So here we are the morning after the night before. Super Thursday, what a pointless pieces of Americanism, has taken place and the votes are going to be counted over the weekend so that by next week we’ll know what the make up of local, regional and national politics will look like for the next few years. There will be winners and there will be losers and there will be many falsehoods issued by both. It is, after all, politics.
Of course Scotland is the most impactive election: Will the SNP get their majority and will they go full pelt for another independence referendum? As I write this I can’t answer either of those questions but I suspect both are a lot more nuanced than the loudest voices on either side of the Scottish divide would like you to think. For what it is worth, I’m an Englishman living in the East Midlands, I think the SNP will get their majority but I am far from sure that Nicola Sturgeon will call for a referendum anytime soon as she is far from certain she would win such a vote and you can see why.
Since the last Scottish independence referendum many things have changed but perhaps the most significant is Brexit. Whether you agree or disagree with Brexit there is one thing that is clear – it has left a mess that will take years to sort out – the nonsense of the Jersey fishing dispute is just latest ridiculous example. Then there is the more serious and probably more pertinent, when thinking about an independent Scotland: The Northern Ireland protocol. To date this has created many problems and it has yet to be fully implemented. It has brought down a once all powerful female leader; inflamed a border dispute, threatened trade, and the integrity of both the United Kingdom and European Union. In short it is a mess and could rightly be described as Boris sized but at its core it was an attempt to solve the unsolvable – the problems on the island of Ireland caused by part of the population of Ireland not wishing to be part of the Republic of Ireland.
With Northern Ireland protocol’s problems fresh in your mind now try and and work out how the border between Scotland and England might be regulated and the problems generated by any solution. Then imagine the extra problems created should Scotland join the European Union and suddenly you start to realise that dismantling the Union between England and Scotland isn’t going to be easy.
This is the problem facing the advocates of Scottish independence: How do you get from here, the union of the two nations, to there, two separate nations co existing on the same island one vastly richer (I mean in an absolute sense – the GDP of England is c $2.6 trillion to Scotland’s $205 billion) and populous than the other? At the moment I have not heard any convincing arguments and surely the Scottish people deserve to have some idea as to who this problem might be addressed as they may well take the brunt of any economic downturn caused by the separation of the nations.
The default answers being suggested is as Scotland will be part of the European Union then this will be a counterweight to any problems caused by financial problems highlighted above. Again Ireland demonstrates how this isn’t the case. The Republic of Ireland is still a proud member of the European Union and yet they are being buffeted by the fall out from Brexit and there are many reasons to think that things will get a lot more problematic for the Republic should Joe Biden’s corporate tax proposals come into play. In fact it may well be the problems associated with the Scotland England border that could delay or prevent Scotland’s accession to the European Union.
I have no answers as to how any of the problems associated with any break up of Scotland and England. None. But then again I don’t believe the union should be ended although I suspect I am in the minority in England at the moment as my feeling is if England were to have a vote in the separation of England from Scotland then the SNP’s dreams would be fulfilled. Only problem is that the dreams would quickly turn into a nightmare as rampant English nationalism ensures that no quarter would be given to the ‘ungrateful whinging Scots‘.
Scotland can succeed as an independent nation and its citizens may well be better served but it isn’t going to be easy nor without significant pain and pretending that isn’t the case is dishonest. The Scots deserve some form of clarity of thought as to how this future prosperity would be achieved and not just meaningless slogans. If Brexit has taught as anything it is that taking a vote is the easy part – making it work is far more difficult than pointless slogans such as ‘take back control’ although I fear that this is all we are going to hear over the next few months.