According to the Herald, Angus Robertson in his pitch for the deputy leadership said that the potential downsides of independence must be acknowledged. He thinks that the last indy campaign was too rosy and happy clappy, and he’s got a fair point. In its desire to present a relentlessly positive campaign, YesScotland didn’t speak much about the downsides.
And there are many of them, many things that we’d no longer benefit from after we’d become independent. Our cultural life would be severely diminished. After independence we’d be deprived of the reporting genius that is Nicholas Witchell and no longer would your news reports make a Brylcreem salesman seem shiny oil free. The Royal family would become avoidable instead of an obligatory imposition into our consciousness. How can we survive without daily updates on what Kate is wearing, and on all the work that they do for charridee. How will you get through your day without knowing about the travails of a guy who is married to someone who is related to someone who is married to someone who is somewhere in line for the throne?
We’d lose out on wall-to-wall telly coverage of the England cricket and fitba teams and the progress in international competitions of Wayne Rooney’s hair transplant. Since bakery is Great British, we’d no longer be able to bake cakes, except for the Dundee cakes, of course. And the scones. And the Kirriemuir Gingerbread. Imagine the very horror of an entire nation that had forgotten how to bake a sponge. This would surely come to pass without the soggy bottom of Britain.
In the sphere of politics, we’d miss out on the foresight and forward planning of the Conservative party, as so ably demonstrated in the aftermath of their EU referendum galactofuck. We’d no longer benefit from the impeccable sense of timing of the Parliamentary Labour Party which invariably chooses a time of Tory weakness in order to turn on itself in another of its spats of internecine warfare. Worse of all, instead of allowing the wise heads of a Brexit voting rest of the UK with its peculiar fascination for the politics of UKIP to choose our governments for us, Scotland would have no option but to pick a government for itself. That’s a weighty responsibility that most of the Scottish Unionist media firmly believe we are not capable of.
We’d no longer benefit from the wit and wisdom of the House of Lords. Michael Forsyth would become just a failed Tory politician who managed to lose all his party’s seats and not an elder statesman. George Foulkes would no longer be the star of Strictly Dancing with Polis and Michelle Mone would be just a bra saleswoman who is lacking in support. None of them would be held up as national treasures, it’s not clear how we’d survive without their sage advice and expenses claims. But most seriously of all we’d no longer be able to rest upon the broad shoulders of the UK, the ones that have no head on them.
We’d fail to benefit from an economy that’s run in the interests of the financial sector of the City of London. The one that’s about to lose its passport to trade services in the rest of the European Union. We’d no longer make our happy contributions to building the London transport infrastructure that the global city demands. Instead we’d be forced to spend the money on our little parochial railways and roads here in Scotland. How awful that would be eh.
Scotland would lose the protection of Trident missiles, which our current Chancellor Phil ET-Call-Home Hammond informed us when he was defence secretary are the only thing standing between us and a potential threat from outer space. Somewhere, deep in a dark cold vacuum other than the one between the ears of a Tory MP, there’s the interstellar spaceship of an ancient and technologically advanced race of aliens just waiting for Scottish independence because the only thing deterring them from conquest is an Astute submarine that failed to make an orbit of the Isle of Skye and Type 26 frigates that haven’t been built. Instead of spending our 10% share of the £200 billion cost of Trident and losing the 500 odd jobs that depend on it, Scotland would be forced to spend £20 billion directly on creating jobs that didn’t contribute to the potential destruction of the planet. Imagine how awful that would be.
But downsides cut both ways of course. And the next time we have an independence referendum we need to speak more forcefully about the downsides of remaining a part of the United Kingdom. Our jobs and our pensions are not going to be safer if we leave Westminster in charge. Outside the EU the Tory party sees Britain’s future as a low wage low skills and low tax economy, where a small number cream off the wealth of the country and the masses grow increasingly impoverished. The NHS in England is already being privatised by stealth, and if we stay in the UK it’s going to be increasingly difficult for a Scottish government to resist the pressures to do the same as budgets are slashed. Our employment rights will be disembowelled, our retirement age will recede ever further into the future, and we’ll have to continue working away at our zero hours contracts non-jobs until we finally drop.
As Angus Robertson pointed out, establishing a new independent state is a big task. We’ll have to start to clean up the mess that we’ve been left in by the dysfunctional UK. That’s going to be a challenge. But the point of independence is that we will have the tools and resources to be able to do so, to start to build a better country that is fit for all, to create a dignified life for all of Scotland’s inhabitants. If we remain in the UK, things will only get worse. Our future is less secure, more uncertain, if we allow Westminster to continue to make decisions on our behalf. The downsides of independence are as nothing by comparison.
Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of @lumi_1984, https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/downsides-of-independence-5th-august-2016
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