It’s raining, so gardening and allotmenting are out today. The beasties are all snoozing in their cages, the bits for my planned hydroponics set up have arrived (I’ll do a post on that when I put it together) and I’ve just cast my vote for the European Elections. So, some musings on that other burning political question round here this year – Scottish Independence.
I’ll be honest on this. I’m torn here. My heart, romantic inclinations, patriotism etc all say Yes! (possibly even with blue face paint) but…. my head says Whoa!
One thing that any committed prepper/survivalist should do is plan for the contigencies. Planning for contingencies practically defines us, in fact! So…. what about the contingencies? Where’s the options if things don’t go the way the SNP want? What if we vote yes and then regret it because it all goes TU and the White Paper turns out (like most political wishful thinking) to be useful only as toilet tissue?
I’ve read the White Paper many times now – backwards, forwards, sideways, dipping in randomly and searching for stuff in relation to points made on the news/web/by mates in discussion. It is a slick document, and if you take it at face value you have to wonder why anyone in their right mind would vote No.
Let us admit, however, that a few crocodiles of reality lurk in the waters of Denial, ready to bite the behinds of those wallowing blissfully therein…..
Here’s a few questions that have received some very high-profile media coverage over the past few years.
Scotland’s defence policy, says the SNP, will be based on a small defence force and membership of NATO. We won’t need a big army because we won’t be projecting force, only defending ourselves. Very idealistic, very nice…. An independent Scotland will be nuclear free, with the Trident missile submarine base at Faslane de-nuked. If I lived in Glasgow I’d be ecstatic at the idea that the biggest military target in the UK wasn’t going to be within 50km of my doorstep, admittedly!
But what do NATO say? According to this article in the Scotsman from last August, they said “no”. Independent Scotland won’t be able to be a NATO member unless they (we) sign up for the nuclear first-strike policy and other countries within NATO apparently won’t play ball unless the nukes stay. I can’t imagine the rest of the UK (rUK, as the media seem to have dubbed it!) would be willing to play ball if the SNP have just made them remove Trident from Faslane and park it on the south coast of England instead – apparently the MoD don’t think that’s safe because if anything went wrong, hundreds of thousands of people live within the danger zone. (Hmmm…. but it’s okay to have 2.5 million Scots within the danger zone? Interesting attitude…..!)
So, maybe we won’t be part of NATO. What then?
A resounding silence ensues. The sound of a lack of contingency planning, I suspect. All the SNP are willing to say is that Scottish membership of NATO would be in the strategic interests of the rest of NATO. Possibly, but since when has that stopped any country or treaty organisation cutting off its nose to spite its own face?
Then again, if an independent Scotland kicks Trident out, that frees up the west of Scotland oil reserves for exploration and potential exploitation, since the MoD won’t let anyone drill there at the moment in case they’re in the way of a nuke sub exercise. Finding recoverable oil there would be good for the Scottish economy…. but bad for the the environment. Does the Scottish Government think about the carbon cost or the hydrocarbon revenue? (That was a rhetorical question – revenue always wins with politicians, especially if they’re politicians in a small country attempting to find its feet as an independent nation again).
Okay, let’s change the subject, since that one seems to have fizzled out. How about that wonderful currency union the SNP have said we’ll have, the one that means Scotland can carry on using the pound sterling after independence?
I might run out of linking ability if I tried to put in links to all the various variations on “no” coming from the Westminster government, the Westminster opposition parties, the Treasury, financial pundits and financial institutions. In fact, the only people saying “yes” to this scheme are the Yes Campaign, and it does still take two to tango. If the other partner(s) are determined to sit the dance out, it’s going to get lonely out there.
Contingency planning? Do we bring back the Scots Merk, invent a new currency? What do we back it with? Demand a share of UK gold reserves (per head or per share of GDP?) to fund our own brand-new central bank? (I strongly suspect we’d be marketing airborne pork before the gold arrived, btw!) We could probably back it with oil revenues and those come ashore in Scotland anyway. Yes? No? Maybe? Options?
Again, the sound of a changing subject from the Scottish Government and the Yes Campaign.
Okay. The EU. Now, I’m a Eurosceptic and would dearly love to see the UK pull out of the EU anyway, so up to a point I wouldn’t be heartbroken if the SNP’s EU-centric policy fell flat on its face. On the other hand, the economic sums only add up for independence if you assume that Scotland continues to get the EU subsidies and grants, and that’s taking the Government figures at face value (I don’t have the info or the maths skills to analyse the data for myself so I won’t argue with the official numbers, but let’s just say I’m a little sceptical about any government figures….). So, we’re going to be part of the EU.
Or are we? The EU president says not. The Spanish government says not – they’re afraid that Scotland going indy and joining the EU will encourage the Basque and Catalan separatists to follow suit. Italy might well be a little dubious, given recent independence-for-Venice noises. rUK might not openly say no, according to the letter of the Edinburgh Agreement, but I’d bet my bottom dollar (no currency union, remember….) that things will be said behind closed doors.
Actually, here we do have a response, or at least a so-there! from Alex Salmond. If we can’t be in the EU, the EU won’t be allowed to fish in Scottish waters. Apparently Mr Salmond has overlooked the playground truth that kicking the big boys in the shins doesn’t make them your friends afterwards. Most of Scotland’s exports go to EU nations, including rUK, so ticking them off over our collapsing fish stocks will probably have them slap some import duties on Scottish goods, which will hurt us a great deal more than it hurts them. Ouch.
Even if they do let us in, we’ll have to slap at least 15% VAT on everything across the board, because the UK’s various opt-outs over the years will not apply in an independent Scotland. More ouch. A great deal more ouch!
So, if we can’t be in the EU, what then? Someone pointed out to me the other day that if Scotland is a non-EU country, England will have to secure its border with Scotland to comply with EU border rules. Would I need my passport to cross from Gretna to Carlisle, then? This would also be a problem for any England-based preppers attempting to bug-out over the border if SHTF further south, too.
What about CAP? Scotland has one-third (approximately) of the land-mass of the UK and only 8.4% of the population – a lot of our land-mass is agricultural land, thinly populated and dependent on EU Common Agricultural Policy payments to make ends meet. The Scottish Government has guaranteed those payments for any interim period between independence and EU membership, but how long is that going to be and where’s the money coming from? Oil revenue? Taxes?
I could go on with more questions but I’d get bored and others probably already are.
All in all, there’s too many gaps between promises and likelihood for my taste. I have no doubt Scotland could go it alone as an independent country – but the process of sorting out the mess before it settles down promises to be a serious pile of brown stuff in the air conditioning system and I don’t know if we’d be better off or worse off after it does all settle out. I’m very sure it won’t be much fun getting there.
There’s still a bright side, though – if the independence referendum votes yes and the EU says no, we’re out of the EU. If the referendum throws up a no vote, there’s still the hope that the Tories will push through their referendum on leaving the EU in 2016 and we’ll get out then…..
And I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not either!
I’ll go and have a think about some contingency plans of my own, in case the referendum result is a Yes….