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Goodbye Scotland?

I have long thought, first, that the United Kingdom has for some time been heading towards being the Non-United Kingdom, and second, that this would probably be a very good thing.

If such a separation is indeed happening, then what is causing it is the end of the British Empire. That and what followed around half a century later (i.e. around now), probably as an inevitable next step, namely the abandonment of the English-stroke-British attempt to remain a top ranking Great Power.

The British Empire meant that lots of Scots wanted to be attached to England, to get in on all the deals involved. Then Britain, empireless but still trying to remain a Great Power, needed Scotland to remain in. Scotland provided and still provides military manpower, and projected and still projects British power in northerly and westerly and easterly directions, in a way that England without Scotland will never be able to match. Could England without Scotland (to say nothing of Northern Ireland) have won the Battle of Atlantic? Hardly. Could England then have even threatened to win the re-run of that battle that from the end of WW2 until the collapse of the Soviet Union, dominated British naval thinking, and Britain’s strategic thinking generally? Again, hardly. For as long as the Cold War lasted, the English plus whichever local allies went along with them, were determined to square up to the Russians and thus keep their seat at that Top Table that politicians are all so very keen to be seen sitting at. A dis-United Kingdom was a non-starter, for contriving all that.

But now? Russia remains a looming monster, or a huge wreck if you prefer the Perry de Havilland take on Russia, which I think I probably do. But even if you think that Russia remains very strong, it no longer fancies itself as a global ideological magnet, bankrolling and talking up every nutter in the civilised world with a mad plan to derange civilisation. It no longer even goes through the motions of attempting to conquer everywhere else. Russia is now just another Problem, along with government debt and bank turmoil, the Euro, the Dollar, the Pound, China, energy shortages or “climate change” (again according to taste), crime, schools’n’hospitals, etc. etc. etc., rather than The Problem.

The global ideological derangement torch has now been seized by Mad Mullahs, and they won’t be re-fighting the Battle of the Atlantic any time soon. Nor do they have nearly so many nuclear bombs, or nearly such potent means of chucking them about in the world. They require very different strategies. Given the weaknesses and difficulties faced by the Mad Mullahs, and given the weaknesses and difficulties faced by us, their enemies, I wouldn’t now want to call them anything more than just another Problem, among all the others.

Other career paths for English politicians to that Top Table have since been identified, based less on British power and more on personal skills and individual contributions to the new global elite. To put it bluntly, you don’t need to be part of one of the old empires in order to participate in running the New World Order.

England’s Great Power-ish inclined warriors and foreigner-scarers, of greatly varying social grandeur from Air Marshals to ex-army pub landlords to army-fan dog-owning T-shirted denizens of south of England housing estates, are being presented with a fait accompli. This warrior tendency has traditionally been very pro the Union with Scotland, but is now being being starved of resources and humiliated by its consequent failures to make very effective uses even of those resources that it does still receive. Its last serious throw of the dice was the Falklands War. Since then, Britain been militarily “powerful” by supporting America, which is not nearly so satisfying, or so impressive to spectators. Britain’s more recent military escapades, against those Mad Mullahs, seem to have accomplished, and to be accomplishing, less and less with each passing year. Chasing terrorists in foreign parts is all well and good, but it seems foolish to be trying to impose democracy upon such places as Afghanistan, given the problems we now have domestically. And even if you don’t agree about that, you can hardly deny that most English people surely now do think thus. The Will to Great Power, to adapt Nietzsche, seems more and more to be lacking in Britain. Too costly. Not worth it. Time to consign all that to the history books.

And with it, the overriding imperative for England and Scotland to remain politically attached to one another.

Meanwhile, that strand of English opinion which favours trade, free markets, and so on, is, in the absence of any continuing great power logic to justify union with Scotland, likely to become ever more irked but it. This tradesman tendency, so to speak, of free market inclined businessmen, City of Londoners, shopkeepers, and bookish students who like reading Hayek and Friedman and, these days, clicking onto mises.org, has lately suffered a severe dose of Scottish moralistic … I don’t think anti-Englishness is too strong a phrase for it, at the hated hands of Gordon Brown. More and more they (and count me in too) now think: well Jock, if you want out, then you just go ahead and get out. We might then get the sort of government we want, instead of having our choice vetoed by you all the time.

