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Scotland votes in an independence referendum on 18th. September.

Whilst the debate on independence is hotting up in Scotland, I have been surprised at the lack of discussion both here and in Ireland. Indeed Irish Government Ministers have been briefedto avoid commenting on the issue one way or the other. So far the major "external" interventions have been by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, saying that an independent Scotland can't have the "British pound", and outgoing EC President Barosso saying that Scotland can't take continued EU membership for granted. Both have been seen as somewhat maladroit attempts to bully Scotland into remaining within the UK.

For those interested in following the debate in Scotland more closely, a good summary can be found here.  I am interested in discussing the issue primarily from an Irish perspective, but hope this diary will provoke a broader discussion here.

On the face of it, you would expect Ireland to be exhibit 1 in any discussion on the feasibility of an independent Scotland: After all Ireland and Scotland are close neighbours, share a somewhat similar Celtic cultural background and language, and are of remarkably similar size in terms of GDP, area and population. (Ireland  €162 Billion, 84,421 km², 4,6 M; Scotland €161 Billion, 78,387 km², 5.3M).

However from what I can see, Ireland has barely featured in the discussion. I suspect that the demise of the Celtic Tiger and the embarrassing bank bail-out has reduced Ireland to the rather wayward cousin no one mentions to avoid embarrassment all round.  Indeed the referendum could not have been timed better from the point of view of advocates of the Union, what with Ireland having fallen from grace, and the EU and Euro generally seen as being in something of a mess.

But if you were trying to articulate a view on Scottish independence based on the Irish experience, what would it be?

The Irish Experience of Independence.

The first thing that has to be said about the experience of Irish independence since 1922, is that it all started rather badly with a bitter civil warfought between two factions (which often divided families) over whether or not to accept the 1922 Anglo-Iish Treaty with Britain which ceded six counties in the North East of Ireland to continued British rule as a separate Northern Irish statelet. When allied to the debilitating effects of the Famine and the centuries long struggle for independence, this meant that the Irish economy was in very poor shape indeed.

Before the 1800 Act of Union Dublin had been, briefly, the second largest city in the British empire, but by 1922 it was, in many areas a slum city with a great deal of poverty and industrial and social strife which had resulted in the Dublin lock-out 1913/14. Ireland lacked the coal and steel resources which helped fire the Industrial revolution and remained a largely rural, peasant, agrarian economy divided into many small subsistence farms.  

The new Government hardly had any resources to work with, virtually no industrial base and very poor relations with their former colonial masters and chief market culminating in the Anglo-Irish Trade War 1932-38 and not helped by Ireland's official refusal to take sides in the Second World war (because of the unresolved N. Ireland dispute with Britain).  I say "Official" refusal, because many Irish citizens did indeed volunteer to fight in WWII, and the Irish Government was, informally, as helpful as it could be to the Allied side without actually formally taking part in the war.

Things didn't get a whole lot better in the 1950's with the dead hand of the Roman Catholic Church and a sclerotic ruling class keeping economic development to a minimum.  It is worth noting, however, that despite some flirtations with Fascist sentiment and an anti-communist ideology, the state did, in fact take a very strong lead in economic development setting up numerous "Semi-state" semi-commercial companies to develop public transport, airports, electricity, gas and communications grids, forestry, sugar manufacturing, peat harvesting, food production, horse racing and numerous other industries. Socialism by any other name!

The 1960's saw an end to rule by the civil war generation of leaders, an opening up to foreign direct investment to develop the economy, and the introduction of free secondary education to provide a more skilled and educated workforce. Entry into the EU in 1973 exacerbated these trends and also led to the introduction of much needed progressive employment, social, and environmental legislation. However it is something of a myth to say that subsequent Irish growth was fueled largely by EU subventions. Ireland lost almost as much in potential fisheries production as it gained in agricultural subsidies, and the chief benefits of the EU was in access to wider markets, sources of investment, and a broadening of the skill base of the workforce.

The 1980's saw the onset of a severe recession brought on partly by much increased oil prices but also by "give-away" budgets and tax reductions which greatly increased Sovereign debt. It also marked a last stand by the Catholic Church in seeking to control the social agenda through passing constitutional amendments banning abortion and divorce. But by the late 1980's the economy was growing rapidly again fueled mainly by FDI from companies seeking to gain access to the EU market, low corporate tax rates, and a skilled and youthful workforce.

The 2000's saw the Celtic Tiger morph into a gigantic property and public spending bubble fueled by property related windfall taxes and largely unregulated banks pumping credit into the economy. Even without the ill-fated bank guarantee the fall from grace would have been pretty spectacular as the property bubble burst and government property transaction tax revenues plummeted.  But this more recent history of Government and regulatory failure shouldn't let us lose sight of the very significant progress which has been made by Ireland since independence.  Perhaps the most significant achievements include:

  1. The achievement of a large degree of national reconciliation after the civil war with public order maintained by an unarmed police force and democratic institutions strongly embedded in the national political culture. (The Cumann na nGaedheal Government - winners of the Civil war - lost power to Fianna Fail, the losers of the Civil war in the 1932 elections and handed over power to their sworn enemies without quibble or incident).
  2. A strong infrastructure of state enterprises developing almost every sector of the Irish economy.
  3. An almost unrivaled infrastructure of industrial dispute settlement (since the 1980's)  and national wage bargaining which have led to the entrenchment of employee rights and low levels of industrial disputes.
  4. State FDI attraction agencies which have succeeded in attracting virtually every emergent technical leader in the ICT and biopharma industries to set up their European Headquarters and very significant manufacturing and service industries in Ireland: (Microsoft, Oracle, Intel, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Paypal, SAP. Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Pfizer, Genzyme etc.)

Now we see the reemergence of growth (c. 3% GDP) despite an enormous sovereign debt load (c. 120% GDP - up from 25% in 2008) and very considerable headwinds in both the EU and global economies, much more jaundiced attitudes to the EU, and much friendlier relations with the UK following the success of the peace process in Northern Ireland. The old imperial/colony relationship has been replaced by a much more reciprocal "equality of esteem" partnership and there is no longer a visceral inclination to "diss" the Brits at every opportunity.

Implications for Scottish Independence.

So what is the significance of all this for the debate on Scottish Independence? A few general observations seem appropriate:

  1. For all the difficulties in the world and the EU at the moment, Scotland would be gaining Independence in a far more propitious environment than Ireland did. There are no world wars, trade wars, or civil wars on the horizon, and no economic devastation comparable to the Irish Famine and its aftermath (1 million dead, 1 million emigrated, 20% reduction in population, no industrial base)
  2. Developing the full institutions of an independent state and the expertise to manage them can be a long, difficult and painful process, but can lead to a much more self confident, informed, and engaged citizenry.
  3. Scotland will have to ensure it has the institutions and expertise to develop the economy away from reliance on oil, British defense industries etc. and to fight it's corner within an increasingly central European dominated EU.
  4. Some degree of "national reconciliation" may be necessary to bind the wounds of a fractious debate and to get all strands of Scottish society pulling in the same direction. This includes a need to define the terms of an amicable and yet real separation from England.

