Divergent Paths – Scottish Independence

There is a feeling that a No vote will land us with another Conservative government. However I think it may be more than that.

I have a strong sense that substantial numbers of English people are growing more right wing. I think many people down South are in tune with Ian Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms and the need to rein back immigration from the EU. Many are also in favour of withdrawal from the EU; at least polls seem to indicate that. The major Westminster political parties appear to be singing from the same hymn sheet and a change of government may not alter that.

Whereas I do not think that is the case in Scotland. It implies that over the long term England and Scotland may continue to diverge in their attitudes to social justice and what constitutes a fair society. Scotland will not be able influence the course that Westminster politics takes and only a Yes vote will free us to follow our own ideas.

July 31, 2014 at 9:49 am Leave a comment

Commonwealth Games – Scottish Independence

Watching the opening ceremony last night it struck me how many small nations and regions go to make up the Commonwealth and  how many were never part of the British Empire but have asked to join in recent years.

It would appear that an independent Scotland could do worse than cultivate relationships across the entire spectrum of Commonwealth countries. The UK has been too pre-occupied with the EU and the USA for many years now to pay real attention to the them. As a small nation with great strengths, expertise and agility Scotland could benefit hugely from membership. Just one example, the majority of the Commonwealth population is young and we need to bolster our demographics in that respect. There could be mutual benefits in that area alone.

Of course as Tax Expert, Richard Murphy, has highlighted many Commonwealth countries are tax havens. We might need to avoid contamination in that respect.

July 24, 2014 at 2:15 pm Leave a comment

SNP Presumes Too Much – Scottish Independence

In November 2013 I wrote that the SNP were somehow assuming that they had the right to decide the future of Scotland after a Yes vote (http://robthill.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/post-independence/). This is still the case, remember the white paper. Frankly I am not against much of what they propose. However, I think the idea of sticking with sterling and the EU is an attempt to mollify waverers. Personally if we are to be independent I would prefer our own currency outside the EU on the Norwegian model.

More to the point by talking about their vision of an independent Scotland, the SNP may be putting off a number of potential Yes voters who do not like that party or its leaders. A better message would be that after a Yes vote there will be new elections to Holyrood and an all party constitutional convention to explore the way ahead. Of course the SNP blueprint will play an important part.

The SNP should remember they are a national government in name only, in reality at present a devolved administration.

July 23, 2014 at 11:12 am Leave a comment

No Vote Means Change – Scottish Independence

This article has a ring of truth about it for me

A NO VOTE IS NOT A VOTE FOR NO CHANGE By Peter Arnott, published in Bella Caledonia

The full text is here … https://bellacaledonia.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/a-no-vote-is-not-a-vote-for-no-change.pdf

Somehow the fine words of the three main Westminster parties do not ring true for me. The idea of any of them especially the Conservatives being magnanimous and welcoming of Scotland back into the fold is not a characteristic I can link with them.

If the NO vote prevails on 18th September then I think we will not see Devo Max but Devo Min, no NHS, no Barnett formula, more and deeper cuts to public services and an emasculated Scottish Parliament. Most public services such as water and all the various aspects of social welfare will be privatised, rich pickings for the neo- cons. This will of course be under the mantle of improved efficiency and all the usual weasel words. It will not happen overnight but will arrive via the back door in exactly the same way as the NHS privatisation in England and Wales has avoided the scrutiny of most of the voting public.

July 22, 2014 at 9:01 am Leave a comment

Foreign Countries – rUK and Scotland

One of the fears being put about regarding Scottish Independence is that the rest of the UK will become a foreign country like alien, unwelcoming, to be avoided.

There is no need for that attitude. The mature Commonwealth countries like Australia, New Zealand, India, Canada and South Africa regard themselves as part of the British family of nations and many other countries value their membership of the British Commonwealth. In fact countries actually ask to join so there must be some benefits.

There is absolutely no reason why Scotland should not be in exactly the same position vis-a-vis the remaining parts of the UK. I will not think of going abroad if I go on a day trip to Newcastle and I trust that English, Welsh and Irish visitors to Edinburgh or Glasgow will feel equally at home.

In many areas of international relations I am sure Scotland and rUk will have identical goals and aspirations and I am equally sure both countries will support each other in many different ways, big and small.

In fact I would be very surprised if relations between Holyrood and Westminster will not be better in future.

July 21, 2014 at 3:20 pm Leave a comment

Westminster Cabinet Reshuffle – Scottish Independence

Most commentators seem to agree that the Westminster government has now taken a further step towards exiting the EU and the Convention on Human Rights. This certainly affects the considerations surrounding the Independence referendum.

Personally I would prefer Scotland to have its own currency outside of the EU as the first step. It would appear that this environment has done Norway no harm as I read that its Oil Fund owns on average 2.5% of every listed company in Europe! As a small new nation we would be swamped and ineffective in the  EU and hidebound by its rules and regulations. (I do know that Norway has restrictions in trading with Europe.) As for currency why should anyone think that a sterling currency union won’t in the long run face the same problems as the Euro Union?

If  we vote YES let’s be truly independent.

July 16, 2014 at 10:01 am Leave a comment

After Independence – What Jobs?

It is worrying when the Bank for International Settlements is suggesting that the world economy is more fragile than it was in 2007/8. I have always thought that politicians had really only pushed the problem further down the road and that nothing had actually been done to create a more stable and sustainable economic environment.

Radio 4 Today programme ran a piece about the Chinese developing a railway link from China through to Europe. This may or may not be a good thing for the West or China but it is is another signal of quite how enterprising Asia and in particular China are in grasping every opportunity to develop their economies.

The mantra by the Yes and the No campaigns has been about how it will be better for jobs in the future, either in an dependent Scotland or in the existing Union. Neither side specifies the type of jobs apart form vague murmurings about IT, Creativity, Inventiveness, Science and the like. But the West is lagging way behind the emerging economies in terms of those kind of jobs. Doubtless there will be niche markets and success stories, but we actually need to concentrate on the vast army of the poorly paid, the low skilled and the un- or under-employed. Our education system in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK is still not  fulfilling the needs of the up and coming generation. Many people, especially the young, are meandering from one unfulfilling  occupation to another, rudderless.

So what jobs will be there in the future. For a minority, there will be jobs requiring intellectual ability in Science, in Arts, in IT as well as the old professions of the Law, Education, etc. But to be really prosperous Scotland cannot afford a large group of citizens who are unable to contribute for all sorts of reasons, mostly not of their own making. One category is the jobs which cannot be readily automated and are labour intensive. These include the traditional trades of joiner, plumber, electrician, the caring professions, nurses, social care officers, home care workers, the entertainment and leisure industries such as catering, personal services such as hairdressers, public  transport particularly buses and no doubt others that I have not considered. But our education and training systems must provide young people with an enthusiasm for these kind of jobs as well as a good liberal education and it must become the norm for youngsters to expect to leave school to enter training for these kind of careers if they are not going into more academic further education. I have said elsewhere that the transition from school to the world of work is woefully inadequately catered for in our system and yet it is where most of our young people falter and often fail to grasp good opportunities.

July 14, 2014 at 10:02 am Leave a comment

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