The above thoughts were triggered again in my head just last week, by a recent report (thank you Bishop Hill), which said that if Scotland does go independent, it will as a direct consequence have to stop being nearly as crackpottedly ridiculous as it is now about “renewable” energy, i.e. the sort of energy of which there is not now and for the foreseeable future never will be enough. Suddenly, I found myself becoming a passionate Scottish Nationalist, if only to put the wind up the idiotic wind-farmer tendency. Although, Bishop Hill jokes that such greenery in Scotland is actually a plan to keep the Union with Scotland going, by making Scottish independence impossible.

For wind-farming in particular, read Scottish economic thought and policy generally. Libertarians like me have another reason to want to see Scotland separate itself from England, which is that once the indignity of being told by annoying English people like me to favour more rational economic theories and economic policies has been removed, the Scots, once independent, will then almost certainly become far more ready to tell each other to think and to behave in an economically more sane manner.

If Scotland goes independent, then Scotland will, for reasons of sheer economic self-preservation, have to stop being a huge drag on the global pro-free-market tendency in general and the libertarian movement in particular, and might even become a net contributor to such tendencies. Again.

Final thought. Where will all this leave UKIP? Changing its name for a start. But then, as the EIP, much more likely to get what it wants. And that’s another reason for England to eject Scotland from its union with England. It would then be a lot easier for England to eject itself from the EU.

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42 comments to Goodbye Scotland?

  • James

    And that’s another reason for England to eject Scotland from its union with England. It would then be a lot easier for England to eject itself from the EU.

    If there’s any talk of ‘ejecting’, it should be the Scots doing it to England, by becoming the legal successor to the United Kingdom (just as happened with Serbia and Montenegro). That way, Scotland gets its cherished EU membership without having to start from scratch… and we get out of it without much of a fuss.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    What would happen to Britain’s seat on the Security council at the U.N., if the UK became post-UK?
    And does that mean that Labour, without Scotland, would never menace the government side of politics again?
    I suppose the queen, and any successor, would need to be rechristened Queen of England And of Scotland and of Wales and of Northern Ireland, as well as the Commonwealth.
    Still, England, with the financial powerhouse of the City of London, should do well out of it.

  • What would happen to Britain’s seat on the Security council at the U.N., if the UK became post-UK?

    Who cares? Not me, that is for sure.

  • Eric

    Hah! I can’t see this happening any time soon. I realize there are passionate people on the side of Scottish independence, but cooler heads will prevail. And by cooler heads I mean people who realize independence would have the Scots paying their own way.

  • Nuke: she is Queen of a lot of completely independent countries already, so you could simply re-establish the Crown of Scotland as a separate crown but continue to have the same person wear it. Or you could ask one of the minor royals to be King or Queen of Scotland.

    On the other hand, who would you choose? Prince Andrew? Lord, no. Prince Harry? Well, that might be interesting. I kind of like the idea of Queen Zara, but perhaps she is a little too far down the line, and possibly an England rugby player as consort of the Queen of Scotland wouldn’t really work.

  • The Pedant-General

    “If Scotland goes independent, then Scotland will, for reasons of shear sheer economic self-preservation, have to stop being a huge drag on the global pro-free-market tendency in general and the libertarian movement in particular, and might even become a net contributor to such tendencies”

    No it won’t. It will remain dominated by the lunatic tendencies of the tribal politics of Glasgow. We’ll simply descend into the usual, and entirely predictable, post-apocalyptic socialist nightmare.

    And I guarantee the morons will STILL blame the English for it to boot.

    Sorry to be gloomy, but I live there and I’ve seen it at first hand. The intellectual descendants of Smith and Hume still do what intelligent Scots have always done: leave.