The Scottish Debate

In reading through the list of topics which has emerged during the Scottish debate, one is stuck by how infantile some of them are; how much scaremongering there is; and how little confidence some people appear to have in the ability of Scots to perform some of the basic functions of Government. It is as if Scots have had no hand act or part in the Governmental activities of Whitehall and will have to learn to do everything from scratch.

There is a strange mindset behind such fears, especially when articulated by predominantly English media: That the Pound, Whitehall, and all the organs of British Government will be retained by England, and that if the Scot's want independence, they had better start again from scratch. It is as if the English are conceding that it is the English who have effectively ruled the Scots over the past few centuries, and that the Scots clearly have no experience or expertise to do this for themselves.

This rather gives the lie to the current ruling ideology that the UK is run by all for the benefit of all without regard to national background, because if that had been the case the Scots would have been as proficient at Government as the English and would merely be moving the main location of their part of the operations from Whitehall to Edinburgh.


For all the more recent wailing and gnashing of teeth in the wake of the failure to regulate the banks, the bank bail-out, and the sense that the EU is being run primarily for Germany's benefit, very few Irish people regret independence or would want to go back to some kind of rule from Westminster. If anything, there is the stirrings of a debate about ceding less power to Brussels and reinforcing national independence.  Even that open sore that has been N. Ireland in the minds of many nationalists is receding into the background.

In the past, Irish nationalists might have looked on with glee as the UK tore itself apart and risked losing Scotland, and who knows, perhaps N. Ireland some time after that.  A weakened England/Britain would have been seen as a good thing, and an independent Scotland a kindred state. But now, insofar as there has been any engagement with the issue at all, there is a real sense that it is up to Scots to come come to their own decision and that we will be supportive whatever way they choose to go. Ireland and the UK are close allies within the EU and there is no point in stirring up a hornets nest in Northern Ireland again.  Far more worrying, from an Irish perspective, would be a UK exit from the EU.

My own personal view is that Scotland should go for Independence, but I am far from certain they have the self-confidence, cohesiveness, and balls to make that decision. The status quo is always the safer option, and this is not a time of great visions and great leadership. It will come down to a grubby little debate about how it effects each individual personally in the short term, and a few baubles in the form of "enhanced devolution" thrown out by the British Government will probably be enough to sway the majority to play it safe.

In a peculiar way the Scottish independence debate may come to mirror the British withdrawal from the EU debate:  A lot of huffing and puffing, but in the end a grubby little fudge in Brussels providing a "Better Deal for Britain" will allow everyone to save face and carry on much as before.  Oh the horror!

Originally posted to Frank Schnittger on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 07:01 PM PDT.

Also republished by Shamrock American Kossacks and Community Spotlight.


Scottish Independence

70%209 votes
21%63 votes
8%25 votes

| 297 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thoughts (10+ / 0-)

    Well, I'm leaning against it. I'm not Scottish, though most of my ancestors on my Dad's side were. If I lived in Scotland, I might get caught up in the patriotism, but I just think that everyone's better together in this case. I think Scotland gains more from being in the UK than they would from leaving and I think the UK is stronger with Scotland in it.

    But if I lived there, I'd probably get caught up in the emotionalism of it and go driving down the road drinking Loch Lomond whiskey and blasting the Proclaimers with a 'Yes' sticker on my bumper.

    I don't know how I'm meant to act with all of you lot. Sometimes I don't try, I just na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na

    by Zornorph on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 07:19:26 PM PDT

  •  it will be so close that it'll happen in ten years (7+ / 0-)

    it'll keep the conversation going, until the Scots are better settled about it.

    80 % of Success is Just Showing Up!

    by Churchill on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 07:28:21 PM PDT

  •  ~ 90% North Sea Oil in Scots' territorial seas (12+ / 0-)

    80 % of Success is Just Showing Up!

    by Churchill on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 07:29:26 PM PDT

  •  I don't completely agree with you on economics (13+ / 0-)

    I don't think that sovereign debt had much to do with Ireland's problems.  Arguably, the problem for Ireland was that its debt was denominated in Euros, which prevented Ireland from doing what the UK or the US could do:  let their currencies devalue, thus reducing the real value of their debt.

    If you're suggesting (it isn't clear to me) that an excess of government spending was an important factor for Ireland's problems over the last several years, you're almost certainly wrong.  Remove the overvaluing of its debt due to being part of the currency union, and the level of government spending in Ireland just wasn't that big compared to that of other countries.

    That said:  I know enough people from Dublin to know how badly overheated that real estate market was.  The collapse of that market left a big overhang of private debt, and that private debt would cause a large reduction in consumer spending.

    To be on the wrong side of Dick Cheney is to be on the right side of history.

    by mbayrob on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 07:39:11 PM PDT

    •  What I've written (12+ / 0-)

      is obviously a very short abbreviated version of the economic history of the last 100 years and the reality is obviously more complex. Yes - reverting to an Irish currency and devaluing it would have reduced the need for austerity and the attendant deflation, but it would also have increased the size of the Sovereign debt insofar as it is denominated in €, $ Sterling or other foreign currency.

      The bigger problems were
      1. ECB determined € interest rates were appropriate for Germany but much too low for Ireland resulting in an explosion of credit demand

      2. We baled out the banks to the tune of €70 Billion (=35% of GDP!) with little prospect of getting that money back.  We should have just let them go bust - but the ECB wouldn't allow

      3. Government expenditure levels were predicated on massive windfall gains from property transaction taxes - a level of tax income which wasn't sustainable and collapsed when the market collapsed - that property bubble also caused by ECB determined interest rates

      •  ...and thus the reason for Scot independence. (5+ / 0-)

        If Scotland is going to stay on the pound, then it shouldn't bother to be independent. Having a new Scotch currency would be the main reason to split.

        The financial policies of the EU, Britain, and the USA have been a disaster since 2008. The USA somewhat less disastrous, but still awful. The main reason Scotland should go independent is so it can deal with unemployment like the USA did in the 1930s and 1940s.

        And yes, unemployment will require long-term management, due to the accelerating pace of technology making both automation and offshoring ever-cheaper. Don't take my word for it, let Nobel Economics winner Joseph Stiglitz explain:  

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 06:38:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The big question: (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Frank Schnittger, HeyMikey, bull8807

          Would Scotland have to join the euro? That seems like the only alternative to the pound. I'm not sure whether a small nation would find it easy to suddenly to create a new currency. Assuming scotland doesn't get to keep the pound, the euro is the only option left. And that's not attractive given the ongoing crisis.

