hour." Novelist Irvine Welsh on Scottish independence (SLGuardian) posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (18 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Finest hour, in that the engagement and turnout was truly democracy in action.

Other than that, this is a rather uninformed article. Or rather, its one set of views of Scotland, reflecting that of half the country. The suggestion that revenue from Scotland is supporting London and the SE? Not true. The net flow of revenue is from the S into Scotland. Also, the US has bloated defense budgets - the UK? not so much. Its been cut and cut, and Europe in general has realised that this is about as low as it can go since Ukraine, if not to surrender the ability to defend its interest completely to North America.

Sadly, the economics of independence haven't been reflected in the debate. As usual, Paul Krugman is correct.

If Scotland were to get independence, send the insurance and finance industry packing from Edinburgh to London, and create a different sort of economy, it would be a very interesting experiment and possibly something could come of it. But it would have to be created from scratch compared to what is there now. The idea that Scotland could just sort of will itself into a Nordic-pact trading bloc based on values sort of closer to Nordic than London was wishful thinking. Trade patterns are forces of nature, not choices off a menu.

Scotland would have to somehow gain central banking functions for itself as fast as possible, as using the pound is not in its interest, and neither is the Euro, and both actually surrender true independence in relation to where it is now.

Its an interesting time, in that the world is increasingly economically integrated and facing supra-national challenges both economically, environmentally, and security-wise, while the pressure is on political disintegration. We are in for interesting times.
posted by C.A.S. at 12:04 PM on September 21, 2014 [6 favorites]


In order to talk about this at all, people are obliged to use a succinct term for a complex thing, with the result that one element or facet of that complex thing gets swapped in for the whole thing, with very misleading oversimplified results.

One example is "net flow of revenues to/from Scotland". This gets reduced to "local taxation vs. local spending under the UK regime" which I'm not persuaded is a useful depiction of what the actual economic relationship is when things like resource extraction and cross-border industries and ownerships are considered.

Another is "the finance sector will leave Scotland". Well, many if not most of them will transfer their letterhead, certainly. But what will move in terms of actual business done is a very different, far more complicated question and the answer is certainly less grim or absolute than "bye-bye".
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:21 PM on September 21, 2014 [6 favorites]


I am yet to be convinced that any financial services company would leave a place where there are profits to be made.
posted by kariebookish at 12:25 PM on September 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm torn over Welsh's article as it doesn't answer my central concern. It rightly points out that people are passionate about the future of Scotland and have identified the cause of their problems, but suggests that the failure of the referendum was because not everybody had the same vision or were too easily scared. There seems to be little acknowledgement that the hard case for independence was flawed in a number of ways.

I also disagree with his "demography is destiny" assertion. People can and do change their outlook as they grow and live, change jobs, change residence, and so on. For example, poorer people tended to vote more for Yes than No, but what if in ten years time they're no longer so poor?
posted by Thing at 12:27 PM on September 21, 2014


The other oversimplification is that people assume the potential for anything economic is usefully depicted by saying "take the present case where Scotland is a UK region. Now flip that one bit and run the numbers again." Well, lots of things will change. Where the Yes side improves on the No is that it attempts to envision what Scotland could be as Scotland, rather than just what Scotland will stop being when it's not in the UK.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:33 PM on September 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


And yet, the Yes side never addresses the central concerns relating to optimal currency areas, central banking, and true independence that have been raised most visibly in the Euro area and which Paul Krugman highlighted most recently.

Present case, or hypothetical future case, the currency debate became about the symbol of "what money do I spend as a Scot?" and "who can tell me whether I can use this money or that money when I'm independent?", which is all about emotions and not about the true concerns that were never satisfyingly addressed.
posted by C.A.S. at 12:47 PM on September 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Scottish referendum put on full display one of the best bits of English-speaking democracy, the part where we organize ourselves into committees upon committees to manage and run and count a local election and send all the results up to the next-higher committee and so on until the whole nation is counted. Democracy is basically built of regular folks who care enough about politics to sit through excruciatingly dull meetings and trainings about how we're going to do this just like we did it last time and how we'll turn a simple task like counting a ballot into a four-man job with two observers just to be sure it's all very fair and transparent. And then everyone laughs or cries, shakes hands, and agrees to come back next year to organize the voting and count the ballots on the next go-round. An isolated settlement of four voters in the English-speaking world would never think of just NOT VOTING; they will organize themselves into a committee of four and do their training materials for holding the vote and deputize one of them to carry their properly-sealed votes on the six-hour trip to the designated vote-gathering point.

IT'S COMMITTEES ALL THE WAY DOWN!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:51 PM on September 21, 2014 [8 favorites]


"and many of them, people who will habitually support the status quo at almost any cost, will simply be relieved"


that's where I stopped reading.
posted by Bwithh at 12:53 PM on September 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


One question I have is that if the Royal Bank of Scotland transfers its nameplate to rUK, but registers a subsidiary in independent Scotland to continue doing business there, will that subsidiary be named the Royal Bank of Scotland of Scotland?
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:53 PM on September 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


"will that subsidiary be named the Royal Bank of Scotland of Scotland?"

I hope at that point they go for something more revolutionary, like the People's Democratic Bank of Scotland.

Or Gringotts.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:09 PM on September 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


An isolated settlement of four voters in the English-speaking world would never think of just NOT VOTING; they will organize themselves into a committee of four and do their training materials for holding the vote and deputize one of them to carry their properly-sealed votes on the six-hour trip to the designated vote-gathering point.

This is a little (but not totally) off-topic, but that reminds me of a short story.
posted by Wolfdog at 1:12 PM on September 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'd say that honor belongs to England for allowing a vote.
posted by jpe at 3:18 PM on September 21, 2014


England (well, Cameron) allowed the vote but refused to allow a third option of greater fiscal freedom without full independence ('devo-max') on the ballot, despite it being the most popular option. At the time, opinion polls showed an overwhelming win for the no vote in a straight yes/no poll, so by doing this Cameron could essentially rule out greater devolution of powers for a generation.

This almost backfired spectacularly, however, as the polls gradually swung towards the yes side. Once the result became too close to call, he was forced to promise essentially the devo-max powers he had once refused to give, to avoid absolute disgrace as the leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party who lost the Union.
posted by kersplunk at 4:37 PM on September 21, 2014 [7 favorites]


very interesting
posted by WorldPolitics4D at 7:46 PM on September 21, 2014


So now the SNP remembers that Scotland is a nation of accountants and lawyers, rolls up its sleeves and makes up its mind it's really going to bottom the currency issue, EU membership, defence policy, and all the other things that looked so worryingly vague, so there'll never be any doubt in future that there are clear and credible plans.

Och, but maybe a wee bit more windy rhetoric first, eh?
posted by Segundus at 1:01 AM on September 22, 2014


So now the SNP remembers that Scotland is a nation of accountants and lawyers, rolls up its sleeves and makes up its mind it's really going to bottom the currency issue, EU membership, defence policy, and all the other things that looked so worryingly vague, so there'll never be any doubt in future that there are clear and credible plans.


My guess is that it's that nation of accountants and lawyers who looked at those worryingly vague issues, and decided that there was a very clear and credible plan. Namely voting No.

I asked it in the other thread, but if we're moving onto here I'll ask again. For those who have been following the Yes blogs closer than myself - has anyone seen a Yes discussion of the weak points like Currency/EU following the vote?
posted by MattWPBS at 6:29 AM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]






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