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Schroedinger's Kingdom: the Scottish Political Singularity Explained

Caution: this essay contains politics. Specifically, Scottish politics. And lots of it.

As a general rule I try not to discuss politics on my blog. It's an endlessly complex subject, it is self-evident that any two people of goodwill can look at any given political problem and come up with two different and diametrically opposed ideas of how to resolve it, and (puts on marketing hat) I'm here to interest you in my writing, not recruit you for my Army of Minions™, although now that I think about it that'd be kinda cool, once I make my run for Total World Domination and appoint myself Supreme Planetary Overlord.

But there's a point where politics impinges directly on the circumstances of my writing, and that's when it goes nonlinear, and by nonlinear I mean "depending on the outcome of three upcoming elections, I may be living in one of three different countries in two years' time." (Two of which would be called "The United Kingdom" but would be very different from one another, and one of which would be called "The Kingdom of Scotland".) It makes it really hard to even think about writing that next near-future Scottish police thriller when I can't predict what country it will be set in, much less what its public culture will look like or where it will be ruled from.

Most of you aren't Scottish and politics, like adventure, is always a lot more fun when it's happening to somebody else a long way away. So let me give you a brief guide to the Scottish Political Singularity, hedged first with a few caveats: (a) this is quite a serious problem for those of us who live here, (b) the climate of politics in Scotland is in general utterly unlike anywhere else in the so-called Anglosphere, and (c) my political sympathies put me firmly out on the fringe, so you should consider me an unreliable guide with a whole bushel of axes to grind (which, in fairness, I will try not to conceal from you or misrepresent as mainstream opinion).

Okay, some recent history. Back in, oh, 1603, Queen Elizabeth of England died without offspring. And the Tudor dynasty were so damn' good at internecine throat-cutting that her nearest heir was James VI, King of Scots. And so, shortly thereafter, he became James VI and I, King of the Scots and King of England—uniting the crowns of the two previously-warring nations and ushering in a century during which, to everybody's astonishment, Scotland and England stopped going to war with each other. (Instead they took up civil wars as a hobby, with a side-order of regicide, a pioneering experiment in military dictatorship, a theocratic revolution and it's bloody aftermath up north, and yet another revolution for dessert.)

In short, history happened. And then the Darien scheme nearly bankrupted Scotland's ruling class, and in a desperate attempt to recapitalize (with help from their peers in London) they did an abrupt U-turn on the previous century's policy of sharing a crown but not a parliament, and signed up for the Act of Union in 1707. Scotland wasn't so much conquered by England as the subject of a mutually agreed merger, albeit under conditions of financial distress: and, as the poorer, less populous partner in the enterprise, the pole of political power drifted south until Scotland ended up as a de facto province, ruled by a Parliament sitting in London.

This was not an intrinsically bad deal for Scotland (although individual circumstances varied enormously: it was an excellent deal for the rich landowners and the metropolitan elites of Edinburgh and Glasgow, but a terrible one for the highland poor). However, a number of anomalies remained. Scotland's legal system is distinctively different—it's not a common law system, but runs on a descendant of the classic Roman law. Legislation passed in parliament in London after 1707 maintained the distinction, implementing the same laws in both systems. Landowning ran differently (the last vestigates of the feudal system were only abolished in Scotland the 1990s). Jury trials don't work the same way. The Church of England isn't an established state Church in Scotland. And folks up here speak a tongue that's somewhere in the grey area between being a collection of strong regional dialects and a wholly different language from the definitional Queen's English enunciated by BBC presenters in London. (Scots isn't a single dialect: there are different grammatical constructions, and regional dialects that range in cultural overtones from very humble to "more posh than the Queen". But I digress ...)

This arrangement worked more or less all right for a couple of centuries. With the industrial revolution, the major cities of the English midlands, the North of England, and the Scottish lowlands prospered: their fortunes were based on shipping, trade, and manufacturing industry. London also prospered as a centre of commerce, and was a major financial hub: Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, was a secondary financial centre (if only because Scotland's population was around a tenth of England's at any given time).

So what went wrong?

One factor was the loss of relative advantage in manufacturing industry that coincided with the ascendency of the United States, and then the reconstruction of Europe in the wake of the world wars. By the 1970s British heavy industry tended to be outdated and uncompetitive. Something clearly had to be done: but when in 1979 Margaret Thatcher swept to power in London, she decided to proceed on the basis of an electoral calculation. Her Conservative party is more properly known as the Conservative and Unionist Party, with Unionism being a stronger cause in Scotland: her calculation was that she could cement Conservative ascendancy in south-east England for a generation if she financialized the economy, while simultaneously cutting off the old (largely state-owned) smokestack industries at the knees. The north predominantly voted Labour anyway; there was little chance of gaining more seats in Westminster by being nice to the Scots, but a lot to be gained in Liberal or three-way marginal constituencies down south.

The recession of 1979-82 (actually the economy shrank by 10% in the first 18 months, while unemployment tripled) was just the start of what seemed at times to be almost an undeclared civil war against the north of Britain. After 1983 the Conservatives haemorrhaged support north of the border: today there are fewer Scottish Conservative MPs at Westminster than there are giant pandas in Scottish zoos (one Scottish Tory MP out of eighty in total; but two pandas). Scotland was administered as a foreign colony by a remote party that less than 15% of the voters had asked for. Resentment grew over a decade: it spiked in 1988 with the introduction of the infamous Community Charge, a highly regressive poll tax (to replace the previous dysfunctional housing tax in funding local government—partly as a move to centralize fiscal power over local councils and neuter Labour-controlled city and county council spending on goals the Conservatives disapproved of). Scotland was subjected to the poll tax first, and kicked back hard, in the biggest tax rebellion in the history of the combined British states: it collapsed in 1991, leading directly to Thatcher's resignation after triggering the Poll Tax Riots. At the end of the day, 40% of the taxpaying base were in rebellion: at this point, we can safely say that any democratic mandate to rule had been lost. Except that there wasn't one in the first place, and colonial rule continued for another five years ...

Unsurprisingly, Scottish anger at the country's treatment over the 1980s led to a rise in support for devolution—the re-establishment of a Scottish parliament to legislate for the Scots—and outright independence. By 1992 (at the end of the Poll Tax fiasco) up to 50% of Scottish voters were leaning towards full independence. There was clearly a constitutional disaster waiting to happen if another Conservative government attempted to repeat Thatcher's divide-and-rule approach. Luckily, a solution was at hand: Devolution, which was voted for by a majority of the voting population in a referendum in 1999, and which is why we now have a Scottish Parliament.

Note that the Scottish Parliament is not unconditionally sovereign. It exercises powers delegated to it by the Westminster Parliament; certain powers are reserved—policy on illegal drugs, immigration, foreign policy, defence, and taxation are exercised in Westminster.

Westminster is (and has been, since 2010) under the control of Thatcherite fan-boys with virtually zero electoral base north of the border. (The Conservatives poll around 12-16% of the voting public in Scotland. Compared with the Scottish Green Party—the party whose policies most align with my own preferences—who poll around 8-12%, or the Conservative vote in England, which is around the 30-35% level, this is not a sign of a party with a broad base of support. It's even worse when you consider that in Scotland the conservatives are highly regionalized: they're able to elect an MP because they have a couple of affluent highly conservative constituencies, but the rest of the nation is effectively an electoral no-go zone to them.)

Meanwhile ...

The Scottish Parliament is elected by the Additional Member System—votes are counted towards an MSP's seat (elected by first-past-the-post), but are then summed and allocated to a party list which elects a further pool of MSPs via pure proportional representation. It has been suggested that this system was designed by the architects of Scottish devolution (under the late Donald Dewar MP) to prevent the Scottish National Party (or anyone else, for that matter) from ever gaining an outright majority, thereby subtly applying the brakes of coalition government to the Scottish Parliament. If so, the gerrymander failed spectacularly in 2008, when the SNP, led by the inimitable Alex Salmond (detested by some, he's nevertheless clearly one of the Big Beasts of the British political scene: in one of the Westminster parties he would clearly be a senior cabinet minister if not a prime minister, and in the smaller pool of the Scottish political scene he's a great white shark surrounded by goldfish), acquired an outright majority.

So we now have a parliament led by the SNP (a carefully-planned impossibility), a centre-left party: and an opposition consisting, in order of size, of: Scottish Labour (as reformed by Tony Blair into a right wing party with left-wing heritage), the Liberal Democrats, trailed by the Conservatives and the Greens. (Who look to be the major beneficiary of the LibDem haemorrhage of center-left voters since their entry into coalition with the Conservatives in Westminster.) Note that UKIP, who are terrorizing the Tories in England, barely poll ahead of the Greens in a Euro-election—classic protest vote territory. In polls of Scottish voting intent in a general election, UKIP's share is in single digits, a far cry from the >30% levels seen in England.

What does this mean?

Well, it's been fairly obvious for about three decades now that there's a growing political rift between Scotland and England. England seems to be becoming more parochial, europhobic, and anti-immigrant, and the political sails of all the main English parties are being trimmed to the right—Labour today is considerably to the right of any of Margaret Thatcher's conservative predecessors, and while the Conservatives have a socially libertarian faction that has produced some moves that would be astonishing in an American political context (a Conservative prime minister promoting same-sex marriage, for example) on economic issues they're firmly in the pocket of The Money. Meanwhile, the Scottish political culture has gone in a distinctly different direction. The English NHS is being reformed along lines that promote internal competition and marketization of healthcare services, and appears to be being prepared for wholesale privatization as an insurance-backed private healthcare system (with the government-funded NHS becoming merely a default fee payer). Meanwhile, in Scotland PPP funded hospitals established under Labour are being bought out and integrated into the fully socialized healthcare system. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Now, to the Scottish Political Singularity:

We have an SNP government. They promised, and got, a referendum that, this September 18th, will ask people like me (anyone who lives here, basically) to vote on the question "should Scotland be an independent nation?" It's a straight yes/no question. The third option, Devo Max, was ruled off the ballot by David Cameron (probably because he knew it would win by a mile—over 60% of the Scottish voting public supported it as of the last poll I saw that asked about it). Devo Max was a last mile marker for a devolved parliament short of full independence: Scotland would acquire control over all internal affairs, including taxation, but would delegate defence and foreign affairs to Westminster. It's my preferred option. Such a shame we're not allowed to vote for it ...

Anyway. A vote will be held on the 18th of September. If there is a majority for independence, then the constitutional shit will hit the fan because Westminster will be required to negotiate and enact the enabling legislation for Scottish independence ... with a UK-wide General Election coming up in June 2015. The enabling legislation can't be rushed through before the next election (it's too big and complex), so it's going to trail into the next Westminster parliament, probably completing in 2016 with independence in 2017. But the next Westminster parliament cannot be bound by the decisions of the current one—basics of the British constitutional system here—and so can't automatically be held to handle the consequences of the independence vote. It's anybody's guess what the government in Westminster will look like in July 2015. It might be a renewed Conservative/Lib-Dem coalition (unlikely), a Conservative majority or minority government (less unlikely), a Labour majority (not unlikely), a Labour/Lib-Dem coalition (possibly most likely, but still not something to bet on), a Conservative/UKIP coalition (unlikely but not impossible), or a Martian invasion. Nobody knows. Add to this, 70 Scottish MPs elected on a mandate to sit for 12-18 months while they negotiate independence, then pack their bags and go home. It'll be chaos.

UKIP are also a wild card. While you might think there should be some sympathy towards Scottish independence there (after all, UKIP's policy is essentially regionalist, and they want the UK out of the EU), you'd be wrong: UKIP's platform is essentially hostile to Scottish independence and their previous manifesto held an explicit commitment to reverse devolution, to erase the Scottish Parliament and reintroduce direct rule. It seems the logic of UK separation from the EU is not applicable to Scottish separation from the UK.

So here we are, in the middle of an acrimonious independence referendum campaign, and it's turned into the political debate of the century. Everyone is talking about it. In pubs, in shops, on Reddit. The "No" campaign are clearly in trouble: while they started with a 20-point lead over the "Yes" campaign, they've been steadily losing ground for the past six months. The "undecided" cohort in the polls remains stubbornly around the 10-15% mark, but there seems to be some traffic in voters moving from "no" to "undecided", and from "undecided" to "yes". The unpopularity of the Conservatives could be a decisive factor here: it would take just one big miscalculation by David Cameron to drive another 5% of the voting base into the arms of the "yes" campaign. It's the "no" campaign's vote to lose ... but they don't seem to actually be winning it, and even if there is an eventual majority opposed to independence, my prediction is that the margin will be so slim that the question will remain open for future re-matches.

So: in 2017, Scotland will either be an independent nation (initially a constitutional monarchy retaining the shared Crown, as was the case prior to 1707), or part of the UK. Why did I say there might be two different UKs?

Well, that's down to UKIP and the Conservative euroskeptics. They've been a turbulent bunch since 1992 or even earlier. They really don't like the Euro-federalist agenda. (As it happens, I do like it, reservations about the democratic deficit aside. We have had two-thirds of a century of peace since the last invading army crossed the Rhine: the longest period of peace in Western Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire. That's worth a lot, and I think we break with it at our peril.) UKIP has picked up a bunch of them—a large chunk of it is the conservative party's right wing in exile—and a large protest vote by those who can't cope with a pluralistic, multi-ethnic, modern Britain. UKIP would be a more natural fit for coalition with the Conservatives than the Liberal Democrats; if UKIP make an electoral showing in 2015, we may yet see a hard-right government opposed to Scottish independence or even devolution, and which holds to its election manifesto commitment to hold a UK-wide referendum on withdrawing from the EU.

Polling suggests that a majority of UK citizens would favour leaving the EU. (Hell, around 30% of them don't even realize we're part of it already. I despair, at times.) Weirdly, EU-antipathy is a lot stronger in England than in Scotland, where a majority want to stay in.

So the worst case outcome, circa 2017, is that Scotland remains manacled to an England that has voted in a government of the Home Counties, who despise the Scots, and who have successfully campaigned for a referendum in which the English protest vote determines that Scotland will be dragged out of the EU in a vain attempt to wind the clock back to an imaginary vision of a 1950s conservative utopia that never was. Or Scotland might remain part of a UK, but one where when push came to shove the racist right took a kicking in the 2015 election and the softer right wing government of New Labour is back in charge and the loons are exiled to the fringes again, and the country is at least open for business.

Which brings me to the punch-line: I'll be voting "yes" for an independence Scotland in September. Not with great enthusiasm (as I noted earlier, if Devo Max was on the ballot I'd be voting for that) but because everything I see around me suggests that there is some very bad craziness in the near future of England, and I don't want the little country I live in to be dragged down the rabbit hole by the same dark forces of reaction that are cropping up across Europe, from Hungary to Greece. The failure modes of democracy, it seems to me, are less damaging the smaller the democracy.

But in the meantime: it's impossible for me to write fiction set in the near future of Scotland until after we've navigated the political white water ahead: the referendum in September 2014, the general election in June 2015, and (optionally) the further UK referendum in 2016/17. Truly, we're living through the dog days of Schroedinger's Republic; and it's anybody's guess which state the wave function will finally collapse into.

353 Comments

1:

I think it's probably just as well 'devo max' isn't on the ballot - it'd be only too easy for the vote to be split 40/39/21, and the status quo would have won by -20%; it'd be 1979 all over again. This way the No campaign is having to advocate more devolution - and hopefully when they win they'll have to deliver it.

2:

I'm pretty sure the Conservatives are lying about being willing to provide Devo Max in event of a "no" vote. We were here before in 1979, remember? Promise of devolution in event of a "no" vote, then a general election, then everything went on hold forever ... more to the point, where's the time in the remaining parliamentary session before the general election to legislate for Devo Max?

3:

Way back, in the Seventies, there were a few books based on the idea of a civil war for Scots independence or over the status of Northern England, or something, and in recent years I have wondered what the authors were really thinking of.

I now suspect right-wing scare stories.

Turning the clock back on devolution may be harder than it looks, at least, but the current Conservatives are a pretty evil bunch. I don't think it needs the UKIP, but they seem to have brought forward an ugly streak in politics. And the Conservative Party is now talking in ways which make the New Fascism a mainstream option.

Bastards.

4:

The UKIP strikes me as the sort of party that'd campaign on the promise to allow you to beat your lessers. I can see why they wouldn't want Scottish independence, because that would mean the sun had truly set on the Empire.

And we can't have that, by Jove!

5:

Am I the only one that's a little disturbed about a Cthulu Mythos author joking (at least I hope it's a joke) talking about world domination?

6:

And the Conservative Party is now talking in ways which make the New Fascism a mainstream option.

Option 1 - admit their moral construction of the universe, the long-held justification for their personally favoured status, and economic theories are wrong. Figure out what's factually well-supported. Do that. Proceed to better world.

Option 2 - Use debt as a tool of social control; strangle all access to choice and future possibility for everybody who isn't in your tiny faction. Write your beliefs on the world and MAKE them true.

Despite option 2 being literally materially impossible, it's perceived as being much better and easier.

7:

I note with interest your characterization of those who don't support unlimited, unassimilated immigration as 'racist' and 'loons'.

Why is it that you feel the need to demonize those who have views different from your own? Can't you see that there are quite logical arguments for withdrawing from the EU and for stemming the tide of immigration in order to ensure cultural preservation and avoid totally devaluing the labor market at the lower end of the economic spectrum - a devaluation which hits hardest on the poorest in Britain?

I understand the arguments of those who share your views; I merely disagree with them. But I don't feel the need to insult those who hold those views.

I guess it's 'diversity for thee, but not for me' when it comes to one's ideological views, yes?

8:

Why is it that you feel the need to demonize those who have views different from your own?

Because if those views had been common currency in 1905 I wouldn't have been born. And my grandparents would have been murdered by Cossacks during a pogrom or by Nazis during the Shoah. Hint: this is a seriously emotive question for me.

The current English political rhetoric on immigration might as well be lifted wholesale from National Front rhetoric in the 1970s. It's full of racist dog-whistle codes: a national disgrace. But then, during the last election we saw what happened when a politician was caught telling the truth about racist voters in front of a live mike, didn't we? (And they crucified him for it. Reminder: Gordon Brown.)

I should note that the current wave of anti-immigration hysteria is a specifically English political phenomenon within the UK. When Alex Salmond expressed aggravation at current UK immigration policy and said Scotland needed more fresh blood from overseas, this was sufficiently uncontroversial that the opposition in Holyrood didn't pick a fight with him: being anti-immigrant is a vote-loser up here. Not to mention being seen as a dog-whistle signal to the racist right.

9:

I'm somewhat selfishly hoping for a no vote. Because Scotland seems to be the sea anchor for the left in UK politics. Without them holding us back the rest of the UK is going to be blown towards that "bad craziness in the near future" even faster.

Or I could move to Scotland I guess. What's the plan for post-independence immigration?

10:

Supplementary note on immigration: We have free movement of capital, in the modern globalized economy. (There's also free movement for anyone with the $10-20M it takes to buy an "investor's visa" -- available for cold cash from any country in the world.) Restrictions on labour movement, in contrast, are a necessary adjunct of economic imperialism insofar as it prevents labour from migrating to wherever wages are highest, thereby reducing the return on investment available to capital.

Restricting free migration plays into the pocket-books of those who want to reduce us all -- globally -- to the status of serfs. It is an abomination, and I oppose it as a matter of principle, just as I oppose slavery and autocracy.

11:

Or I could move to Scotland I guess. What's the plan for post-independence immigration?

Nobody is sure yet. But we know citizenship will be available to (a) anyone living in Scotland at the time, (b) anyone born in Scotland, and probably (c) anyone who can point to recent Scottish ancestry.

We can also guess that the constitutional model for recognizing citizenship after separation will follow the precedent set by Ireland in 1919-22. In which case, as a Brit, you'd be entitled to simply move to Scotland (or vice versa) and vote in elections there: then, after three years' residence, apply for a Scottish passport (and again: vice versa applies).

Note that this will only be the case if calm heads prevail after an independence vote -- there's been quite a lot of bile expressed at the idea of Scottish separation in the Southern media. It's possible that the little-Englanders on the Tory/UKIP right will decide it's better if the dissolution of the UK resembles the break up of Yugoslavia rather than that of Czechoslovakia. But I hope that saner heads run the process ...

12:

I will point out the Irish arrangement was set in place following quite a bit of bile too, so hopefully it's still on the table. Following that as an example you might be stuck with Faslane for a bit, though.

13:

I'm not going to invoke the Bonhoeffer quote or anything, but my personal racist-tolerance-o-meter has recently ticked over from "They're wrong and seem a bit unpleasant, but you kind of understand where they might be coming from (and let's face it Friar Tuck wasn't a black guy)" to a more straightforward "No. Just no. You're not having that." What did it for me was hearing some East Anglian 'kipper working himself into a state of righteous outrage about seeing people walking down the street, bold as you like, speaking Polish! Polish, eh? That would be the language my mother-in-law spoke when she left Germany in 1945 in the clothes she stood up in, not to mention the language my father-in-law was speaking when he fought at Monte Cassino. I mean, no. Just no.

The fact that the government seems intent on going full Kulturkampf against the menace of the Wrong Sort of Muslims, with the BBC dutifully tagging along behind ("where does diversity end and extremism begin?" - announcer, 6.00 news, Monday), doesn't help. Or perhaps it does, inasmuch as it confirms I'm on the right side of this particular line.

There is downward pressure on wages from irregular migrants at the bottom of the scale, and the solution is very simple: first, create more jobs, and second, enforce the minimum wage. (You could even create more jobs by enforcing the minimum wage.)

14:

I'm curious, in the event of a Yes vote, what becomes of the SNP? I mean, they will have achieved the objective, so what then holds it together as an organisation (apart from, y'know, power)?

Living in the South, I'm with Adrian.

15:

You are rather underselling how badly Thatcher damaged Scotland in your history, I remember seeing an estimate in ~2010 when this started getting talked about more that Thatcher's policies saw the transfer of wealth from Scotland to the Tory heartland that amounted to 4000 USD (inflation adjusted) per Scottish citizen per year.

For comparison that's on par with the transfer from blacks to whites in the northern part of America, albeit for a much shorter time. Similar processes too - redlining, manipulation of zoning, regional job targeting, rental mortgages etc.

16:

I have no dog in the race, but I'll be hoping for independence, merely because I'm a strong believer in small being more beautiful than not. (I also hope for a break-up of Spain.)

Except you'll still end up with the bourgeoisie ruling over you, just because they are your bourgeoisie, doesn't make them any better than the English ones... (And they'll still take orders from London & New York, and probably Berlin & Brussels as well.)

17:

Playing Devil's Advocate here, I am wondering if the politics isn't even murkier than you are describing. For a start, if you had a clean slate and wished to prevent Labour ever having much chance of forming a government, an obvious if brutal solution would be to fight a rather pathetic and losing battle against Scottish independence, and thus lose all the Scottish Labour constituencies. This also has the effect of losing the Scottish EU-federalists, and gaining quite a bit of the money previously paid to Scotland out of the UK tax system. Granted, the remainder of the UK will lose most of the oil revenue, but there isn't really much oil left in the North Sea.

On the Scottish side, one does rather wonder at how Mr Salmond thinks he is going to fund his brave new Socialist Republic of Scotland. One option is to try to turn it into a tax haven, though to do so he needs a stable currency and stable banks. As RBS has an estimated 100 billion black hole in its books, and he has been knocked back by first the EU and then by Westminster, it would appear that he hasn't got a stable, strong currency lined up, nor has he a stable banking system.

I would therefore suspect that Salmond will be using Bitcoins and decentralised financial systems for his new republic, in an effort to steal a march on outdated dinosaurs such as the future relic UK, and EU.

My apologies, the afternoon is dragging and that opportunity for jest was irresistable.

Ahem.

To be serious once more, my point stands: Scotland is a net sink of funding in the UK. Much employment is government-based, and even a raid on the estates of the highland lairds won't really gain much save to see how fast the obscenely rich can hightail it out of the country. Great Glen aside, Scottish agriculture is pretty poor, the industrial base is parlous, and there really isn't all that much else there. It is also telling that the major flops of the banking crisis were in the main Scottish banks trying to play with the London big boys, and failing.

So really the question boils down to this: are the Scottish electorate economically literate enough to know a crap deal when they see one?

18:

Interesting question. The SNP's original constitution called for them to achieve Scottish independence, then disband. That particular clause got dropped quietly a while ago. I suspect it'll live on, like the Irish pre-independence parties, as one of the mainstays of the Scottish political establishment.

19:

To be serious once more, my point stands: Scotland is a net sink of funding in the UK.

Then why do treasury reports indicate a gap of about £1000 between the money raised from taxation in Scotland per capita and the money spent there? As in, Scotland contributes disproportionately more to central government funds than it receives.

This gap is partly because England is more heterogeneous; in addition to the rich stockbroker belt and London, there are huge areas of extreme deprivation. But it's there: the transfer of wealth from Scotland to England has been noticeable and quite large over the past 20 years, and it turns out that we do have a viable economy, even after you remove oil from the equation. (As for RBS, it's de facto a British problem, thanks to the way the 2008 fallout plume drifted. My guess is it'll stay with London and possibly drop the "Scotland" suffix, because that's where the market is. But I may be wrong.)

20:

So... I hesitate to bring this up, but what happens if you get a Yes vote, but the government fobs you off with excuses about how the referendum was unfair because the rest of the UK wasn't given a vote or how legislation's got to go through Parliament and they daren't make it a three-line whip or some other bullshit, and they just end up refusing to let you leave?

I'm not looking forward to the fallout from this, especially because I live quite close to Corby and I can very easily see UKIP and their fellow-travelers going on a campaign to deport everyone "ethnically Scottish" in the event of a win.

Then again, in my darker moments I think a dose of armed insurrection might do this country some good.

21:

Another thing that could happen if the Anti-Europeans win in England is for England to secede from the UK and thus it's European treaty obligations, and Scotland inheriting the EU membership (not sure what would happen to Wales, and Northern Ireland is culturally closer to Scotland than England, but rising Catholic demographics there mean they will be reunited with Eire in the not-so distant future anyway).

22:

I think the 2017 scenario where the UK as a whole votes no to staying in the UK after Scotland votes No to independence is potentially the scariest. Given current polling, any No in that is likely to be close, and there are going to be some big areas that voted yes (London and the other big English cities as well as Scotland) and will feel they're being dragged out against their will. That has the potential to get very messy (and is probably an issue for the rUK if Scotland leaves too).

Plus, there's also the various security implications to the UK of Scottish independence (starting with Faslane) that I've seen occasional dark mutterings from the deep state about, and I'm worried about living in a Stross/MacLeod/Brookmyre novel UK.

23:

There are no plausible scenarios in which UKIP go into coalition with the Conservatives, or anyone else, because there are no plausible scenarios in which they pick up more than two or three Westminster MPs. Their support is simply too diffuse, and they haven't put in the decades of work at local level to build local strongholds like the Lib Dems have. The Conservatives (or indeed Labour, although Milliband is being surprisingly good about not pandering to them) may pick up some UKIP policies in an attempt to woo away their voters, but UKIP themselves have no chance at power in the next Westminster election.

Surely a high Yes vote that fails to reach 50% will effectively be a vote for devo-max, since the current devolved settlement will be politically untenable at that point.

24:

There are a few points I disagree with here, but I'll stick to one - the No campaign isn't in much trouble. A year or so ago, the polls were averaging them almost 20 points ahead. Currently the gap is about 16 points and there's been no apparent movement in the last couple of months.

It's generally recognised that Yes have run a far better, more professional and more energetic campaign. It just doesn't seem to have made all that much difference.

25:

Just a few points:

" Scotland was administered as a foreign colony by a remote party that less than 15% of the voters had asked for."

During the Thatcher period the Tories polled between 24% (1987) and 31.4% (1979) at the elections. Hardly less than 15%. The decline really kicked in when Blair got into power. After the initial devolution.

"In polls of Scottish voting intent in a general election, UKIP's share is in single digits, a far cry from the >30% levels seen in England."