          •  why? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Frank Schnittger, AoT
            I'm not sure whether a small nation would find it easy to suddenly to create a new currency.
            Creating a new currency can be done, though I assume it's complicated. OTOH if the Scots vote for independence, presumably it won't be effective immediately. Presumably they'd negotiate a timetable, and would build the currency creation into that.

            I'm not even sure the Scots want a new currency. Maybe their leadership wants to stay on the pound, or to go on the euro. But as I said above, seems like creating their own currency would be the main attraction of splitting.

            "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

            by HeyMikey on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 12:25:13 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ireland created it's own currency - the Punt (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              AoT, HeyMikey

              But later decided to throw their lot in with the Euro.  The problem is the Euro doesn't have the Sovereign state backing a currency needs, and the ECB is only slowly and painfully doing its job of lender of last resort.

              •  common currency is a great tool... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Frank Schnittger, tardis10

                ...which, like most great tools, can be used wisely or foolishly, to create or to destroy.

                It is hugely ironic that the EU was created largely to contain Germany, and it's turned out that Germany has been able to use the EU to subjugate the rest of Europe far more successfully than it ever did using the German army.

                "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                by HeyMikey on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 02:04:06 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Currency in Scotland... (6+ / 0-)

            an interesting question ;-)

            While they are technically pounds sterling and not pounds Scots these days, banknotes in Scotland are different than those in England, for various historical reasons (including that, despite the union of crowns and parliaments, Scotland's laws/etc. have remained distinct in many ways).

            In Scotland, three banks (Clydesdale Bank, Bank of Scotland, and Royal Bank of Scotland, IIRC) print banknotes, compared to the Bank of England in the south.

            If the yes side wins (my family/friends/other contacts are evenly divided, but I'm not sure how representative a sample they are....), it will be interesting to see if Scotland returns to the Scots pound or tries to adopt the euro.

            The worst sin - perhaps the only sin - passion can commit, is to be joyless. (Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers)

            by mayim on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 12:45:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Socializing the Debt (5+ / 0-)

      The problem was that the Irish government paid the debts of its private bankers (many of whom were English - AIB - and much of which was owed to English creditors) by transferring them to the government, and thereby to its people (except its bankers, who pay lower rates). That debt assumption was the government spending that was excessive.

      The Euro prevented it from printing money (issuing more baseless credit), as the US and UK did with their own sovereign currencies. But the debt that its Euro denomination couldn't handle was the bailout, that it shouldn't have indulged in. And since the bubble/crash/bailout Finance Minister became Prime Minister at the start of the Great Recession, the resulting economy was part of the same unmitigated disaster (except for the banksters and their cronies). Though the Irish electorate didn't vote for its Prime Minister (parliamentary elections let the majority party select their ruler), the Irish did vote 2:1 for the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon referendum, after rejecting it by a slim majority in 2008. If the Irish people had demanded its government get a better bailout deal - or no bailout - along with that treaty, it would be much better off. But they voted for the fix that was in.

      My family owns a house in Dublin (where my wife's from), so I've monitored the Irish market closely since before the crash. Yes, it was ridiculously overheated: probably 3-5x reasonable market values, compared with 2-4x in NY. But the UK's market has continued to overheat, doubling down with the money it gained from bailouts while its markets boiled over with desperate sellers. UK housing now costs  (average) over 40% of (median) income over 30 years before mortgage interest, which should be completely untenable. These conditions are completely synthetic, centrally planned by bankster governments, and entirely predictable. And probably getting worse, as it's now a proven formula for those with the increasing power.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 08:21:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Our friends and family voting (15+ / 0-)

    are split pretty evenly. (interesting that some of the leftiest are choosing No because they hate nationalism) If I had a vote,I'd vote Yes. Because I think in a world gone tech a smaller nation state has a better shot at delivering good governance.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 08:11:34 PM PDT

    •  Interesting theory. (4+ / 0-)
      Because I think in a world gone tech a smaller nation state has a better shot at delivering good governance.
      I usually think the US would be better broken off into 5-7 nation states that were more culturally and economically cohesive. At least, the common good would be much easier to discern.
    •  In a rapidly globazing world economy (5+ / 0-)

      only the really big states (and markets) - USA, China, EU have any real chance of taking on and taxing and regulating the really big global corporates. Certainly Ireland has no chance as it is so beholden to FDI. However that is the beauty (potentially) of the EU - it still allows local/national governance and cohesion whilst potentially regulating the really big stuff - financial services, big pharma, information disclosure and privacy etc.  Ireland was hopeless at regulating the banks and it is a positive move that the EU has now taken on much of that responsibility.

      However the big problem is that England and the City had a virtual veto on all of this, and despite their claims of lack of power within the EU, where actually hugely successful in injecting the neo-lib cool-aid into EU politics to the point where English replaced French as the Commission working language. From a progressive governance point of view England's entry into the EU, and its success in pushing through eastern enlargement has hugely held back he development of the EU, and I would see the EU changing rapidly in a more progressive governance direction were England to leave.

      •  I dunno... (5+ / 0-)

        The EU and USA have failed rather spectacularly to deal with the economic crisis of the last 6 years. China is still touch and go, and corrupt.

        I think tech is getting cheap enough that any small country could have a decent standard of living, if it manages well.

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 06:40:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The EU could crack up if the UK left. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tardis10, dewtx

        Right now a number of countries who favor a Europe of Nations that focuses on trade, a single market in services (Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands) etc. and not federalization want the UK to stay. If the UK leaves, the protectionist/federalist forces will only get stronger, and dissidents could want to leave, the same way that the departure of Slovenia and Croatia from Yugoslavia blew the union up.

        I am in Sweden now, and I have significant doubts as to whether that country would want to stay in the EU if the UK left. Sweden joined the EU reluctantly (52% yes vote in referendum) and rejected the euro later on. What's making the British fume the most is the fact that they are in a customs union, which prevents them from signing their own trade agreements, and forces them to make concessions to protectionist nations in the Continent. Without the UK, you can forget about agreements like TTIP or a full single market in services. And that will enrage many smaller EU countries

    •  Antinationalism (5+ / 0-)

      Since Scotland would almost certainly become an EU member  (even if that took some years after independence), Scottish "nationalism" would be largely mitigated. Indeed the resolution of "English colonialism" in Scotland on a national basis could finally drain the fever swamps of irrational nationalism, leaving actual pragmatic nationalism to work inside an unavoidably international scene.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 08:23:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Scotland would never actually leave the EU (6+ / 0-)

        All this guff about Scotland having to re-apply to join the EU is just so much Barosso guff aimed at pleasuring Cameron. Scotland would be a legal successor state to the UK, and would this retain it's rights of membership. Some minor adjustment might be required to provide Scotland with it's own Commissioner, but that wouldn't even be an issue if the rump UK left.