  • As a minor historical note, if there was a separation of the crowns of England and Scotland, then her Maj would become Queen Elizabeth II of England and Queen Elizabeth I of Scotland.

    How, I suspect that the politicos in the Scottish Parliament would never buy it and would want to become a constitutional republic.

    Equally, most Scots are aware of the prejudice of their own brand of Glasgow street fighter politicians and would prefer them to be diluted by Westminster and therefore might vote for devolution Max, but never full independance.

    There is a lot of bullshit floating about that Scotland with it’s share of the oil revenues would be a European power house, but these figures are distorted by having large financial institutions such as RBS and HBOS based in Scotland. If it came to true independence, I suspect that these large companies would either relocate to London (or elsewhere in Europe) or break into their Scottish and English components, which might mean that only 10-15% of the current multinationals remaining resident in Scotland.

    Then we would see whether Wee ‘Eck could pay the soddin’ bills without squeezing the remaining Scots to death.

  • Peter MacFarlane

    The Pedant-General is right. Scotland would become the Socialist Republic of Scotland, high-tax, high-borrowing, free-everything-for-everyone, which would be great until the bills come in – especially if they join the Euro, which the mad fools are talking about doing.

    I believe England alone would find it far harder to leave he EU, not easier as some have said. As The Island Nation we can clearly stand on our own – we have done for hundreds of years. As a bit of an offshore island, we might not find it so simple. And remember that Scotland is already one of the EU’s regions, so we’d be doing their dirty work for them by allowing this to happen.

    As for our seat on the UN Security Council, why the EU will take it over, of course. As a matter of fact I think they already plan to, and of course Cameron will alread have agreed – what’s one more traitorous betrayal after so many that have gone before?

    It beats me why Scotland is so keen to throw off the largely-benign and mostly-generous rule of the English, only to rush into the arms of the malignant, determined, ruthless, and completely uncaring EU. Do they really think anyone in Brussels will take the slightest notice of what they think? Or bail them out when they bankrupt themselves with freebies? Only racism can explain it, really.

  • Stephen Willmer

    I was raised in the Unionist tradition but for 20 years my attitude towards the Scots, consistent with my attitude to people generally, has been live and let live; if they want out, I won’t stop them … then latterly, if it’ll stop them whingeing, I hope they do go.

    Then I realised, Scottish nationalism isn’t real nationalism. If Salmond really wanted a country of his own to govern, he’d just do it, like every other petty nationalist movement the world over since 1989. No, his is an extortion racket, which is why they’ll never stop whingeing and they’ll never leave

  • Jorge del Rio

    Labour will not allow Scotland to go or they will be a minority party for decades.

  • bandit

    I have another question. Why does Wales have it’s own FIFA squad? England would be a lot stronger with Bale and Ramsey.

  • rjschwarz

    If the EU is truly going to happen the breakup of nations will be a matter of time. Why should the Bavarians be a big province in Germany within the EU when they are the economic engine that runs Germany and could stand as an EU state on their own? Same with Tuscany over in Italy.

    If that sort of devolution were to happen its likely other nations would see the opportunity to eject areas that might seem to take more than they give.

    Of course the EU is eroding before our eyes so perhaps the folks involved might want to wait until they see how things end up before jumping into something new.

  • RetiredE9

    It’s been a while but doesn’t a large LARGE part of the Scotland’s income come from government spending? Is there much (enough) private industry to support a new country?

  • Sam Duncan

    Peter MacFarlane and Stephen Willmer have already said almost everything I wanted to. The SNP is not a nationalist party, it’s a party pushing the post-nation-state regionalist agenda of the EU. Apart from that, there is no real appetite for any kind of separation up here. Support rarely polls above 30% (although I understand it’s at a high point at the moment). People know what side their bread’s buttered. I see our future, depressingly, rather like Quebec, with repeated demands for greater autonomy, but pulling back from the brink when our bluff is called. (Incidentally, I suspect that’s how the EU Colleagues see the UK. In that case, I think they’re wrong.)