That's hyperbole at the very least. UK polling report

http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/

shows intent in a general election to vote for UKIP to be approximately half as much, at 15%. And that was from yesterday. UKIP are an EU protest party, who let's remember don't have any MPs and when push comes to shove next year I suspect they will have very very few, if any.

It may be hard to figure out which way things are going, but it is exciting, no?

26:

The Republic of Ireland wants reunification with Northern Ireland the way Malaysia wants reunification with Singapore (only with the economic boot on the opposite foot): in theory it's all well and good, it's a mom'n'apple pie constitutional commitment and everyone wants it, but in practice? Hang on a moment ...

NI would need to be a lot closer to Eire in economic terms before it became acceptable: even after the post-2008 collapse, NI is a whole lot poorer. It's also full of frothing lunatic sectarian bigots, some of whom have guns.

(Singapore/Malaysia is different: but re-integrating Singapore (80% ethnic Chinese) would make it impossible to maintain the gerrymandered ethnic Malay ruling coalition (Malaysia: 50-60% ethnic Malay, 20% Chinese, 20% Indian, rest: other) without Chinese support, and the Singaporeans would have all the money -- SI's economy (pop: 5.5M) is the same size as Malaysia's (pop: 38M).)

But my point is, here are formerly-united states that have a commitment at a constitutional level to reunite ... and where short-term economic considerations hold them apart. The Scotland/England thing looks like a mirror-image of this situation: unified constitutionally, but being riven asunder by economic and political tensions.

27:

Mike: I hope you're right, I fear you're wrong.

28:

The election in which the SNP got a majority was in 2011, not 2008.

If there's a Yes vote the political singularity gets even more complicated: the 2015 General Election could easily return a majority of anti-independence MPs to Westminster. If there's a Labour government, it'll almost certainly fall the moment the Scottish MPs have to go home (to the crushing disappointment and fury of Labour voters in England, Wales, and Scotland). On the SNP's timescale for independence, this will be *before* the 2016 Scottish election ... which might also return an anti-independence majority.

I don't see this ending well, which is yet another reason why I'm voting No.

29:

Sorry for going off-topic and talking about fiction for a bit: I actually quite enjoy near-future stories set in a collapsed quantum state that has zero probability...

As a matter of fact, I have no issue with fiction diverging severely from reality: I'm not looking for prophecy, but for entertainment :-)

That said, I do not wish to harm what emanates from the Anointed Brains of Stross: I have been and aim to be severely entertained by every future word, and I severely appreciate the mental anguish endured to nail every plotline down.

Good luck in navigating through the collapsing worldlines: the only constant is that some time in the future we'll be looking back at the past and giggling.

30:

On immigration - if all the other countries in the world were as well off as us and more equal in wealth distribution, I'm pretty sure that most immigrants wouldn't feel the need to come to the UK. The capitalists just need to work on the wealth distribution bit, but oddly enough most anti-immigrant folk don't see the bigger picture.

Scotland had/ has some sort of demographic issues, which Salmond is likely well aware of, meaning that the easiest way to get more youngsters into the country is immigration, then they have babies then the looming demographic timebomb (Which is more of an issue of how we structure money, savings, and investment rather than a real issue {unless you have read our hosts's "Saturn's Children"}) is defused.

It should also be noted that I've spoken to many Scots who would dump Salmond as soon as independence is achieved, recognising him for being a good politician but also too much of an ego for our good.

31:

Even in event of a "yes" vote and independence, I reckon Salmond is a one-term Prime Minister. He's simply too old for the current British (including Scottish) political consensus on party leadership -- he turns 60 this year, doesn't he?

The threat of "King Salmond" is grossly overblown.

32:

My ancestors, the bulk of them anyway, have been born and bred in the British Isles for as long as anyone in my family has bothered to trace on both sides. Large parts of them in Wales.

(I kind of hope there's a strong yes vote in Scotland, Scottish independence and then Welsh independence although those that don't know their Welsh history will not know it's longer and murkier and Wales is a principality not a separate country joined by act of union. Lets not get into various acts of treachery to Owain Glyndwr and so on. The 15th Century was a long time ago.)

While I think there is legitimate question to be asked about where the limit between cultural diversity and permitting extremism lies - why is it bad to segregate children by gender within a school (if you say that's what you're going to do, so there's a choice to go elsewhere) when it's perfectly acceptable to segregate children by gender by sending them to a single sex school? It's a question that, to my mind, doesn't reflect on the *school* than on the mind of politicians saying "OMG it's terrible!" (There may well be other factors of which I'm not aware here but that particular one really doesn't bother me IF it's well known as it seems to be.)

But although UKIP got rid of him pronto, having one of their official spokespeople say "we shouldn't send aid to Bongo-Bongo land" and "any woman that doesn't clean behind her fridge is a slut" (I think he meant slattern, but he said slut) - you really want to defend them as rational and not sounding like loons?

That's from someone without the emotive history.

In terms of what will happen come the aftermath of the Scottish referendum, the only good news is that there's a gap. No one in Westminster *has* to say anything *yet.* They're all praying (metaphorically or in Dave's case literally) for a no vote officially. (Although I bet Dave wouldn't mind a yes vote, because it would be one way that the Tories might win for a lot more years. But I digress.) If there is a no vote, they can put in their manifestos something about Devo Max or not as they see fit. (If it's close, I expect Labour at least will put something in about it to try and win votes from the SNP North of the border, if it isn't close, I doubt we'll see it, although Labour still might, it can still win votes in Scotland and won't cost them votes elsewhere.) If there's a 'yes' vote then everyone (except UKIP presumably) will probably include in their manifesto something about continuing the negotiation and completing Scottish independence. Just how firm a commitment it will be, we'll see.

If Scotland votes 'yes' I'm probably moving. North.

33:

It's always looked strange to me that the passing of the British crown to James VI/I gets consistently described as England taking over Scotland. From here it looks the other way around; certainly at the level of the monarchy anyway.

34:

I'm scratching my head about the economic part of this: it looks like Scotland is primarily about manufacturing, with a large but declining oil industry, while England is primarily a service economy, with all the inherent wealth divide that represents.

How much is that driving the split? I can see a lot of newly poor resentment driving England to the right and to getting rid of them Furriners (as they call them on our side of the pond), but I'm trying to get my head around whether England will blow a gasket if they have to negotiate with a foreign country to buy their oil and renewable energy from Scotland.

35:

I find myself somewhat amused at the idea of the No campaign groups (Better Together and No Borders) raising the question of whether an independent Scotland could be part of the EU (ok, insisting that an independent Scotland could NOT be part of the EU), so if we want to be in Europe we must remain part of the UK - while at the same time their Westminster based counterparts campaign to withdraw the UK from the EU.

36:

If Scotland leaves, what happens to Ulster and Wales?

Would Scotland stay in NATO?

How does the UK's military get divided up or would Scotland and England maintain a joint military?

37:

Perhaps the Scots need the North Sea Tunnel between Aberdeen and somewhere in Denmark? It'd be 100 miles shorter to tunnel to Norway, but they don't seem to want to join the EU for some reason.

38:

If Scotland leaves the UK would somebody please redo "Braveheart" so that it is historically accurate?

39:

If Scotland's main economic asset is North Sea oil could they risk becomong yet another corrupt petro-state?

How did Norway avoid that fate?

40:

Hailing as I do from south of the border, I've found that my view has changed significantly over the last few months in light of the noises being made down here.

I think that should Scotland vote yes the UK will be prepared to do a timely deal; but that the cost will be severe and the mood to negotiate on the base issues non-existent. So, say yes to monetary union but no to any statutory levers into the Bank of England to set policy. Say yes to enthusiastic support to getting Scotland into the EU, but also say yes to Faslane and an airbase or two continuing to fly the Union Jack.

Then there's a huge raft of smaller administrative issues such as car numberplates, MoTs, and so on. I'm sure the UK will offer a deal to keep supporting the new Scottish state, I'm not so sure it will be remotely generous.

To my eyes, the real threat will be other EU states who wish to see Scotland crash and burn to deter their own independence movements. It might be xenophobic, stupid and harmful in the long term but none of that matters if they actually do it.

Finally, if Scotland votes No, I don't think Devo Max will ever get through Westminster unless it is as part of a deal that gives similar powers to regions in the rest of the UK. And that might not be as outlandish as once we thought.

41:

Mr. Stross, I look forward to a discussion on possible devolution of the US.

42:

Let's not forget that London itself in an anomaly in South-East England - as in, it's councils are dominated by Labour, even in some rich boroughs (as the number of rich voters is minute compared to the space they occupy, and even the richest boroughs have concentrations of social housing . . .).

It's the South-East that has a weird relationship with the modern world - as in, heavily dependent on London's status as a global city for it's continued wealth, but using that wealth to maintain an ossified culture.

(Unless they seriously thing they could re-establish a British Imperium).

I'm also with Charlie that restricting the movement of labour while having free movement of goods or capital is morally bankcrupt. To do so, while citing Adam Smith . . .

43:

The US already has something more than devolution, with the individual States having a lot of control over their own affairs, so long as what they do is constitutional.

44:

Just some idle wondering from my part, but wouldn't it be possible for the SNP to do the opposite if it looks like the Yes is set to lose after all? That is, to make a promise (and perhaps have the Scottish parliament make it binding or something) to perform, in the case of a Yes vote, some sort of confirmation referendum between full independence and Devo Max. It seems to me that this would instantly sway nearly all the undecideds, and a good part of the No-leaners, towards Yes.
It would sound much more believable than Cameron's empty promises, and even he would see it as preferable after the Yes is a fait accompli.
Of course, I assume Salmond would instantly start pushing for Max Devo in the case of a No anyways. But that certainly would be a long and uphill struggle, since Westminster seems to be assuming a No vote would be a mandate to reverse devolution.

45:

to make a promise (and perhaps have the Scottish parliament make it binding or something) to perform, in the case of a Yes vote, some sort of confirmation referendum between full independence and Devo Max.

I have wondered that myself. If it happens -- and it'd be a bombshell -- I'd expect to hear about it in the last month of the campaign ...

46:

There are actually 59 Scottish MPs. There used to be 78 before devolution (which is probably why you're remembering there being 80), but the quota was lowered so Scottish MPs represent the same number of constituents as English ones (apart from the five Highland/Island MPs, who have geographically huge constituencies with very few people in). The new boundaries with the reduced number of MPs went into effect in 2005.

47:

I admit to being a bit surprised to find that the Scots are more liberal than their English neighbors.

It seems that people living in isolated mountain communities (Tea Partiers in Appalachia, Taliban in the Hindu Kush, Swiss Bankers in the Alps) tend to be more inward focused and conservative than their more cosmopoitan city dwelling cousins in the lowlands.

48:

You need to bear in mind that about 70% of Scotland's population lives in the lowlands, and in particular in the Central Belt running from Glasgow in the west to Edinburgh in the east. Another chunk live in the minor cities up north, and about 20% (around a million people) occupy around 80% of the land area. Outside the central belt, Scotland is actually quite sparsely populated compared to most US states.

49:

Charlie:
Why was the Devo Max option left off the ballot? I'm searching through old Guardian articles, but I can't find the reason.

Also, don't the Tories have a vested interest in seeing Scotland cut loose? Without the left-leaning Scots, Labor has much more difficult time winning an election. Am I correct in this analysis?

Very interesting blog post BTW! Thanks!

--Wulf

50:

Heteromeles wrote:

"it looks like Scotland is primarily about manufacturing, with a large but declining oil industry, while England is primarily a service economy"

That's not quite true. Scottish manufacturing is about 12% of the economy (2014),[1] while for the UK as a whole it's about 11% (2009).[2] Admittedly, there may be different measures used, and there is a five year difference.

" but I'm trying to get my head around whether England will blow a gasket if they have to negotiate with a foreign country to buy their oil and renewable energy from Scotland"

The UK as a whole has to import energy anyway, I don't imagine it would be worse to negotiate with a sovereign Scottish state than say Putin's Russia. And that's assuming an independent Scotland does get sole possession of all oil fields anyway, which I'd imagine would be a point of negotiation in any post-yes votes talks.

[1] http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefingsAndFactsheets/S4/SB_14-07.pdf

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/31785/10-1333-manufacturing-in-the-UK-an-economic-analysis-of-the-sector.pdf

51:

Charlie,
I don't want to get involved in the debate as I live south of Hadrian's Wall but I will say one thing-a derisory vote would be the biggest possible disaster despite the choice so PLEASE WILL EVERYONE IN SCOTLAND WITH A VOTE USE IT.

52:

I think that's a given. (They're predicting turnout will be somewhere over 70%. This is getting a lot more interest than even a general election.)

53:

"politics, like adventure, is always a lot more fun when it's happening to somebody else a long way away." I second this, and grab the popcorn.

I grew up in Canada and now live in the USA. I lived through the Quebec referendum of 1995 which lost by 0.6 percentage points. Is there any way for that event to provide ideas on what might occur with Scotland?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quebec_referendum,_1995

Take on the current versions of this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fRgnOR-bvg

54:

Also, don't the Tories have a vested interest in seeing Scotland cut loose?

The name of the party is the Conservative and Unionist Party, so that would be a bit weird.

55:

Norway had several things going for it to help it avoid becoming another oil state dictatorship.

First, when the oil was discovered Norway was a mature democracy - their constitution of 1814 was extremely democratic for its time (in part to lessen the impact of getting a Swedish king in the Swedish-Norwegian union they were forced into), and it could evolve quite stable democratic traditions in the period up to 1905 when the union was peacefully dissolved.

Second, Norway had a quite mature economy. Yes, it was largely maritime, but they had one of the largest merchant navies in the world, a good-sized ship-building industry, plenty of power production through water power, and so on.

Third, and probably the least important factor, is that getting oil out of the North Sea is a lot more labour and capital intensive than getting it out of the deserts in the Gult states. Together with the two points above, that meant that a comparatively large amount of the oil money ended up in the general economy where it could be of use.

56:

Thanks for a modern history lesson, interesting times coming up for Scotland...

Opens up a possibility of an independent Scotland engaging in an energy price war vs. Russia, as England would no longer need to treat Scottish energy preferentially (if they do now, i.e., no tariffs for 'domestic' energy vs. 'small' tariff for Russian imports).

It'd be interesting to have a political system where 'best in class per portfolio' could be elected so that the party that best understood environment managed that portfolio while the party that best understood international defense or education managed those departments/ministries. The 'president' would be the honorary chair of all the boards and vote only as a tie-breaker. The argument that only one party can integrate all the portfolios - therefore has dibs on chairing all the ministries - is outdated because of the amount of global, multi-tier trade that is already our day-to-day reality in the 21st century. And our current global trade, I believe, needs deeper expertise more than it needs to be managed in some politically uniform manner across the board. (Which it never is anyways.) Also, this scheme probably wouldn't result in any more posturing and arguments than already takes place in Parliament. (Have at it - I know this is fantasy-land.)

57:

Thanks Stephen, that clarifies things.

58:

This is fascinating to watch, and I admit it's rather more life-and-death for those who are actually involved in it. But I'm seeing a considerable overlap with those in the USA who seriously want secession or abolishment of the Union. I'm wondering if a YES vote would embolden many of our antiunionists (usually of the stripe who think the US has gotten wimpier and overrun by liberal progressive atheist socialists -- ironically similar to the people who want the indepdendence referendum to fail.)

I do agree that many eyes will be watching this referendum, and those who want their countries to remain big, beefy, and held together at gunpoint and with duct-tape will be rather nervous.

59:

We have had two-thirds of a century of peace since the last invading army crossed the Rhine: the longest period of peace in Western Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire. That's worth a lot, and I think we break with it at our peril.)

A counter-argument I've seen on this is that the European Union is not responsible for this, but rather, American military power keeping everyone in line. That, without an EU, that peace would continue as long as there are American troops all over Europe anyway.


60:

The problem of what to write is easily solved, how about a space opera? You can do this very well!

As for scottish politics: interesting times, indeed.

61:

I could give a one-word answer to the idea that the precise name of a Political Party matters.

But in the last century there was a worker's party that was neither socialist not particularly for the workers. Perhaps it got taken over by power-crazed loonies of some sort.

Maybe the UKIP is the only party in Britain that is new enough to still be recognised by the people who chose its name.

Looking at some of what happened, it would be hard to see the Labour Party of Harold Wilson as anything like the Labour Party of George Osborne, and yet there have been suggestions that both men were Communist spies, and both parties have the same name. and suffer the same slurs from my anti-EU Conservative MP.

The next time I get a vote, here in England, I am going to be very tactical.

"Uncle Target! Uncle target! Over..."

62:

Unfortunately, while it is usually racist rhetoric, immigration restrictions are also socially important. US cities used to be allowed to give general assistance to their residents, but then the laws were changed so that they were required to give general assistance to anyone in the country who showed up. This caused a "race to the bottom", as every city that became known as generous has its general assistance program overwhelmed by those who formerly lived in less generous areas.

I don't know what the right answer is, but it looks as if SOME form of immigration controls are necessary if we are going to have a society that supports its citizens.

63:

A few points from an Englishman.
1) UKIP will be lucky to gain more than 3 or 4 seats in 2015, as we do not have proportional representation (PR) in Westminster election. Look at how hard it has been in the past for minor parties (Lib, SDP, LibDems, Greens etc.) to turn votes into Westminster seats.
2) Much of UKIP's support in the Euro elections was (IMO) down to protest votes. Protest votes by people who see the Euro elections as a sort of Mickey Mouse / doesn't count for much / "hey, it's not as if we're electing the next government..." kid of election. Come to 2015 Westminster election, the protesters will go back to their "normal" parties.
3) Some of the protest was not about immigration/Europe etc. but against to elected/ruling elite. Against elected representatives who have never had a real job in their lives (and "no" being an MP/MEP is not a job (real or otherwise), a hugely important role yes, but not a job), who have come from a posh school, done PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) at Uni and think that that is sufficient to be an MP/MEP. Who spend their time pretending to be "ordinary people", which results in this "beige-ocracy" (thank-you Charles for that word) we endure at the moment. Instead of having MPs/MEPs who listen to "our pain", we should have MPs/MEPs who have experienced "our pain" themselves and don't need to pretend that they are "ordinary people" because they really are "ordinary people".

---------------------

Now that I've gotten my UKIP rants out of my system, some thoughts on an independent Scotland, or should I say, "living in a country that no longer has Scotland as part of it" (remember, I'm English).

--------------------

4) The reaction of the English (and Welsh) to a "Yes" vote will (IMO) be like that of someone who has just been slapped in the face, hard by a friend. I really think that it will drastically alter the 2015 vote in England/Wales. I don't see a sort of "business as usual" happening.

5) I think you'll see a fair amount of hurt anger from English after that slap (Yes vote). There's still a lot of English who think that Scots (deep down) kind of really like us and would never do something so hurtful as to want separation. No, I'm not one of them, but I do see it in people down here, especially those who have never lived anywhere but the town/city that they were born in.

6) If it does go so far right wing, as Charlie fears it might, here in the rump of the UK, then I may just have to up sticks and move. Let's hope that it doesn't get to that state.

Tony P from the birth place of the railways.

64:

The argument about "make more jobs" is only even possibly a short term answer unless we have a truly horrendous event of some sort. (War, giant meteor impact, *multiple* occurances like Fukishima or worse, etc.) Otherwise automation will continue to remove jobs faster than they are created. Just consider what the new automatic cars will do to truck drivers for one probably 5-years away event, and it's only one of multiple. As image recognition gets better and manual desterity gets better the number of jobs that a person can do more cheaply than a robot keeps decreasing. So far the usual route has been to redesign jobs, but that's merely what the current state of the art is fostering.

Also, please note that the pressure isn't only at the bottom end. IBM's Watson is now diagnosing cancer (in limited circumstances) better than many specialists. And that isn't the only job it's being trained at.

You don't find many things written about a society with genuinely intelligent machines that aren't malevolent, but there's no reason to presume that they WILL be malevolent. It all depends on what base they grow out of. IBM, Google, etc. would be more likely to design something more similar to Alan Dean Foster's Colegatarch...though they'd try for much deeper penetration into the social fabric (and, of course, for corporate profits).

What I'm sort of vaguely afraid of is more similar to Jack Williamson's "Humanoids". The details are, of course, all wrong, but the feeling tone is one that's a bit horribly plausible.

But "jobs"? Except as make-work that's a purely near-term measure. We can hope for something as benign as Frederick Pohl's "The Midas Plague", but I don't see any way to work towards that from here. (And that was only relatively benign, though the craziness was all in human social customs.)

65:

I would also add, when considering how Norway managed to avoid becoming a failed petro state, "socialism" and "NATO".

The Norwegians took strong steps to regulate the oil industry heavily to make sure that no one particularly got rich off it and that the extracted value would be returned over a long time to the populace as a whole.

They were in a position where the usual threats of destabilization or direct military action to prevent that sort of thing didn't work because Norway was absolutely critical to the defense of the Atlantic in various Cold War scenarios, and you couldn't mess with Norway -- otherwise geopolitically fairly weak -- without directly picking a fight with the entirety of the NATO defence establishment, who wanted Norway to be nice and stable, please. And who did rapid deployment to Norway exercises every year.

66:

Nope, no more space opera for a few years. Magical realism or gothic haunted house is more where I'm planning on going. Well, that and elves.

67:

The answer to that problem is central (federal) funding. About 50% of British local council funding comes out of central tax revenues, not local; it's an amazingly efficient buffer that stops poor cities (e.g. Liverpool) from spiralling down like Detroit -- and thereby reduces the motivation for poor folks to decamp to prosperous (and expensive) areas.

Why the US can't adopt this pragmatic working solution to a problem is left as an exercise for the reader. (Hint: the phrase "fuck you, I've got mine" springs to mind.)

68:

You realize you've gone from "a differential lack of suck causing problems" to "well, I guess everywhere has to suck" without considering "maybe nowhere should suck?"

That last is much easier and better to implement than the coercive state necessary to prevent people trying to get somewhere better.

69:

Hardly anyone wants their hair cut by a robot. Same with fashion advice, original art, gardening, dog-walking, handmade furniture, and so on. In a condition of general prosperity you can perfectly well work and profit by it, you're just not going to be working at core infrastructure. (Though you might be collaborating with a robot -- it's really easy to imagine a whole lot of science getting done by "while you're out there, mind taking some pictures?" and similar, and it's just as easy to imagine people who work with robots on, say, habitability design for houses and transport and so on.)

70:
Why the US can't adopt this pragmatic working solution to a problem is left as an exercise for the reader. (Hint: the phrase "fuck you, I've got mine" springs to mind.)

Over here the people who espouse that position like to camouflage it with the term "federalism", alas.

71:

Hello Mr. Stross.
I am wondering...do you think there will be any degree of fighting in the event of a secession vote being successful?

I'm asking cause I'm an Murcan, and last time someone tried to secede from us, we burned the place to the ground (for extremely good reasons, mind and in NO WAY am I placing the American confederacy in the same moral league as the SNP)

Do you think that's possible, or likely, or laughably ludicrous?

72:

Well, let's see how England responds to being massively multicultural over the next few decades, shall we?

Speaking as a Yank from one of the more recently settled provinces (California), I rather like the fact that I don't have to live with a lowest-common-demoninator set of laws that appeals to people in California, North Dakota, and Mississippi simultaneously. That's the obverse side of the whole federalist thing, unfortunately: we can't get much of a welfare state going, but we can set up a bunch of different states so that those of different tolerances can find a place where they are closer to happy with their local laws.

As for secession talk, I think that's been going on since the Whiskey Rebellion in 1791. It's not worth taking seriously here just yet.

73:

I suspect that Charles Stross and I would disagree on many things, not least on the analysis of Margaret Thatcher's choices whilst in power. A good demonstration of his earliest point in that we have similar backgrounds so might reasonably be expected to largely agree on things; for example, I was also at Bradford, although as an engineer, and have worked almost exclusively in software startups ever since.

What I suspect we would probably agree on is that Scottish devolution is likely to be a bad idea for both countries. I am no fan of the Labour or Conservative parties. I am even less of a fan of the nationalist parties such as the BNP (oops I meant the UKIP) who clearly have not yet got over the loss of Frank Whittle (Bomber command, Winston Churchill, Montgomery, Mountbatten, take your pick).

The loss for the current UK is clear, a generation of far-right, nationalist policies which will impoverish both financially and socially. The influence of Scottish thought reaches well beyond its borders particularly into the UK Labour party. The UK needs this counterweight to the somewhat more reductive English tendencies.

The loss for Scotland is also clear. Scotland has a tiny population (4 million and shrinking). This is around 1/3 of the population of Greater London. As a separate country it is likely to have less resources to call upon, less access to English markets and to English finance, particularly if England leaves the European Union. As Ireland has demonstrated, it is possible to thrive with such as small population. However, it is not always easy and the risk of stagnation is ever present (Belgium government experience for example). I wonder if the Scottish political class, as small as it is, will be able to rise to the challenge of governing what is in effect a new country.

In many way I think Scotland will benefit from devolution more than England although this will not become immediately obvious. I hope it doesn't happen.

I see the same arguments applying for the UK staying in Europe. The UK needs Europe as much as Europe needs the UK. Without the UK (and its partners), Europe would be constructing an unelected, unaccountable, out of touch super-bureaucracy (I will pause here to consider Neil and Glenys Kinnock and then my head will explode). Without Europe, the UK will become a banana monarchy losing access to huge market and an educated and mobile workforce and (as is coming) a low cost workforce to keep us from dribbling in our declining years.

In reply to Richyrland - having lived in Edinburgh I can assure you that there will be flighting in the streets but probably not against the hated English and only after the pubs have let out.

74:

I agree with those who say UKIP won't get more than a 2-3 MPs elected in 2015, and I'd go further and say that if Scotland votes "No", which I still think is the most likely outcome, then UKIP will win no seats at all. I know for a fact how hard it is for a small party to break through in a First-Past-the-Post system: back in the 1990s I was a Lib Dem activist in one of their stronger southern England areas and in 1997 after over 30 years of hard local campaigning that had built up an activist and councillor base from literally nowhere, we finay elected a Lib Dem MP in 1997. By TWO votes. (And of course those readers cogniscant with UK politics will now know exactly which seat I'm referring to and that said MP's career ended spectacularly in scandal and the Tories took the seat back easily in 2010.)

But it's not just that UKIP haven't had time to build a local base yet, they have a structural problem in that they are the natural home for the pub bore tendency that loves to prop up the bar at the 19th hole pontificating about how the country's gone to the dogs and how Farage will sort it all out when he gets in but are nowhere to be seen when the hard work of campaigning needs to be done, which recently led to the hilarity that UKIP had to hire companies to deliver their leaflets and of course a lot of the actual deliverers were Eastern European immigrants. In many ways UKIP have done the Tories a favour by taking on a lot of their dead wood.

75:

No chance at all, it's in the laughably ludicrous level. There might be one or two random drunken attacks on english sounding people, as happened after the film braveheart came out, but there is no chance of any organised violence.

76:

I've been saying for years it was a score draw - our King went south to boss them, they bribed our parliament to throw the towel in.

77:

I'd suggest, Charlie, that you are viewing this through the wrong lens. It's not Schroedinger, science and rationality that makes sense of it; no matter how hard you've tried to join some dots through selected historical events.

Rather, it's religion.

It's holy writ that scotland has been hard done by by those dastardly English, that it has massive capability and scope that has been ruthlessly kept down, and that 'FREEDOM!!!' would result in an Eden being created in Edinburgh.

Now, just drink this kool-aid of a referendum vote - no, don't ask what's in it.

Frankly it's only religion that allows the SNP and the yes camp to get away with saying obviously untrue things, claiming everything would arrange itself to scotland's benefit, and have nobody north of the border laugh and point out that it's all complete cr*p.

It's a religious argument, a dogma, that despite all the evidence, the promised land is bound to given to the faithful - provided they keep the faith and ignore the evidence.

Magical thinking - that all I have to do is wish hard enough and a land of milk and honey will be delivered. In that respect is kind of funny that Rowling seems to be the only one pointing out the cold hard reality - north of the border that is.

78:

Ian, so, lacking the bigger political context here (American, Californian, looking at this from 10,000 km or so away), can you explain what you find magical / incredible / unlikely, and what your opinions are regarding the proposed devolution's problems?

