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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Is that the dawn of a brighter future I see over yonder?

It seems the prospects for Scotland to depart from its long standing political union with the UK (in truth one really can say ‘…with England’ as no one actually thinks this is about Ulster and Wales) has noticeably improved.

Indeed I cannot help wondering if the dawn of Scottish Independence, or as I prefer to call it, English Independence, will be followed by the thundering sounds of Scotland’s entrepreneurs driving their cattle south, as they decamp en-mass to London before Glasgow is renamed Havana-on-Clyde and they awake one day to find their Sterling bank accounts now denominated in Cuban Pesos, and not the convertible ones.

I foresee a considerable increase in the overall exuberance levels of the London Party Scene, and yet another (whiskey tinged) puff of air into the immense property market bubble currently floating over the Thames.

44 comments to Is that the dawn of a brighter future I see over yonder?

  • andrew porter

    I am all for the Scots being independent, let them decide how to live away from the confines of Westminster. It may create a movement for greater regional say in England. Wales will never leave as they need the English to pay the bills!

  • Mr Ed

    Scotland would be missed, like toothache. rUK would be a bit like Singapore without Malaysia. Of course, we need to ensure that those properly Scots cannot retain British citizenship or claim benefits in the rUK. No doubt this will not be the deal and they will continue to enjoy benefits should they cross the border. However, defining who is Scottish and who is not may not always be easy.

    Meanwhile, an interesting but flawed radio drama imagining an independent London was on BBC Radio 4 recently. It lacks an understanding of economics, and the fiat money bubble that underpins London’s economy, but almost gets its view of a future right. UK based servers only I understand.

    A far more interesting drama would be a London surviving (collapsing) in the event that the fiat money spigot were to be turned off. Perhaps a project for Samizdatans, or the Cobden Centre?

  • Richard Thomas

    If both Wales and Scotland left, the socialists would just about have a aneurism about the flag they’d be operating under (Well, they’d probably end up waving the EU flag around I guess).

  • Praetyre

    Speaking as someone of Scotish descent, I think that as long as the EU is around this whole secession thing is moot above the national level. Even there, do you really think having a new country to ruin will stop the Eurocrats from imposing their retarded ideology on England? I do wonder what the effect will be on Scotland’s depleted economy, though; this is a little-discussed problem when it comes to Southern secession; ironically, the Northern states are the net tax contributors, though I don’t know if this is due to a decline in Southern industry or a boom in Northern commerce. Food for thought.

  • Jim

    Rest assured (or not), the Scots won’t vote for independence. Its one thing to say ‘Yes’ to a pollster, its another to put the X in the Yes box in the voting booth, when the consequences become oh so real. I predict that the No vote will comprise the high 40s they are polling now, plus another 10% of Don’t Knows plus a few % of Yes voters who change their mind in the booth. At least 60/40 against independence, possibly even 65/35.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    The question you pose invites an answer in the form of one of William F. Buckley’s more memorable titles (about the final collapse of South Vietnam): “The Light at the End of the Tunnel is Hellfire.”

  • Samizdatistas, Ed, Samizdatistas.

  • Patrick Crozier

    Am I alone in thinking that this is an example of that rarest of contests in which both sides are trying to lose?

  • Mr Ed

    Sorry Perry, bit of a newcomer in these parts.

    Here’s my draft Act of Disunion, let’s go the whole Hog but leave Rockall as the UK:

    1. The Act of Union 1707 is hereby repealed, the repeal shall take effect on the day after this Act at midnight on the day after this Act receives the Royal Assent, hereinafter ‘freedom day’.

    2. The Union with Ireland Act 1800, as amended, is hereby repealed on freedom day.

    3. The Island of Rockall Act 1972 is hereby repealed, but Rockall shall thereupon become a common territory of the United Kingdom, this provision shall come into effect at one second before midnight on freedom day.

    4. (1) England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland shall cease to be parts of the United Kingdom at midnight on freedom day;
    (2) The countries referred to in sub-section (1) above shall cease to be members of the European Union one second before they cease to be part of the United Kingdom.
    (3) Rockall shall remain as a part of the United Kingdom and the European Union, but with no territorial seas, waters or airspace higher than a gannet may fly.

    5. The United Kingdom shall continue to exist with Rockall as its sole member.

    6. (1) The Westminster Parliament shall continue as the Parliament for England with members of the House of Commons representing constituencies within England remaining as the English Parliament.

    (2) The various bodies exercising devolved powers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are vested as the respective Parliaments for those respective territories.