    And the Pedant-General is absolulely correct. I live here, and I simply don’t buy the – on the face of it entirely plausible – idea that “independence” would force Scottish political types to grow up (apart from anything else, they’d be no more independent that Italy or Greece, and that worked out really well). Let’s not forget that the Union exists largely because the pre-1707 Scottish state ran out of money. The Scotland of that period was very different, being, if anything, more free-market-oriented than England, but its small self-important political class still made an arse of things. They haven’t got any better.

    Comparisons with the USSR and Czechoslovakia are ridiculous. This country is over 300 years old – older than Germany, Italy, and the United States – and for the vast majority of that time has been a huge advantage to all its people. Are we going to flush it down the toilet because of 20-30 years of largely imagined difficulties? Yes, imagined. The north of England and its people are little different to Scotland and the lowland Scots, and it’s an even bigger drain on the Exchequer. Independence for Tyneside, next?

  • Snorri Godhi

    This post is pretty much in line with my own thoughts on the subject. (Though I was not aware of the strategic considerations mentioned at the beginning.)
    A couple of remarks:
    Given the reputation of the Scots (which reputation I greatly admire), I cannot believe that they’d vote for high gov. spending, when that is no longer paid for by the English.
    And given the geography, it might make sense to keep united defense forces even after the breakup. However, England and Scotland could be free to join separate “coalitions of the willing” (as long as they do not end up fighting each other of course).
    Disclaimer: I am not British, but lived in England for most of the 1990s.

  • RRS

    Given the interdependence of economic and political units in what comprises”Western Civilization,” Independence is a largely different concept and totally different condition from the mid 18th century, barely 70 years after the Acts of Union.

    About the most that can reasonably be expected is a severance of electorates. The effects within the severed electorates may very well follow the line suggested by Brian

  • Paul Marks

    I would love to think that wise Scots like Sam Duncan held sway – but they do not.

    Scottish politics is a clash between Labour (Glasgow dominated corrupt Labour) and the SNP.

    No one else matters.

    And, yes, th SNP are not even really in favour of an independent Scotland – they are P.C. European Union supporters (although perhaps a bit better than Glasgow Labour – who really are the worst of the worst).

    Brian’s post is correct.

    I have a romatic atachment to the United Kingdom (but then I am a conservative – as well as a libertarian, I have a strong Sir Walter Scott like love of last causes).

    But I see no way of saving the United Kingdom – how would one even start going about doing that?

    If the facts prove me wrong then I will admit it – but where, for example, is the strong anti E.U. feeling one finds in England.

    Where is this in Scotland?

    Wales (not Scotland) is the doubt in my mind – which way they will jump I do not know.

    But Scotland – they will side with the E.U. (against England). I just wish it were not so.

    My one point of difference with Brian is over the “Mad Mullahs”.

    I think Islam may become a little more than just one problem among many.

    Oddly enough less of a problem in Scotland than in England.

    London is prime target for nuking (a nice bit of atomic terrorism), Scottish cities – not so much.

    And there are no cities in Scotland where Islam is a real demographic problem either.

    At least – not so far as I know.

  • Lorna

    You’ve made a bit of a booboo! Scots didn’t want to ‘Unite’ with England, they never got a say.

    Think of it as a handful of dodgy businessmen with interests in England selling out a whole country that never got a vote on anything. For a modern day analogy think Irish citizens bailing out rich German men (by bailing out their investment banks). What was SAID was happening at the time was far from the truth and there was deceipt on England’s side of it too!

    As for “a huge drag on the global pro-free-market tendency in general and the libertarian movement in particular, and might even become a net contributor to such tendencies.” Scotland are so far from how you have described them it’s crazy! Please do your research before spouting the “I follow whatever Westminster tell me” mantra 😀

    Scotland never needed England, nor does it need them now.

    And the Union makes up less than 0.3% of Scotland’s settlement history. That’s so little that it makes the Union not even worth a mention. Scotland just wishes to self-rule, as she did for 12,500 years! Good on her, self-rule should never have been taken from her in the first place.

  • Home rule for England

    And of course the Union flag will be no more!