Your brief "You're all nuts" wasn't really detailed enough...

Where you live and your political orientation would also be helpful.

Thank you.

79:

Where you live and what your political orientation is not required; those may help others understand your biases, but you should not feel required to proffer them.

(Mind you, I think you're wrong, but I don't know enough to participate, and cheerfully admit it.)

80:

george

The general level of discourse has been "yes, we will obviously get X, even though the people intimately involved, who would need to agree for it to happen, have explicitly, publicly, and in no uncertain terms said no." That is the general approach for every key area that would need to be sorted to have a viable chance at independence : currency, membership of trade/defence blocks, oil, banking, trade, etc.

It's got to the stage now where it's a bad joke.

And the key part is, the facts of the matter really haven't gained traction north of the border. The idea is that ALL of these will come good, to scotland's benefit and others cost, quickly, should the vote go for yes.

That's why I say the lens that works is religion. You need a religious turn of mind to ignore the evidence and 'keep the faith'.

If you don't trust me on this and want to do your own research (as you should) just google "SNP currency" for a typical example. The SNP stated policy position is that the UK will enter into a currency union with the independent scotland, and that scotland will have a board level position in the Bank of England making the financial decisions. Oh, and the BoE will back scotland and its debts.

EVERY party in the UK has said, nope, no currency union.

You have young earth creationists over there? Same level of facepalm.

81:

Well, it occurs to me that an independent Scotland would have one very powerful trump card to play against any intransigence from Westminster: start cooperating or wave goodbye to Faslane.

82:

You aren't exactly arguing the case. And you seem to be grossly simplifying the argument you're making.

Re the currency situation, there seem to be parties suggesting everything from the apparently orthodox SNP currency union situation, to adopting the Euro immediately, to just using the Pound without a formal currency union, to a transition starting with the Pound moving towards an independent currency or the Euro. Also, what the UK parties assert now and what they'd agree to do after a theoretical yes vote are two different things.

The US Dollar is used in East Timor, Equador, Marhsall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, and Zimbabwe. They don't have seats at the US Federal Reserve Bank. So apparently others' can use the currency informally.

The BofE backing Scotland and its debts is apparently somewhat more complicated, obviously. But you seem to have simplified that debate beyond recognition.

I don't see any credible disagreement about oil; if it's an independent country, the mineral rights out in the North Sea beyond the sea boundary go with the land. Is any UK party disputing that? They signed UNCLOS, right?

Regarding NATO, it seems complicated, but they seem safe enough anyways. It would likely work out. If we can bring Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Albania, et al in then Scotland's not practically going to be excluded. The arguments to the contrary seem to be unreasoned.

The EU and EEC memberships are more complicated, but the primary complication seems to be Spain / Catalonia, nothing to do with Scotland itself or directly. The rest of the EU may well make Spain eat a Scottish accession regardless of implications for Catalonia's movement.

I was hoping for a lot better detail here. Again, I am not anywhere near over there or immersed in the situation, but reading the various Scottish party positions, they seem to have a nuanced combination of "what we want" "what we think we can get" and "what we think the range of viable options look like" for each of these questions. The consensus "what we think we can get" seems to line up with independent experts' consensus. There aren't issues the Scottish parties aren't willing to talk about and put issue statements out on.

I can tell the difference between politician spouting political prattle to try and influence an election, and an actual policy problem. What I am seeing on position statements from UK parties is a mix of prattle to influence and position statements that overlap with the Scottish party "range of viable options" in each case.

So, up your game. Details, man. Show us specifics that bolster a real case.

83:

Ross, the "Yes" campaign are pushing the line that upon devolution Faslane will belong to Scotland anyway. See Ian S's posts above about magical thinking.

84:

The UK parties are agreeing that upon devolution Faslane would belong to Scotland anyways. Hence their naval report as to other locations, etc etc.

Much wailing and gnashing, but there are 2+ locations in Wales which have enough land and water to base Trident subs and the missiles and warheads, with security and population centers far enough from warhead storage, etc. And if push comes to shove, a missile /warhead storage location and dock on the Isle of Wight and basing on Portsmouth would do fine as well.

85:

OGH, way up top: "Labour today is considerably to the right of any of Margaret Thatcher's conservative predecessors"

I would welcome data and/or commentary on this comment. Take as read that Labour has moved massively right; but I'm some combination of too young/not well-informed enough to know whether it's really been *that* dramatic.

[British, English variant, raised in the Home Counties but Uni in Sheffield and living in NY; Scottish by heritage and preference - and heck, Irish before that, hence the Mc not Mac - but not by residence in a couple centuries. So I can and have traced the family tree back to the Bruce, but could I get a Scottish passport? Unsure.]

I echo the fear of others above: without the Scots, England is currently voting for the Tories and it's terrifying. Life-long socialist (and you think that’s tricky in the UK these days, try being in the US; then throw in atheist..), my earliest political memory is joining the Peoples’ March for Jobs, which must have been around ’81? So I grew up in the Thatcher-milk snatcher years, and vividly recall the delight at John Major’s ousting. The country - England or the UK, take your pick - has not recovered from her and the worst part is that it currently appears not to want to.

But back to the point: is the statement true? On say healthcare, education, and taxation as representative policy areas?

And if so… how do we once again launch an electorally-viable left-wing party? (Whatever the answer, I think it has to be easier if that 'we' includes Scotland, so I am very much hoping for a No vote, despite the fact that if I were living in Scotland I'd vote Yes.)

86:

Hmm, for someone who claims to be from the US and have little knowledge of the facts, you do seem to have a very SNP position. Same set of talking points, obscuration and flim-flam even ...

What I have presented ISN'T a simplification, it's the stated policy of the SNP/yes campaign. If you think it's lacking in detail, well ...

yesscotland.net/news/common-sense-currency

Personally I'd suggest that before there is even the potential of a go ahead on such a risky project, I'd need to see a fully worked up proposal, with project details, staffing, risk and mitigation planning, buy-in of key stakeholders, and of course RoI.

As I said, all there is is magical thinking.

87:

You have young earth creationists over there?

Yep. We exported them to you. Not our proudest achievement.

When do they plan to build a museum?

88:

Seems JKR just came out for a No vote.

Just curious but do you mind telling us why you, CS, moved north? Politics? Business? Personal?

Nobody is sure yet. But we know citizenship will be available to (a) ... (b) ... and probably (c) anyone who can point to recent Scottish ancestry.

You once said that we in the US think 100 years is a long time. So what does recent mean? My last name is Ross. My great grand father showed up in Kentucky in 1824 and was born around 1800 in Maryland. My fairly strong opinion is that he was descended from Scottish serfs who were shipped to Maryland in the early 1700s as indentured servants as the Scottish landlords discovered sheep were more profitable than serfs.

89:

My prior detailed knowledge of the devolution debate is limited to popular press accounts (mostly US press (*cough* *gag*) and France 24 coverage in English; the BBC coverage is obviously biased, along with The Economist). My detailed knowledge on the nuclear / Faslane issues is due to a combination of my technical nonproliferation work and naval architecture / ocean engineering degree (yes, I *can* design both a sub and the dock structure to unload missiles at...).

I'm slightly more up on EU politics in general because the BBC and Economist and other sources I follow aren't as biased. And the NATO stuff from prior nonproliferation and military analysis.

So, I hopped to Wikipedia to find the major Devolution players (SNP and others), read their basic position statements, read their detailed position statements and some critical and supporting expert views on each, read a bunch of pseudoindependent critics, then hopped to the UK parties and did the same. Come on, snap to it, your browser should be able to open 200 tabs too, and this is 2014 not 2004.

Again, and this is my relatively quick opinion having nothing in the game here, it appears to me that the Scottish parties have a diverse well reasoned set of positions and the UK parties are fearmongering, and have much shallower intellectual depth to their arguments.

I am neither living there nor focusing on this long term, and I freely admit that lack of long term following this issue is perhaps affecting my impressions. But, you said "They're shallow badly thought through fanatics go look!" and I looked, and I found the opposite, and your response is "But they're shallow badly thought through fanantics, go look again!", and I've looked again, and my impression now is that you're a shallow poorly thought through fanatic on the issue.

Or at least remarkably unwilling to find me some reference URLs for deeper analysis which is critical of devolution by say professional economists, political scientists, policy analysts, etc.

I haven't read nearly enough on this to make up my mind in a firmly-held-opinion sense, but I have to call the initial impressions as I see them, and you're not making a good one for your side.

If the SNP really are shallow kooks, there should be independent experts who you can cite and point me to who are saying this. So, names, URLs, ?...

90:

My great grand father

My great great grandfather.

No we don't live to be 130. :)

91:

In the long term, none of us have any North Sea Oil.

92:

Fracking may move the line between near term and long term out a ways, and gas exploitation with fracking may help that a lot as well. It is certainly a resource, of some duration and total value, regardless of the knowledge that it is causing more global warming and is finite...

93:

"They're shallow badly thought through fanatics go look!" and I looked, and I found the opposite

Point is, I directed you to their actual policy. The one that says currency union, even though everyone in the UK says "nope, not a chance". One simple, obvious, not particular complex example of where the SNP are totally out of touch with reality and don't have a credible plan. There are many others.

And you say "you found the opposite"?

I can't actually make it much more obvious can I?

You say that using the pound without union is viable as an unattributed plan B. I just have to point to the example of Greece as to why that's unwise for more than a short time - and since they wouldn't be able to print pounds either, they rapidly hit a real money supply issue, not to say having to hold reserves that they currently don't have.

There are no obvious solutions.

The real problem however, isn't just the specifics of this one example, but the attitude that things will work out despite having no plan and no viable route, on ALL the areas where that's true (which are quite a few). And having to sort all the other, lessor, problems and actions that would need to be taken at the same time, without going into a death spiral.

They are trusting to, reliant on, magical thinking.

I generally try and avoid links in this forum, it sets off the moderation buffer. However, if you want a high level, independent view of the scenario, here's one to be going on with :

online.wsj.com/articles/scottish-economy-would-be-worse-off-if-independent-economists-say-1402076153

I think its generally more positive than reality would be.

94:

A small piece of news after the UK's local council elections, which may illuminate the wackiness of the EU election.

In Thurrock, the UKIP now hold 6 seats on the council, Labour 23 seats, and Conservative 20. This is the Essex fringe of London.

In the meeting that decides who runs the council, electing the Mayor and the committee chairmen, the UKIP members abstained from voting, so Labour retain control, their candidates getting all the positions.

Local politics, of course, but it suggests that the UKIP might not be quite the right-wing powerhouse some have presented them as. Then again, is the ant-EU faction really right-wing, on the Labour/Conservative spectrum?

95:

There is a strong possibility that current oil/gas reserves are more than would be safe to use for energy. Which does allow for other uses which don't have to release carbon dioxide, but will fracking release useful raw materials in such a world?

96:

That's generated a lot of comments in a short time!
Charlie is broadly correct (caveats below)
My positon here is well-known to some.
We ALL (England, Scotland, Wales N. Ireland, S Irleand - yes we need them back in, if we can agree that 1885-1998 was a ghastly mistake by everyone) need what is called "Devo-Max"
I live in London & I feel alienated from "Westminster" - none of the main 3 political parties are relevant at present ....
However, Salmond & worse, his followers, are nasty pieces of work
They want to institute stasi-style supervision (all for their own good OF COURSE) over every person in Scoltnd.
Their entire campaign seems based on hatred of "the ENglish" - as evidenced by the hysterical attacks on JK Rowling today.
Futhermore, if Scotland is duped into voting "Yes", it will have 25%+ unemployment by the opening of the tax year 2015-16, because all the big employers will run, immediately.

I disagree with Charlie's take on the NHS - it is in difficulties, of course, but I think he is too pessimistic. I don't think the ultra-right will be allowed to get away with it - & of course the real shit came down when Tony B Liar was in charge, with PFI hospital, shudder - something much naster than any tory could have dreamt of ....

Charlie is wrong on the EU - BUT: he is where I was 5 years ago.
Very unfortunately, the EU has now become so corporate-corrupt & totally undemocratic that we are left (very unfortunately - I would love reform to work) with little choice - a very nasty prospect.

There is also the point that an independant Scotland means a permanent right-wing tory majority in England.
No thank you .......

So, Charlie, will you be waiting for the new Scots nanny-plod to beat down your doors for haveing water that's too hot?
Or your neighbours being jailed for refusing to allow their children to be spied on by the new state?
Because that is what giving Salmond power will mean - as well as 25%+ unemployment, of course.

97:

You forget, Charlie
ALL 3 main parties are lying through their teeth.
Why do you think UKIP, for all their faults, are popular?

98:

Excuse me, but grow up?

Charlie mentioned the "anti-immigration" trope & everyone assumes it's either/both racist & xenophobic.
But.
There is another take.
The mass immigration that started with the Empire Windrush has been based entirely on EXPLOITATION of those immigrants, irrespective of skin colour or origin.
And driving wages down.
And both the tories & Labour have supported this big-corporate oppression of people trying to earn an honest crust.

99:

OOPS!
AND RE self @ # 98

I note the points made by Charlie re jewish immigration.
I was NOT trying to imply that political-religious refugess should be kept out - quite the contrary (as an Huguenot)
I was refewrring to the deliberate exploitation of many peoples by the "establishment"
Thinkj the Wedgwood-Benn arguments against the EU for a parallel case, please?

100:

Can I echo that - see my first post
Devo-Max for everyone.
PLEASE?

101:

heteromeles
Munfacturing is on the up in England - seriously so in some areas
I count electronics & software as "manufacturing" incidentally.
The "Service Economy" is past its sell-by date, always excepting the money markets - but that, itself is old-established: - Foundation of Bank of England, with an Huguenot as first governor, 1694.

102:

CORRECTION
Without the UK (and its partners), Europe HAS ALREADY CONSTRUCTED an unelected, unaccountable, out of touch super-bureaucracy - alteration in caps .....

I forgot to add.
My wife is Scots (Her parents were from Ayrshire - & she, like about 90% of expatriate Scots (most of them in England & Wales) are vehemently against a "Yes" vote.
But, of course, they can't, but English people living in Scotland, like Charlie & JK Rowling can vote - & get hyaterican cybenat ranting directed against them if they claim to want "No" as an answer.
The hate being spewed by the ultra-nats is really nasty.

103:

Consequences ...

Several fission-product nations have joined the EU, but no EU member has split, and there is no provision for grand-fathering members. Implicitly, a newly independent Scotland would have to negotiate entry. Probably a shoo-in, but it takes time. A few years.
Accession to the eurozone is one of the requirements for new members.

http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/policy/conditions-membership/index_en.htm

... I've no idea how this plays out after a Yes vote. Neither does anybody else.

Personally, as an English UK citizen, I think Scottish independence would diminish my country in every way, so I'm hoping for a No vote. I don't think Charlie's apocalyptic vision of UKIP jackboots dragging the country back to an imagined past is very likely, but a Yes vote would be a step in that direction.


104:

General statement; all future statements in this thread are to be treated in the context of this statement.

Irrespective of any minor errors of dates etc, I basically agree with Charlie's position in his opening post. I was born, and remain, permanently resident in Scotland. I also have socialist tendances in matters like healthcare and and welfare for the unemployed. These, plus a personal dislike for the Con party, Liebour and the Lieboral Undemocrats (explaining these will take more time that N care to expend), mean I'm also voting Yes.

105:

Seems to me that you don't know the history as well as you think. James VI just coudn't wait to get out of Scotland, and probably sponsored, certainly inspired, Shakespeare's libelous (used advisedly; he could certainly have sued had he still been alive) MacBeth.
As additional justification (beyond a knowledge of actual Scottish history) I'll just point out that MacBeth isn't the only one of Shakespeare's tragedies and "histories" to libel actual historical figures.

106:

1) Unless there is a re-unification of Ireland (either Eire takes leave of its senses and rejoins the UK or the 6 Counties {aka "Northern Ireland"} secede from the UK in favour of Eire) then Ulster will remain the devided kingdom of Ireland (3 of the 9 counties of Ulster are in Eire and have been since the establishment of the Irish Free State).

2) Possibly, but there's also plenty of prescedent for nations the size Scotland would be assuming a formally neutral stance. One advantage of this would be the ability to size Scottish armed forces for domestic security rather than having to size them to allow them to support USian military adventurism.

3) See under (2).

107:

1 - 3) I'll agree your anti-UKIP rants.

4) Since you're a self-confessed Englishman, you maybe don't realise just how much fellow feeling there is between the Scots and the Welsh (particularly the North Welsh). I've been in Wales in the run-up to elections and there are a lot of conversations where Plaid Cymru and the SNP wish each other luck etc.

5) I'm aware of this, and think that we should (given the absolute majority the SNP hold in the Scots Parliament) have just passed a 1 clause Act repealing the "Act of Union with England (1707)".

108:

[Q: will there be fighting] Do you think that's possible, or likely, or laughably ludicrous?

It's beyond ludicrous. It's pretty much inconceivable, in the current climate. Hint: we're kind of short on bloodthirsty, heavily armed slave-owning aristocrats and their gun-toting militias hereabouts.

(Note "in the current climate". Postulate a strong "yes" vote, followed by Parliament in London cocking up completely and declaring that they won't be bound by it. Follow this with a hard-right government, rollback of devolution, draconian suppression of the inevitable initially-peaceful protest demonstrations, and then a few years of the sort of friendly policing for which the Royal Ulster Constabulary (or maybe the Black and Tans) were so well-loved. Ferment, add a source of weapons, and stand back: after a decade, it'll be just like Northern Ireland circa the mid-70s, only with four times the population and more money to buy bombs. But to get there would require multiple, successive, stupendous errors of judgement on everybody's part, over a period of years.)

109:

I suggest that you apply the same "antirose-tinted" glasses to the statements of the self-proclaimed "Better Together" camp, particularly in the light of statements by the authors of some of their cites repusiating their statements.

110:

That may have been true in the 1980s, when the US had 500,000 troops in Europe. The number now is under 70,000, counting all services. That's significantly smaller than a number of European country armed forces strength. From Wikipedia:

As of March 2012 the Bundeswehr employs 183,000 professional soldiers and 17,000 volunteers.

111:

(Response to Ian S @80: my browser crashed while I was writing it and the one thing it didn't save was the referrer link):

Point of note: the flip side of the "Yes" campaign's somewhat panglossian approach to independence is the "No" campaign's intensely negative campaigning. The one thing the "No" campaign haven't done is made a positive case for the future of the Union. Which is actually a shame. Instead we've been subjected to the most negative campaign of fear, uncertainty and doubt I've ever seen in British politics.

According to the "No" campaign, we won't be able to get the BBC broadcasts any more (unlike, oh, every other nation on the planet where people pay for them). We won't be allowed in the EU (despite already being part of a member state), NATO (ditto), the UN (ditto), and so on. We won't be allowed to travel into England without passing through passport control checkpoints on the A1 and M76. We'll have to spend billions setting up elaborate new government ministries that Scotland doesn't currently have and buying a huge and cumbersome front-line military and funding our own versions of MI6 and GCHQ (because of course we're going to follow a foreign/defense policy indistinguishable from that of the UK, just on a vastly reduced budget). Oh, and our police won't be able to arrest fleeing criminals who manage to cross the border into England because of course English police won't want to cooperate with those lawless Scots. Also, we won't get the shiny new spaceport at Lossiemouth they're going to build if Scotland stays in the UK, because, no rockets for splittists. Or something.

Hell, the "No" campaign has pulled just about every lever in the control room except "in event of independence, the milk will spoil". It's like the persistent negging of a pick-up artist type: after a while it stops undermining your confidence and merely signals that the person doing it wants you on your back in the bedroom of an abusive relationship.

112:

Some extra points:

The Foreign Office has been briefing foreign governments AGAINST Scottish independence, requesting leaders like Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin to make statements opposing a "yes" vote.

(Yes. That's the UK government asking foreign heads of state to interfere in a strictly domestic internal UK vote, on behalf of a partisan government. Your US analogy would be the Clinton-run State Department asking China to [do something] to crap on the Republicans in the Senate. If that happened you might be outraged: I couldn't possibly comment.)

Another issue is that the BBC is clearly biased towards 'no' in its coverage.

And that's before we get onto the subject of which way the main newspaper groups are leaning. (With the exception of the Glasgow Herald -- pro-yes -- and The Guardian -- overall neutral -- most of them show a strong pro-no bias.)

113:

The two key points about Faslane are:

1. Scotland's voters are broadly anti-nuclear where weapons are concerned,

and

2. This might have something to do with Faslane (home of the UK's strategic nuclear deterrent submarine fleet) being 25 miles from the most populous city in Scotland, thereby putting Glasgow at risk (either from a pre-emptive strike -- not currently likely -- or a nuclear accident -- not actually unlikely, given the RN's history with flawed submarine reactor designs).

Frankly, basing a nuclear weapons site on the doorstep of a major city seems a bit stupid. Especially when, as noted, there are some remote deep-water bays in Wales, with access to the Western Approaches and no major metropolises that would need evacuating in event of an oopsie.

114:

Just curious but do you mind telling us why you, CS, moved north? Politics? Business? Personal?

I was following a job, and by the time the start-up died I had a mortgage somewhere I really liked living.

115:

I had the great pleasure of visiting Scotland for the first time in, goodness, 15 or 20 years? just a few weeks ago. (It's quite a hike from Australia). I'd been internally split on the Yes/No. However when I was there I heard Cameron campaigning for the No. He sounded like he was trying to coax me into a van with promises of lollies. I know that if I was living there I'd be voting Yes. I wonder if a grandfather from Fort William would get me a citizenship?

116:

no EU member has split, and there is no provision for grand-fathering members. Implicitly, a newly independent Scotland would have to negotiate entry. Probably a shoo-in, but it takes time. A few years.

Implicit in all these discussions is the assumption that Scotland is gaining independence from the UK, as if it's a colony being let go by an empire. But that's not actually what's happening. The implication of subordination seems to go unquestioned whenever anyone wants to make a negging remark about Scottish access to treaty organizations. But which foot is the boot really on?

If Scotland splits from the UK, that means the UK will cease to exist as currently constituted. Either all descendent states are considered to be bound by the treaties their predecessor was signatory to -- my understanding is that this is usually the case -- or none of them will. Or maybe Scotland could inherit the UK's EU membership, while England (which seems not to be terribly keen on the idea) could be the country that gets let out via the back door?

117:

Well it seems that Scotland would be reversing the decision made by the then ruler to take up rule of England. If anything, it's a decision by Scotland to let England go without really consulting them. I think you're right Charlie in that if anything it would be England that would be required to renegotiate EU membership.

118:

Something I got from my last visit to the UK was that events of 400 years ago, that I as an Australian consider in a similar light to things like human/neanderthal conflicts, are real and immediate to the people living there. When you drink in a pub that's 800 years old it colours your thinking in a way that us "colonials" don't understand. We get told jokes about transportation, followed by nervous apologies. To us transportation is as relevant as the events around the domestication of animals. ie. not at all. To the tipsy locals, it's recent news. That has to change the way people think about events like the Yes/No in ways I don't understand, but find very interesting.

119:

Charlie,

You are of course correct that the 'no' campaign hasn't focused on a positive message. But then again, if your opponents had left themselves sooooooooooooo open to attacks based on the lack of planning, credibility in ideas, reality, etc. - you'd be kicking the ball into the open goal too.

And, from a rational standpoint, pointing up the many risks, the many missing 'miracle happens here' steps, the general unreality really should be all they have to do - if the risk level is above 'negligible', it shouldn't go ahead.

However, as I pointed out, the 'yes' campaign is essentially a faith-based, religious argument now. They have given up on making a factual, logical case and gone full bore for the emotional, magical thinking approach. How do you address this?

Those picking at the cults and other religious money making schemes suggest that pointing up the idiocy, the feet of clay is the most effective way of breaking that religious mindset, at least amongst those who are not 'true believers'. So I wouldn't expect them to be changing tack any time soon - maybe some positive spin towards the end of the summer.

And in any case, as I've mentioned here before, I think Cameron *wants* a yes vote. If I'm right expect to see some tory saying something monumentally stupid and insulting to all scots, just before the vote. If they do, vote no and hope he doesn't win out - he'll have a plan in mind, and it won't be pretty.

120:

However, as I pointed out, the 'yes' campaign is essentially a faith-based, religious argument now.

Any political campaign making promises or commitments about the future is, to some extent, operating on the basis of faith. You simply can't avoid it: it's the nature of the beast.

One of the things I find disturbing about the "no" campaign is that it would be so much easier for them to make promises or commitments about what would happen for Scotland in event of a no-vote. But they don't. They're promising nothing, relying on the big stick alone.

121:

1) My take on comparing Scotland to Quebec is that Scotland 2014 is much closer to Quebec 1980 (60% against independence) than Quebec 1995 (50.5% against independence). Based on current opinion polls in Scotland, we may see a reasonably convincing No vote (say, 55 or 60% against independence), after which the SNP will regroup and have another try.

If the UK political situation remains reasonably stable, it might be 15 or 20 years before Scotland has another go at independence. OTOH if the UK ends up with a hard-right government and/or votes to leave the EU, the SNP might win the subsequent Scottish election in a landslide and try to get out of the UK and back into the EU as soon as possible.

2) Regarding UKIP -- I think OGH is greatly exaggerating their chances of a breakthrough at Westminster. The Newark by-election last week is clear evidence of that. By-elections are classic opportunities for protest parties (because they won't result in a change of government), and it was a conservative area (in both senses of the word) where the previous MP resigned because of a corruption scandal. This was the best opening UKIP is likely to get. Result: Seat retained by the Conservatives with a majority of 7000.

3) In the original post, OGH said the current UK government has no mandate in Scotland. I disagree -- Conservatives and Lib Dems together got 36% of the Scottish vote, compared to 42% for Labour. The coalition parties are less popular than Labour but it's not an outrage on a par with the Thatcher government. (The Lib Dems will likely crash and burn at the next UK election, particularly in Scotland, but that's a different story.)

122:

But what can NO offer except for more of the same.

If they offered anything there would be a very strong chance the rest of the UK would reject what was offered and the party(s) that offered at the next election...

123:

The No campaign are not entirely stupid. They know the Scottish electorate will have little faith in promised rewards from the UK government, least of all from the Conservative party.

And to be fair, in recent days Gordon Brown has criticised the negativity of the No campaign, and tried to promote a more positive case for the UK.

124:

Any political campaign making promises or commitments about the future is, to some extent, operating on the basis of faith. You simply can't avoid it: it's the nature of the beast.

Indeed. However, there's a worrying level of hand-waving going on from the "Yes" camp. All economic figures are taken from the "most optimistic possible" end of the spectrum; inconvenient facts are ignored or denied. Any level of detail is avoided; no "plan B" is acknowledged for any aspect of the white paper; the leadership states that any concerns are "negativity".

If you saw an engineering project proposed with that level of advance planning and lack of risk management - you'd walk away shaking your head, fully expecting another Nimrod AEW, Nimrod MRA.4, or Royal Bank of Scotland.

I don't doubt that an independent Scotland is economically viable; plainly, it is. My concern comes from how much worse off we will be as a result - I very much doubt that we will be better off; and even if we were, I'm not sure that it's a moral argument to take ("let's get rid of those English, they're a drain on us and holding us back")

Meanwhile, I do smile at the thought that the Highlands and Islands (specifically, Orkney and Shetland) will be able to assert their own form of Devo Max; after all, if the Faeroe Islands are independent, why not Shetland? They've got all that oil that Holyrood wants to steal from them...

125:

I basically agree with Charlie's position in his opening post. I was born, and remain, permanently resident in Scotland. I also have socialist tendances in matters like healthcare and and welfare for the unemployed. These, plus a personal dislike for the Con party, Liebour and the Lieboral Undemocrats (explaining these will take more time that N care to expend), mean I'm also voting Yes.

I've lived in Scotland for all of my adult life (and much of my childhood). My wife, her sister, both of her parents, and both of our children, were born and raised in Edinburgh. Both my parents, and both my grandfathers, were born and raised in Glasgow.

