The independence referendum is coming, so look busy. The exact question is yet to be decided, but the basic gist is set to be as follows: do you want it, do you not want it, or are you somewhere in between?
In order to decide their answer to this question, most people will focus on economics, looking at whether people will be better off in or out of the UK. The debate will focus on oil and natural resources, the virtues of being part of the fifth largest economy in the world, the level of national debt we would end up with after separation, and whether the cost of investment would ever really be made back. This debate has been going on for years, and will likely continue until 2014.
Why not make the debate more exciting by introducing some new topics of discussion? I suggest these three, to get you started: one – would individual parts of the country have a constitutional right to break away from an independent Scotland if they so desired? Two – what would happen to the Trident nuclear submarine base at Faslane? Three – doesn’t breaking away from the UK at a time when pretty much all other countries in the world are uniting to tackle global problems not look a bit negative? A bit regressive?
The first question is actually pretty important. If the SNP deny Aberdonians the right to hold a referendum to break away from Scotland, for example, then they will be denying to others a freedom that they themselves seek from the UK Government – a right to secede. A similar problem was encountered by the Bloc Quebecois when they waffled around the issue of giving the Inuit the right to hold an independence referendum to break free from a free Quebec. Aberdeen is in great economic shape – much better than some other parts of Scotland. Why should it have to support people in Dunbarton or Kilmarnock?
The SNP are very keen to promote the idea that Scotland, when independent, would be Trident-free. It looks more likely that the rest-of-UK government would pay the Scottish Government to keep its base in Faslane, since it would probably work out more expensive to move the submarines elsewhere. An independent Scottish Government would no doubt be very tempted to accept the rest-of-UK Government’s money. So I wouldn’t necessarily believe any arguments that say an independent Scotland would have no nuclear weapons. It probably would, and they’d be English. William Wallace would be proud.
The third talking point I propose is straightforward enough: France and Germany are pushing for tight fiscal union, the EU as a whole is moving ever closer together politically, the old-fashioned state system has been comprehensively defeated by globalisation and macroeconomic trends well beyond the control of central banks, and all the while the SNP still entertain the notion of breaking away, and going it alone. Surely they are swimming against the current?
So, the next time somebody comes up to you and tries to talk about Scottish independence, try one of these new topics of discussion. They’re much more interesting than the tired old arguments about economics.
Image Credit – Ian Britton