Monday 25 August 2014

Why Scotland won't be independent

This evening, Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond is set to debate the issue of his country’s independence, once more, with leader of the anti-independence campaign Alistair Darling [see Note 1].  According to the BBC (which, unusually for the BBC, actually got it right this time!) the main subjects are likely to be: Scotland’s currency, the NHS and the remaining oil reserves in the North Sea.

And that’s precisely why Mr. Salmond will lose.  Not the debate (I don’t know about that, and it does not really matter), but the impending referendum.

Mr. Salmond may be a brilliant communicator; but he is a lousy strategist and apparently also a political rookie.  Which is why he has allowed the anti-independence campaign to set the tone of the entire independence argument, anchoring it firmly in the murky waters of economics.

And why is this going to lose the referendum, from Mr. Salmond’s point of view?  Simply – because no reasonable individual believes that Scotland should be independent just so… the Scots should be slightly better off – say by £200, £500 or even £1,500 a year on average.  Being a bit better off is not a bad thing, of course; but it’s no reason to set up an independent country – and it never will be.  A reasonable argument could probably be made that the inhabitants of Greater London might also be somewhat better off if they got rid of the rest of the UK; but such argument won’t persuade them to declare independence!

And that's the argument for independence??  Err... no!

So tonight a lot of Scots will hear talk of currency, healthcare and oil and will shrug impatiently, thinking: “What has all this to do with anything??”

There is only one good reason to establish an independent country – it’s called national self-determination.  That’s why Indians fought for independence, not because leaving the British Empire made them better off economically [See Note 2]!   Mr. Salmond should not be debating oil reserves, but – if indeed he believes in it – the right of the Scots to safeguard and further develop their own national culture, their own distinct flavour of humanity.  Either Mr. Salmond and his Scottish National Party are genuine Scottish nationalists, or they are not.  If the former, their line should have been: “Vote for independence, because we Scots are a distinct nation, a separate people with our own rich culture and long history; we are not English!”  If the latter, than they have no case and are wasting everybody’s time.

Simply put, one cannot ‘sell’ independence as if it were a used car or a pound of tatties in the market.  Wrong sales pitch, Mr. Salmond!

Note 1: a previous edition of this article has erroneously stated that Mr. Salmond's opponent in the debate was Douglas Alexander.  This has been brought to our attention and has now been corrected.  Apologies for this mistake.
Note 2: one of our Irish readers has remarked that "you didn’t have to go as far
as India for an example. We [the Irish] experienced something similar a quarter of a century before India had had enough".  We agree with the reader that the Irish example is closer and perhaps better than the Indian one -- and it proves the point even better.  We are grateful for the suggestion and the feedback.


  1. Regardless of whether one is in the “Yes” or “No” camp, a good starting point is to know something about the subject. Beginning with who is on the debating panel.

    This short (it would have been agonising if it had been any longer) article displays a total ignorance of the subject.

    Better sticking to something a little easier. Snap or Happy Families might be a good start.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, though we find it a bit harsh. We have corrected the mistake regarding Mr. Salmond's opponent in the debate -- thank you for pointing out that error. As for the rest, since you did not concretely mention the points of contention, we cannot respond.

  2. I will concede that I was, perhaps, a little inelegant in using the last sentence which I withdraw. Otherwise, my observations still stand.