Digital Ischemia

06/09/2014

The State of Scotland

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — Teepwriter @ 12:00
The 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum

Will the lights stay on?

iScotland, fUK and other nonsense on the road to independence.

Will the Scots decide to take their big scissors to the dotted line between Gretna and Berwick? We find out in two weeks.

I love the idea of brave chance-taking for a brave new world – “a vote for ambition over fear” – but I’m cynical of the Scottish Government’s bravery, lest we end with our own brand of corruption due to a minority of ‘investors’.

The rational argument seems to hinge on ‘better the devil you know than the frontier of we have very little clue’.
The emotional argument seems to implore us to be brave (cheer), bold (cheer), and take responsibility for ourselves (er…), or settle for relinquishing power to the UK government in exchange for dull, warped stability and security.

The grass is always greener, but independence is not a magic pill. I’m for localising power, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Edinburgh. If we’re different, let’s be different: let’s be radical and truly devolved and not just mini Westminster. Let’s involve social and environmental pillars alongside the economic. Let’s make a ginormous stramash of it!

I’m less keen on liquid assets. The economic case for an independent Scotland seems to be based on oil revenues from the North Sea. I’m not comfortable with this rationale (it will last), these terms (it’s ‘ours’), these values (1980s consumerism), this single-minded future-proofing of the exploitation of fossil fuels. Unlike the oil, I don’t think this economic well will float. How about leading the field in locally-generated energy? The Scots ayeways were an inventive lot.

While we’re on money, there’s the money. UberHeidyin Salmond is confident iScotland gets to keep the pound and join Europe with it. Er, naw. Apart from that it doesn’t work like that – the financial power of an independent state is assessed, er, independently – the powers in England won’t let us cherry-pick. If we don’t want to play with them, they’re taking their ball back. What price a groat?

It’s not just the currency, it’s the current: “in the event of Scottish independence, the single market for electricity and gas just could not continue in its current form.” Please don your lifejacket, toot your whistle and prepare for the lights going out.

The Yes campaign keeps painting civilised ideological pictures. “Looking to Europe and beyond we found working models of cross-border partnerships delivering jointly-regulated integrated markets that show single markets can work with goodwill and co-operation.” The relationship between Scots and sassenachs is rarely characterised by goodwill and co-operation.

Campaign leaflets keep flopping through the letterbox. The escalating torrent of repetitive soundbites, celebrity endorsements and statistically-unsound graphics is forming a new and shiny paper land mass. Does naebody care aboot the trees?

But of course, someone’s pandering to that demographic.
“The report highlights what the Scottish Government calls the ‘five green gains of independence‘:
•Enshrining environmental protection in a written constitution
•Creating a nuclear-free nation
•A fairer share of EU funding to target at environmental schemes
•Using improved representation in Europe to drive the green agenda
•Championing action on climate change at the ‘international top table'”
The first two are clear and measurable. The others are so vague you could drive an electric bus through them.

And how should we expect a post-independent Scotland to be reported?
The long-awaited TV confrontation between the leaders of the yes and no campaigns was staged over 90 minutes on STV, and was only shown online outside Scotland.” Each chunk of intense bickering required an extended pause for pundit reaction, spin, audience musings and advert break. Not the world class broadcasting we aspire to. Not the intelligent badinage I was hoping for either. Nor what I wistfully remember of the early days of the Scottish Parliament, 15 years back, when Aye-browed Eck and Flint-nosed Dewar swapped quips. But away fae the distracting personalities and features.

Why is Labour leading the Better Together campaign? Looking back at Westminster elections, Scottish voters have consistently sent Labour MPs. While Conservative southern England resents this skew, Labour is naturally keen to retain it. It’s their only chance at getting into power. The death rattle of a distorted democratic system?

Roger Scruton asked if the rest of the UK should have a say. “The English, who have voted Conservative more often than Labour in post-war elections, have to accept a block vote of Labour members of parliament sent to Westminster by the Scots. … Should we [the English] not vote for our independence, given that we risk being governed from a country that already regulates its own affairs, and has no clear commitment to ours?” I imagine some English wouldn’t be sad to see the back of those ‘whinging gits.’

Tom Shakespeare is more concerned for “how those of us who are left behind, manage to cope in our new disunited kingdom.” He discusses the implications of returning to a heptarchy (seven kingdoms), each of about seven million folk.
“So then you would have Scotland, Wales and seven English territories on the island of Britain, all of approximately the same scale, and all with a chance of building a sense of identity for themselves. It’s no coincidence, that these statelets would be about the same size as the average American state or a Nordic country.”

A ‘Better Together’ campaign leaflet ended with these wobbly exhortations.

Better Together campaign leaflet unintentionally highlighting Ireland

Better Together campaign leaflet unintentionally highlighting Ireland

Lacking inspiration, my eyes wandered to the graphic: there’s something wrong with this picture. Where’s Ireland? Thanks for reminding me that one British country has already become independent! Punts to yese all!

And the State? As a label, I like iScotland a tad better than being one of the United States of Britain, or leaving the remnants as the former UK (fUK), but the substance is considerably more important.

On 18 September, sadly, I may have to vote not for the vision I like most but for the politicians I distrust least.

An edited version of this article is published at Urban Times.

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