      •  Germany did not have to re-apply for EU membership (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, DocGonzo, jessical, NearlyNormal, dewtx

        when it replaced West Germany as an EU member

        •  Replacement (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I can't argue with you on the legality, since I know nothing of the actual rules. But "Germany" replacing "West Germany" is different from Scotland becoming a new member state while "UK" remained in the EU. Other than just the logical/structural difference, there was little doubt that Germany would no longer qualify after absorbing East Germany.

          But there is reason to doubt that Scotland would qualify, at least immediately, on economic and political structural grounds. I think Scotland could immediately qualify, but there is surely reason for some doubt.

          "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

          by DocGonzo on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 09:57:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Catalunya (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bananapouch1, dewtx, AoT

            The only problem I can see is Spain being worried that a precedent might be set for the likes of Catalunya.  Also the Republic of Ireland would be unlikely to agree to N. Ireland becoming a full member in it's own right.  The EU in general would be wary of the EU membership fragmenting into 100 fragments.  

            But at the end of the day each situation has to be treated on its merits. Scotland is a recognised and distinct country, and recognising it diplomatically would not be an issue. If the UK were to leave, Scotland staying would mitigate the loss.  If Scotland were to formally announce it's intention to stay, England would be less likely to leave for fear of exacerbating the rift and creating similar problems with Wales and N. Ireland.

            Ultimately the decision is political, not legal, and I can't see a qualified majority of the EU Council refusing Scotland's admission in it's own right.

            •  Exactly. (0+ / 0-)

              Spain would automatically veto any accession plan for Scotland. Same with other nations facing separatist problems (Romania, Slovakia, Croatia, Greece, Cyprus) would likely do the same. If you start redrawing one border, why not do it everywhere?

            •  Problem for Some Is Solution for Others (3+ / 0-)

              I tend to agree. However, I support the devolution of Catalunia - as do so many Catalans. And indeed the devolution of any state seceding from a member of the EU, provided it follows a legitimate process whereby the people can determine their own destiny. One advantage of forming the EU is that states previously unable to operate on their own after a secession now have a larger union for continuity and legal recourse even if their former inclusive state becomes retaliatory.

              Note that I do not support secession from the US. There is no such legitimate process here. There is no equivalent to the EU into which a devolved new state can join in union with the state from which it devolved. I do support splitting US states into parts, which has been established for example in West Virginia.

              And in the EU there are many states, including the rest of the UK, Belgium, Spain, and even the Netherlands, and perhaps even Italy, that were joined together by force and never truly integrated, at least according to a large fraction of their people. If whole US states identified as one or another Indian tribe and wanted to leave the US on that basis, it would behoove the US to produce a legitimate process for them to decide - probably though a Constitutional amendment. Since the EU constitution or other formational documents do provide for the equivalent there, it's a right that people can exercise.

              "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

              by DocGonzo on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 11:48:07 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  East Germany was different. (0+ / 0-)

            West Germany simply annexed Germany and applied all its laws to it (unfortunately the only comparison I can think of is Germany annexing Austria in 1938). The laws of West Germany automatically applied to the East, and in fact the full name of the country stayed the same (Federal Republic of Germany). In fact the FRG abbreviation is still occasionally used today.

            Scotland would be an entirely new country. There is no such precedent within the EU.

            •  My Point (3+ / 0-)

              I said as much myself in the comment to which you replied.

              However, Germany annexing Austria is more a contrast than a comparison. East Germany and its people favored the absorption; Austria and its people didn't. The 1990s absorption was executed politically, not militarily. And it "simply" directly removed a relatively recent partition that was enforced militarily, rather than in the 1930s when that rationalization was pure fiction.

              But I did say that I'm not sure Scotland would immediately qualify for membership. Which implies that it would require an explicit admission, not an automatic retention with elevated autonomous status. It should have to meet the same criteria that any new state must, like the Eastern European ones (and Turkey) that are waiting in line.

              Independent Northern Ireland I think would not meet such criteria, but I could be wrong. That might make its devolution less likely, given the uncertainty of going it alone. Though that might hasten the integration with the Ireland Republic, which might make a devolution vote more likely to succeed. In any case the fate of Scotland would clarify the issue for the Northern Irish, rather than let uninformed speculation rule.

              "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

              by DocGonzo on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 11:54:46 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  All the problems we are discussing here (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                DocGonzo, letsgetreal

                are ultimately political, and it was to resolve political problems like these without resort to war that the EU was founded. If there is a will, the way can be found, and I don't see a huge political objection to the inclusion of Scotland, however it is technically accomplished, whether by deeming it to be a "successor state" or a new applicant.

                But ultimately we are all making political judgements here and only time will tell who is ultimately proved right,  I tend to disagree either marginally or radically with almost everything bananapouch1 writes because I hear him as echoing British conservative talking points which have very little resonance in other EU member states despite what he says to the contrary.

                I do see a radical disconnect between how English conservatives (in particular) and the vast majority of other EU member states see the EU developing which is reflected in the almost complete lack of support Cameron receives on the Council. So much so that many members would just like the UK to make its mind up one way or the other and just go if that is what they want to do - to much mutual relief all round.

                What you won't see is a radical re-direction of the EU in response to UK demands, so what Cameron will get will be little more than a "take it as it is, or leave it" offer. He has exhausted all patience. I am not with those who would like to see the UK go because I think it would be a disaster for the UK - and with knock on implications for Ireland as its closest trading partner.

                The English seem to fondly imagine they can leave and retain favourable trading relationships with the EU  a la Switzerland or Norway, and that is just not going to happen.  The "City" will be destroyed as a global financial services centre because it will lose access to the single market, and with it the British economy will go down the tubes.  All companies based in the UK requring access to the single market will move their operations into EU member states.

                In that context Scotland and N.I. will have no choice but to seek to reamin within the EU by whatever means possible. But bananapouch1 is free to differ and only time will tell whose political judgement is correct.

                •  London Island (3+ / 0-)

                  I do not believe that the UK will do anything, however slightly risky, to jeopardize London's financial dominance in the world. Indeed, from here in NY (and with my own background since the 1990s as a SW developer in Midtown and the financial district), it looks to me that London is working on a possibly successful programme to surpass NY as the financial capital of the world - even though in many ways it's already close.

                  I expect treaties like TTIP are assurance that even if the UK left the EU, even if without Scotland (hell, even if somehow just London left it without England), London would achieve financial dominance. To the extent that I think the recent flooding to the West of London and the projected flooding to its Northeast appear to some City Masters to offer London a future as an Atlantic island state counterpart to Pacific Singapore. And even if the TTIP fails passage, as Germans now threaten (perhaps to defend Frankfurt from its terms more favorable to London), I expect there are layers of contingencies.