    (3) All members of the House of Lords are expelled from the House of Lords with effect from freedom day.

    (4) No person who has been a member of the House of Commons may ever be a member of the House of Lords.

    (5) No person who has held an office of profit under the Crown, or has by his employment ever been disqualified from membership of the House of Commons, may ever be a member of the House of Lords.

    7. All remaining matters relating to the United Kingdom, from freedom day onwards, including the matter of the National Debt of the United Kingdom, shall be addressed to the gannet colony, Rockall.

    8. (1) The Royal Navy, having been founded by Alfred the Great, shall in its entirety, along with the rest of the Naval Service, become part of the Armed Forces of England on freedom day.
    (2) Her Majesty’s other Armed Forces, apart from the Royal Navy, shall be apportioned between the various countries who cease to belong to the United Kingdom by virtue of section 4 (1) above.

  • Sam Duncan

    I’ve said for years, long before the SNP even held power at Holyrood, that the actual consequences of the establishment of a new Scottish state are far more likely to be English independence and the ultimate obliteration of any remnants of Scottish sovereignty under the weight of Ever Closer Union. So as far as that goes, I absolutely agree.

    However, some of us are stuck here with family commitments, among other things, so forgive me if I don’t join in with the rejoicing. And rest assured that in the event of a “yes” vote, I’ll be doing everything humanly possible to retain my British citizenship, even if it means being treated as a foreigner in my own land. I do not intend to go down with the SS Salmond.

  • Paul Marks

    It would indeed reshuffle the pack of cards if Scotland left the Union.

    And I suspect we need (really need) a reshuffling of the pack.

  • Laird

    Mr. Ed, what is the fascination with the Island of Rockall? Does it have any strategic significance whatsoever, or are you carving it out merely to poke your finger in Scotland’s eye?

    Perry, am I correct in assuming that in the event of a “Yes” vote the increasingly exuberant participants in the London Party Scene will be toasting their good fortune with something other than Scotch whisky (since you spelled [or is that "spelt"?] it without the “e”)? :-)

  • Regional

    England should secede from the Union as it has to heavily sudidise the other three.

  • PeterT

    I would for sentimental reasons prefer Scotland to remain in the union and would not see what benefit disunion would bring for England that proper devolution would not; that is they pay their own way and have no hand in governing England (west Lothian question resolved)Except of course that England by itself would be more likely to leave the EU.

  • Laird, I would assume a welcome influx of Scotland’s best and brightest to London would probably still prefer to do their partying fuelled with whisky (I tend to drink bourbon, so I spell it Whiskey by habit).

  • Fraser Orr

    As a Scot (living abroad) a thought for you… I never quite got this whole independence from England thing. After all, at the Union of the Crowns it was the Scottish King that took over. So, England is more like a colony of Scotland, isn’t it?
    OK, so we had that German guy, but we all prefer not to talk about him what with that whole war thingie.

    Of course the fact that the King scarpered off the London as soon as he got the crown and never returned, might be a precendent for what all the modern Scottish lords of productivity will do. It is surely what I would do.

    However, here is a data point that I find a little troubling. What I hear from my Scottish relatives is almost exclusively how much they want toe independence vote to succeed… I find it utterly baffling. The matrix of the whole thing is tribal xenophobia with a patina of economic and political justification.

    What I want to know is when we are done with the independence from England thing, when can we start a national dialog on an independent Glasgow? We Glaswegians are sick and tired of those snooty Edinburgers and their attitude. Time for Glasgow to go “Smiles Better” on its on. “Let Glasgow Flourish” by the ditching of these East Coast leaches on the good Second City of the Empire.

  • RAB

    Horrid pragmatist here…

    So far Wee Eck (Alex Salmond to you) has said that he wants Scotland to be am independent Nation, free of the centuries old hated English rule. To throw off the hated oppressor and grow magnificent in the reflection of their own sunlight!

    Er… except he wants to keep the Pound Sterling, and not introduce the Porridge, Malt or Haggis as the National Currency. He wants to keep the Queen as Head of State, and naturally remain a member of the EU. Um… in what way can this be described as “Independence”?

    Well the leaders of all real political parties down South have told him he can’t keep the Pound, and the EU have told him that he will have to re-apply to join the EU, and if they do, will have to join the Euro.

    Scotland will vote NO. And even if they voted ( in a fit of madness/nationalistic peek, yes) then they would be back within 18 months, cap in hand, begging for us to bail them out again like we did in 1707 when the whole country went bankrupt over a South Sea Bubble type scam.