  • “The people of England are never as happy as when you tell them they are ruined”.
    — Arthur Murray, (From “The Upholsterer” – 1758)

  • Trust yow no Skott.
    — Bishop of Chichester, letter to Thomas Cromwell, 1 April 1536

  • Lorna

    “I cannot believe that they’d vote for high gov. spending, when that is no longer paid for by the English.”

    Snorri, they never were paid for by the English so it makes no difference.

    Also, contrary to some commenters there is a lot of support for Independence in Scotland, not due to anti-Englishness, but due to centuries of completely UNimagined abuse at the hands of Westminster, abuses that continue to this very day. Those abuses are real, they are also incredibly wrong, and the only way to stop them is to wave goodbye to the Union.

    Anyway, 300 years? That’s nothing in the grand scheme of our rich Scottish history. People really are making a big fuss over maintaining something that never really existed (it was never a Union!) and is insignificant.

  • Simon Jester

    And the Union makes up less than 0.3% of Scotland’s settlement history. That’s so little that it makes the Union not even worth a mention. Scotland just wishes to self-rule, as she did for 12,500 years!

    Someone, please tell me this is a parody of a chippy Scot!

    Otherwise… wibble, wibble, wibble.

  • Runcie Balspune

    As a minor historical note, if there was a separation of the crowns of England and Scotland, then her Maj would become Queen Elizabeth II of England and Queen Elizabeth I of Scotland.

    I believe the last King of Scotland had at least 40 offspring of which many still survive.

  • Home Rule for England

    Lorna, in England there is a lot of support for Independence for England.

  • richard40

    The Scotts used to be famous for engineering, commerce, entrepeneurship, nd making money. Thats why the engineer of the Enterprise was called Scotty. What happened to them, why did they go all socialist?

  • Scotland just wishes to self-rule, as she did for 12,500 years!

    Please tell me about Neolithic ‘Scottish’ political identity as it is not a subject I know a lot about. Indeed I did not know that there was even a notion of ‘Scotland’ back then or that anyone ruled anyone beyond their extended family group.

  • margaret

    I love your blog, but it’s so hard to read! The blue background, white type, tiny font size…they all conspire to give me a headache! Would you consider reformatting for those of us who don’t have the patience to persevere through the painful format. I know it’s YOUR blog, but I’d like to visit more often! Your commentary is brilliant.

    (editor’s note: then just select ‘print mode’ in the sidebar and you will get the blog is boring black-and-white)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Completely O.T., but please note that I for one find Samizdata easier on my eyes than any other Internet site I can think of. The contrast is perfect. Please don’t change a thing! It’s the only place where I can REST my eyes, and read the text in focus.

    Margaret–you should be able to enlarge the apparent size of the type by holding down “Ctrl” and pressing the plus-sign (+).

  • The Pedant-General

    lorna

    “they never were paid for by the English so it makes no difference.”

    ??? The state accounts for well north of 50% of Scotland’s GDP overall and >75% in Glasgow. There are MASSIVE fiscal transfers into Scotland from England. North Sea oil is running out fast so you can’t rely on that to fund the shindig and, crucially – even if it wasn’t, countries that do expect to fund insane levels of govt expenditure through resource exploitation have almost always end up with desperate poverty. Can you imagine the Glasgow Labour party really being sensible with this money?

    Also, contrary to some commenters there is a lot of support for Independence in Scotland, not due to anti-Englishness, but due to centuries of completely UNimagined abuse at the hands of Westminster, abuses that continue to this very day. Those abuses are real, they are also incredibly wrong, and the only way to stop them is to wave goodbye to the Union”

    Name them. Real abuses happening right now. Links please.

    In producing these links, please ensure that you exclude:
    – abuses in the form of failure to fund public sector projects are ruled out of bounds unless you wish to withdraw your assertion that the English haven’t been funding Scotland. 🙂
    – stuff that leaving the Union with England won’t address (e.g. fisheries as this is a function of EU membership which AS isn’t going to change)
    – stuff that isn’t restricted to Scotland (e.g. fisheries and coal)

    There is no doubt that we have not been on the friendliest of terms in the past – distant past, like Edward II type distant past – but to suggest that these sorts of abuses continue to this day is just pish.