                  Regardless of the actual mechanism, I think that the UK elites (who now have disproportionate billionaires, including Bloomberg, all of whom are of course effectively Londoners regardless of their current bedroom) anticipate retaining something like membership in the EC trading union, NAFTA-like, even if the UK leaves the EU. They do manage to retain the British pound despite EU membership. I think the EU could reconfigure to accommodate that and more if the UK left its political grip but retained its financial and commercial access. Of course the rest of Europe should and could oppose that, but only Germany seems to have the competence to do anything about it. And while I do think that most of the UK's people will do worse outside of the EU (at any level), they have shown for centuries and especially for the past decade and more that they will follow whatever narrative their financial elites plausibly spin for them. They're not too different from anyone else in that regard.

                  How that reflects on Scotland's independence prospects I'm not sure. I think that the combination of natural benefit, perceived benefit (especially to North Sea oil, though that's exaggerated after England's strategic looting of it so far), and long suppressed but stubborn Celtic resentment of English control will combined to send more Scots to the polls saying "devolve". If not this year then more every year until a vote eventually makes it official. But in the meantime, and probably even more afterward, "England" (primarily the London financial elites) will work its other advantages to interfere. Even after a successful devolution England will retaliate to make devolution look like a bad decision taken by the Scots. And perhaps the easy expectation of such will keep enough Scots from getting devolution indefinitely.

                  "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                  by DocGonzo on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 12:45:39 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  My guess is that if UK leaves EU (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    AoT, DocGonzo

                    Germany will ensure Frankfurt et al can compete and eventually dominate over London by excluding London from favourable access to the single market.  A simple Tobin tax on all non Euro transactions - or conversions to euros -will suffice to put London at a huge disadvantage.

                    •  Financial Balkanization (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      tardis10, Frank Schnittger

                      I've seen these global banks put their differences aside to expand the cartel no matter the differences. But maybe they've expanded outwards so much now that they each can gain only by actually competing with each other within the cartel. It's no benefit to the rest of us, since we'll always be the primary victim of the cartel before they give any concessions out of competition.

                      But perhaps there will be splits in the edifice. Maybe a Frankfurt/London competition for hegemony will actually stall global endruns like TTIP. Indeed, the flipside of my prediction that London could eclipse NY as the global financial center could be driving NY to orchestrate splits between London and Frankfurt, and the EU generally. That has been the way in the past, though it's been NY throwing alternately a crisis or a bone at the EU in general, and leaving it to Frankfurt and London to fight over it. I don't think that's wedged them apart - even as PIIGS presented both crises and bones, especially in face of the advantages to each of those bankrupts in leaving the Euro and writing off their debts wholesale. Perhaps the fallout from Scotland splitting, especially if it catalyzes anything in Spain, N Ireland, Belgium or anywhere else, might finally be so big  but so regional that differentials in interests between London and Frankfurt could see a real split. If England left the EU I suppose that could cut the diamond.

                      My hope is that there are flaws in the crystal not navigable by their gemcutters. The only hope for any of us not bankers in the long run is that they become too small to fail us again.

                      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                      by DocGonzo on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 04:14:46 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

              •  Austria heavily favored annexation (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Frank Schnittger

                by a large margin. The only problem was that Germany had been banned by treat from joining with Austria. The Austrians loves the idea, the people at least. That's why it went so smoothly.

                No War but Class War

                by AoT on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 02:04:04 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Not the Government (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Frank Schnittger

                  I don't think the Austrian government was willing to be annexed - which is an important difference from East Germany. And I'd like to see some evidence that a large margin of Austrians favored annexation.

                  "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                  by DocGonzo on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 04:29:27 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  While the government was opposed (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    DocGonzo, Frank Schnittger

                    For obvious reasons, previous plebecites had shown huge support for union with Germany.


                    No War but Class War

                    by AoT on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 04:42:16 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Interesting (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Frank Schnittger, AoT

                      Not too different from southern/eastern Ukraine's annexation by Russia this year, including the two decades of partition, the high polling among the population for annexation, and the annexed (Federal, but not all local) government's opposition to annexation.

                      Just like Hillary said at the time (I agreed with her).

                      Though an essential difference in Austria was the treaties obligating it to remain split from Germany, which was one reason Austria's government was opposed.

                      But I don't think in East Germany's case the government was opposed to annexation by West Germany, nor were any treaties violated (except perhaps some defunct ones with the defunctivating Soviet Union).

                      And again, annexation for (East Germany) gaining EU membership isn't like splitting from a remaining EU member for (Scotland) gaining EU membership.

                      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                      by DocGonzo on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 07:54:32 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  The comparisons between Putin (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Frank Schnittger

                        and Hitler were actually where I came by the information. I have to admit to being surprised as well.

                        Though an essential difference in Austria was the treaties obligating it to remain split from Germany, which was one reason Austria's government was opposed.
                        There were lots of mitigating circumstances, including the method of annexation and, obviously, who did the annexing and how. I am of the firm opinion that if the two countries had not been barred from joining then there would likely not have been a World War 2 as German peoples in various places would not have had such a hard time of things and would not feel the resentment of having their ability to choose their future for themselves removed, along with the obvious economic issues.

                        No War but Class War

                        by AoT on Fri Aug 01, 2014 at 06:13:13 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Alternate 1940s (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          A good friend of mine is very intelligent, thoughtful, and notably very sympathetic to the Jewish people - though he's an atheist and his detested ex-wife is Jewish. He emigrated to NYC from destitute, landlocked, devastated northern Germany as a child born right before the war. He is very patriotic, and an absolutely chauvinistic New Yorker.

                          He firmly believes the UK, backed by the US, pushed Germany into starting the war.

                          I don't excuse Hitler, Germany or the majority of Germans their bloodthirst conquest. But I find his viewpoint credible. The UK and US have defined history for centuries by baiting bears (Soviet pun intended) into traps - and fur coats.

                          On the other hand, I can also see a Germany left united after WWI more easily mounting a comeback in the 1930s. Perhaps not even without the "oppressed German minorities" pretext and advance propaganda. The Big Lie was expertly used by Hitler (and his spiritual descendants). I think Germany, in any of its alternate forms following WWI, was hellbent on supremacy. Indeed, of the many responses from the West, perhaps baiting, bringing to a head and confronting the inevitable was the best course. A lot of eggs broken for that omelet.

                          "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                          by DocGonzo on Sat Aug 02, 2014 at 07:46:18 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Given the more recent information (0+ / 0-)

                            we have on Germany's responsibility for WWI I'm tempted to agree that Germany would have started a war. I think that it might have stopped the rise of Hitler, but perhaps the war was inevitable.

                            No War but Class War

                            by AoT on Sat Aug 02, 2014 at 06:34:46 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you very much for this piece... (8+ / 0-)

    I read Paul Kavanagh's lengthy 'A-Z' myths you linked. He was thorough, articulate, authentic and funny. Kind of like reading 'Hunter' on DKos.

    Until I learn more to undo my current thinking, I'm going with independence for Scotland. Kavanagh has convinced me.

    My grandma was born in Scotland. I can't vote as an Oregonian, but I'll be watching in September for the outcome. Thanks again.