    Either which way, there is no getting rid of the fuckers! ;-)

  • Tedd

    Is there realistically any way the UK (or England) could stop an independent Scotland from using the Pound? We have the same issue here in Canada with Quebec and, as I understand it, if they want to use the Canadian dollar there’s bugger all we can do about it. Of course, being Quebec, they don’t just want to use the dollar, they also want to mint their own. You have to admire the chutzpah of that. Whether the ROC has the backbone to stop them from doing that remains to be seen, but I rather doubt it.

  • Eric

    I don’t see how the details could work to anyone’s satisfaction. People in Scotland pushing for independence have this dream of funding their independent state with North Sea oil. I can picture the UK allowing the Scots to go but I can’t picture the UK allowing them to take the silver as they leave.

  • Nick (Blame the French!) Gray

    Ed, I disagree with you on point 6)(3). I like having two chambers of government, as it puts a brake on rampant ambition. Perhaps the lords could be replaced by the Englishpersons of the year, a permanent appointment to the upper chamber. They could all get the same salary as the PM.

  • Mr Ed

    Laird, Rockall is basically ‘F all’ unless you are a tired sea bird. It is basically a lump of rock in the north Atlantic that cannot sustain human habitation for long periods. The utility of Rockall is that it was only incorporated into Scotland in 1972, so if it is detached from Scotland and declared British territory, the UK could remain in existence post expulsion of the various countries in it, thereby absolving those countries of the National Debt. It would be a bit like absorbing Washington DC into Maryland and ‘moving’ it to the smallest Aleutian islet you can find, ignoring for simplicity Alaska’s claim.

    There is no great fishing zone to be claimed from Rockall, as It only has a 12 mile limit, not a 200 mile fishing zone, due to the lack of human habitation. The UK’s fishing rights were handed over to the EEC anyway.

  • I can picture the UK allowing the Scots to go but I can’t picture the UK allowing them to take the silver as they leave.

    I would love to see a 100% Independent England, oopse, I mean Scotland, with them getting 100% of North Sea Oil. I love the idea of forcing Whitehall to raise all its money from actual taxpaying people rather than pumping the civil servants’ pay out of the ground.

  • I tend to drink bourbon

    Good man, me too.

  • The North Sea oil money is largely irrelevant, as the Scots will find a way to spend it three times over before it’s even pumped: Norwegians they ain’t. The more severe damage is likely to come in the form of heavy-handed, ill-thought out regulations which not only clear out the North Sea operators, but also turn Aberdeen from a pretty capitalistic centre of oil and gas excellence to a grey northern shithole from which most companies, wealth, and smart folk have fled. Aberdeen has somehow escaped the attention of the London government and has largely been able to develop unhindered into probably *the* centre of global oil and gas excellence…but it is a delicate thing, and I’m sure the temptations of a Holyrood government to interfere would send everyone packing in short order.

    What does amuse me is that a lot of the Scottish oilfield expats I know are rooting for independence, assuming that their new passports will be recognised instantly by the shitholes they’re working in. I expect they’re going to find there is a delay of several years between independence and the developing world getting in place the administration to deal with these new visa applicants, during which they’re going to be struggling to find work.

  • staghounds

    Buy on the rumour, sell on the news.

  • dfwmtx

    Questions:
    1- Which side will rebuild Hadrian’s wall? If it goes up, will it be rebuilt according to original specs, or an updated design as presented in the docuemtnary…sorry, action movie “Doomsday”?
    2- how will this affect the tourism? Will crossings be as easy as in the EU, or will there be checkpoints like the Cold War East Berlin-West Berlin transit?

  • Mr Ed

    The new ‘Wall’ will be like the Ceuta border fence after a few years, but always wetter and colder.

  • Sam Duncan

    “The matrix of the whole thing is tribal xenophobia with a patina of economic and political justification.”

    Yep, that’s about the size of it. I am absolutely convinced that all this can be traced back not to 1707 (or, gawdelpus, 1314… it’s seven hundred years ago, guys; let it go), but to the 13th of March 1873: the day the Scottish Football Association was founded. If it hadn’t been for that, we’d all still be North Britons. Even all Sir Walter Scott’s sentimental tartan-draped fictionalisation couldn’t prevent “N.B.” being perfectly normal in postal addresses well into the 20th Century. There was always a small clique of kilted and bearded loonies, but it’s the idiotic tribalism of football that popluarised the idea that Scots are Special.