However... my grandmothers were both born and raised in England. My father's job meant that I was born in England, and my sister in Hong Kong. My parents, my sister, and my wife's sister live in England. All seven of my nieces and nephews were born and raised in England. The SNP is trying to tell me that I am somehow somehow "different" from the rest of my immediate family; that I should live in a different country from them.

Nationalism insists on division; typically, that "we" are different from "them". It gains popular support when there is an available scapegoat to be blamed "our" woes, and that "we" would be better off if "they" weren't telling us what to do.

- For the SNP, "we" are the Scots, "they" are the English, and the scapegoat is Westminster / Tories.

- For UKIP, "we" are the British, "they" are East Europeans, and the scapegoat is Brussels / Eurocrats.

- For the even-more-unattractive Nationalist parties to be found across Europe, "they" are defined by religion, skin colour, or culture.

Having spent a childhood moving around Europe, I'm an internationalist - I see more that makes us similar than different. This is doubly so within the UK. I have a very strong reaction to all Nationalist politicians - because I can't get away from the feeling that they are trying to gain personal power by encouraging the same dangerous memes that started two world wars in the last century, and that they don't care so long as they get elected.

Salmond is not a statesman; he looks good because he's a big fish in a small pond. He is undoubtedly effective, and he has the courage to fight his own political battles (e.g. he's perfectly willing to appear on Newsnight for an unscripted Q&A). Unfortunately, he's also operating in an echo chamber, and he doesn't react well to anyone who contradicts him (e.g. Andrew Marr).

126:

This might have something to do with Faslane (home of the UK's strategic nuclear deterrent submarine fleet) being 25 miles from the most populous city in Scotland, thereby putting Glasgow at risk (either from a pre-emptive strike -- not currently likely -- or a nuclear accident -- not actually unlikely, given the RN's history with flawed submarine reactor designs).

Regarding the RN's "flawed designs", do tell...

They were safe enough that the RN spend several decades operating one in the middle of London (namely, at the RN College in Greenwich). There's another research reactor a couple of miles down the road from Windsor. Torness is just down the road from Edinburgh - why is the argument any different for the RN?

The point about the size of UK is that any nuclear strike, anywhere on the UK, will kill an awful lot of people. Our key airbases, railheads, seaports, and airports, are all near population centres. Creating a "Faslane in Wales" won't cure that. Meanwhile, you still need to attract a lot of highly-trained people to work there - and their families. That takes infrastructure, and that means a population centre.

127:

RN reactors: HMS Tireless sprang a primary coolant circuit leak in 2013. Six other Trafalgar class subs had to be taken out of service for some time due to cracked welds in the primary coolant circuit. Going back further, you may recall the last British Polaris patrols (early 90s, right before the V-class Trident boats took over) ended up with an SSBN running on the surface on auxiliary diesel power and a frigate for escort, because the oldest boats were unserviceable and of the two remaining available one had a reactor that was considered unsafe to operate (primary coolant circuit cracks, again).

And then there's this report (warning: Daily Mail). (Original source, somewhat more soporific reading.)

128:

The BBC has a real issue with Scottish independence coverage. And it's struggling to adapt. Part of its remit it to be balanced and the way its approached that is to say "Tell us why the change you're proposing is better than what we've got now?"

This works just fine when they're questioning government ministers and the like. "We're going to change the NHS like this!" "Why is it going to be better?" The opposition are almost always saying "No, don't change it like that, change it like this instead!" and the same question works for them and the BBC remains impartial and unbiased, getting the politicians to try and explain why their ideas are good. (Usually the slimy toads can't manage to answer the question but that's a different matter.)

There's an obvious problem with this approach in the independence debate. "Why should we change from the status quo?" is exactly what one side is trying to sell and the other side is saying "We shouldn't" The BBC should be able to adapt but old habits are dying hard it seems and people are falling back on old routines and ingrained questions.

129:

I meant to say, from the coverage of JK's donation to the No campaign, the BBC for example, is the only place I've heard that said "she would look forward to remaining in Scotland and working there regardless of the outcome" (the Herald might well have too). But the beeb is at least struggling to get better and more neutral as I understand it. Although I'm not hearing the coverage live living this far South of the border.

130:
So: in 2017, Scotland will either be an independent nation (initially a constitutional monarchy retaining the shared Crown, as was the case prior to 1707), or part of the UK.

Charlie:

Out of interest: Is it clear that Elizabeth II. (or her successor) would be the monarch of the independent Scotland? Or could there be other pretenders—I don't know, a descendant of Robert the Bruce or some such—waiting in the curtains?

And also out of interest: why a monarchy at all, why not become a republic? In a broader perspective: is there any anti-monarchist or pro-republican sentiment connected to or involved in the "yes to independence" side? And what's your take on it? (A propos: interestingly the post is titled "Schroedinger's Kingdom", but in the last paragraph of the essay you're talking about the dog days of "Schroedinger's Republic". An omen?)

131:

I appreciate you're English Tony, but I think you don't appreciate the level of resent, dislike, antipathy and even hatred there is towards the English in Wales and Scotland. Not from everyone but it's pretty widespread. And not necessarily towards individuals but towards "the English" as a whole.

Being Welsh, I'm a rugby fan. I don't live up to many stereotypes but I didn't manage to avoid that one. There's an old pseudo-joke that goes "If Wales lose all their matches but beat England it's still a successful season." My partner (who is English but otherwise perfect) thought it was a joke until she saw the jubilation after we beat the English but lost to everyone else in the Six Nations one year. We had a lousy year but we beat the English so that was OK.

I seem to remember, when I was a child, there were regular friendlies between England and Scotland in football. They were stopped when Scots fans invaded the pitch and broke the goals after a victory although I don't remember the year now. Sometime in the 80's I think.

If you're the right age you might remember the Meibion Glyndwr campaign against second homes in North Wales. The juxtaposition of the adverts for homes in North Wales and the Coal Board slogan "Come home to a real fire" caused a few dark laughs.

It's nothing like as nasty as Northern Ireland. I don't think it would flash to violence instantly but while you might feel like your mate has slapped you in the face, the guy you think is your mate I don't think feels the same way. Individuals certainly do. And some of the haters do about individual English men and women no doubt. But I don't think I'm as optimistic as Charlie. I would guess it would take years rather than decades of abuse of a yes vote being ignored before you'd see violence.

132:

I rather think you may be being a little misleading by implying that Faslane makes Glasgow a tempting target in a nuclear exchange. Faslane is a tempting target, but it probably is not on a first strike list for any capable nuclear power.

On this list would be all the BACKBONE comms sites, such as the Hunters Stones one near Menwith Hill in Yorkshire, and the one that almost straddles the Yorkshire/Lancashire border, to cripple military communications. Major rail interchanges, power stations and major cities such as London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Leeds would also be on the list, earmarked for airbursts to knock out unshielded computers.

Glasgow probably would not be on a first strike list, and nor would Faslane unless a future government was stupid enough to reduce the Trident fleet below the operational minimum of four subs. Four subs means one on patrol, one prepping for patrol, one just back and one on long-term overhaul. Four is the absolute minimum to be safe.

Hit Faslane, and you don't get the operational sub on patrol, and that's the one you really want rid of most of all, since that's the one with the live warheads ready to go.

133:

Like Charlie I’d prefer Devo Max or Devo Lots but it’s not on the ballot and I don’t really trust the unionist parties who will be in government in Westminster to provide it. So, I’m voting Yes. For, I think, very similar reasons. I come close to weeping when I think of my son growing up in a UK outside of the EU which is signficantly influenced by UKIP.

The IndyRef campaign is becoming a bit bad tempered. Some unpleasant things are being said by people on both sides but so far no one has been physically assaulted as a result and no one has said they won’t consider themselves bound by the result or trying to declare the process illegal. Compared to Spain or the Ukraine the campaign is a model of how to do it.

I once had a conversation with a wise old guy from the ERS on the subject of putting Devo Max on the ballot. My prefered option was that we have either a three way vote using preferential voting or a two-stage question – Should the Scottish Parliament have more powers Yes / No. If Scotland Yes should Scotland be independent Yes / No.

He explained with reasons (and some math) that the better way to do it was to have two separate referenda. One on Independence then, if needed a second one on more powers within the UK. Which might be what we get but I don’t trust Westminster to get round to it.

One argument in favour of Westminster actually getting round to it is this. If the IndyRef vote is close and opinion polls continue to show strong support for more devolution and Westminster doesn’t deliver that the SNP get to go in the Holyrood General Election in 2016 on a manifesto of “We TOLD you so!” and, if (when) they won they would have a mandate to demand more powers now or run IndyRef II Now We Are Serious in about 2019.

134:

I am not a constitutional lawyer, but one of the benefits of a not very well written down constitution is that, since the Kingship is separate from the parliament in many ways, it would be entirely possible to keep Queen Elizabeth the First as queen in Scotland.

However there's no descendants of Bruce hanging about waiting for the throne, because his son died childless and his daughter married Walter Stewart, and their son was the first Stewart King.
If you want descendants of Bonnie Prince Charlie there's some POles who have the lineage but last I knew they weren't interested in the throne. Ignore all the pretend Charlies and proper Charlies out there.

135:

RN reactors: HMS Tireless sprang a primary coolant circuit leak in 2013...

I read the DNSR report first; seemed sensible to me. They identified that the T-boats are getting old, and are operating at the right-hand-end of a bathtub reliability curve. It classes its "red" risk-management activities as "significant and sustained Duty Holder attention is required to ensure maintenance of adequate safety performance" - specifically the need for qualified personnel, and organisational change.

Then I read the Mail article - true to its reputation for the perfect story to trigger fear or hate (ideally both), it screeches about "code red safety concerns". I didn't see anything in the DNSR report to indicate that the RN was anything other than a competent operator of nuclear plant, albeit plant whose replacement was delayed for political reasons.

These things aren't rickety death traps - I went to a Forces school where several friends had a parent on RN submarines; some went on to be submariners themselves. They're complicated, there are inherent risks, but the operators are somewhat obsessive about the safety stuff...

...yes, I know someone grounded HMS Astute, but AIUI they were running the Perisher at the time...

136:

I think Charlie is correct, new labour is more to the right than the Tories in the post war settlement. For instance, education, Blair et al pushed dodgy junk called "Academies" which meant a millionaire could give some money to a school and control the curriculum and contents and staff. Or the PFI, utterly wrong by any sensible way of doing things, but embraced by the economically illiterate Gordon Brown. Note also bash the poor rhetoric, continued foreign adventuring, anti-union activities and sucking up to the city of London.

As for tracing your family back to ROber the bruce, that's unlikely unless he actually had some bastard offspring, which I get the impression is by no means certain.

The important thing to remember is that even if Scotland leaves, England still isn't true blue. It isn't our fault you vote for your own imprisonment, and it is a lot closer in England than the media let you think, what with their grandstanding for UKIP and so on.

There is also a group or two campaigning for a Socialist independent Scotland.

137:

@MSB: The Queen is a descendant of Robert the Bruce. The line of Stuart pretenders died out 200 years ago. IIRC their claim has technically been inherited by some German aristocrat, but really there is no serious candidate for an alternate Scottish royal family.

The Queen still enjoys broad popular support in Scotland -- much of it based on her personal prestige and longevity, rather than enthusiasm for monarchy in general. The SNP leadership did not want the monarchy to be an issue in the referendum, so they promised to retain it after independence.

There is a significant anti-monarchist tendency in Scottish politics (largely but not exclusively located in the SNP), and in the event of a Yes vote they might start campaigning more vigorously for a republic (particularly if Elizabeth dies and is replaced by Charles), but for now they are keeping quiet.

138:

But what does this mean for the price of my evening tipple of Scotch whiskey?

139:

The discussion on Faslane and Nuclear targets reminds me of this Gurdian article
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/05/uk-government-top-secret-list-probable-nuclear-targets-1970s

Whilst it is a UK derived list and we do not know the Soviet targeting list,I think it is a reasonable first approximation.

140:

Like Charlie I’d prefer Devo Max or Devo Lots but it’s not on the ballot and I don’t really trust the unionist parties who will be in government in Westminster to provide it. So, I’m voting Yes. For, I think, very similar reasons. I come close to weeping when I think of my son growing up in a UK outside of the EU which is signficantly influenced by UKIP.

The IndyRef campaign is becoming a bit bad tempered. Some unpleasant things are being said by people on both sides but so far no one has been physically assaulted as a result and no one has said they won’t consider themselves bound by the result or trying to declare the process illegal. Compared to Spain or the Ukraine the campaign is a model of how to do it.

I once had a conversation with a wise old guy from the ERS on the subject of putting Devo Max on the ballot. My prefered option was that we have either a three way vote using preferential voting or a two-stage question – Should the Scottish Parliament have more powers Yes / No. If Scotland Yes should Scotland be independent Yes / No.

He explained with reasons (and some math) that the better way to do it was to have two separate referenda. One on Independence then, if needed a second one on more powers within the UK. Which might be what we get but I don’t trust Westminster to get round to it.

One argument in favour of Westminster actually getting round to it is this. If the IndyRef vote is close and opinion polls continue to show strong support for more devolution and Westminster doesn’t deliver that the SNP get to go in the Holyrood General Election in 2016 on a manifesto of “We TOLD you so!” and, if (when) they won they would have a mandate to demand more powers now or run IndyRef II Now We Are Serious in about 2019.

I’m very excited about the future post IndyRef. I think there is a real chance to change many aspects of the way we do politics in Scotland or the UK and the amount of engagement we’ve seen is really inspiring. My big question – is when we get a record turnout how do we keep those people engaged in politics?

141:

During the Glasnost period before the rump Soviet Union fell apart a Western TV crew got unprecedented access to, among other places, a Strategic Rocket Forces IRBM base in the Ukraine. On camera one of the officers in charge pulled a key from a panel and declared that Glasgow was safe for the next half hour.

At the time Glasgow was a Nuclear Free Zone according to its city council.

142:

So paws
You are going to vote for a bankrupt nation with a minimum of 23% unemployment, no currency & shut-out of the EU (no trade agreements, in other words.
errr ... WHY?

I think both you & CHralie are magifying the threat from the tory right, because of the awful scare the madwoman gave all of us, 25 years back ...

143:

Disagree profoundly, for reasons given many times.
We really need a united federation of the Isles, with Devo-Max for everyone.
Unfortunately, there's no sign of sanity breaking out, any time soon ... more's the pity

144:

The threat isnt the Tory right, given that the Tories are currently enacting policies beloved by the right wing. THe threat is moving the overton window by the medias unthinking adoration of Farage and the effec tof Ukip and little englander policies on all partys.
Let me repeat this, the tory right is already at work, so there's no need to magnify a clear and present danger.

145:

May I quote you on this, particularly about your reaction to ScamMoron?

146:

I agree with your opinions here, having reached them entirely independantly of you.

147:

I am not trying to provoke an argument here, but my somewhat cursory reading of the topic suggested that the Soviet Union had a different style of thinking about the use of nuclear weapons than was prevalent in NATO. So perhaps it is best to take with a pinch of salt any supposed Soviet plan that came out of NATO planning.

Both sides may have targeted the oddest landmarks, perhaps as a way of putting a pattern of warheads over a large city to affect multiple targets, and compensate for the inevitable failures.

So the label of the target might not be the target. But a shipyard only gets to be a target for a long war. "Ivan, don't waste a missile on Rosyth this year, those ships will never be finished before we make another plan."

148:

It's incredibly rare I agree with you.

But I think DevoMax for Scotland, Wales, various regional assemblies in the UK as well (I think along the lines of the RDAs would be sensible, that would give us 10) and then a senate type house at Westminster for the minimally retained national powers would probably make most sense if we've got to retain something with elected representatives. That might not be quite what you mean, but it's close.

However, just who is going to write their manifesto to say that pray? "If we're elected to power, we're going to demolish the power structures in the UK." It might make sense. Heck, it might well win them the election in a massive landslide. Maybe the Greens should do it. But of the traditional parties? They've scraped for power within the system for a long time - I know leaders are getting younger, but they've still scraped and scrapped and moulded their careers for 25 years or so to get where they are, and they've bought in to the idea that the system works and they can make a difference and they can do something right. When they say "we need to engage more voters" it's not "scrap the current system and build something new and better that they believe in" it's "tweak the system that we believe in so they vote for us" and so on.

It's sane to the electorate but it's not sane to the Westminster village. They may or may not believe in the system, but they're may to invested in it to dismantle it.

149:

(3) ...which still places the ConDems unHoly alliance in 3rd place in Scotland under the UK electoral system.

150:

That was a statement of interest, not a discussion point, but since you insist.

I also have English (migrant and second generation) relatives. I assure you that they actually do think differently to me in a number of matters, particularly disestablishmentarianism, healthcare, immigration and the questions surrounding the head of state.
Your mileage apparently does vary, but that's a personal argument.

151:

There are stories (how accurate I don't know) that Mary Stewart had illegitimate issue with the then Earl of Bothwell.

If that were the case, it would mean that the present Earl is the rightful monarch as a descendant of both the Stewarts and the Tudors, and that the Saxe-Coburg_Gothe line are all usurpers.

152:

I do not disagree with you about Soviet plans, but there could have been an element of "use it or lose it" IF you believed the US claims about their missile accuracies, but lets not digress from the subject of Scottish succession.

153:

Ref para 3, that's not quite correct.

There was an attempt to play a later Scotland-England match at Hampden, which resulted in the nastiest outbreaks of football violence seen in Scotland in 10 years, all started by the England "fans".

154:

I'm orignally from Dumbarton, roughly 15 miles each from the centre of Glasgow, CSB Faslane, RNAD Coulport and USN Holy Loch. During the "Cold War" it was broadly accepted that, if we ever heard the "4 Minute Warning" our life expectancy was between 4 and 5 minutes depending on whether we died from the initial hard radiation, the heat wave, or had to wait for the overpressures to hit us.

155:

I do rather wonder at the unthinking villification of Margaret Thatcher by most of the left-leaning commentators here. Thatcher won elections because she was popular; she was popular because she and her government were better at the business of running a country than the previous Labour government were. People seem to forget the seventies, and the waves of optimism that the Thatcher years brought on; before this we'd had years of high inflation, interminable strikes and a government seemingly intent on shutting down heavy industry.

People also forget that the bulk of the coal mine closures came under the Labour administrations prior to the Thatcher years; these occurred because those mines were hideously inefficient. The miners' strike was not about mining per se, but about the unions disagreeing with the government about who ran the country. It is indeed telling that throughout the Blair years, lost union powers were never reinstated, either.

156:

Not by my arithmetic.

Labour: 41 seats, 42.0% of votes.
Combined Conservative/LibDem: 12 seats, 35.6% of votes.
SNP: 6 seats, 19.9% of votes.
Others: 0 seats, 2.5% of votes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_United_Kingdom_general_election_results_in_Scotland

157:

Ok, I know you posted this first, but I draw your attention to #144 and re-emphasise that Charlie and I have never previously participated in the same conversation on domestic politics, and in particular in one on the revocation of the Act of Union with England and the effects thereof.

158:

Not at all, it is a human mix of rational thought and related emotional concerns, not unthinking at all. Thatcher was fairly popular, relatively, but the ancestors of the lib-dems helped ensure she won a majority rather than labour. THings were a lot closer than you might think.
As for the pit closures, I'm glad you agree that labour was on the right track, it's a shame that Thatcher took things too far, and later reneged on promises re. pit closures.

You should also bear in mind why restoration of union freedoms was not a priority of the blair govenrment. Not because they were concerned about the workforce, but because such a thing would send the wrong signals to the City, and make life harder for new labours corporate pals.

159:

Stories that I've not come across, despite my wide reading in Scottish history. So you have my permission to ignore them ;)

160:

How about a many-worlds story, where all of these possibilities come to pass? Might be interesting, and you wouldn't need to commit yourself.

161:

Another viewpoint on the economic viability of Scotland.
To whit, Scotland may join the EU but it should avoid monetary union like the plague, especially as long as the ECB keeps screwing up macro-economic management. If the Tories stay in power (or their policies under another government), Scotland could well do better than the UK.

http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/beat-the-press/do-small-countries-really-spend-04-percent-of-gdp-changing-currency

162:

To quote:

"[Of course Scotland can stay on the Pound if it wants...]The better question is why an independent Scotland would want to keep the pound as its currency. Presumably one of the goals of independence would be to free Scotland from the grips of the austerity policies being pursued by the conservative government. This would not be possible if Scotland remained tied to the pound, just as the euro zone countries cannot break from the path of austerity as long as they stay in the euro zone."

Along the same lines, a devalued Scotland currency (which people seem to fear, unjustifiably) would be great for the Scottish export sector.

163:

Personally, I'd prefer to see a Republic of Scotland, within a larger European Confederacy (more tightly interconnected than the EU, but less so than between the constituent federal states of entities like the USA or Germany).

However, the SNP currently propose that Scotland will initially retain its current arrangements for parliament and head of state: worrying about changing that, too, is indeed something that can wait until later. Just splitting from England is big enough for now.

164:

Those figures were for a general election to Westminster. Which in terms of gauging actual Scottish political sentiment is as relevant as looking to a Euro-election to judge English political voting intentions.

To get a real handle on relative party popularity up here you need to look to the Scottish parliamentary elections. Which have a much higher SNP vote, and correspondingly much lower Conservative and LibDem turn-out.

165:

I was talking about whether the Con/LD coalition in the Westminster Parliament has an electoral mandate in Scotland. IMO, the results from the last Westminster election are relevant. That was the point of holding the election in the first place, right?

Are you saying I should disregard these and consider the Holyrood election results instead? If so, why?

166:

I think that approach is there for two reasons. The first is intended to keep the English happy against a perceived view that they see the Scots as spongers, or more kindly, against a view that the rest of the UK should not subsidise Scotland. That says a lot about the mindset of those driving the campaign, of course.

The second is to condition the Scots to accept the deal when it is offered. As I mentioned earlier, I think Faslane, maybe an airbase or two and no seat on the BoE board will be the no-compromise items.

Then the question is who would blink first, hence the preparation of the English to see any concessions as generous and hopefully - in the minds of those planning anyway - be prepared to get tough over matters.

Not nice, not fair and utterly ruthless. Here's hoping it never happens.

167:

I can't speak for Charlie, but I think he might be alluding to the UKIP results in the European Parliament voting, where UKIP results for Scotland are quite south of the ones for some English areas:

http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2014/05/26/european-elections-2014-results-breakdown

168:

I think you should go and look at the news and commentary around the time of her death. Maggie was an incredibly divisive figure at the time and that has remained.

I'm left-leaning and make no secret of the fact. I have no idea if the film "The Iron Lady" is any good. Watching the trailer made me nauseous, hearing her voice again, even as played by Meryl Streep. That's the impact that she still has on my life.

I can go and read the histories and accept that something had to be done about British heavy industry. I do in fact. What I lived through, in the North of England at the time, felt to me and those around me as a vindictive, directed and calculated dismantling of communities and workforces that she didn't like and that would never support her. It is frankly impossible for me to accept that what she did was for the best of the UK as a whole, rather it served to strengthen the South-East and the financial sector in particular at the cost of everything else.

It's quite easy to forget she only had a majority of 43 in the 79 election despite a hugely unpopular Labour government. The 83 election majority was up to 144 as Labour was falling apart with the formation of the SDP and the remains of Labour lurching hard to the left (Militant Tendency and all) plus a little thing like winning a war against an aggressor in the Falklands which usually helps boost popularity. In 87 she had a booming economy which always helps, and Labour still in disarray after trying to get rid of Militant. However much of a Maggie fan you are, even the right wing historians seem to say her pushing through of the poll tax (which she did in Scotland first) and the massive protests bordering on riots that lead to basically led to her Ides of March moment and John Major eventually replacing her.

I didn't live in a place that benefitted from what she did. My adult life was shaped by 12 years living in a community where her policies directly and indirectly undermined those around me and later made it hard for me to find work where I wanted to live. Her policies directly dismantled an integrated, excellent and cheap public transport system under local government control, forcing competition. The prices went up, the quality of service went down because of this. Because of "market forces are more efficient" dogma. I could keep going but I won't because it's off topic.

I'm not saying she wasn't equally beloved by other sectors of the country. The first paragraph said divisive after all. Tony Blair has left scars too. I think 10 years with one PM is too long but in an odd way I think his scars unite us. We all feel, or most of us, that he lied to us (regardless of what the various official reports will say) and lied to parliament (again regardless of what the various official reports say) to go to war and support Dobya in his mad quest to show his dad up. Maggie's divided the nation and the people on opposite sides of the divide still look at each other with incomprehension nearly 40 years later.

169:

We're all trapped by our history.

Scotland does at least have a chance to break away.

Sneaky thought about things such as Faslane and airbases: the English can make an effort to keep Scotland in NATO. and Mr. Cameron could try this thing called negotiation.

Mr. Cameron doesn't seem to have much of a clue about negotiating.

170:

The better question is why an independent Scotland would want to keep the pound as its currency.

The problem is threefold:

a) Inward investment into the UK is often driven by having tariff-free trade within the EU. Take away EU membership, and the attractiveness of your European base being in the UK drops dramatically.

b) The SNP is thus insistent that an independent Scotland will join the EU. Even ignoring the whole "sorry, it's article 49 or nothing" debate, arguments over Salmond refusing to reveal his legal advice on the subject, and any resulting delays (Iceland adopted the EU acquis for twenty years, it still took over four years to get in). The only people in the world who claim that Scotland will just hop into the EU after a very short period are... the SNP. Everyone else (including the EU) say different.

c) regardless of entry mechanism, there is zero chance that Scotland would be excused the EU accession requirements, which among others involve adoption of the Euro.

Feel free to read the EU Accession criteria; particularly the parts which the EU describes as "not negotiable"
http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/policy/conditions-membership/index_en.htm

Personally, I'd have little problem with Devo Max; but the SNP were manoeuvered into Montrose's Toast. I suspect, and hope, that the vote will be no; I may be Scottish, but I am also British.

171:

Or could there be other pretenders—I don't know, a descendant of Robert the Bruce or some such—waiting in the curtains?

There is - namely, the Earl of Elgin (he doesn't lay claim to the throne). Unfortunately for the Yes campaign, he's a believer in the Union. He's also a very nice bloke; my grandfather used to work for him.

http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/heritage/robert-the-bruce-heir-says-no-to-independence-1-3413469

172:

Sneaky thought about things such as Faslane and airbases: the English can make an effort to keep Scotland in NATO. and Mr. Cameron could try this thing called negotiation.

A recent SNP party conference voted that an independent Scotland should remain part of NATO.

As for "negotiation", it's the SNP that needs to learn. It insists point blank that it will enter a currency union with the UK, and that the Bank of England will act as the lender of last resort for Scottish banks (ignoring the fact that all of the rUK parties have said no, as it would be political suicide). Even the Welsh have pointed out that it's not acceptable, and that they would oppose it.

http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/referendum-news/welsh-first-minister-calls-for-veto-on-currency-union.22750318

The primary problem appears to be that the SNP is taking a Pollyanna attitude - it assumes that having declared it will leave the UK, that the UK will then say "fair enough", and behave with total generosity thereafter; in reality, any rUK negotiator would screw every single pound it could out of the negotiations, otherwise see "political suicide" above. Happy Scots wouldn't reelect the negotiators; happy English and Welsh would.

173:

Way back, in the Seventies, there were a few books based on the idea of a civil war for Scots independence or over the status of Northern England, or something, and in recent years I have wondered what the authors were really thinking of.

A lot of people at the time feared that Glasgow would go the same way as Belfast. Both the UVF and PIRA were using the West of Scotland as a base (they take their tribalism really seriously there); Pastor Jack Glass sounded terrifyingly close to Iain Paisley, only without the same moderation and sanity.

The version that AIUI got made for TV was called "Scotch on the Rocks", written in 1968 by two former diplomats, one called Douglas Hurd (wonder what happened to him?)... I've actually got a copy of the book :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotch_on_the_Rocks

174:

Agreed. Dan just didn't seem able to comprehend why people might not like Maggie.

175:

It seems to me that non-fear selling of the Union "Better Together" is hard to do simply because the benefits are likely to be diffuse, though broad.