  •  Both Salmon and Cameron have been terrible in (3+ / 0-)

    making their cases regarding independence as far as I'm concerned. I can't see it winning in any case.

  •  Scottish independence should be avoided. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Schnittger, FG

    It could lead to the rump UK leaving the EU (England is less favorable to the EU than Scotland).

    Having Scotland independent and in the EU but the rump UK outside it would be very messy.

    •  That is the Irish Nightmare scenario (5+ / 0-)

      because what would happen to N. Ireland in that context? It could become quite unstable again, because whereas many Northern Unionists regard themselves as British, they certainly do not regard themselves as English, and N. Ireland economic interests are much more closely tied to Ireland, Scotland and the EU than many in England. We could see some Unionists - particularly farmers afraid of losing EU agricultural subsidies - moving into the Nationalist camp resulting in severe tensions within the protestant/Unionist community and renewed paranoia about being taken over by "the South"..

      However for rump UK to the leave the EU whilst Scotland remain in would be would be to really copper-fasten the split between England and Scotland, and I doubt England would want to do that in the foreseeable future.  So in that context it might lessen the chances of a rump UK exit, despite the fact, as you say, the English are currently much more in favour of leaving the EU than the Scots.

      •  What if an "economic package" was offered to the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Frank Schnittger, AoT

        North as part of the deal to either join the South or become an autonomous region of the South? Say, several billion invested in a new primary and university education system for working-class areas. It would be integrated but free, with both skills training for trade jobs and higher degrees in engineering, technology, and other STEM areas. Another several billion invested could create jobs in a green ocean transportation economy with a rule that the funds must remain in the Northern counties. They have the infrastructure and existing labor culture for something like that. Funding would come from the E.U. in exchange for a plebiscite vote agreeing to accept the terms. The package would include funding for 25 years after which the economy of the region would be the responsibility of Ireland as a whole. Theoretically by this point the economy in the North would at least be self-sustaining and the access to equally good education and jobs will have settled some of the issues between sectarian groups. I know there are a lot of what-ifs here and a huge price tag but the general concept is not unprecedented in this area, the U.S. was still involved in funding the economy in North Ireland until recently and the economy depends on significant investment from England as it is now. What it has always needed is a large infusion of $ to set off its economy to flourish. I think a lot of Eastern European countries are in a similar situation. Ukraine comes to mind. I don't envy the EU having to decide how to distribute funds so everyone is OK with it and still pump enough money into developing economic regions to make a difference.

        Is fheàrr fheuchainn na bhith san dùil

        by bull8807 on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 10:46:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  N Ireland still receives a considerable subvention (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bull8807, NearlyNormal, AoT

          from the British exchequer which, in the event of a break-up of the UK would have to be replaced in some fashion. There is no inherent reason why NI can't be self-sustaining like the Republic (was until v. recently!) but it would take a good period of time for it to achieve that transition. Some of that is due to direct security costs and indirect costs to economic development due to instability and image problems, so the key would be a long term stable constitutional structure broadly acceptable to all combined with improved cross community trust and relationships with the "South"..

          I'm not saying it can't be done, but it would take time and cost money which the EU may or may not be willing to put up. The further we can put the troubles behind us without a recurrence, the greater the chances of success. Much of what needs to happen is happening slowly behind the scenes already and cross border cooperation, travel, economic links, security coop, community links etc, are increasing all the time as they would in nay "normal" society. However these things take time, perhaps a generation or two, and most people would feel more comfortable with a slow transition than any major shocks to the system like a British EU withdrawal!

      •  It would rip open the conflict. (0+ / 0-)

        Yes, you are right that the Northern Irish peace could be threatened if Scotland tried to secede and the UK left the EU. The trick is that the rump UK is more conservative, so it would probably vote in Cameron again with a majority. That would lead to a EU referendum, where a no vote would be likely. Scottish independence is a house of cards about to collapse.

  •  A note on WWII Irish neutrality- My grandfather (5+ / 0-)

    remained permanently irritated with Ireland because they refused to allow the Allies access to their airspace.

    My grandfather's B-24 wing was based in Wales and he never quite forgave the Irish government for making him fly the long way 'round to bomb Germany.

    Every. Damned. Time. ;-)

    Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
    ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

    by FarWestGirl on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 04:39:37 AM PDT

  •  As long as the distilleries keep exporting... (5+ / 0-)

    ....I'm fine either way.

    My only concern is that it would pretty much turn England permanently Tory.

    Is that true? (I admit to ignorance on UK politics.)

    •  With a population ratio of (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nzanne, HeyMikey, radarlady, ozsea1, mayim, tardis10

      53M to 5 Million, it is asking a lot of Scotland to be a permanent make-weight to avoid a permanent Tory majority.  More likely (in my view) Scottish independence would allow UKIP, which despite the name is essentially an English Nationalist party, to come to the fore more and split the conservative anti-labour vote.

    •  An issue of the utmost importance! (0+ / 0-)

      "Things are not as they appear to be, nor are they otherwise." - Buddha

      by US Blues on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 05:50:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  One of the links provided by the diarist ... (6+ / 0-)

      .... addresses your question:

      Abandoning the English:  We'd abandon the English to decades of Tory rule.

      The Stewart Lee argument, the rightful role of Scotland is to act as an airbag to help protect non-Tory voters in England from the car crash of the Conservatives.  For Scotland it's a bit like being asked to be a fireman who's constantly called upon to put out the flames in an arsonist's house.  Even if every single Scot voted Labour, we still couldn't prevent people in Buckinghamshire from playing with matches.  We tried that all the way through the 80s, and a fat lot of good it did anyone then, it was arson a go-go with Maggie Thatcher.

      Under the FPTP system beloved by Westminster, Labour, the supposed alternative which is meant to protect us against the Tories, finds that the only way it can get elected is to offer Daily Mail readers free matches and a bonus can of petrol.  After 18 years of Thatcher and Major, we got Tony Blair with his American zippo lighter that left Iraq in flames.  Tories whatever way you look at it.  

      However Scotland votes, the electorate in England will still have their Tory car-crashes and a pyromaniac Labour party.  Scotland's chances of getting the government we want get exploded like an airbag across Stewart Lee's mug.  The best way for Scots to help our anti-Tory English friends is to offer them a concrete example of social-democratic government in action.  We can only do that with independence.

  •  Yes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Schnittger, tardis10

    In this case the half is greater than the whole.

    Then again, I actually wish the U.S. would contract to a more manageable (politically) size.

    Everything good a man can be, a dog already is. - pajoly

    by pajoly on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 06:09:49 AM PDT

  •  Two questions if "yes" wins: (6+ / 0-)

    1.  Will the Stone of Scone be returned?

    2.  What will the Union Jack morph into?

    These may seem like relatively trivial questions, but each is fraught with much symbolic meaning.