    “in what way can this be described as “Independence”?”

    Because… shut up!

    These people pushing this contradictory nonsense of “independence in Europe” are either stupid or lying. As usual with politicians, it’s extremely hard to figure out which it is. Given that when the President of the European Commission advised that a new Scottish state would find it “very hard” to join the EU they claimed that he didn’t know what he was talking about, I tend towards the former. But either way, their dupes supporters are in for a shock if they win.

    “I can picture the UK allowing the Scots to go but I can’t picture the UK allowing them to take the silver as they leave.”

    Oh, I think it would. There’s not much it could do to stop them.The question is whether the rest of the EU would allow them to do with it as they wish. I strongly suspect that one of its conditions for allowing them in (along with the Acquis in its entirety) would be oil becoming a Common European Resource, like fish. They’re desperate to be an EU member state, but unlike the UK, with almost 70 million people and one of the world’s top 5 economies, they’d be bargaining from a very weak position. They need it vastly more than it needs them. To keep their promise that their new state will absolutely, definitely, 100%, be “in Europe”, they’d have to swallow some pretty hard and jagged stuff.

    “Which side will rebuild Hadrian’s wall?”

    The Nats, of course, witheringly reply that there are no border posts in Ireland. But Ireland isn’t in the Schengen Area; they want to be. Of course, should the RUK choose to leave the EU altogether, all bets are off. (Presumably it would negotiate a bilateral deal with the EU over borders and customs. And, of course, the Scots would have no more say in it than Malta. Independence!)

  • Phil Ossiferz Stone

    /rereads twice

    So… OP is rubbing his hands and looking forward to the dismemberment of his nation and the further distortion of the national economy that already owes 300%+ more money abroad than it generates in commerce at home.

    I’d read about the nihilism overtaking modern Europe, but I’ve never had it shoved in my face before.

  • OP is rubbing his hands and looking forward to the dismemberment of his nation…

    If it was up to me, there would be an Independent City State of London, mate… or at least Southern England.

    …and the further distortion of the national economy that already owes 300%+ more money abroad than it generates in commerce at home.

    Scrap the NHS, abolish the DTI, halve public spending, sit back and experience the biggest economic boom in centuries. Never happen of course but it has nothing to do with getting rid of the very different political culture that is Scotland.

  • Roue le Jour

    Tedd,

    Is there realistically any way the UK (or England) could stop an independent Scotland from using the Pound?

    Yup. You just refuse to let the Bank of Scotland open an account with the Bank of England directly or via an intermediary. That’s the beauty of fiat currencies. That’s also how the US twists the Swiss banks testicles.

  • Laird

    “Is there realistically any way the UK (or England) could stop an independent Scotland from using the Pound?”

    I’m not entirely sure that Roue le Jour’s suggestion would really work, but why does it matter? Why does England care? Lots of little countries us the US dollar (for example) as their official currency, and they are functionally hostages to the Federal Reserve. If an independent Scotland used the pound as its currency it wouldn’t be much different than if it used a commodity-based currency (such as gold): it wouldn’t have the ability to print more pounds, so it couldn’t indulge in the time-honored sovereign practice of inflating its currency. Which means that, relatively quickly, it would have to live within its means (once it ran out of creditors willing to lend it money, and the EU and/or other nations stopped bailing it out). Sounds like a fine result to me.

  • Fraser Orr

    Scotland can use whatever they want for a currency, including the Pound Sterling. The only way to stop that is by the English actually enforcing some sort of export ban on the pound itself. The Scots can use haggis, tatties and neeps for currency too if they want, though it might be a little awkward to carry about in your pocket.

    The underlying question, the unspoken assumption, is not about what the Scottish people use as a currency, it is to what extent can the Scottish government control that currency (and to a lesser extent, what does the government accept as tender for its services and taxes.)

    The Scottish government wants control over the currency both so that they can inflate it, and so that they can tax it, which are in a sense the same thing. Neither seems particularly appealing to me. I like the haggis, tatties and neeps idea better.

    Of course the EU will make their own demands about this, should the Scots decide to jump from the frying pan into the raging hot boiling cauldron… but that is a different story. The Auld Alliance was never really good for Scotland, as far as I can tell.

  • Roue le Jour

    I quite agree, Laird. There’s no reason why the UK should stop an independent Scotland using sterling if they so wish.

    I was simply making the point that from a certain perspective, fiat currencies are a hierarchical computer network with the central bank at the top. If you’re not connect to the network, you can’t deal in the currency. Nations that have control of their own currency can prohibit connection.