  • Margaret: look for the ‘print version’ link on the main page, it will give you the whole thing in black-on-white, minus the graphics. It also has a font-size-adjustment button, if I’m not mistaken.

  • Stephen Willmer

    Lorna, go, with my best wishes for what they’re worth, all of you. Stop whining, and do it. Just do it, nobody will stop you.

    Unless of course you, Lorna, are indeed sent to tease us…

  • RRS

    Lorna,

    Have you ever read of Wm Paterson’s Darien Project involvement? He initiated both the Bank of England and the Bank of Scotland.

    Despite the “hostile”merger, he pushed for the Acts of Union, which to the Scots’ then economic conditions may have been comparable to a “Greek Bailout” with long-term austerity that benefited the U S, Canada, and most of the U K colonies through emigration.

    Need is what the peoples at the time conceive it to be – there was need.

  • Eric

    Snorri, they never were paid for by the English so it makes no difference.

    Lorna, I can’t imagine any set of accounting rules under which this would be the case.

  • Paul Marks

    Lorna says there is a lot of support for independence in Scotland. Is is NOT anti Englishness – it is a genuine desire for Scotland to be independent, for Scots to rule themselves.

    That is good to hear!.

    What percentage of the Scottish population do wish for independence from the European Union?

  • richard40 writes: “The Scotts [Scots!] used to be famous for engineering, commerce, entrepeneurship, nd making money. Thats why the engineer of the Enterprise was called Scotty. What happened to them, why did they go all socialist?”

    That’s easy: all the engineers and entepreneurs moved to the U.S., Canada, Australia, and other countries, where their skills are appreciated and where they are still grossly overrepresented in those categories. (I’m a 5/16 Scottish American and half my relatives are engineers.)

  • Snorri Godhi

    Yours truly: I cannot believe that [the Scots]’d vote for high gov. spending, when that is no longer paid for by the English.

    Lorna: Snorri, they never were paid for by the English so it makes no difference.

    This is just about the worst insult that i’ve heard about the Scots: it means that the Scots would be willing to hand over even more of their own money to the ruling class.

  • Lorna

    Snorri, I must have completely misunderstood your post!

    To me your post was claiming that England has subsidised Scotland. I know that to be false, so I was simply stating that since England has never subsidised Scotland then Scotland being independent wouldn’t make any difference (i.e. Scotland wouldn’t suddenly struggle financially). I’m not sure how that is an insult to anyone!

  • Snorri Godhi

    Lorna: I suspect that you misunderstood my 2nd comment, not the 1st. Maybe it’s because the 2nd was written in an epigrammatic, sarcastic tone.
    Let me expand a bit. I take it that we agree that the Scots vote for more gov. spending. I believe this to be daft (at least in Britain today) — unless it is not your money that you want the gov. to spend, in which case it might be immoral, but not daft.
    Now you tell me that it is their own money that the Scots are voting to spend: ergo, you are effectively saying that the Scots are daft. (Which btw I do NOT believe.)

  • Paul Marks

    I note that Lorna has still not said what percentage of Scots really want independence – i.e. want to get out of European Union.

    Perhaps this support for “independence” really is just antiEnglish racism – not a real desire for “self government”.

    If it was a desire for “independence” for “self government” getting out of the European Union would be a major plank in the independence agenda.

    After all the vast majority of modern regulations put into force in Scotland (as in England) are in response to E.U. orders.

    To claim to be “pro independence” whilst not working to get out of the European Union, is to be a liar.

    Are you are liar Lorna?

  • Dave B

    The Scots don’t like the EU either.

    45% of the UK think EU membership is ‘bad for Britain’, 41% of Scots.

    http://cdn.yougov.com/today_uk_import/YG-Archives-Pol-FabianSociety-EUCoop-050111.pdf

    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/4188