  •  Just curious but... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HeyMikey, Frank Schnittger

    Do you have any reason for thinking Scotland should head for independence beyond believing in the idea of a nation-state?

    I ask, because I've never understood why Americans support an idea so foreign to our own country.

    •  The Irish experience of independence (5+ / 0-)

      has been largely positive, despite the huge difficulties which had to be overcome, as I have tried to outline in the diary. Scotland is in a somewhat similar position, except that it has been more effectively vanquished by the English over the centuries - the price of not having a maritime barrier, perhaps.

      I am not particularly a nationalist and very much a supporter of the EU - for all it's current difficulties and chronic mismanagement, and so I think an independent Scotland can have the best of both worlds if it stays within the EU, greater local identity, self confidence and accountability, but also a better functioning regulatory structure for projecting it's interests onto the EU and global stage - as it would be an EU member in it's own right.

      I'm not sure what you mean by Americans being against nationalism.  I would have though the USA placed huge emphasis on symbols of national unity and US exceptionalism, to the point of being quite xenophobic and demagogic about any other nation which didn't conform to US norms.

      •  You are right about USA historically (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Frank Schnittger, AoT

        Today, however, you will find that opinion about this kind of thing is all over the place.  Many of us are still disgusted at how out of control the world policing became under the Bush administration. The irony of "spreading democracy" by bombing the other side of the world and propping up certain dictators over others was not lost on the populace. I think the rest of the world missed what a huge deal Obama's about-face regarding an invasion into Syria truly was earlier this year. The neocons had him convinced we had to invade Syria and assured him that the suffering there would convince Americans that we had to get involved. The war machine started up in full swing, and public opinion stopped it in its tracks immediately. Americans are no longer under the impression that we can just jump into any conflict and impose our wishes with an army. We seem to be learning, slowly, when to choke off our idiotic war-mongering officials before we're knee-deep in another quagmire where we're not welcome. Our vets are home and we don't like what we see in them, what we did to them. The whole cherry pie and baseball and freedumz America appears to many of us to be nothing but a sad caricature of 1950's WASP supremacy.

        Is fheàrr fheuchainn na bhith san dùil

        by bull8807 on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 09:07:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Irish experience doesn't really apply. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Frank Schnittger

        In a lot of ways the Irish should be expected to made huge strides after independence - given the way England colonized the country & systematically exploited it & its people.

        Scotland is not a colony in the way Ireland was, and Scotland should expect - at best - basically continuing on as if not much has changed economically.

        The only real benefit I see to Scotland is the emotional appeal of nationalism, which I see as a generally negative overall ideology.

        As for the USA, well there's an example of harmful nationalism at times... but there's a difference between just nationalism & the idea of a nation-state.

        The United States is NOT representative of the nation-state idea, which calls for a "homeland" for each "people (nation)". It is quite the opposite, an example of an avowedly multi-ethnic state (no matter what most Republicans would prefer).

        Israel is a nation-state. Cambodia is a nation-state. Greece is a nation-state. Scotland, Wales, England, if sovereign, would be nation-states. The UK and the United States are not.

  •  I'm currently in Northern England (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Schnittger, mayim

    near Lancaster.

    From my readings of the tea leaves, I would lean towards that idea that the referendum will fail and Scotland will remain in the UK.

  •  Oh Flower of Scotland, when will we see your (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Schnittger, AoT, ozsea1, DoReMI, mayim

    like again....

  •  Ireland vs England (6+ / 0-)

    My wife is from Ireland; we frequently visit her family there and stay in touch. I'm proud to claim that "I'm half Irish" now - and to have received Irish winks in response.

    However from what I can see, Ireland has barely featured in the discussion. I suspect that the demise of the Celtic Tiger and the embarrassing bank bail-out has reduced Ireland to the rather wayward cousin no one mentions to avoid embarrassment all round.
    Ireland's official refusal to take sides in the Second World war (because of the unresolved N. Ireland dispute with Britain).

    From what I can see, Irish people have been kept out of the public debate because England has the power to do so, especially in its influence over UK, US and Irish media. Because Irish people, as far as I can tell, would wholeheartedly urge their Scottish cousins to get free of the English.

    However, the Irish people might indeed keep quiet. Because they stayed neutral in WWII out of some schadenfreude (language implication intended) over England's dire predicament, And, more pragmatically, they didn't know whether England would prevail - or survive - in the face of German onslaught. They certainly didn't trust the English (period) to take Irish alliance without using Ireland as a sacrifice before England. More simply, staying out of the way of the wrestling giants seemed safer than picking a side, even if the German side promised to be worse than the (20th Century) English among a Catholic nation without the cultural value to Germans of France.

    And there's the result of the Irish bank bailouts, primarily AIB (Anglo Irish Bank), which stole more from Ireland for English aristocracy than ever, at least since the 1800s. That makes the distrust of England stronger, the desire for revenge stronger, but also the sense that England has the power to retaliate (much as Greece rightly fears Germany).

    Overall these are competing forces for an Irish position on Scottish independence. But they do combine together to drive actual Irish people's positions away from their feckless, beholden and corrupt Irish government. So Ireland seems quiet about Scottish independence.

    But over drinks the Irish are cheering for Scotland to beat England 1-0.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 08:02:30 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Schnittger, AoT, mayim, WakeUpNeo

    Alas, the only things most Americans know about Scotland is what they've seen in a Mel Gibson movie (most of which was historically inaccurate anyway.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 08:07:07 AM PDT

  •  Stupid American question (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Schnittger

    What's the point of being independent from the UK if so many of the decisions on what you do every day are made in Brussels?

    I would ask the same thing to Basques, Bretons, Wallons, the Lega Nord, etc.

    To my mind, it would be like Austin declaring independence from Texas, Park City declaring independence from Utah, etc.

    "states like VT and ID are not 'real america'" -icemilkcoffee

    by Utahrd on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 08:21:52 AM PDT

    •  You get to have your own (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Utahrd, AoT, ozsea1, mayim, tardis10, letsgetreal

      Commissioner on the EU Commission and your own seat on the EU Council - neither of which Scotland currently has.  It would also likely increase it's representation in the European Parliament from it's current 6 to something more like Ireland's 11.  All Scottish Ministers would also sit on the relevant European Councils for agriculture etc. where Scottish interests can diverge quite a bit from England's.

      People who complain about the "Brussels Bureaucracy" forget that it is actually quite small compared to Whitehall/Westminster and the decisions there are actually made by representatives of the member state Governments - which Scotland currently does not have.