Pointing out that together, you are able to save 7% on border patrol costs or 2 FTEs in the Office of Paperclip Acquisition and thus direct the resources towards better uses is a much harder sell from the human standpoint than "The English are Ebil" or "If you leave you won't be allowed to to travel anywhere, ever".

176:

Hi Charlie, I may be going slightly off topic hear but, you make a very good case for the state of the NHS in Scotland, and being against the privatisation of the NHS myself I'd like to see the same throughout the UK. However, Scotland has 6 cities in a list of 10 worst UK cities for life expectancy (http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/apr/16/commonwealth-games-2014-glasgow-lowest-life-expectancy-uk) and none in the top 10 cities for life expectancy. I'm curious as to why this is? Is it because the NHS is run differently? Is it due to education? Could it even be something as seemingly insignificant as the lower levels of sunlight? And do you think there would be any significant change in life expectancy post-indepedence?

177:

As I might just have pointed out once or twice on this thread already, there's no legitimate descendant from Bruce, and I've not come across much about the fates of the offpsring of his daughters, it turns out he had more daughters than I thought so there might be some descendants floating about. But it is important to note that the earl of elgin has no claim to the throne whatsoever.

And he's got a lot more marbles stolen from Athens sitting at home, but oddly I don't recall ever reading about him returning them to Greece...

178:

A chunk of the life expectancy thing is down to those being former industrial cities (hint: industrial diseases such as silicosis), which then got sledgehammered by Thatcherism (hint: massive endemic poverty ensued). Add a culture of not complaining about chest pains or blood in one's shit until one drops dead of the heart attack or the colon cancer is terminal. Add in smoking, and add heavy drinking (see: sledgehammered by Thatcherism) and you've got most of the pieces. Other parts of Scotland have life expectancy pretty much on a par with the rest of the UK.

179:

I still don't see why you don't think you can write another "near future Scotland" novel until after things settle out.

If Scotland had been independent when you wrote Halting State or The Atrocity Archives, I don't see what it would have made any noticeable difference.

180:

Just to be awkward, if Scotland has to set up a border patrol in the marches, at least it will employ people. Plenty of work for the Armstrongs and Nixons...

181:

Hahas, yes sure! My fragile ego loves to be quoted. Of course I was very much saying that as an *outsider* it all sounded very dodgy. I'm not familiar enough with Scottish politics to make intelligent comments, but I hoped I could make amusing ones.

182:

174: apparently this result is driven by about one council ward in Glasgow, which used to have an asbestos factory.

A question, meanwhile. Supposedly "England" has become more parochial, europhobic, and anti-immigrant "over the last 30 years". What is your evidence of this?

I don't know how you intend to operationalise parochial, and to be honest, if anything is parochial, Scottish politics strikes me as pretty fucking parochial.

Europhobic - prominent Scot David Cameron's various foreign policy manoeuvres seem to have the effect of substantially increasing nationwide support for EU membership every time he pulls one. Also, I get the impression you haven't been following European politics since 2010 or thereabouts, because the € has not really turned out well for small peripheral nations or even France.

Anti-immigrant? There are a lot more immigrants here than there were 30 years ago and I don't think you can make a case that anyone is more anti-immigrant than they were during Enoch Powell's active political career.

Further, apparently the "south-east" is occupied uniquely by fascists. The obvious point here is that Charlie makes a point of not going to London when he can help it, where about one in six UK citizens live and which is....well...the exact opposite of everything he thinks about British politics.

183:

I don't want the little country I live in to be dragged down the rabbit hole by the same dark forces of reaction that are cropping up across Europe, from Hungary to Greece. The failure modes of democracy, it seems to me, are less damaging the smaller the democracy.

Greece has Golden Dawn; Hungary Jobbik; Finland the True Finns; Bulgaria Ataka; Germany with 80 million people has the tiny, barely legal NPD; the UK with 60 million has just seen the BNP lose all its seats and the EDL fall apart. Spain, with much bigger problems and 40 odd million, has the rather sexy Podemos as its main protest party.

These failure modes only seem to be observable in the smallest European democracies. Yes, yes, UKIP, but 1) GD, Jobbik etc literally operate as paramilitary forces and wear swastikas, 2) Scotland elected a UKIP MEP.

184:


I have not been following the Scotland-EU courting very closely but I've never seen anything to indicate EU membership (including trade benefits) is dependent on adopting the Euro. In fact, as I understand the process you have to be a EU member state before you can agree to "convergence" (oh, the sci-fi tag line possibilities). Please feel free to better inform me.

The reason Scotland is debating the whether or not to keep the pound (rather than the euro) is because of the opt-out. Adopting the Euro would be somewhat insane, it would basically put Scotland into another dysfunctional economic relationship. Whatever Greece's problems it would be well on the way to recovery if it could devalue its currency. And I don't see much advantage to having the ECB direct economic policy rather than Cameron's Tories.

185:

I've never seen anything to indicate EU membership (including trade benefits) is dependent on adopting the Euro

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/euro/adoption/who_can_join/index_en.htm

Specifically: "All Member States of the European Union, except Denmark and the United Kingdom, are required to adopt the euro and join the euro area"

DK and UK got the opt-out by being a member before the Euro existed, and negotiating an opt-out at the time. An independent Scotland would be a new EU member, and wouldn't get the opt-out. You can join the EU, but are committed to joining the Euro as soon as the convergence criteria are met.

The SNP argue that Article 49 as above doesn't apply, that membership under Article 48 is more appropriate (even though it would require the modified Treaty to be agreed by all other member states), and that they should keep the UK opt-out. The President of the European Council and the European Commission President suggest otherwise.

186:

Err, you're forgetting Germany's newest party, the AfD:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_for_Germany

Which describes itself as "rightist but not nationalist", problem is AfD membership is somewhat diverse, and you have a "rechtskonservativ" group gaining power in it:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/12/alternative-deutschland-german-afd-politics-europe

Problem is, the term "right politics" is somewhat difficult to define, and you can also find nationalism in some of our leftist parties, e.g. the social democratic SPD and the further left "Die Linke" (basically a merger of Ex-SED PDS and the left wing of the SPD breaking away when Schröder tried a German incarnation of New Loabour before becoming best buddy with Putin, but I digress...).

187:

I do find some items above superficially similar to some Parti Quebecois positions, particularly currency union. Argentina for a time used the US dollar (pegged their currency to it, at least.) I don't think the results were pleasant. Adopting a currency while maintaining a different fiscal policy is rather tricky. You may find yourself exposed to international arbitrageurs who might move multiples of your GDP through your country, and not care if they bankrupted your, or spiked or crashed interest rates. If there's free movement of money, money will move to make profit. It's not different from electricity or water; every possible path will be traversed, and the bulk flow will take the "best" path - best for the driving force, anyway.

188:

I think it's worth considering what would happen post vote.

If the vote were yes, all hell would break lose, we can be fairly certain that things would get fraught, and events would move quickly (almost certainly the SNP wouldn't get a fraction of the things they expect). A quite reasonable chance that at least a proportion of the population would want a do over once facts became clear. Independent of how they personally voted, you could see a sizeable percentage jumping over the border for purely risk mitigation reasons. So much, so scenario planned.

However, if the vote is no, what happens?

Is everything going to relax back to status quo? I'm thinking the SNP wouldn't be content to slouch off and die - they'd be shouting for as much as they could get, pointing to promises of (essentially) devo-max during the campaign, and agitating for a rerun (particularly if the EU vote goes ahead). What would a Westminster government do? Brush them off? Give them some more goodies in the hope it would keep them quiet? Didn't work last time and I'm not sure they'd go that way again.

In many ways what would happen after a no vote is the more interesting question - the UK needs a direction to head in that makes sense. Maybe a focus on an expanded bloc?

189:

Ian S:
I think it's worth considering what would happen post vote.

If the vote were yes, all hell would break lose, we can be fairly certain that things would get fraught, and events would move quickly (almost certainly the SNP wouldn't get a fraction of the things they expect). A quite reasonable chance that at least a proportion of the population would want a do over once facts became clear. Independent of how they personally voted, you could see a sizeable percentage jumping over the border for purely risk mitigation reasons. So much, so scenario planned.

You're making a number of fundamental mistakes.

First, thinking that fearmongering is going to work on the Scot peoples. Just as a rule of thumb, once any significant number of people are willing to give you the finger by voting for independence, it's past the point that scaring them with words is going to work.

Second, thinking that post-hypothetial-Yes-vote, the UK parties' actual best interests are to forment chaos and disaster. This plays well with the ultimate goal of fearmongering now, so it makes sense to claim it, but as soon as a hypothetical yes vote happens, the parties have to make a decision - scorched earth, or cut and run. I do not see how it's actually in any parties interest to fight a scorched earth battle. Individual political persons, perhaps, being seen as resolute on their promises. But political parties are all about stomping those sorts of populist sentiment down and doing cold benefit calculations towards short and long term goals.

I fail to see any situation in which any of the UK parties benefit in the long term from a scorched earth secession. An economically neutral to stronger Scotland leaving the pound sterling under hostile circumstances will not help the pound, the UK economy, or the Bank of England. It would invite Scotland to maximally screw the UK on oil, tax policy, and banking policy, to attract capital northwards.

SNP doesn't *need* to stay in the pound sterling; it's the answer which assuages the largest portion of their populace's fears about secession. Post-hypothetical-yes-vote, their options are stay with the pound (with BofE participation), stay with the pound (without), create a local "kilogram sterling" pegged to the pound for a conversion time then floating, or go Euro immediately. Any of those work. They may - possibly - be best off with the pound with BofE participation, but the next best may well be a kg sterling, followed by Euro. Either of those will tend to lessen England's perceived value as a banking center or reserve currency over time.

The unfortunate part about this is that it's becoming apparent that the impact to the London Banking industry's long term stability from the possible turmoil is not in the mental map of the UK parties' opposition to secession. You seem to want to throw anything you have to at it to stop it, without regard for impact and cost. So you might well just go ahead and do the scorched earth, in your blindness.

Oh, THAT will be fun. From an ocean and a continent away.

190:

Probably (with one of two exceptions) one of the most civilised debates I've seen on this contentious issue.

I'm troubled by the idea of Scottish Independence. I think of myself fundamentally as British and so, even if only sentimentally, would hate to see what I consider my home country broken up (as an aside, I think that if it did I'd be the only one of my family of 4 not entitled to Scottish nationality).

There's a real tendency for those on the Independence side to talk from a position where the separation has already happened and what is happening now is being done by the English to the Scots. The fact is that at the moment what we have in Westminster is a British government. It's not been a good one for, and it's not representative of, the Scots. But it's not been a good one for, and it's not representative of, the Labour-voting NW where I grew up or the Lib-Dem voting SW where I now live. And yes, Scotland got the Poll Tax a year earlier. We've got tuition fees. I think you've been treated less badly actually.

So please - to all pro-separation folk (and Charlie did it less than most, but there's a bit creeping in towards the end of the article - but then he grew up in England) don't view what is wrong with the UK Government as more the fault of "The English" as if they are an amorphous blob out to get the Scots. And please, be careful how you handle independence. I think it's right that the way it would work is that Scotland leaves the Union, for one simple reason - the Scots are the only ones having a vote: either we all vote and everything is broken up or one party votes and leaves. Either seem fair, but not the combination. So you will have to negotiate with a rump EWNI, many of whom will feel that we've been abandoned by our friends who saw an exit from the burning building and slammed it behind them. The "slap in the face from a friend" comment really resonated with me.

I like Scotland, I like Scots. I'd like us to stay in the same country. But if we can't, I would like us to remain friends and I worry that some aspects of the campaign could make this harder than it ought to be.

OTOH I strongly suspect that with increased devolution and increased Euro-federalism as long term trends, whatever the backwards and forwards flow is at any one time, in 50 to 100 years the situation will probably be effectively the same whichever way the vote goes.

191:

Given the chance, I always assumed the Scots would break away from England. It seems the destiny of small European countries to balkanize into smaller ones.

How about writing a near future novel where the United States absorbs Ireland, Northern Ireland, Whales, England, and Scotland as the 51st-55th states? That's kind of a fantasy of mine.

192:

Knowing CHarlie, it would probably be a dystopian novel.
Meanwhile, in real life, most Scots couldn't think of anything worse, since there's a lack of things in common and we can see how your politics works and the rise of the tea party etc.

193:

Very carefully NOT reading intermediate comments, but returning to main subject (I hope) ...
Charlie, unusually for you, you seem to be over-concetrating on how eeevilll the tories are, with no regard to the future.
The Scottish referendum is a once-only chance, & throwing the Union away, even in its present unsatisfactory form (We want Devo-Max, remember?) is a cure worse than the disease.
Here, f'rinstance is a very different take on the subject by another expatriate English author, living in Dunedin ....

And, of course, this is tied into the awful state of Brit politics, & not just the Scottish sub-set thereof.

Do you care for the environment & the future?
Then, DO NOT, under any circumstances, vote "Green"
Do you care for your country's security & defence?
Then, DO NOT, under any circumstances, vote tory.
Do you care for workers rights & full employment?
Then, DO NOT, under any circumstances, vote "Labour"
Do you care about anything?
Then, DO NOT, under any circumstances, vote Lem-o-Crat [ And I speak as an ex-member of that sham party. ]

Not one of the main parties has anything like a sensible, useful programme, at all, anywhere.
Which is very, very depressing.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Paws @ 156 - noted.
Oh & my apologies for the typos.

194:

Leaving aside the position of a republic ...
You want a TIGHTER EU?
With the corruption & lobbying & what Lord Stansgate Wedgie Benn called a "Giant employer's ramp" & the total lack of democratic accountability?
Please, sir, stop & re-consider.
Yes, it would be lovely to seriously reform the EU ... as I thought up until about 3 years back.
But I don't thhink it's going to happen.
A great pity, as a really reformed EU would be a "good thing" ( As "1066" says) but the politicans like Juncker have really got their greedy little corrupt snouts into the trough & I can't seem them voting themseleves out of power, can you?

195:

As you say, IF it happens, it will be utterly ruthless ... but, nevertheless, that will be after the real blow has fallen.
I would imagine just about any sizeable Scottish-based PLC will be, if not fully out of Scotland by the beginning of the 2015 tax year, to be well on the way to moving South.
Scottish unemployment will hit (at least) Greek levels in months, in the event of people being gulled by the Wee Eck's nannying state-control lies.

196:

George - to be culture-fair, I suspect that when Ian suggests "all hell will break loose", he's not using a Balkan interpretation of chaos (towns burn, villages razed, mass graves of whole populations) or even a USAian version of hell (houses burn, taxes razed, armed gangs on the streets) but a British version (house prices fall, net migration raised, some shops get looted in a small riot with no firearms).

You seem to want to throw anything you have to at it to stop it, without regard for impact and cost. So you might well just go ahead and do the scorched earth, in your blindness.

Not quite; the worry is not about Governmental bias, but individual reaction to the outcome. The split of Czechoslovakia is interesting; the Slovakians thought they were better off without those Bohemians and Moravians, and split from them in the Velvet Divorce. A currency union was enacted, that lasted all of... days, as an awful lot of people looked at Slovakia and bet instead on the Czech Republic; we're talking capital flight, in small amounts, adding up to billions per day.

The Slovakians may have their "freedom", but as a whole they're worse off for it. Strangely, the Slovakian politicians who encouraged Nationalism, who argued for the separation - they've done rather well out of it. In that respect, politicians are no worse than bankers; a lot of them are in it for themselves, and so long as they do well, and they keep enough of their voters happy enough for long enough to turn a profit, who cares? By way of example, look at Tony Blair - has anyone seen any contrition over his actions, as he jets from one multi-million consultancy to another?

My concern is that the SNP is making lots of uncosted promises in its search for a yes vote. There will be a wonderful, fairer nation with free healthcare, free education, plenty of rUK government contracts to keep the shipbuilders busy, individual taxes will not rise, and corporation taxes will fall. All paid for by oil that isn't past peak, whose production isn't falling, at a price that won't ever drop below $100bbl.

There's a reason why the CBI came out against the SNP - many business people just don't see the numbers add up, and assume that a post-Yes, left-of-centre SNP will choose to fund itself increasingly from traditionally centre/right populations rather than disappoint any current SNP voters towards its traditional opponent, the Labour Party.

In the less-likely event of a Yes vote, I expect to see lots of firms move their headquarters and listed addresses for tax purposes to rUK (many are already starting); and house prices rise in Berwick and Carlisle (main rail lines into major cities) as the higher earners choose to live in rUK and commute to work in a local iScotland office of a foreign firm...

197:

I have a Welsh friend (My best man, actually) living presently in Usk.
His son io doing postgrad in Edinburgh & campaigning vigorously for "No".
Why?
Because of th experience of the amazing petty small-mindedness of Plaid Cymru, & the readily-available vision, to those that will actually look, that the SNP are considerably worse, with their attempt to state-supervise, to the extent of snooping into private medical records, of every "child" in Scotland, without the parents' consent.
This sort of attitude should tell you something, especially given the history of religious control & snooping in Scotland .....
Incidentally (given the current luncay in Brazil) he "supports" Chelsea, but wears a Cardiff t-shit sometimes, as the former's colours gains him instant abuse & aggression in Scotland - becaue it means that he's "English".
In other words, if you think UKIP are unpleasant, maybe so, but they ain't got nothing on the SNP.

198:

Err "Elgin marbles"
Bought, actually.
And certainly better-looked-after during the intervening years, if they had been left.
Now, however, they MIGHT be better-off in an Athens museum, but they might not ...
Um

199:

Another reader of: "The Steel Bonnets"!
Rcommended - no make that ESSENTIAL reading for anyone in this debate.
Author:
Geo Macdonald Fraser.

200:

@ # 187 & 188
Just a brief thought.
In the hopefully unlikely event of a "yes" vote ...
Will Orkeney/Shetland immediately demand independance form Scotland - & thus possibly wish to re-join the Jarldom of Orkney, as subjects of the NORWEGIAN crown?
Somewhat similar to the actual re-secession of West Virginia & the threatened re-secesssion of the, err, "Native Americans" in Quebec, if the PQ had won it's mad attempt at secession from Canada?

201:

Bought in a dodgy deal indeed. And insisting on calling them the Elgin marbles is, in these post-imperialist times, rather odd.
The SNP are not worse than Plaid Cymru in terms of petty small mindedness, rather they are victims of their own highmindedness. I appreciate you hate the SNP, but they are comparatively innofensice compares to the Tories (More in poverty, more grinding the disabled in poverty etc). Their economic plans are rather pie in the sky, which is why I am leaning towards a no vote, but every rabid anti-SNP person I meet makes me wonder why.

Also Orkney and Shetland have no chance at all for any sort of independence, none, forget about it. People keep raising that, but it's not just a stupid idea, its kind of impossible in every way. One might as well raise the idea of London seceding from the rest of England, which I have suggested in jest before.

202:

Also Orkney and Shetland have no chance at all for any sort of independence, none, forget about it. People keep raising that, but it's not just a stupid idea, its kind of impossible in every way.

Ask the Faeroe Islands.

As for the Shetlands - unique culture and dialect? Check. History of self-dependence? Check. Identify themselves as "Shetlanders" rather than "Scots"? Many do. Several hundred miles from a seat of Government that "doesn't understand them"? Check, either Westminster or Holyrood. A recent Economist article dicussed the subject.

The SNP oppose the concept of Shetland independence, in the same way that UKIP are oppsed to Scottish independence. If you have an ideological attachment to the concept of a "nation", how could anyone possibly want to leave it?

I'm also surprised that no-one has mentioned George Orwell's essay on Nationalism. It's quite a good read.

http://theorwellprize.co.uk/george-orwell/by-orwell/essays-and-other-works/notes-on-nationalism/

203:

" How about writing a near future novel where the United States absorbs Ireland, Northern Ireland, Whales, England, and Scotland as the 51st-55th states? That's kind of a fantasy of mine. "

I'm sure that OGH would produce something original around the idea of the '51st ..or whatever ' state but the idea is far from being original.

From a quick web search based on a vague memory of a book that I glanced at and promptly put down ...

http://www.amazon.co.uk/51st-State-Plus-Peter-Preston/dp/0140275800


I like the comment ..

" Read the sleeve jacket and don't bother with the rest, 15 Oct 1999 By A Customer
This review is from: 51st State (Hardcover)
If you're not a journalist or full-time politics watcher, the jargon - and full-scale slaughter of the English language - throughout this book might well annoy you as much as it did me. To save yourself this hassle, read the summary: the UK leaves the EU on a steam-powered jingo-boat, only to sink on the rocks of economic reality. So it joins NAFTA. This is exactly the sort of thing predicted by newspaper columnists such as Andrew Marr of the Observer all the time. An interesting concept, and one worth contemplating in these Euro-phobic times, but not really subject matter for a novel."

204:

It occurs to me that this, hereafter linked, response to J.K. Rowlings contribution to the political debate on Scottish Independence and the Yes/No vote might be of interest to the conversation.


"An Open Letter To J.K. Rowling "

Never fear, the piece is both sensible and delivered in calm and considered language. No foaming at the mouth with foul mouthed indignation here after...

http://nationalcollective.com/2014/06/11/an-open-letter-to-j-k-rowling/

205:

Indeed Mr Stonestomach, when I say "all hell would break lose" I mean that things would go non-linear. The certainty of separation for scotland that would happen on 19th September would kick off a whole bunch of changed drivers and feedback loops as things rearranged to deal with the new shape of the future.

I think baseline in that planning would have to be that when people have said "nope, not going to happen" they are probably correct. Best case is that maybe the SNP got their way on half the issues (and that's very much best case). Worst case is that additional nasties come out of the woodwork, probably engendered by the reactions to the reality.

The reason I mentioned risk mitigation is it seems to be any half way competent biz person north of the border is going to have to want to limit their exposure to the downside. So assets, etc. would probably go to less turbulent locations (either south, or into Europe). It just makes sense. It's a toss up if they physically stay and try and take advantage of the turmoil, or shift south and wait things out. Plans for citizenship seem to allow them to hop back if things went rosy.

That risk mitigation goes for business AND personal circumstances. Those that can, with the nouse, will not want to put all their eggs in such an uncertain basket.

If that holds true for double digit percentages of the populous, it could set off one of those negative feedback spirals that would hit before anyone was in a position to do anything about it.

I think that's a pretty fair description of "all hell breaking lose". That baseline case has to include pretty good odds of the type of thing I'm talking about happening.

But nobody seems to have gamed out the negative case - and I don't think we'd go back to status quo.

206:

If Scotland had been independent when you wrote Halting State or The Atrocity Archives, I don't see what it would have made any noticeable difference.

In reverse order: (a) The Atrocity Archives was neither set in nor impinged upon Scotland in any way. And (b) Scottish independence was a key plot point in Halting State that you seem to have missed.

207:

How about writing a near future novel where the United States absorbs Ireland, Northern Ireland, Whales, England, and Scotland as the 51st-55th states? That's kind of a fantasy of mine.

How about a fantasy in which the USA absorbs all-the-above and hands an extra 10 out of 12 senate seats to whoever's at the leftmost extreme in the senate, in perpetuity?

Trust me, the USA wants to absorb the British Isles as states 51-55 about as much as Malaysia wants to absorb Singapore. Hint: dogs like to wag their tails, not vice versa.

208:

The independent Grand Jarldom of Orkney and Shetland would have a combined population of 42,000 which would make it the 3rd least populated country in the world, after the Vatican and Monaco. It's questionable whether this is big enough for them to be "independent" in any meaningful sense of the word.

I've spent a fair amount of time on Guernsey (population: 66,000). Technically it is not part of the UK, but it is very heavily dependent on "the mainland" for things like hospital treatment and university education.

It's an interesting question: What is the lower limit on population size for a viable independent country? I suspect anywhere much smaller than Iceland (320,000) or Malta (388,000) is going to struggle. This ties into OGH's essay on minimum size for a generation starship, with the proviso that small nations *can* trade with the outside world for anything they can't produce themselves.

209:

Indeed. They still haven't given statehood to the city of Washington DC because it's too left-wing for the Republicans in Congress. What chance does the UK have?

The USA might accept the UK as a colony along the lines of Puerto Rico -- but for military and secret intelligence purposes, the USA already gets everything it wants from the UK, so I'm not sure why they would bother.

210:

IDS's reforms of the benefit system might, in 30 years, be seen as another similar 'evil' on a par with Maggie, although I suspect by more and his will be better recovered from because no one will benefit.

I think a lot of people, including those receiving benefits, accepted the system wasn't exactly working well. There were a lot of silly things - if you were unemployed refusing work because you were appreciably better on the dole for example. (That's not just an issue of the benefits, that's an issue of low wages and high house prices as well of course, but it IS part of the problem he's meant to be trying to address.)

Universal Benefit is late and massively over budget and being criticised by everyone (and I do mean everyone) from parliament to the groups that represent unemployed people to everyone. It is costing more to deliver and delivering less. The switching of the systems in supporting people with disabilities is costing more and although it's meant to be more effective has a backlog that according to the BA's own figures at current rates will take 42 years to clear. That's ignoring sick things like people with congenital disabilities like missing limbs being invited for medical assessments being invited to see "if you condition is showing signs of improvement."

I have no problem with the stated idea "We need to do something about this situation" and the broadly stated aims. The implementation seems to have been ideologically driven that "anyone of working age on benefits is a lazy scrounger and we're going to take it off the ungrateful g*ts." With a side helping of "we're going to privatise it" for good measure. That I do have a problem with. It might be that left-leaning political slant, but a good safety net (if we can't have a universal salary) is a pretty essential feature of a civilised country IMO.

211:

The independent Grand Jarldom of Orkney and Shetland would have a combined population of 42,000 which would make it the 3rd least populated country in the world, after the Vatican and Monaco. It's questionable whether this is big enough for them to be "independent" in any meaningful sense of the word.

But within the same order of magnitude as the Faeroe islands 200 miles away, as I pointed out (population 49,000)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faroe_Islands

212:

apparently this result is driven by about one council ward in Glasgow, which used to have an asbestos factory.
You reckon? You don't think the widespread use of asbestos in pipe and boiler insulation in places such as 4 iron foundries, 3 or 4 steam locomotive works, 8 or 10 shipyards, 2 specialist boiler works, public buildins such as the several of each of hospitals, libraries, public halls, swimming baths... might be a factor?

Anti-immigrant? There are a lot more immigrants here than there were 30 years ago and I don't think you can make a case that anyone is more anti-immigrant than they were during Enoch Powell's active political career.
I don't see your point. Are you seriously claiming that there is a difference being being anti-ethnicity and anti-nationality when it comes to immigration? I really hope not but you do seem to be drawing a parallel between Powell and Farange.

Further, apparently the "south-east" is occupied uniquely by fascists. The obvious point here is that Charlie makes a point of not going to London when he can help it
It's recorded fact on here that Charlie finds London to be "too hot". Personally I find London to be "too hot2 and "too crowded".

213:

As already discussed, following the repeal of the Act of Union with England (1707), the UK ceases to exist. Either both Scotland and rUK can inherit existing treaty positions (if they want to) or neither of them can.

I don't think that quoting statements made by individuals who are actively politicing against their own domestic separatist movements actually helps your case. Certainly, referencing individuals who are known to be making anti-independance statements at the request of the UK Foreign Office (who should not be taking a stance either way IMO) doesn't.

214:

Just send all Englishmen to New England, all Welsh to New South Wales and then colonize the lower part of the British Isles as "New Scotland" -> problem solved

215:

Er, I don't think that arguing that people disliking Chavsea are anti-English is true. It may be convenient for your position, and nice for your "best man" to think that way, but Chavsea are one of those clubs that everyone except their "fans" dislikes.

216:

I don't think that quoting statements made by individuals who are actively politicing against their own domestic separatist movements actually helps your case.

My one link in the post you replied to, was to the EU website. I was trying to avoid "individual opinion", and instead find "stated institutional position".

As already discussed, following the repeal of the Act of Union with England (1707), the UK ceases to exist. Either both Scotland and rUK can inherit existing treaty positions (if they want to) or neither of them can.