  • Tedd

    Roue:

    I was thinking what Laird articulated more clearly: Why would they need a central bank if they’re using the Pound?

    Quebec’s idea was to have their own central bank, but one that was authorized to print Canadian dollars, as part of their terms of separation. Perhaps they thought the rest of Canada was so keen to see them go that we’d be willing to agree to something that ludicrous. Or maybe they’re just unrealistic dreamers.

  • Mr Ed

    Tedd,

    Why would the rest of the UK need a central bank?

  • Sam Duncan

    Actually, now I think about it, we’re all missing the point. It’s actually a whole lot more mundanely political than any of this.

    The SNP is terrified that the Scottish clearing banks would lose their right to print banknotes.

    It’s as simple as that. It’s a hugely important part of the sentimental Scottishness that the Nats trade on, and if it were to be lost, in favour of Holyrood-issue Euros, they’d end up with huge quantities of egg on their faces. They, the great Nationalists, responsible for killing the Scottish banknote. Not good.

    That’s where their panicked Damascene conversion away from EMU comes from, and their desperate attempts to woo their former bugbear, the Bank of England. Simply using Sterling, while economically and practically possible, isn’t politically acceptable, unless the authorization for the three Scottish banks to print notes can be maintained.

    And I don’t see it happening. Mainly because the EU wouldn’t give them any choice in the matter.

  • Roue le Jour

    Tedd,

    That may have been what you were thinking, however I don’t believe it is what you asked.

    Checking with the Wikipedia entry on central banks, I would say it’s not a matter of not needing one, it’s a matter of strictly speaking no longer having one, as what you have no longer meets the definition.

    I do note, however, that countries which use the US dollar (e.g. Ecuador) do still claim to have central banks. Perhaps these would be more accurately described by some other term?

    As Sam says, it’s all academic anyway. If they left the UK they would be forced to use the euro, although my money’s on them staying.

  • Mr Ed

    Hong Kong and Barbados have currencies fixed relative to the US dollar and use currency board systems to ensure that they don’t inflate the currency down.

    A quick read of this fairly good Wikipedia article and one wonders where Scotland might range on the spectrum from Hong Kong to Argentina. At the point of Union, the Scots pound was at 12:1 with the £ Sterling, rather than parity. Would a new Scots Pound go ‘South’? :-)

  • Roue le Jour

    Mr Ed,

    I freely admit I don’t fully understand the benefits of fixing a currency to another rather than actually just using the other outright, which is why I chose Ecuador, which actually uses the dollar, rather than the examples you gave. The Wikipedia article you cite seems just to compare fixing to floating, rather than fixing to replacing.

    Is just a matter of pictures on paper? Or is it that you can disconnect in an emergency? Can someone enlighten me?

  • Mr Ed

    Roue,

    If what I have read is to be given credit. It is a matter of that strange concept ‘national pride’ to have bits of paper with local heroes’ faces on them, and maybe a wish to start printing as soon as a chance appears, never let a crisis go to waste etc..

    The European equivalent to Ecuador is Montenegro, which uses the Euro without being ‘in’ it, so it has no say in interest rates, but probably benefits from that.

    The mystical, alleged benefit of ‘setting your own interest rates’ is about as beneficial as setting your own body temperature, rather than letting it be what suits the conditions and your underlying biochemistry.

    Perhaps Argentina is the best example of when fixing their peso to the USD was just too much, when so much could be stolen by debasement, given the local political traditions, the dollar peg was ‘disappeared’, along with vast amounts of money over the years.

    Still, the advantage of a currency board system is that you could switch to a different base currency, or perchance, gold.

  • concretebunker

    I think Liberia attempted to use the US$ ran out of the real stuff then printed its own version! It promptly fell like a stone.

  • Kirk Parker

    Mr. Ed,

    Be Still My Beating Heart!

    About your first comment, not this, about which I can only weep–but you’re joking right???

    the UK’s fishing rights were handed over to the EEC anyway

    And (my, but you’re prolific!) it turns out that somehow (mirable dictu!) there’s no Effectiveness section in the Wik article on that border fence.)

    Fraser,

    There aren’t enough LOL’s to do you honor! (But the Sots among my ancestors insist I try!)

  • Mr Ed

    Kirk,

    This article might be a pointer on fishing and the deal the UK, Ireland and Denmark’s EEC accession.

    http://www.sovereignty.org.uk/features/articles/fishing1.html