    •  See also (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Utahrd, AoT, ozsea1, mayim, tardis10, letsgetreal

      The A to Z of Independence - Sorting myth from fact

      Brussels does not collect all UK taxation and then decide how much it's going to give back.  Westminster does that to Scotland.  Brussels doesn't even set the rate of VAT, Westminster does that.  Brussels doesn't have the power to insist we keep nuclear warheads on the Clyde.  Westminster does that.  We wouldn't have had to ask Brussels for permission to regulate our broadcasters, but we had to ask Westminster's permission to set up a Gaelic language TV channel, because Conservative MPs from Surrey need to be consulted before punters in Portree can watch Gaelic soaps.  Brussels wouldn't have been able to commit a Scottish defence force to the invasion of Iraq, but Westminster tells us what countries we'll go to war with.  Brussels doesn't have the power to tell us how much the state pension for the elderly would be or what administrative hoops disabled people have to go through in order to get benefits, only Westminster does.
  •  Wondering if comparisons would be better (6+ / 0-)

    made to the countries north and northeast of Scotland.

    Scandinavian countries have very high standards of living, a semi-socialist egalitarian society, and stability with a few exceptions, well educated populations.  Maybe the ideal size for a country would be about 5 million or so, so that the needs of the people are more directly met,  and government are more responsive.  

    Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland are all independent countries that are smaller in area and populations, have rocky soil, seagoing histories, harsher weather.   And Norway shares the oil issues Scotland has.  

    I leave out Sweden because of it's strong industrial base and larger population and it's history as an imperial power over the others.   Maybe it is to England as Finland is to Scotland?  Oh, and parts of Scotland were controlled by the Norse for long periods of time.  

    Finally, there is a certain similarity of the flags of all those countries, too.  St. Andrews cross would fit in with that crowd very well.


  •  I'm 3rd generation American but most of my family (6+ / 0-)

    still lives in Wexford, Ireland and we remain very close due to my family's specific immigration stop (no one left until after the potato famine, and the town they originated from did alright comparatively during that time). The American side also sent support during the fight for Irish independence. My great great uncle stayed and joined the IRA, got in big trouble for advocating Home  Rule, ended up doing time in both Mountjoy and Kilmainham Gaol, and participated in hunger strikes which he never recovered from. Despite his activities, once the Republic of Ireland was established he was against any further violence and the official family position was to support democratic reforms with words instead of violence. I am admittedly biased in favor of independence, especially after living in Belfast for several months in 2012 and seeing how dysfunctional society remains with all the walls and barbed wire and locked gates and curfews in many areas. Having said that, I favor independence for Scotland for reasons beyond economics. Children in Ireland are being given Gaelic names again. They learn about cultural events and customs that almost died out forever because of the policies imposed by the British government. These are less tangible concepts than something easily measured like GDP, but to many people they are more important than anything else. The ability to for a people to run their own country based on their own cultural institutions is prized in both America and Ireland for good reason. Both countries were willing to sacrifice economically to gain self rule. Neither country would go back to being a British colony by choice, and it is generally considered inevitable on the ground in Northern Ireland that the country will have enough referendum votes to join the Republic of Ireland and leave the UK within the next couple of decades. Yes, it's likely there will be some amount of civil unrest when that happens but even so, the trajectory seems clear. I am not as familiar with the current political sentiments in Scotland but I'm sure there are families with long memories there too. It will be interesting to see what happens in Scotland compared to Ireland in the next 10 years

    Is fheàrr fheuchainn na bhith san dùil

    by bull8807 on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 08:49:37 AM PDT

  •  A couple of points.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Schnittger, AoT

    Excellent diary.  Thank you.  

    Point 1: The move away from oil revenues will have to happen much sooner than Salmond expects.  The world is going renewable very fast.  Even China.  Price of oil is going to drop sooner than expected.

    Point 2: Regarding commenter suggesting Scotland is going to export electricity: if we knew how to do that, the Sahara would be covered in solar panels.  The English make their own electricity.

    Point 3:  Independence will decimate the Labour Party.  Tory majorities in Westminster for the foreseeable future.  Bad news also for the north of England.  The north/south divide is more stark than ever.  Tory rule will not help the North.

    Point 4: If the vote fails, Cameron has promised "Devo-Max", self rule in all but foreign affairs.  This might put independence sentiment back a decade or two.

    Point 5: Quick EU membership is not a given.  There is much resistance to separatist movements in the EU.  Every country has some separatist movement.  Some turn violent (Basques, Balkans), some are jokes (The Peoples Republic of Yorkshire).  

    •  Briefly (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT, ozsea1, letsgetreal

      1. Scotland has an outstanding wind resource and the UK has already contracted to import wind energy from Ireland to meet its sustainability targets. (China is the world's biggest wind power producer with 29% of global capacity). The EU needs to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.
      2. The sahara isn't covered by solar panels - as per the Desertecproposal because of political instability there. Solar panels and power lines are v. susceptible to terrorist action.
      3.And this is Scotland's problem because?
      5. Scotland will simply remain in EU as a sucessor state - Germany did not reapply for membership when it replaced West Germany.

      See article linked to in Diary for more details

  •  what a terrible idea. (0+ / 0-)

    And I always thought the Scots to be prudent.

    "To take another person's life from the bench is no better than to take another person's life from the street"

    by commonmass on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 11:25:21 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for the observations, Frank (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Schnittger, AoT

    And much more of interest from Frank and others can be found at The European Tribune

    "I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man..." Robbie Robertson

    by NearlyNormal on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 12:13:19 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for this diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Schnittger

    This is a fascinating moment in time. Don't know what will happen; get the feeling the vote will go against independence, but who knows?

    I've hotlisted this to come back and read it and the comments more thoroughly.

    Thanks again.

  •  I have no doubt that an independent Scotland (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Schnittger

    would be a viable state. As an American (albeit partly of Scottish descent) I have no direct stake in this, but my heart is with them 100 per cent. My head wonders if there's major problem Scotland has that cannot be solved except by continuing the Union.

    Find out about my next big thing by reading my blog. Link is here:

    by Kimball Cross on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 05:06:41 PM PDT

  •  It really might be a good thing. But there's a (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nisi Prius, Frank Schnittger

    difference between Scotland and Ireland.  Scotland became 'British' because King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England.  Ireland was conquered territory from Henry II onward.  A superficial Anglo-Irish (really Norman) ruling class over a native Irish 'peasantry'.
    Scotland, on the other hand, was a junior partner in the British Empire, not a colony.
    And yes, Dublin was once the second city of the British Empire and it still shows.  A bit of London, a bit of Paris...
    Dublin has Ulysses, Glasgow has Trainspotting.  There's a difference.
    On the other hand, Edinburgh has Muriel Spark, the best 'British' writer of post-WWII.

    Lost Tom. Lost Charlie. Can't read (Paul Newman, 'The Left Handed Gun')

    by richardvjohnson on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 05:29:52 PM PDT

  •  Scotland has its own Parliament, and has always (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Schnittger

    had its own legal system that differs from that of the English. They are much better prepared for independence than was Ireland.

    And even if there is not much oil left in the North Sea, I'm willing to bet there is enough for the EU to welcome them as a member nation.

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