That is a neat description of the SNP position, and fits neatly with the claim for EU membership under Article 48. Arguing that "if Scotland can't join immediately, then rUK should have to reapply too." would be a tad negative.

The opposing argument is that England, Wales, and Northern Ireland remain as the United Kingdom, and Scotland has democratically asked to leave. Not "all parties dissolve the Act of Union", but "Scotland leaves the UK". This would leave rUK as the inheritor state, and Scotland applying under Article 49 (i.e. several years negotiation, adoption of Euro, etc). Unsurprisingly, the SNP sees this as a vote-loser...

217:

A comment, not on the politics, but on your writing. This could be an opportunity for you to explore a different genre: alternate future/history novels. Typically used by SF/fantasy classed authors, but there have been some thrillers/detective/mystery works, as well.

Just an idea!

218:

I'm already nine books into an alternate history series, in case you hadn't noticed ...

219:

Sorry! I hadn't noticed, but I see that now. I had thought you were just doing detective/thriller themes. My apologies - I just looked through a few of your titles, and Accelerando and the Trader series come out as very much other genres.

220:

The Faeroe islands are not an independent country. Yes, there's a significant independence movement, but for now they are still part of Denmark.

Even if they formally declare "independence", as I've said it is questionable how independent they would be in practical terms.

221:

It has been argued an independent Scotland would not inherit the legal rights of the UK:

It is not legally possible for two new states to inherit the international personality of the former state. The remainder of the UK (comprising England, Wales and Northern Ireland) would continue as before, retaining the rights and obligations of the UK as it currently stands.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/scotland-analysis-devolution-and-the-implications-of-scottish-independence

That opinion comes from two professors of international law, respectively at Edinburgh and Cambridge universities.

If an independent Scotland wanted to make a legal fight of it, it would be settled by the European Court of Justice (for EU membership) or possibly the International Court of Justice in the Hague (for things like NATO membership). I wouldn't bet on either of them ruling in favour of Scotland.

222:

"so far no one has been physically assaulted as a result"

Not quite.... http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/scottish-independence-campaigner-80-attacked-1-3077094

223:

ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE

We are now 222 comments into this discussion and, contra received custom, it has not yet spawned sub-topics discussing the prospects for space colonization, care and feeding of dwarf giraffes, or any of the usual strange attractors that turn all comment threads into something resembling a lump of plasticine that has been in the possession of a two year old child for more than five minutes.

In fact, it's still proceeding on-topic.

What's wrong with you people?

224:

It seems like the iron laws always hold true.

Iron Law of Bureaucracy
In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.

Iron law of Oligarchy
All forms of organization, regardless of how democratic they may be at the start, will eventually and inevitably develop oligarchic tendencies, thus making true democracy practically and theoretically impossible, especially in large groups and complex organizations. The relative structural fluidity in a small-scale democracy succumbs to "social viscosity" in a large-scale organization. According to the "iron law," democracy and large-scale organization are incompatible.

Wikipedia hints at what the counter-measure might be.
One of the best known exceptions to the iron law of oligarchy was the now defunct International Typographical Union, described by Seymour Martin Lipset in his 1956 book, Union Democracy.[7] Lipset suggests a number of factors that existed in the ITU that are allegedly responsible for countering this tendency toward bureaucratic oligarchy. The first and perhaps most important has to do with the way the union was founded. Unlike many other unions (e.g., the CIO's United Steel Workers of America (USWA), and numerous other craft unions) which were organized from the top down, the ITU had a number of large, strong, local unions who valued their autonomy, which existed long before the international was formed. This local autonomy was strengthened by the economy of the printing industry which operated in largely local and regional markets, with little competition from other geographical areas. Large locals continued to jealously guard this autonomy against encroachments by international officers. Second, the existence of factions helped place a check on the oligarchic tendencies that existed at the national headquarters. Leaders that are unchecked tend to develop larger salaries and more sumptuous lifestyles, making them unwilling to go back to their previous jobs. But with a powerful out faction ready to expose profligacy, no leaders dared take overly generous personal remuneration. These two factors were compelling in the ITU case.

If politics is about who gets what and how, then inequality in a country usually means something went wrong with the political process. The person with the short end of the stick was left agreeing to a bad deal, or they didn't even have to give the fig leaf of consent.

The story of unions in the US of A is complicated. There's no absolute good or evil when it comes to any human organization and you can get good ones and bad ones. The bad unions went rotten for the same reasons as bad corporations. I've read accounts from proud union members who moved from one plant to another and found themselves in a bad shop. Management loves cherrypicking those stories, just like using the welfare queen stereotype to lambaste all social safety net programs.

It's a tough balance to strike here. If you decentralize power too much you get something like the US under the Articles of Confederation, a sloppy mess. Centralize power too much and you get something like the US under the Constitution in the 21st century, a global empire whose political and economic leaders do whatever the hell they want and the common people are effectively disenfranchised.

225:

I have been remiss. Let me get started talking about why the singularity is going to happen.

226:

I'm already nine books into an alternate history series, in case you hadn't noticed ...

I was about to reply to @205, asking: Why, whether or not, Scotland becomes independent it would have an effect on your Fiction? The "Halting State" series would become more of an alternate reality.
But nevermind, I guess.


More on topic*.
If the vote ends up with a bare No majority, would that be enough to scare Westminster in to reform, or would it be more reactionary and take out the hammer? Hope that makes sense.

*With apologies. My knowledge of British politics comes mainly from watching "Yes, Minister/Prime Minister", and "House of Cards". And reading here.

227:

If the vote ends up with a bare No majority, would that be enough to scare Westminster in to reform, or would it be more reactionary and take out the hammer? Hope that makes sense.

Probably more reactionary.

Right now they're (the Westminster parties) running scared of the SNP. A "no" margin of >5% -- in other words, something they can convince themselves is convincing -- will reduce their perception that the Union is at risk and therefore reduce the need to walk with a light tread on Scottish budgetary issues (which are still largely centrally controlled).

Scotland has to some extent been spared the worst of the current government's austerity-motivated cut-backs so far. This will change in 2015 if we're still in the UK.

My personal position is that evaluating the independence issue on strictly economic grounds is a extremely short-sighted: we do not generally pick our patriotism on the basis of income tax levels, and unless the economic outcome is clearly going to be catastrophic I'm willing to discount that as a factor. But I think a "no" vote would empower the Westminster hub to put the squeeze on Scotland's finances: Labour is committed publicly to following the Conservatives austerity policies, as are the LibDems -- they've all drunk the Chicago School kool-aid, which I believe to be deeply misguided (unless your goal is to line the pockets of the rentier class at the top of the 0.1% wealthiest list), and a contributory factor in forcing the UK into the longest recession of the past century.

228:

If the vote ends up with a bare No majority, would that be enough to scare Westminster in to reform, or would it be more reactionary and take out the hammer?

Depends very much on who is in power at Westminster after the 2015 election. If it's Labour or a Labour/LibDem coalition, it is likely (though by no means certain) they would try for reform. This could involve giving the Scottish Parliament more powers over taxation and the like. A Conservative government (or Cthulhu forbid, a Conservative/UKIP coalition) might go for the iron fist.

Worth noting that if Scotland votes Yes, it's doubtful whether David Cameron could survive for long as Conservative leader. At best he would be severely weakened. Some of the possible candidates to succeed Cameron would be even less favourably inclined to Scotland than he is.

229:

I dare say, as pro-Tory hate-figure in residence, I really ought to throw in some troll-bait. So, explain (using diagrams as necessary) whether a Singularity is more or less likely to start off in an independent Scotland, as opposed to rBritain?

What I'm getting at here really is power generation methods. Scotland is mostly sitting on igneous rocks, whereas large parts of England are sedimentary shales and coal measures. Most of Scotland's bedrock is nearly completely oxidised, whereas much of England's bedrock has extractable carbon compounds in it. This means that Scotland, even if it maximises its renewable energy resources, will still be worse off than England for energy.

As a bonus question, how quickly will the presence of wind turbines selecting against flight in eagles lead to flightless birds of prey on the lines of the South American terror birds of the Pleistocene (bearing in mind also the over-population of deer in the highlands)?

230:

I'm not aware of the EU having made a formal statement on the subject. I am aware of specific individuals who hold office within the EU having done so.

On the Act of Union with England itself, all it does is ratify the Treaty of Union with England (1706), as does the Act of Union with Scotland (1706). The AUE does not stop a future Scots parliament repealing it and hence unmaking the UK. At this point, all joint enterprises will also be unmade since the signatory body no longer exists. Or not, but in that case you havve to accept that both bodies retain the duties, responsibilites etc of a treaty signatory.

231:

Warning - Sense of humour actively required!

http://www.pet-assassin.co.uk/index.html

Better?

232:

"I can't speak for Charlie, but I think he might be alluding to the UKIP results in the European Parliament voting, where UKIP results for Scotland are quite south of the ones for some English areas"

That's not a General Election though, where people vote on different criteria. And turnout is rather different.

Hmm, based on that link maybe Scotland should link with the other region that only voted 17% UKIP, the areas in and around Westminster.....?

233:

This means that Scotland, even if it maximises its renewable energy resources, will still be worse off than England for energy.

ORLY?

Renewable energy in Scotland.

Scotland was over 40% renewable back in 2012. Total potential renewable energy resources are estimated at ~240TWh; Scotland consumed 175TWh of energy in all forms in 2002, and the government established a target of Scotland's energy consumption being 100% renewable by 2020 -- per the most recent report we're on course to beat that target.

TL:DR; even after the oil runs out and the coal is no longer viable, Scotland will be a net energy exporting nation.

234:

There was a question upthread about what happens to the SNP in the event of a Yes vote.

I think the question is more usefully re-framed as what happens to the Scottish Labour Party.

Both the SNP and Scottish Labour are, ostensibly, centre-left, social democratic parties. Both, in my view, have a tendency to centralise. Pretty similar organisations but for the trump issue of whether Scotland should be an independent state or not. A Yes vote settles that particular question for the foreseeable future so Scotland ends up with two ostensibly centre-left, social democratic parties. It only needs one.

Assuming a Yes vote the SNP will arrive at the 2016 Scottish General Election having won the 2011 Scottish General Election, governed competently for 9 years, won a massive party defining referendum, successfully (probably) negotiated independence from the UK and (re) entry to the EU. They may well have won the Scottish part of the UK General Election in 2015.

The Scottish Labour Party will have done none of the above.

I think the SNP, in those circumstances are very likely to at least be in a position to form the 2016-2020 government. Perhaps a majority government, perhaps in coalition with the Greens. (In this time I think the SNP lose a few activisits / supporters to the Lib Dems, Scottish Centre-Right Party, Scottish Socialists and Greens but pick up some youth and some former Labour activists / supporters.) The SNP look like the natural party of government in a cautiously centre-left Scotland.

If you were 16, in 2015, centre-left and interesting in politics would you join the SNP or the Labour Party?

So Scottish Labour end up in opposition (again) until at least 2020 and face an overcrowded centre-left and a shortage of new members.

I’m not sure what the Scottish Labour Party do in those circumstances. They could move left on to ground occupied by the Scottish Socialist Party and others and the Greens. In which case we end up with choice on the left of a functional left of centre party, a functional Green party and a functional centre-left party.

They could move from a centralising to a de-centralising stance. In which case we end up with two social democratic parties, one for moving power to Holyrood, one for moving power away from Holyrood. That would be interesting.

But it’s a crowded market on the left in Scotland post a Yes vote and I think the Scottish Labour Party will be in the worst position to thrive in it. So, I think the SNP become the new party of the centre-left in Scotland and the Scottish Labour Party sort of fizzles away.

235:

To go for the troll bait.

1. I think Scotland has a bigger chunk of the North Sea than does England, and that's where the biggest reserves of carbon are. AFAIK, they were laid down during the late Mesozoic and Paleocene, which is why your terror bird remark is so interesting (Paleocene link, in case you missed the turn).

2. Here's your derailer, Charlie. As for wind turbines, there's a really cool wind generator design out there by Saphon Energy that has no blades. Basically, it's a disk of very strong fabric linked to pistons, and it's built so that the rippling of the fabric moves the pistons, thereby generating power. It's theoretically up to three times more efficient than a turbine, and it's missing all those bird, bat, and insect killing blades. If it takes off, eagles get to keep their wings. Personally, I hope it lives up to the hype, since it *appears* to cut the need for rare earths required by high performance wind turbines, and that makes the supply lines for this type of turbine more robust. As I said, appears, because it hasn't been rolled out in large enough numbers for us to find out what the downsides are on it.

I was asking about energy upthread, and it seems that the UK now imports energy. Reconfiguring it so that England also imports energy from Scotland won't make much difference in the political calculus this year. Still, Scotland has more topography than does England, so it's naturally better at hydropower regardless. All that topography is a good thing, because it means people can migrate into the highlands in the event of global warming, rather than just sailing north to Norway.

On the other hand, if Scotland becomes independent, I'd suggest building the equivalent of a reverse Hadrian's Wall to keep the wild, tattooed southron barbarians and hipster refugees from migrating north in a vain attempt to (re)join civilisation or at least loot it. Heck, it's worked along the US/Mexico border, right?

236:

Nick wrote:

""The English" as if they are an amorphous blob....."

Exactly. The North and North West of England 9and parts of the Midlands) have very strong left-wing traditions that apparently will go away if Scotland leaves, voting ToryUkip 4ever. Which I don't think will happen.

237:

Sorry if I've given you the impression I hate you. Others giving you the impression they hate you is up to them.

You'd have to show a lot of evidence that turbines are a significant threat to flying birds and that Scotland would have to cover a lot of its landmass with turbines to make me bite on the flightless birds one seriously.

But terror birds living off the deer would be cool. So, cool, if we postulate it might happen. It sounds like a LOT of generations to me. Something like a buzzard or kite is probably the best bet to start from. They could start on rabbits and so on that they more or less hunt in a loosely similar way already after all. But you've got to lose flight and gain a lot of bulk to hunt deer successfully. Some BOTE - lets say you've got to hit 2.5m height to get there. They're currently about 0.5m tall. Good human breeding reckons to change a trait about 1% per generation according to a class from years ago, lets be generous and say natural selection is half as good. If my maths is that that gives us 1,250 and generations. Bird generations are a year.. so by the middle of the next millennium.

238:

As far as the continuance of the UK goes, realpolitik will rule the day. Scotland will be seen as a new state, and the remainder of the UK will continue to be called that. Why ?

Simple, a large economy and nuclear weapons. None of the organisations that the UK is currently part of will sacrifice stability and security for some obscure and debatable point of law on legislation passed hundreds of years ago.

239:

Not so. If Scotland leaves the union, so do the 59 (in this parliament) Scottish MPs. That's 39 Labour, 12 Lib Dems, 7 SNP and 1 Conservative. In 2015, the chances are those 12 Lib Dems get split between the SNP and Labour with, perhaps a small loyal Lib Dem rump, but lets say about 40 Labour MPs is typical.

It's a bit hard to go back and apply that to all the electoral results because in previous elections there have often been larger numbers of Scottish MPs and still more than half of them of them have been Labour.

This site makes the case that mostly the removal of the Scottish MPs doesn't change the outcome of the elections. Except it makes all the Tory majorities bigger, the Labour ones smaller. It changes one Labour minority government to a Conservative minority government and it would make our current coalition an outright Conservative majority government.

It doesn't make it impossible for Labour to win, and a lot of the North, parts of the Midlands, and some parts of the South-West actually would be voting Labour still. But the chances of a Labour victory are lower each time. The chances of long periods of Tory rule with large majorities and a supposed mandate to do all the crazy things in their manifesto as well as all the big things that 35-40% of the electorate actually wanted will be higher. (And yes, I use the same words about Labour rule. I don't like the current system at all, but switching every 5 year term will be healthier than 10 years of one party.)

240:

Please, in the nicest way possible ... grow up!
All political parties have their nasties & their fruitcakes, & the tories are mostly not THAT bad, actually (now) - 1979-97 was different, very different .... As for the SNP, though, their irrational ant-English hate is best ecpresssed by their leader in 1939, who welcomed the Nazis bombs falling on London.
If he expressed any views on the later bombing of Glasow (etc) I'm not aware it was recorded ....

241:

No
In this case at least.
Ben (the son currently resident in Edinburgh)) has slearly expressed his expereniences.
The father - my friend - isn't interested in footy - he's WELSH - Rugby Union .....

242:

ADMIN NOTE @ 223
Because it's too much fun, as it is, Charlie!

243:

Actually, I think Devo-Max will be on the cards, afterwards.
We all need it, & "localism" is the wstchword of all 3 main sets of liars (err parties) at the moment.

244:

The succession movement all-around seems to be very polite, especially in comparison to most throughout history, or even current events. Assume for a moment that all of the Bad things which the "no" side are suggesting do occur, couldn't both sides say "oops" and either repeal the repeal of the Act of Union of 1707 or create a new Act of Union which addresses some of the significant existing concerns? There'd be a lot of crow to eat, of course, but if everybody's going to be all reasonable about the break-up, I can't see why they wouldn't be all reasonable about fixing things.

As a point of reference, the US and UK sort-of accidentally went to war in 1812, and after 2 years of fighting (including the torching of the White House) said "oops" and agreed to a do-over, restoring status quo.

245:

WHY do you insist that the tories will always go for the "iron fist"?
Look at their pathetic, limp-wristed grovelling to bunches of religious fanatics, everywhere.
And I don't just mean some muslim organisations, but you are also reminded that abortion is still illegal in NI, because of crawling to the religious.
Utterly sickening, actually.

246:

Profoundly disagree
The SNP are a centralising autocratic party, with very nasty snooping tendencies.
Which I why I really don't like them, actually.

247:

As far as currency and head of state go .. what difference is there between Scottish independence, and that of the various colonies like NZ or Australia?

NZ became a self governing Dominion in 1907, but used the UK pound till 1933, and its own pound till 1967 when it redid its currency to go metric.

However the Queen is still the titular Head of State and most people are quite happy about that - it means we get Royal Visits occasionally to provide an excuse to go out in the sun and wave silly little flags excitedly at a fancy hat.

Most of the colonies have now gone their own way, excepting of course the Falklands and Gibraltar (who are like those guests that never leave) and those various useful geographic spots rented to the Americans.
Why should it be difficult for the UK to separate out into its constituent parts?
Despite the historical conflict in NI, Ireland and the UK today seem to be fairly happy neighbors. Could be a relatively good example of what could happen if Scotland is officially let go. (yes, I'm conveniently ignoring the years of bitter sectarian squabble. Let Scotland invent its own version of internecine conflict.)

248:

Forget the Pleistocene.
These guys were around some 700 years ago back home
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haast%27s_eagle and this one may have survived up to 150 years ago http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyles%27_harrier

Both are seriously big birds of prey, but both required many thousand years of both lots of food and no predators to get there. Still, they reintroduced sea eagles to Skye relatively recently, so I guess they could start by preying on highland cows or something.

249:

It's not the internecine conflict Scotland would have to worry about; it's the "interesting" shaking-out of the separation. Though no matter what anyone thinks of Salmond, he's no de Valera.

250:

Assume for a moment that all of the Bad things which the "no" side are suggesting do occur, couldn't both sides say "oops"

I seriously doubt it. It's one thing for a peace treaty to restore the status quo ante between two nations after 3 years of warfare. It's completely different for a newly independent nation to give up that independence.

Suppose Scotland votes Yes in September, completes independence negotiations with whoever wins the 2015 UK General Election, and sets sail as an independent country. Now imagine, as an unlikely worst-case scenario, Scotland suffers some kind of massive financial crisis and currency collapse a few years afterwards.

Why would the rest of the UK (rUK) want to let Scotland back in? In the space of a few years, Scotland would have broken up the 300-year-old union with rUK, and put rUK through a long, distracting, and expensive transition period. As an economic basket case, Scotland would require massive subsidies to get back on its feet. If a bankrupt Scotland rejoined the UK, it would not do so on very favourable terms.

On the flip side, Scottish national pride is a powerful thing. Even those who had voted No to independence might disapprove of their government having to beg and plead to be let back into the UK.

In the much more realistic scenario where Scotland's economy is doing more or less all right, they have no particular motivation to return to the UK.

If Scotland declares independence, there will be no going back in the foreseeable future. In the very long term no one knows what will happen. 50 or 100 years later it's not impossible to imagine a movement for reunification, if the Singularity doesn't get us first, but I think that's how long it would take.

251:

WHY do you insist that the tories will always go for the "iron fist"?

I never said any such thing. I was observing that the UK Conservative Party is not inclined to be generous towards Scotland. This was certainly the case in Thatcher's time, and their anti-Scottish tendencies have only got worse since then.

252:

Disagree, somewhat: I think the Scottish Labour party probably makes a bid to become the party of the right within an independent Scotland -- bearing in mind that "right" in Scotland would probably be considered center-to-center-left in England. After all, once they're not tied to the central Parliamentary Labour Party's apron strings they can diverge from the Westminster party consensus.

Alternatively: if the SNP are the natural party of government, is it not plausible that as we move into the post-Alex Salmond era (he'll probably retire by 2020, simply due to age/health) the exigencies of working with the corporate sector will result in capture of the SNP by business interests, recapitulating the processes we've seen in England? In which case the SNP may drift right, opening up the center-left ground for Labour to re-occupy (unless the Greens get there first).

I wouldn't bet on any of these outcomes, mind you. They're all highly sensitive to initial conditions emerging from the first post-independence general election.

253:


Oh dear...Before you get too smug about the wind turbines, you might want to have a good look at whose land they are on:

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/aug/10/scotland-land-rights

Scotland is intrinsically ungovernable if just 500 people own half the land in your country. To get to energy independence, you will need to deal with them.

The situation would be comparable to the landed gentry of England before the first world war in that they owned the energy supply as well as the farmland, through their mineral rights.

Further, the "500 landlords" are no longer the rump-UK's problem in that we would not have to buy your laughably overpriced electricity, particularly to fund the lifestyles of a pack of aristocrats. You deal with them, and keep in mind that one of them is permitted to keep his own private army. (And does)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atholl_Highlanders

The land rents and subsidies that wind turbines attract would make their control of the Scottish government absolute and make the Barclay Brothers' antics upon Sark look like a sitcom. From there, control over city dwellers exists as certainly as they control their tenants through energy bills. If you read to the end of the article, their attitude towards the circumstances of their tenants is often indifferent, to put it mildly.

A further idea would be that the lowland landlords would want their mineral rights back off of a Scottish parliament, for any shale gas present. Got you again, in that respect.

So what is it to be? Mugabe-esque land reforms that are needed to force them to break their estates up? Or control by the 500 landlords? As far as most people in the Britain would be concerned, possibly now with gas supplies of their own, it is basically a case of you having voted for this, get lost and don't come back.

254:

I have been looking forward to Charlie's take on the referendum and I am glad to see the comment thread has stayed relatively civil.
I spent the last half of the eighties in Dundee and came away firmly convinced that the Scots would be a lot happier independent and I have maintained that view ever since, until the currency/EU membership issues came to the fore.
I, actually still have a few hundred quid in my Clydesdale account in Dundee and it was a little sobering to realise that I had no idea what currency they would be denominated in after independence.

The preferred White Paper option was to remain in a currency union with the UK sharing the pound. in such a case the Scots would have a limited voice on the BoE and interest rates would be set in London. As I see it that's basically the devo max option. Scotland would be unable to diverge much from the rUK economy.
Given the Lender of Last Resort issues and the huge size of the Scottish Financial sector, this seems to be an unlikely outcome.
The other options are a Scotland pound pegged to the rUK pound, an independent Scottish currency or transitioning to the Euro after a period in EMU with a Scottish Pound.
None of these options are intrinsically bad but they all seem to bar a Scottish reentry to the EU, as I understand it.
So to me these are major stumbling blocks to a successful transition to independence, if it was just Scotland and the rUK separating, then it would have been complicated but relatively doable. The only major stumbling block would have been Faslane and I think Westminster could have used the relocation costs as a fig leaf for abandoning Trident replacement and keeping some nominal nuclear capability.
I have no vote in the upcoming referendum but I have seen similar thoughts expressed by others who are still in the persuadable camp and I would like to know your thought
Thanks
Rex

255:


Restricting free migration plays into the pocket-books of those who want to reduce us all -- globally -- to the status of serfs. It is an abomination, and I oppose it as a matter of principle, just as I oppose slavery and autocracy.

Then it seems we are somewhat fucked. For at least half a century or however long it takes the immigrants to assimilate. Assuming they're the right kind of immigrants.

Diversity diminishes trust in societies, which is inimical to effective functioning of said societies. And to people's well-being.

So, in the absence of a shared religion or culture strong enough to overcome 'diversity', the net result is a decrease in social capital for decades, if not centuries.

Here's a quote from that long-ish article.


After releasing the initial results in 2001, Putnam says he spent time "kicking the tires really hard" to be sure the study had it right. Putnam realized, for instance, that more diverse communities tended to be larger, have greater income ranges, higher crime rates, and more mobility among their residents -- all factors that could depress social capital independent of any impact ethnic diversity might have.


"People would say, 'I bet you forgot about X,'" Putnam says of the string of suggestions from colleagues. "There were 20 or 30 X's."


But even after statistically taking them all into account, the connection remained strong: Higher diversity meant lower social capital. In his findings, Putnam writes that those in more diverse communities tend to "distrust their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television."

The study has also been replicated in Europe, specifically Netherlands..[pdf]

256:

I see there's been a mention of the Spanish Problem affecting how Scotland links to the EU.

I'd expect that to count against any fast transitions/accessions, but I don't think anyone would want to drive a newly independent country away from the EU. People have mentioned Greece, and there have been claims of some dodgy financial deals when that country adopted the Euro. A bit of waiting for the markets to settle seems like a good idea.

Also, look at Switzerland and the EU. Switzerland is not an EU member and it's not Euro Zone. But for many things you wouldn't notice a difference. There are treaties.

From the point of view of the EU as a whole, I don't think excluding Scotland is on the cards. But expect some sort of formal gap. It might be a work in process until any sort of UK membership referendum takes place.

257:

Then it seems we are somewhat fucked. For at least half a century or however long it takes

It can take a lot less. My grandfather arrived in the UK in 1906 or thereabouts. Didn't speak English for his first few years. By 1919 he was mustering out of the army as a sergeant, then ended up running a successful business. His son, born 1923, was more or less indistinguishable from any other 1944 Cambridge graduate with ancestors resident in the UK for a couple of centuries or more.

Of course, expecting immigrants not to assimilate becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy ...

258:

Speaking of the Euro:

For Scotland (or anyone) to join the Euro in, say, 2007-08 would have been idiotic. Or in 2010, for that matter. But Scotland won't be setting sail under a new currency before 2017 at the earliest ...

We know now what happens when the Bundesbank sets fiscal policy in the EU, and we know the appropriate debt/GDP gearing it's safe to be in the Euro with -- and you will note that despite the tribulations of the PIIGS, France and the Netherlands don't seem unhappy with the currency union.

My gut feeling is that if an independent Scotland were to keep it's borrowing level under control, Euro zone membership would be entirely feasible and not actually as painful as everyone seems to think. And the cautionary tale of what happens if you get it wrong (see also: Greece, Spain, Portugal ...) should help keep future new EU members on the straight and narrow for a generation to come, until human memory fades.

And the alternative of running a "Scottish pound" pegged against sterling -- as Ireland did until 1970 -- isn't inconceivable, either. Possibly pegged at, say, 90% of Sterling, to give Scotland a margin to undercut rUK on exports and labour costs, which are more important to a de-fiscalized economy than to the City of London.

259:

Here's another quote from that article:
[Results from] a massive new study, based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America

So I'd think that the study is restricted to one society with no full employment, marginal welfare and a long history of race conflicts. So I doubt that this gives any insight on wether diversity in European countries should be avoided or welcomed.

It's also stupid to reduce politics to just one factor (diversity vs. cultural homogenity). And like all statistical studies they don't tell which is the cause and which is the effect.

Restricting immigration to Europe costs 1000 - 2000 human lifes (estimate) each year. It also doesn't necessarily save money: In Germany there used to be a strict prohibition to work for asylum seekers and other refugees. When this that somewhat relaxed a few years ago the state was able to save billions in (lousy) welfare aids for these people.

260:

The existence of the UK is not contingent on the result of the Scottish referendum, nor is our membership of the EU. Or NATO. Or the UN.
If I'm wrong, I want a vote too.

261:

Irish currency stayed pegged to Sterling until 1979 with the advent of the European Monatory System, I really thought it was later before arity broke.
I do remember, it seemed a big deal at the time but the punt diverged and the world did not end and after a while we took no more notice of it.
scotland in the Eurozone would be strongly placed to compete with Ireland for Anglophone FDI as an english speaking country in the Eurozone.
Especially if the rUK leave the EU.

262:

As for wind turbines, there's a really cool wind generator design out there by Saphon Energy that has no blades.

I'd never heard of this; it was sufficiently intriguing that I did a little research and found that it looks to be -- at best -- 95% hype and at worst an out-and-out scam.

Good stuff on politics on the other side of the pond, btw. I don't know much about this sort of thing so I've kept my yap shut and my ears open. IOW, apologies for the thread derail.

263:

Now imagine, as an unlikely worst-case scenario, Scotland suffers some kind of massive financial crisis and currency collapse a few years afterwards.
Why would the rest of the UK (rUK) want to let Scotland back in?

You are assuming it's not the plan.

I'd say, with the fundamental unreality of the SNP position, a financial crisis is probably an 80% certainty. With so much change; with so many big issues not in any way planned; with the feedbacks, and with the global economy being fragile - its very likely for the wheels to come off somewhere.

And that's without Cameron having a plan to ensure it. He gave in to a real referendum far too readily for my liking. Post a potential 'yes' vote we are into divorce settlement territory, with Westminster making all the running on terms. In short, I think there is a game plan - and that the act of separation will have a reversion clause (one that will kill the possibility of separation ever again).

Even those who had voted No to independence might disapprove of their government having to beg and plead to be let back into the UK.

Happened before. If you were Greece and had the option of joining someone and them bailing you out, wouldn't you? Pride vs bank balance.

In the much more realistic scenario where Scotland's economy is doing more or less all right, they have no particular motivation to return to the UK.

Agreed, if they could organise that you'd expect them to want to be masters of their own destiny for a while. However, medium to long term its not a particularly viable position to be in (even a UK free of the EU would be in trouble). Thus 'independence' is likely to be a short term situation at best - it's not a stable destination.

It's also, maybe, a 10% chance of happening at best.

264:

What's wrong with you people?

OK. I'll bite. My son and daughter (US citizens) may be in London over July 4. Are there any events related to the dust up 238 years ago that might be worth them attending?

But then again succession from the "mother country" is a bit on topic. :)

265:

Further, the "500 landlords" are no longer the rump-UK's problem in that we would not have to buy your laughably overpriced electricity, particularly to fund the lifestyles of a pack of aristocrats. You deal with them, and keep in mind that one of them is permitted to keep his own private army. (And does)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atholl_Highlanders

Bear in mind that the Atholl Highlanders are a "private army" in name only. I know a couple, and they are hardly militant (although I don't doubt that there are some individually very competent former soldiers among them) and to my memory were centre-left politically.

Meanwhile, the aristocrats are the ones wearing battered clothes and driving ten-year-old Subarus and twenty-year-old Landrovers - it's the Fred Goodwins of the world that have the yachts, private jets, and drive around as if they own the place, looking out for themselves alone, not the aristos.

It's like suggesting that the Queen's Bodyguard for Scotland are a military force, or in London the HAC's pikemen or the Yeoman Warders - although the TV coverage of the pikemen during the Jubilee did show one wearing one of the more interesting varieties of parachute wings...

If you want thread drift, we could always propose that an independent Scotland re-establish the Alba ad Astra project :)

266:

For a plausible alternative history, imagine that the Argentinian Air Force, after their first bombing run on the British ships, realized that their bombs were set to arm after they had fallen 250 feet, but they were bombing from more like 50, and they changed the arming distance. Then then sink the all the ships (as it was, they hit a bunch, but because the bombs hadn't armed, they didn't explode, and did only trivial damage, aside from the cargo ship they caught without anti aircraft cover, that they bombed from a normal altitude, and sank).

So if Maggie loses the Falklands, and a good chunk of the Navy, how do things play out for her politically?

Also, there was a good case for press censorship, if word that the bombs were not exploding, the Argentinians may well have figured out why.

267:

Background - my ancestors seem to have been skilled workers whose natural allegiance would have been to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%A1l_Riata. I was brought up in N. Ireland by parents who expected me to go to university in Scotland and then get a job there. Instead I have now spent more of my life in England than in N. Ireland. My relatives were mostly born in Scotland but some are now in England and a few in Australia or New Zealand.

It strikes me that independence is a long term enough decision that we can justify thinking in SF timescales, or at least considering the last 100 years rather than the last 30. If I think of politicians as people whose decisions matter, I want a diverse selection from a large pool (N.Ireland is an example of a pool that is far too small - if you think professional politicians are bad, try people whose only tertiary education is bible college). If I worry that the next 100 years might not be free of wars, I want to be part of a large and unified country. I believe that a significant limitation of democracy is the number of different issues and personalities that the electorate are prepared to keep track of. I think this scarce resource is best used by allowing people to elect representatives who can affect the big issues directly and this means large states, not small states within a loose confederation like the EU.

Challenge - is there SF where a country the size of an independent Scotland flourishes amongst a dozen countries of at least its size? Imitations of Imperial Rome or present day USA appear more common.

268:

"Land Rights"
There's a very interesting book, called "Sea Room" by Adam Nicholson - he owns the Shiant Isles.
Or rather, he says he is their custodian.
He also comments on how most "lairds" are, these days welcoming people, but there are a few nasties still around, trying to keep walkers etc out [ He doesn't say so, but these latter are often foreigners or corporates ]
NOT a simple as the "kill all the lairds" loonies claim, as usual .....

Incidentally, that's what's wrong with this deabte, generally.
I am emphatically not in favour of the staus quo, but I equally think that giving more power to Salmond's nasty collection of spying control-freaks would be even worse.


Incidentally - reverting to "iron fist"
Let's not forget that Labour's PM Tony B Liar was the government pushing ID cards?
Have we all forgotten No2ID so quickly?

269:

Ian S
No, 99.9% certainty.
All the PLC's will (they have to, it's a legal requirement) have done, or are still doing their contingency planning.
And that plan will be .. that IF a "Yes" vote wins, to walk, preferably by 31/12/2014 & certainly by 6/4/2015.

I agree Camoron bottled it, but for the wrong reasons - he should have put Devo-Max on the ballot paper - which would certainly have got an 80-% majority, maybe 90% .....
Now, of course, we will all of us, want devo-Max, assuming the "No" vote succeeds, as I hope it does.

270:

David L
Ah what Charlie calls "The Slave-Owners treasonous Rebellion" (Part I) - as opposed to part II, sometimes called the "US Civil War" or "The War between the States", ahem.

271:

Charlie - Any guesses what immigration policies would occur between the various Disunited Kingdom members if Scotland votes Yes? Brits allowed to move north? UKIP going bananas and turning away Scots at the Border?

Andreas Vox@214, sorry, there's already a Nova Scotia (and a song about bidding it farewell.)

272:

Devo-max would open the West Lothian questions - Scottish MPs voting on measures for England and Wales which don't affect Scotland.

Of course, English MPs do sometimes get to vote on measures for Scotland which don't affect their constituencies, but it's not right just because the English MPs have been doing it.

The Conservative backbenches would probably demand a reduction in the number of Scottish MPs at Westminster as part of devo-manx, and Cameron's position is too weak for him to say no, but it would look bad for him, since most of the removed MPs would be Labour.

Half the reason for not having devo-max on the ballot paper is probably to defer having to deal with this whole issue.

The other reason is that a binary choice keeps the vote simple. If the result were 30% Independence, 34% devo-max, 36% status quo, what happens? Status quo is the most popular, but devo-max is presumably preferred to the status quo by most of the 30% who voted for full independence.

One obvious solution would be to take account of second preferences, but that's too close to PR for most of the two major parties.

273:

Ahem. You folks call it "Independence Day" and make a big deal of it, as a focal point for your War of Independence.

We ignore it almost completely (and your War of Independence is characterised as a revolution, or -- by historians -- a side-show on the real war, the slow-motion conflict between France and the UK that dominated western hemisphere affairs from the 1740s to the 1810s). It's as embarrassing to the UK as the war of 1812 is to the USA.

274:

..Well, yes, but consider how private security forces like that exist to protect a landowner from his tenants, as much as anything...And those estates are serious money, in that one reason why the Scottish government would be keen to instantly join the EU is the fact that the larger ones can pull in £50,000 a week in agricultural subsidies alone. Then there are the wind turbine feed-in levies, the mineral rights, and also your tenants' rents.

...As the article notes though, there is not much that can be done though on the grounds of their human rights. Therefore, they will quickly wind up running the place.

275:

...As the article notes though, there is not much that can be done though on the grounds of their human rights. Therefore, they will quickly wind up running the place.

Oh, there's plenty that can be done. Just add a new upper bracket to the inheritance tax, and make sure it's assessed on the basis of underlying assets so the landowners can't leave their estates in trust or 'owned' by an offshore shell company.

It broke the back of the rural aristocracy in the 1950s, and it's a wee bit hard to claim "human rights violation" if the person being expropriated is already dead.

276:

Greg,

I'm thinking separation into a UK and a scotland part (sounds good and sensible and nobody wonders at it). The scottish part is directed at making off with any cash for organising the new region, and conveniently gets all the debt. Then post independence day, you make what you can of the opportunities, and if things go as expected you close down the debt-laden scottish part, blaming the viability of the new economy, etc...

Oh the games that would be played with the opportunities of one country becoming two.

I tend toward the 80% rather than 99.9% purely because this is so uncertain. Who knows, maybe there is a genius masterplan - so well hidden than nobody can conceive of it but the SNP. And then there is pure dumb luck...

As for devo-max - it was notable that it was squelched as quickly and decisively as possible. It wasn't wanted for whatever game Cameron is planning - which brings us back to what happens on a 'no' vote. I'm getting the feeling the status quo will get rolled back or derailed somehow in that circumstance - he doesn't want this happening again for more than a generation, and never if possible.

277:

We ignore it almost completely (and your War of Independence is characterised as a revolution, or -- by historians -- a side-show on the real war, the slow-motion conflict between France and the UK that dominated western hemisphere affairs from the 1740s to the 1810s).

I know the history. The British general kept most of his army in NY harbor for the duration assuming a show of force would scare "us" all enough to give up. And the last year or so the French artillery was fairly decisive against the soldiers the British did put into the field.

But I figured that there would be some small group of odd folks or US ex-pats organizing something. :)

278:

You'll probably find some expats holding July 4th parties. And there'll probably be one at the embassy, if you know anyone who can give you an invitation. But the UK in general won't be paying much attention ...

279:

Apart from anything else, it's widely ignored even in the UK that Britain finished the 'mercan war of independence with more territory in the Americas than we had at the start. (The USA got independed, but the French lost Canada, which had been explored to a much greater depth from the shore.)

Arguably, the only people worse off afterwards were the French. The USA won the right to continue slave-trading and invading the territories of their native neighbours, while Britain traded a fractious and expensive colony for a larger, more profitable one.

280:

It seems that lots of people want the Devo-Max option - OGH and myself included. The politicians have decided that this option won't be on the ballot and we seem to be just accepting this. On reading this thread, it occurs to me that perhaps we shouldn't settle for this? We can't change the legislation for the official referendum but that needn't stop us registering our opinion. If a petition on change.org (or a similar site) could build a head of steam, we would register that a significant number of people want the Devo-Max option regardless of whether the politicians want to give us that option.

What would be required to give such a petition the publicity it would need to be a success?

281:

First off - I'm a new commentator, so many apologies for my first post being critical. I've occasionally lurked (and I loved your post on nuclear power plants, by the way, as well as on MS Word).

And, just by the by, I avidly read and enjoyed the Merchant Princes. Thank you.

You're right that politics can bring out disagreement - but I do think I have to flag up some material inaccuracies. Some rather noddy and less relevant; others a bit more fundamental

1 - There aren't 80 MPs from Scotland. There are 59.

2 - The cutting off of the old industries at the knees wasn't an electoral calculation. Thatcher ended subsidies for loss-making industries - which was a decision that would have been forced on whichever party was in power at the time (unless they left the European Community): it's a core and fundamental requirement of the Single Market. That's one reason that no-one's advocated returning to that situation - all three big Parties (all four in Scotland) want to stay in the EU.

3 - Further, the electoral calculation wouldn't have looked like that: in 1979, the Tories had 22 seats in Scotland and nearly a third of the Scottish vote. It had only been 24 years since they'd been the largest Party in Scotland and they still wanted to fight back to reclaim that position. In fact, the Tories would not have had a majority if they'd not won as many MPs in Scotland as they did (in 1992, Scotland was the only area of the UK where the Tories increased their vote)

4 - Scotland was never "administered ... by a remote party that less than 15% of the voters had asked for". Even in 1992, more than 25% of the Scottish votes were for the Tories, who were comfortably the second biggest Party in Scotland.

5 - The combined votes of Coalition Parties in Scotland in 2010 was 35.63%.

6 - In Scotland, the Conservatives are not highly regionalized; their problem is in fact the precise reverse: they're too spread out. For example, in 2010, they got 412,855 votes - compared with the Lib Dems 465,471 votes. Because the Lib Dems were better regionalized, the Lib Dems got 11 MPs to the Conservatives' 1.
(The other vote scores above 10,000 were Labour: 1,035,528 (41 seats), SNP 491,386 (6 seats), UKIP 17,233 (0 seats), Green 16,827 (0 seats)). It's therefore highly misleading to say that they're concentrated in a couple of affluent constituencies and the rest of Scotland is an electoral desert to them; if their votes were concentrated, they'd get a dozen MPs from them.

(It is, however, completely accurate to say that the intent of the AMS was to prevent anyone (especially the SNP) from getting a majority._

7 - The "No" lead started at a rolling average of ~10%, gradually increased to ~20% and has drifted back down to ~15%. Agreed that the D/K have remained stubbornly high at 15% or so, but I don't think there's much evidence that they are breaking for "Yes". In most referendums, D/K tends to break for the status quo, but it remains to be seen what will happen this time.

8 - The amount by which the EU/EEC/ECSC has contributed to the 2/3rds of a century of peace (as opposed to, for example, NATO) can be debated; the statement begged the question.

9 - The polling suggests that the EU-withdrawal case has lost ground since the rise of UKIP; a majority of the UK are opposed. Not in favour. And voting for an independent Scotland very probably means at least a temporary exit from the EU in any case.

282:

For her if she loses the Falklands? Badly.

I guess it's a toss-up whether she's deposed from within before the next election or kicked by the electorate and then goes the way of losing leaders.

I don't know enough about power politics and the equations of power politics to guess which way they'd go. I can see the egos saying "We can turn it around, lets get rid of her" at the same time, I can see them saying "We've just lost a war, we'll lose the election, let's force an election now, get rid of her that way, then I can take over and make the party how I want it."

Longer term... we'd be an incredibly different country now.

283:

There's the petition site, register there, tell people via this thread and every social media outlet you know... You'd get 10,000 votes rapidly I'm sure. You'd get ignored too.

284:

Scotland has (imperfect) proportional representation, though. So it's fairly possible for two center-left parties to co-exist. You'd ideally want some differentiation, but duplication isn't the killer that it is in Westminster elections.

285:

Remember your Krugman. Spain didn't get into trouble because of public debt/GDP, it got nuked by capital inflows driving up prices, then capital outflows tanking the economy, and no way to revalue the currency to adjust. Can Scotland keep *private* borrowing under control while being an EU/eurozone member? Sounds like capital controls to me.

The ECB stepping up to lender of last resort removes some of the bank run speculation that was going on, but long term you still have a monetary policy that's being set with no consideration for Scotland's needs, along with no fiscal union to move money around around a la an actual nation-state. Even if it's not a Greek-level disaster in the making, it's not *good*. It's like having the pound set by London with little consideration for Scotland's economy, but even more so. (Also remember your Jane Jacobs, if you've read her books.)

New EU members are supposed to commit to joining the EU, but they *can't* join the EU right away -- there's a whole convergence process, including joining ERM II -- and despite the threats of the ECB, I'm not aware of any enforcement process.

Short-term, I'd say Scotland's best option would be its own currency, perhaps pegged to the pound for stability, with the option of easily floating when needed. EU-wise, Scotland would need to start with its own currency, but a Swedish-style referendum against joining ERM could fend off monetary union.

Alternately, you could *not* join the EU, and go through Schengen and EFTA separately, like Iceland or Norway. Or not Schengen, if you want to keep the border to England open.

286:

It's like suggesting that the Queen's Bodyguard for Scotland are a military force, or in London the HAC's pikemen or the Yeoman Warders - although the TV coverage of the pikemen during the Jubilee did show one wearing one of the more interesting varieties of parachute wings...

<Ahem>

287:
Britain finished the 'mercan war of independence with more territory in the Americas than we had at the start. (The USA got independed, but the French lost Canada, which had been explored to a much greater depth from the shore.)

Not so. Britain captured the French part of what would become Canada in 1760, as part of the Seven Years' War from 1754-63. The US Revolutionary War was a separate conflict from 1775-83.

288:

also the commander of the Atholl Highlanders, the Duke of Atholl, Marquess of Tullibardine, Marquess of Atholl, Earl of Strathtay and Strathardle, Earl of Atholl, Earl of Tullibardine, Earl of ad nauseam, or Bruce as he's more likely to be called, a] lives in South Africa, b] is 54-year-old former maker of commercial signs.

Not the kind of person I would expect to surround Holyrood with armoured cars and paramilitaries with assault rifles. But I may be wrong.

The Scottish aristocracy is not as impoverished as you make out, see their Graces of Roxburghe and Buccleuch and Queensberry for proof.

A truly independent Scotland would institute a land tax, to reclaim the profits from the land of Alba for its citizens, 99% of whom live on 2% of the land.

But I can't see that happening, either.

289:

Probably some American ex-pats will do something somewhere in the UK to celebrate US Independence Day, and probably some Canadians will do something for Canada Day as well. But you can't do a real July 4th party without fireworks, and that's probably impractical.

The US (by which I mean "high school history teachers") generally refer to the Seven Years' War as "The French and Indian Wars", since that's who British US forces, including George Washington, fought against.

And of course we proudly remember the War of 1812! It was when the US bravely defended Baltimore against the British rockets and bombs, and Andrew Jackson and the French pirate Laffite Brothers kept the Brits out of New Orleans. Sure, we ignore the parts about the US army invading Canada and getting their sorry asses handed to them, and the original White House really had needed remodeling anyway, and generally we think it was about us rather than about the conflict between the British and French.

290:

Oh, _do_ please secede from the UK, and give us American progressive refugees a place to go. You can ding us for half a million US in investment funds on the way in, as Canada does. You'll be an English-speaking Norway. A New Zealand nearer to Europe. Do it. Do it. Please!

291:

"2) Scotland elected a UKIP MEP."

This is the "f**k off" vote. Voters are annoyed at the mainstream parties but don't want to miss out on their hard won democratic freedoms. They then vote for some party on the lunatic fringe making life for the big boys a little bit harder. Everything swings back to normal at the next big election.

I'm Scottish and slightly leaning towards a no vote. China and India are major future economic threats and I feel Europe will soon need all the help it can get. Scotland is better in Europe and I will vote whichever way will most likely keep us there.

292:

For a tongue-in-cheek look at how Canadians view the War of 1812, listen to this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQJ8dYz-_UQ

293:

And ... A. S. M. @ 275
Was this actually an improvement?
A Nicholson, owner of the Shioants says that most "lairds" are enlightened (now) ...
But removing individual ownership, put land into the ownership of ... companies & corporations & we all know whow friendly & community-sensitive & regarding of people's rights they can be, don't we.
Meet the new boss (without a face) same as the old boss (who did have a face.
Um.
I wonder.

294:

This ties in with my oft-repeated staement that every PM since +( & including) the madwoman was & is a traitor.
The last one to have his head srewed on, in that direction) was Jim Callaghan (Who was ex-RN).
Remembere that the Maggon panicked (as we now know) when the Argies decided to divert attention by a foreigh war, & it was the NAvy chiefs that stiffened her spine.
Vile woman.
Not that War Criminal Blair is any better - he's just made a lying, "nuffing to do wiv me guv" so-called statement on the 30 years Iraqui religious civl war, which is utterly disgusting.

295:

They are an fascinating collection of loonies.
The ashes of an old friend are scatterd on the HAC's ground.
He used to score for the "Lords & Commons" cricket team, his father was the Danish representative on the radio during WWII, he used to run a pub, & was greatly missed by members of both houses & all of London CAMRA (Which is how I met him)
As you might imagine, his wake was ... interesting.

296:

No.
That would not be an improvement.
The bureaucrats & officiadom would just steal all the money.
I suggest you look up the WWII history of the recently-deceased 9th Duke of Buucleugh.
I think the phrase Noblesse oblige covers it perfectly.

297:

Sure, we ignore the parts about the US army invading Canada and getting their sorry asses handed to them, and the original White House really had needed remodeling anyway, and generally we think it was about us rather than about the conflict between the British and French.

Apparently some of us had better history teachers than others. :)

And when a large group of people with guns kick in your front door and burn down your house you do tend to feel that it is somewhat about you.

Back to history teachers. Yes most US folks don't understand that our sending 8,000 troops to Siberia after WWI has colored the situation somewhat. Especially since most in the US don't know it happened.

298:

The USA won the right to continue slave-trading and invading the territories of their native neighbours

In what way is this different from how things would be if there was no American Revolution?

299:

Well, the Proclamation of 1763 was a major colonial grievance in 1776, as it forbade the colonists to steal Indian land west of the Appalatians, and Britian did end slavery in its colonies in the early 19th century, even though the Carribbean slave trade was much bigger than the North American one. Whether the colonists would have wiggled out of either without a revolution is hard to say.

300:

I doubt that I, with my minimal social media presence, could start a decent size campaign for Devo Max. IMO it would need backing from some well-connected people who have significant social media presence, preferably in different fields.

10,000 signatories would not make even a ripple in the referendum waters. Any campaign would need more ambition, aiming for a six figure tally. In a population of 5 million, with 70% intending to vote, that's not impossible but it would need significant backing.

301:

I have a soft spot for Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie; alas Joe Bird died in 2009 and there's no sign of subsequent activity. So I'm cultivating an interest in Garfunkel and Oates (NB: that link is probably NSFW).

302:

My prediction: A very marginal "No", followed by vast recriminations and probably some violence in Scotland as fingers of blame get pointed at "traitors".

303:

Thanks 107 and 131 for your comments.

I lived in Angelsy in the mid 80s so I do remember the burning of second homes. I also remember comments such as "We don't serve foreigners in here" addressed to me, but I got the impression that they also hated the mainland Welsh as well.

Unlike with the Scots, I never got the impression that the Welsh saw themselves as an independent nation. Oh sure you've got PC and your own language, but I just never got the feeling that the Welsh were confident in their own identity, unlike the Scots who most definitely are. I wait to be shown that I've been wrong all these years.

And just in case you think that I may be one of those English who have never strayed far from England, I've also lived in Scotland (probably further north than anyone else reading Charlie's blog, I could see Muckle Flugga from the office window).

But to finish this posting, I'd just like to say that I hope we get a clear mandate in September (one way or the other) so this subject doesn't carry on and on.

Tony P
ps. I've still remember the T shirt that was on sale while I lived in Angelsy - "Frankie goes to Holyhead". Does that date me? :-)

304:

Lots of British people had plenty of "noblesse oblige" of the kind displayed by Johnny Dalkeith

They just didn't have four castles [Drumlanrig, Bowhill, Dalkeith Palace and Boughton Hall] a quarter-of-a-million acres of Scotland and England, and a da Vinci to come home to.

You are aware, I hope, that the 8th Duke of B [his father], was a fervent Nazi sympathiser, even after 03/09/1939, along with fellow travellers like 12th Earl of Mar and Kellie, 22nd Earl of Erroll, 8th Earl of Glasgow, 12th Earl of Galloway and outright traitors like Lord Sempill.

What is it with Scottish aristos and the attraction of fascism, I wonder?

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-German_Fellowship

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_People%27s_Party_%281939%29

305:

Hi Charlie. Long-term lurker here, and not the only economist amongst your many admirers. But I have to take issue with your view on Scotland and the Euro.

You say: My gut feeling is that if an independent Scotland were to keep it's borrowing level under control, Euro zone membership would be entirely feasible and not actually as painful as everyone seems to think. And the cautionary tale of what happens if you get it wrong (see also: Greece, Spain, Portugal ...) should help keep future new EU members on the straight and narrow for a generation to come, until human memory fades.

But I'm afraid that this characterisation of what went wrong is ... wrong. Fiscal profligacy is not the root cause of the Eurozone crisis. Spain, for example, had its fiscal house in order pre-2008.

Here's a good Paul Krugman summary of what went wrong for Spain: Spain is an object lesson in the problems of having monetary union without fiscal and labor market integration. First, there was a huge boom in Spain, largely driven by a housing bubble — and financed by capital outflows from Germany. This boom pulled up Spanish wages. Then the bubble burst, leaving Spanish labor overpriced relative to Germany and France, and precipitating a surge in unemployment. It also led to large Spanish budget deficits, mainly because of collapsing revenue but also due to efforts to limit the rise in unemployment. If Spain had its own currency, this would be a good time to devalue; but it doesn’t.

Link: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/05/the-spanish-tragedy

Some other links:
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/05/european-fiscal-history/
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/beat-the-press/spain-did-not-run-up-high-public-debt

NB: the case for a Scottish pound is a very different story!

306:

~ 298 & 299
Slavery was declared illegal in England only, by the Mansfield decision, 1772 (IIRC) [ See also the just-released fim: "Belle" - which I'm going to see next week. ]
Slave TRADING was declared illegal - anywhere at all under British aegis in 1807 (?) - so the W'Indes had to make do with what they had.
And colonial slavery/slave-owning - meaning 99% of it W'Indian was outlawed in 1832/3.

See my earlier comment about the slsveowners treasonous rebellion, (part 1) also called "the American War of Independance" or "The Reactionaries Revolution".
Ahem.

307:

That’s the best Garfunkel and Oates video since “Sex with Ducks”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?list=RDEXPcBI4CJc8&v=EXPcBI4CJc8

Err, which is also NSFW I suppose.

308:

The 22nd Earl of Errol may be better known to some as Josslyn Hay, a notorious womaniser and one of the Happy Valley set in Kenya. Yes, he did join the British Union of Fascists, though I might doubt whether he or Mosley were also Nazis. The pre-war fascism was a pretty broad range of movements.

Hay ended up being murdered in Kenya.

(Mosley managed to seduce his ex-wife's stepmother... Common interests besides politics?)

There is a quite old pattern of boarding-school products which is apparent. A system of single-sex boarding schools from an early age seems to lead to government by Billy Bunters. Many of those suspect aristos would have been through that. I have also heard a few stories about such schools from people in fandom.

309:

I am going to give you all a snippet of fiction:

“Your predecessor...” The pause was significant. “He got Josslyn Hay out of jail, and was PNGed the next day.”
Saunders winced. “What was Josslyn Hay supposed to have done? The usual?” A nod in reply. “How on earth did Jenkins manage it?”
“Nobody knows.”
“What happened to Jenkins. It's a bit of a black mark.”
“The word that came down from on high is that he's counting penguins in the Falklands.”

311:

What is it with Scottish aristos and the attraction of fascism, I wonder?

Same thing as happened with SNP party leaders and the attraction of fascism...

They were sold on the "nationalist" part, and at the time didn't have the kneejerk revulsion to Fascism that most of us have (remember that Marxism had killed millions by this point while collectivising the Kulaks, while Fascism appeared to make the trains run on time and stop those dangerous Commies who wanted to steal your property and recreate the Terror in a French Revolution sense).

Some SNP leaders (Arthur Donaldson) wanted Germany to win the war, because they thought that it was a route to independence; other SNP leaders (Andrew Dewar Gibb et al) hated the Irish Catholic community in the same way that the NSDAP hated Jews.

This isn't intended to defend either the SNP leaders of the 1940s, or the Scottish aristocrats of the time - short-sighted tossers all. It's merely an attempt to explain it, although the explanation might well be "they were just a bunch of haters".

312:

Sorry if I'm derailing the thread [someone had to do it] and invoking Godwin's law at the same time, but if enforced estrangement by virtue of boarding school were a powerful factor, nearly all of that class would have cleaved to Hitler [or Stalin in the case of Maclean, Philby, Burgess, and most of the Commie traitors]

Orwell [Eton] didn't, Churchill [Harrow] didn't [tho' he admired Mussolini from afar, until he became the primary European threat to the Empire], Dowding [Winchester] didn't, Duff Cooper [Eton] didn't.

There seems to be a streak of colonial superiority and intolerance that comes naturally to the Scottish ruling class [however constituted, but in particular the landowners] that makes them prefer the Führer or the Japanese emperor over their ain folk.

Not that "der Engländers" were immune - D of Westminster, L Brocket, M of Londonderry et al, Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, Bart, far from it.

At least the sons of fervent pro-Nazis like the 9th Duke of Northumberland, and the 6th Duke of Wellington, son of the vile anti-semite 5th Duke, had the courage to fight the Nazis, and gave their lives doing so, at Dunkirk and Anzio respectively while other members of their class were sympathising in secret with the enemy.

Only one MP [Scottish, old Etonian, descendant of the Earls of Dalhousie, say no more] was interned under Defence Regulation 18B, and no aristocrat ever was, not even Lord Sempill, who richly deserved a firing squad.

Plenty of Scottish-Italian ice cream salesmen and their families were, however....

No true Scotsman would support fascism ;) of course

313:

The consequences of holding the General Election in 2015 after a Yes vote are so horrendous that I think they will either postpone the election (although that's very unlikely given recent legislation) or finalise the independence negotiations before May 2015 (much more likely).

I've blogged about this a few times, for instance here.

314:

If you like Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie, you might also like The Arrogant Worms.

I was hooked when I listened to Last Saskatchewan Pirate:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuGGNsE3_8Y&feature=kp


(Of course, I grew up along the banks of the mighty South Saskatchewan River — which during really dry summers you could wade across.)

316:

DevoMax wouldn't work. I say this because this is exactly the mess the Eurozone is in. It looks like there's a strip of instability in between a union with a common market and some common laws versus a state with common institutions, a common currency and a lot of redistribution.

317:

As an American of Scottish descent (mostly) I am very interested in the vote in September. As an enthusiast of your work, Mr. Stross, I am intrigued by your comments re the Vote (and agree with your observations that the European Union has helped to keep the peace in Europe, the lamentable actions in the former Yugoslavia, and now in Ukraine notwithstanding).

As a Science Fiction writer who enjoys writing near future SF I find the choice the Scottish voters will make of practical interest. Since I have co-authored a trilogy where most of the action takes place in mid-21st Century Scotland and Europe and where we have assumed that Scottish Independence al la something along the lines of Devo Max had already happened I am hoping that we've covered ourselves no matter which way the vote goes.

My concern is that a Yes vote will inspire those in the U.S who oppose our Union to stir up mischief, although they probably do not need much encouragement on that score, although in any event that is not a reason to vote either Yes or No.

Finally, a question: do you think that Jo Rowling's public opposition will impact the vote?

318:

Postponing the election would be really tricky.

There's lots and lots of bits of laws around that prevent parliaments extending their term past 5 years. It is, in fact, one of the few veto powers that the House of Lords retains.

The recent legislation about fixed terms parliaments merely said that the shortest term shall be the same as the longest term, in effect, removing the power of the PM to call an election earlier than the latest possible date.

It might be a desirable outcome for some but it's really unlikely to happen.

319:

I'd suggest it's much more likely that no serious work will go on till after the election is done and dusted. My guess is Cameron will exclude the scottish MPs from voting at Westminster almost immediately, setup the 2015 elections as entirely separate and implement some 'fact finding' basis activity to kill time till the new Parliaments are back.

Given the current state of play the SNP want to hope he doesn't push for getting the details of separation finalised by May 2015 - they are in no sense ready for it and would get bent over by the London civil servants.

Hell, Faslane would take a year and a half on its own.

320:

We are not in war of National Survival.
Parliament's term is limited.
Forget it.
So, it'll be a mess, if "yes" wins.
So?

321:

"Devo-Max wont work"
And you then quote a totally spurious counter-example.

Devo-Max is much more like the USA, actually.
Central guvmint gets: Defence - large-scale (across internal borders) transport, foreign policy
Co-ordinating functions (to ensure no too-great local mismatch) on parts of education, total taxation & healthcare.
Everything else, including the lower-leve & local parts of the previous three, are handled at internal state level.
Easy.

322:

Cite needed; you're the only person who's made these claims, and no-one has supported them.

Also, I note that you're "conveniently" ignoring the similar fact that the Con party want to enforce a legal guardian on every child in England, which strikes me as similar control freakery.

323:

Which is the thing that nothers me slightly; what would people like Kenny MacKilljoy be like without Wee Eck keeping them a bit in check?

324:

That's an interesting take on the post Yes party landscape.

The risk of the party of government being co-opted by business (or other organisational) interests is certainly a genuine one. (One reason why I prefer STV to AMS.)

325:

what would people like Kenny MacKilljoy be like...

Well, he's trying to remove the Scots Law principle of corroboration from the statue books; opposed by nearly all policemen and lawyers, AIUI...

...it makes you wonder whether it's a coincidence that when the SNP combined all of the Scottish constabularies into a single Scottish police force, that it was a complete coincidence that the only policeman who seems to think it's a good idea, is the one who was chosen to head up the new force. And the only lawyer who thinks it's a good idea, was given the job of chairing the committee to look into it.

326:

Wrong.

"So-called devo max - the devolving of all powers [and tax revenue] to Holyrood other than defence and foreign affairs"

That's far more extreme separation than the US, where the federal government collects the bulk of taxes, dominates banking and environmental regulations, funds welfare and public health care systems and old age pensions, subsidizes roads, provides college financial aid...

Devo Max sounds more like the Channel Islands, maybe. It'd be more fiscally separated from England than *Puerto Rico* is.

327:

Today's "Matt" catoon http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/matt/
shows a very clear view on the matter
After today, you can select the day by looking at the (up to) previous 15.

328:

paws
Thank you for that - I was completely unaware of the movement in England to do this.
So, it looks as though (again) Scotland is being used as a trial-run for a deeply unpopular move.
And I'm still agin it.
It seems that there is a deeply authoritarian streak running through our civil service, irrespective of the politicos.
Remember NO2ID?
Under wondeful NuLieBour and good little mad christian Blair.

Incidentally, I believe that Blair should no longer be arraigned at the Hague - he should simply be locked up in Broadmoor.

329:

Is it the civil service or the politicians?

Politicians are, by their very nature, attracted to the appearance of power and telling people what they should do for the best. Even if you listen to the rhetoric of "We should take X out of Y's control" if you look at the actions of the worst offenders, they want to get their grubby hands on it personally - they usually consider Y to be an evil leftist conspiracy.

Michael Gove is a wonderful example at the moment. "We have to wrest schools from local government control. We have to wrest teaching from the teachers' control. We have to wrest the syllabus from the educational professionals' control." If you listen, anyone that opposes him has been called a left-winger, a socialist and the like. But when an academy fails, it's a rare and exceptional case. Or it's the Home Office's fault. He's a classic non-educator who is well educated. "This worked well for me and so it must work well for everyone." WRONG.

With a big dose of political inability to admit he might have made a mistake. William Hague was yesterday's pop classic for that. (Blair not being in power.) Hague supported Blair's war in Iraq at the time. He was put on the spot yesterday and said he still thought it had been the right decision - because politicians, especially those in government, can very rarely admit to having made a mistake. Usually it's followed by the words "I resign." Although, as Milliband showed, you can get away with it just after electoral defeat when you're coming in promising to be a new broom. Lots of the old Labour guard have said they thought it was a mistake - but they're not in power any more and they're not going to get back into a position of power. And as Boris so succinctly put it - Blair sounds nuts.

Sorry to the pro-Tory voices, I'm not deliberately picking on Tory voices, they're just the ones in power atm, so they're the ones doing it right now.

330:

There's a surprising & honorable exception to that ...
I don't like BoJo, though I was forced to vote for him to keep crawler-to-islamists out of office.
But, as seen here he does so - admitting that he voted for the 2nd Iraq war & that it was a mistake.

To which I can only add, again:
Blair 4 Broadmoor

331:

Sorry Charlie.

I have tried -- HARD -- to understand this. Multiple re-reads.

Frankly, I find real quantum physics easier to understand.

332:


At this point in the conversation it might be appropriate that we should consider the State of the U.K/British STATE as it is perceived by The Powers that BE in the heavily dominated Male Public School Educated Cabinet of ...Curiosities? Err, that is to say the British Governments Oligarchy?

Pausing briefly to consider that Might is Right...that is to say Right Wing Politically and just next door to ..DO AS YOU ARE TOLD OR ELSE you jumped up little person you!!

Those Funny kilt wearing persons up There in the Grouse Moors are SO ungrateful!

Not to worry. The Funny kilt wearing persons will never find their way to the following link and even if they do their natural instinct will be to bow their knees to Natural Authority of the Natural Born Party of Government. Have not WE, the NaPOG, offered them a share in the Royal Family Inc the Royal Baby and the future Royal Visitations during which The Scots Simple Folk will be able to Bow the Kilted Knee- Queen Victoria’s Spin Doctors most famous invention was that kilt of many colours.


" Government keep around £1 BILLION PER YEAR meant for disabled people
There has finally been national news coverage on the appalling failures of IDS welfare reforms.

We are now informed that a staggering 700,000 sick or disabled people are stuck in sickness benefit limbo waiting a year or more with no ESA decision.

With around 265,000 stuck with no PIP decision, leaving many without disability support they will qualify for and are entitled to.

Now, I could lay out very detailed figures for what those people are likely to be receiving while they wait, (if anything) what they will be likely to be awarded based on past performance and will do at the end of this post.

But the most conservative estimate, assuming all 965,000 people get the lowest awards possible is £15 Million per week. The highest is £26 Million per week.

That's between £780 Million and £1.35 BILLION per year."


http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/government-keep-around-1-billion-per.html


The Scots have SO much to look forward to once they have Voted the Right Way.

333:

“Broadmoor” ? You mean that Branch of ' Broadmoor ' that is established... HERE? At... Google search...' Tony Blair house in London'

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=tony+blair+house+in+london&client=firefox-a&hs=OOP&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=XT6jU7OLCMfB7AbilIHgCA&ved=0CC0QsAQ&biw=1024&bih=551&dpr=2.5

Chance will be a fine thing on Blair ever being brought before any kind of Court of Law. It’s about as likely as Bush Junior, the former POTUS, being brought before the International Court of Stuff. Still..note how Bush Jr. does suffer for his ..Crimes? .....


https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=george+w+bush+house&client=firefox-a&hs=Jt4&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=3ECjU7CoEYvy7AaVuoDQCA&ved=0CCsQ

334:

Oh, just in case you all missed the significance of one of those photos in the results from that War Criminal Blair Search ..

" Blairs to buy Gielgud's former home
Tony and Cherie Blair have added a £4 million house – that was once home to the actor Sir John Gielgud – to their already impressive portfolio. ... The Blairs bought the Grade I-listed South Pavilion in Wotton Underwood, Bucks, before it was put on the market.

The seven-bedroom house, which dates from 1704, comes with a four-bedroom outbuilding conversion, a domed weather vane tower and ornamental gardens. It is the Blairs' sixth home.

Their purchase comes at a time when the Blair bank balance looks particularly healthy.

Since leaving office last June, Mr Blair is estimated to have earned about £10 million, even though his role as a Middle East peace envoy is unpaid.

He has received an advance of almost £5 million for his memoirs and will be paid a reported £2 million a year as an adviser to Zurich, a Swiss-based financial company. He has also been signed up by J P Morgan, the US bank, in a part-time post that could bring him an estimated further £2 million a year. "

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1927686/Tony-Blair-to-buy-John-Gielguds-former-home.html

If your are Subjects of the British Crown you may now wish Gnash your National Health Service maintained teeth in rage.

335:

Well, about Bloody time too! Or possibly Twit to Woo Too?

Labour has, up until now, entirely Failed to produce a definitive election winning strategy that offsets its Beloved Leaders Charisma Deficit. But, at LAST!! ..

" Labour calls for 'owl for everyone "

(after Twitter hack )

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-27926420

Note that the article is by 'Ross Hawk-ins '

336:

2 Questions that puzzle an (admittedly centre-right) englishman:

1) Why would would a Scottish independence movement want to swap a smallish influence in the UK parliament for a tiny influence in Brussels? Seems nonsensical to me.

2) In the event of a Yes vote would the prime mover in the dispute (Scotland) have to bear the majority of the ensuing costs? (moving Faslane, establishment of borders etc) If so why has this not been mentioned?

337:

1) Scots feel ill-served by English MEPs. Also, small nations (eg Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands) have proportionately more MEPs per capita than large ones like France, Germany and the UK do). This might even benefit rUK as well, since you'd probably only lose 4 or 5 rather than 6 MEPs.

2) Why should Scotland bear those costs beyond what we already do for flights and sailings arriving in Scotland from outside the EU?
"moving Faslane" - Faslane isn't just a nuclear submarine base but supports conventional vessels too. Your ignorance is showing already. As to what you probably actually mean, "moving Trident", since Sotland doesn't want to continue funding an extra boomer at sea for the Yousay, why should Scotland pay the costs of establishing a nuclear submarine maintenance facility or a nuclear warhead capable RNAD in England?
"Establishment of borders" - I've already touched on non-EU traffic, and how the facilities for that are already in place. So I'll just ask why Scotland should bear the costs of establishing a land frontier that is only needed to pander to English xenophobia?

338:

Why would an independent Scotland need a border at all (beyond a line on a map and some updated "Welcome to" signs on either side), given its almost automatic membership of the Common Travel Area?

339:

Ah, yes, bring back the borders.

I think my family name is just a coincidence

March, march, Eskdale and Liddesdale,
All the Blue Bonnets are bound for the Border.

340:

1) Why would would a Scottish independence movement want to swap a smallish influence in the UK parliament for a tiny influence in Brussels? Seems nonsensical to me.

It's only nonsensical because you're not thinking like a politician. It's not about "what's best for the country", it's about "what's best for me, sorry the Party".

They're swapping significant influence in Westminster for a tiny influence in Brussels and total power in Holyrood Muhahaha...

341:

My Mother’s family were the Storeys and originated, she said, in The Highlands of Scotland in a Village called Aberfeldy and they were a minor Border Surname that you can still find today, but..Not just the Blue Bonnets bound for that border...

" The Border Reivers way of life does bear remarkable similarities with both the early Celtic inhabitants of Britain and the Anglo-Saxon warriors who later settled here from their homelands in northern Germany and Denmark in the 6th century A.D. Perhaps the most striking similarity was the Border Reiver's capacity, despite his violent nature, to produce the famous border ballads which, like the old Anglo-Saxon warrior poems, tended to glorify a life of war, raiding and revenge. Sometimes however, the ballads could be of a rather sad and pitiful nature, like the `Border Widow's Lament', a tune best sung to the accompaniment of the Northumbrian Pipes;

My love he built me a bonny bower,
And clad it all wi' lilly flower
A brawer bower why ye ne'er did see
Than my true love he built for me.
There came a man by middle day
He spied his sport and went away
And browt the kin that very night,
Who broke my bower and slew my knight.
He slew my knight te me sae dear,
He slew my Knight and stole his yield,
My servants all for life did flee,
And left me in extremity.
I sewed his sheet marking my name
I washed the corpse my self alane,
I watched his body night and day,
Nae living creature came that way.
I took his body on my back,
And whiles I pray and whiles I sat
I digged a grave and I laid him in,
And covered him with grass sae green.
But think nae ye my heart was sair,
When I laid the clay on his yellow hair
Oh think nae ye my heart was wae,
When I turned about and went away
No living man I'll love again
Since that my lovely knight was slain

George M Trevelyan the great British historian, (a Northumbrian) superbly summed up the nature of the Border Reivers and their ballads when he wrote;

"They were cruel,coarse savages, slaying each other like the beasts of the forest; and yet they were also poets who could express in the grand style the inexorable fate of the individual man and woman, the infinite pity for all cruel things which they none the less inflicted upon one another. It was not one ballad- maker alone but the whole cut throat population who felt this magnanimous sorrow, and the consoling charms of the highest poetry."

http://www.englandsnortheast.co.uk/BorderReivers.html

Folks from outside of the UK might care to consider that we of here don’t look upon Borders in quite the same way as they do if, say, they are citizens of the US of A.

Consider that, for instance, the main Railway line through Newcastle Upon Tyne to the city centre cuts through the grounds of a Norman Castle...the NEW Castle... and runs a alongside of a Victorian Railway Hotel in which several of the most notable British Sci- Fi Conventions have taken place and which is actually built over part of the Roman Wall.

Borders? We have Lots of Them and they have been overlaid over the course of thousands of years with yet newer and shinier Borders whose Fearsome Boundaries have been climbed by people who were willing to take low paid jobs in the Shipyards in the hope of rising to, say, the exalted rank of Riveter ..a bit of a waste of a Sword Arm I daresay but Times Change and my Grandfather was a Left Handed Riveter.

342:

Mods is holding my most recent - not very contentious - post in righteous Limbo just in case, but, in the mean time there’s this item from the Torygraph of today that deserves due consideration before the Scottish Political Singularity and the British Singularity of the General Election of Real Soon Now. Bear in mind that The Tory Cuts that will Shrink The State - also known as Sell the State - have barely started to take place.


"New Government cuts could see a million state jobs go
George Osborne orders 'ambitious' new efficiency drive, to be detailed in the Autumn Statement, for savings and job cuts stretching deep into the next parliament”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/10917232/New-Government-cuts-could-see-a-million-state-jobs-go.html


As many Scots as possible should read that piece.

Oh, I should, and do, declare that I'm North East of England English and do have fits of The Horrors over what will happen in the North East of England under a near future, near permanent, Tory Government if Scotland does achieve Independence.

343:

The unpopularity of the Conservatives could be a decisive factor here: it would take just one big miscalculation by David Cameron to drive another 5% of the voting base into the arms of the "yes" campaign.

Like this sort of miscalculation, perhaps?

Hundreds of thousands of civil servants and other government employees are facing the sack under sweeping Tory plans to cut back the state, The Telegraph can disclose.

Ministers are drawing up radical measures, to be announced in George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, which will see widespread privatisations and at least one million public sector workers removed from the government payroll by the end of the decade.

Osborne's a moron, isn't he?

344:

No, he's an idealist. Anything run by the government, centrally or locally is evil. Except (perhaps) the armed forces. Mercenaries are more evil than that.

Many tory voters have quite like a lot of the big government services - the NHS, state schools and so on. They're largely in favour of the council collecting the rubbish, repairing roads and the rest of it as well, and taxes paying for the police, jails and the like. But at a level above the actual core voters, at the level of the people who have the ear of the chancellor and so on, or the ministers themselves, they never consider going to an NHS doctor, they'd never consider a state school and they're not afraid to say that the NHS is terrible, that schools are terrible and so on. They have, repeatedly.

I'm not trying to say that either system is perfect. But, honestly, I have yet to see good evidence for education or healthcare that suggests that any system where taking a profit out of it improves the quality of the service where the focus should be on delivering education or healthcare. I'm not saying either that their shouldn't be a system like NICE. However unpopular NICE is, for reasons I completely understand, some level of financial restraint and judgement on the cost-efficiency of treatments is required if the tax payer is going to fund treatments. (If you're paying yourself, go for it, it's your money.) But they're doing different things than saying "here, have a profit."

345:

Let’s see if Moods...err, that is to say Moderation... pounces upon this response - don’t know why it happened the last time but I'm not about to Arouse the Wrath of O.G.H s Voice in HIS Absence ...
My Mother’s family were the Storeys and originated, she said, in The Highlands of Scotland in a Village called Aberfeldy and they were a minor Border Surname that you can still find today, but..Not just the Blue Bonnets bound for that border...
" The Border Reivers way of life does bear remarkable similarities with both the early Celtic inhabitants of Britain and the Anglo-Saxon warriors who later settled here from their homelands in northern Germany and Denmark in the 6th century A.D. Perhaps the most striking similarity was the Border Reiver's capacity, despite his violent nature, to produce the famous border ballads which, like the old Anglo-Saxon warrior poems, tended to glorify a life of war, raiding and revenge. Sometimes however, the ballads could be of a rather sad and pitiful nature, like the `Border Widow's Lament', a tune best sung to the accompaniment of the Northumbrian Pipes;
My love he built me a bonny bower,
And clad it all wi' lilly flower
A brawer bower why ye ne'er did see
Than my true love he built for me.
There came a man by middle day
He spied his sport and went away
And browt the kin that very night,
Who broke my bower and slew my knight.
He slew my knight te me sae dear,
He slew my Knight and stole his yield,
My servants all for life did flee,
And left me in extremity.
I sewed his sheet marking my name
I washed the corpse my self alane,
I watched his body night and day,
Nae living creature came that way.
I took his body on my back,
And whiles I pray and whiles I sat
I digged a grave and I laid him in,
And covered him with grass sae green.
But think nae ye my heart was sair,
When I laid the clay on his yellow hair
Oh think nae ye my heart was wae,
When I turned about and went away
No living man I'll love again
Since that my lovely knight was slain
George M Trevelyan the great British historian, (a Northumbrian) superbly summed up the nature of the Border Reivers and their ballads when he wrote;
"They were cruel,coarse savages, slaying each other like the beasts of the forest; and yet they were also poets who could express in the grand style the inexorable fate of the individual man and woman, the infinite pity for all cruel things which they none the less inflicted upon one another. It was not one ballad- maker alone but the whole cut throat population who felt this magnanimous sorrow, and the consoling charms of the highest poetry."
http://www.englandsnortheast.co.uk/BorderReivers.html
Folks from outside of the UK might care to consider that we of here don’t look upon Borders in quite the same way as they do if, say, they are citizens of the US of A.
Consider that, for instance, the main Railway line through Newcastle Upon Tyne to the city centre cuts through the grounds of a Norman Castle...the NEW Castle... and runs a alongside of a Victorian Railway Hotel in which several of the most notable British Sci- Fi Conventions have taken place and which is actually built over part of the Roman Wall.


Borders? We have Lots of Them here in the U.K., and they have been overlaid over the course of thousands of years with yet newer and shinier Borders whose Fearsome Boundaries have been climbed by people who were willing to take low paid jobs in, suchlike, as the Shipyards and as labourers in the hope of rising to, say, the exalted rank of Riveter ..a bit of a waste of a Sword Arm I daresay but Times Change and my Grandfather was a Left Handed Riveter.

346:

@Paws4Thot,

I think you misunderstood my question. Let me rephrase it:

If Yes, there will be costs associated with the breakup. Since the breakup (if yes) will have been initiated by Scotland, would Scotland, as a matter of international law, have to bear the majority of the costs?

If there is no sensible ruling from international law presumably the respective domestic politics will take over. This would look very ugly:
presumably the best option for both parties in the dispute would be to somewhow kick it into the long grass until the SNP lost their majority and a lot of the costs became moot.

347:

IANAL please bear that in mind. But I'm pretty sure the answer to your question is that there's not an international law that bears on the issue.

Essentially it's an internal matter. The UK is negotiating itself into being two countries. How it does that is up to itself. (How those two new countries negotiate themselves with their former allies and treaty partners and so on also needs to be negotiated of course and there's been lots of rude words about how that will go that I'm not going to add to because I really just don't know. Although I suspect some of the things about UN membership and the like are well established from this.)

But various countries have done this in the past, plus companies do it all the time and hive off parts to stand on their own. In the UK, Lloyds TSB has just split to become Lloyds and TSB once again, after merging a couple of decades ago for example. I don't know what happened with Sudan and South Sudan, Portugal and Sao Tome et Principe, Britain and all its former colonies... I suspect it's a case by case basis. Obviously Britain saying to India "here, be a country and a sovereign state again, instead of a colony" is rather different in many, many respects to devolving Scotland mind. There's a matter of about a billion population (at the time), a few thousand miles as the mole digs and so on.

348:

That's pretty much how I was thinking; the air and sea borders for Scotland mostly already exist and are staffed, so costs are some new signs (and maybe stationery). The only land border is with England and if Scotland adapts the principle of the CTA, the only people who want border posts, guards etc are England, so I don't see why Scotland should pay for them.

349:

Pretty much as El says in #344.

I addressed the specific examples that you cited.

350:

FWIW, UKIP support among some, especially in circles I move in, is about dislike of the vast EU institution, rather than anything to do with immigration.

I am in favour of freedom of trade and freedom of movement, and against everything else about the EU.

But, like you said, it's a shame we don't get to vote for that.

351:

Thanks EL: you are probably correct: thats unfortunate.

It seems to me that some of the breakup costs that the SNP have requested are potentially large (retain UKR pound without UKR control of economics and taxation, Faslane as a nuclear-free zone are 2 examples that spring to mind).
This all sounds to me like a recipe for a very messy and bitter divorce with both sides arguing that its all the other sides fault and therefore the other side should pay, egged on by the respective domestic politics (the why should WE pay for what THEY want argument).
Even if they manage to kick these sorts of issues into the long grass (Scotland shadows the UKR pound without any UKR lender of last support until the economies and/or capital flows diverge too much for that to be feasible, then switches to the Euro, FasLane nuclear becomes a 10-25 year rental deal with suitable crowd-pleasing promises etc), it will still be very hard for both UKR and Scotland to keep the lid on their respective public sentiments.

If yes, there has to be a real chance of the resumption of serious hostilities, initially by minority groups.

352:

It's not clear to me that an independent Scotland retaining the UKR£ without direct control has any direct cost, and any indirect cost is likely to be marginal. There are a lot of small countries that peg themselves to other country's currencies and live in a shadow or halo depending on your POV and seem to manage just fine: Puerto Rico is the most obvious.

For a long time both Ireland and Canada more or less struggled to break out and were pretty tightly tied to their more economically vigorous neighbours, although with the former Celtic Tiger joining the Euro that's no longer the case and with Canada being run by Godless Socialists and junkies (please remember I count myself as both Godless and Socialist so I am being more than a little ironic) it has ripped it's economy from the Land of the Free to shoot each other (by God's grace).

Sure there will be the cock-up with the economy thanks to being tied to someone else. But if you haven't noticed countries manage to cock their economies up just fine when they make their own rules and set their own policies. They probably do it in different ways though.

Moving Faslane is a different kettle of fish. But... meh. I'm really not convinced of the usefulness of the UK's nuclear deterrent. If Scotland votes yes and UKR-HMG is forced to consider moving Faslane (not by Christmas but by the next parliamentary term as a reasonable period to have at least started the building work) I wonder if they'll stop, look at the costs and stay "stuff it." It is a lot of money for the enemy of 3 decades and more ago. Scrap the lot, build a couple more aircraft carriers and keep them at sea, expand the regular army a bit, open a nice hospital or two in vote winning places. Sorry Mr. Osborne, what was that about austerity and making the hard choices? We're still saving money. Yes, we're losing a particular set of skills but are we losing a relevant set of skills for today's defence environment? And suddenly that's looking much more solvable.

353:

Want to be a "Laird"?

It looks the usual very dodgy deal, buy a tiny plot of land can call yourself a Laird (or Lady), but there might be something of value in it: it's a fundraiser for a nature reserve.

Still looks dodgy, and then you see where this wonderful special deal comes from.

It's Amazon. They sell you a voucher which can be exchanged for this incredible deal.

They'll charge you fifteen quid, but actually registering title to the land has a fee (if I'm reading right) of sixty quid. Though reports elsenet suggests the operation is using leased land.

Specials

Merchandise

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on June 11, 2014 10:46 AM.

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