An independent Scotland or a listening Britain?

6 05 2011

This is just a bit of a brainfart based on what’s going on in my head after the elections. Opinion rather than a heavily researched blog…

How exciting were the 5th May 2011 elections?

Not very.

For years I was a labour supporter, as were my parents. The socialist element and the consideration for education and state were important to us. Well Labour pretty much fooled the chattering classes by dressing up as warmongering Tories in red and so my family turned our attention elsewhere, long before the bankers cocked up our economy.

The Liberal Democrats spoke a good game leading up to the General Election of 2010 but now we all know how they shafted their voters by climbing into bed with the Tories and then their true colours shone through. Their desire for power, that they would never get on their own, was greater than their desire to keep their promises to their voters. It’s a shame really as they had the potential to grow more influential but failed. Oddly the British public, fearing the unknown or just not listening to the newspapers of the time didn’t vote en-masse for the LibDems at the General election as expected. Perhaps they could see through the PR monster built around Clegg. I wouldn’t be surprised if slowly this party died off completely.

The Conservatives never change, they performed exactly as expected and at times exceed those expectations making Thatcher look like a loveable hippy communist. They are a vile bunch of privileged buffoons who for some reason manage to fool mainly but not exclusively, those in the South of Britain, that they adequately represent the country.

5th May 2011

In Scotland we had the Scottish Parliament elections on 5th May 2011. It was pretty much ignored by the London UK media until *surprise surprise* the Scottish National Party had a landslide victory.

Of course in Scotland this was no surprise, it was entirely expected, but it spoke volumes to the political commentators down South. The “big three” parties were all quite severely hit, all losing seats to the SNP. Now there are claims of the British political landscape changing. Do they honestly believe it will make a difference to those voted in by, yet blinded to the people?

For me, and many of the people I spoke to, the problem with politics lies with the fact there are only three, or four in Scotland, main parties. The choice is so limited and their policies so similar that there is no actual choice. When it came to my constituency vote for the Scottish parliament it was more a matter of elimination than a desire for my chosen candidate to succeed. That isn’t real democracy in action its picking the least worst from a bad bunch because you feel the need to at least say something.

There were more options on the regional “list” vote and having only one choice out of those available, meant that many good potential politicians were being left out. I would rather have chosen two from the regional list than voted for a constituency MSP.

I’m sorry Pirate Party, had Greens been a constituency option you’d have got my list vote.

Regardless it was done and within 24 hours it was widely known that the SNP had done even better than expected. They gained a majority of the seats in the parliament by a landslide.

Interestingly, their past as a minority government was fairly inoffensive as they had to negotiate with other parties to get policies and legislation through. To me, it’s not such a bad idea to do this. It meant introducing bills that took into account many of the views of the MSPs from differing parties and given the involved consultation processes in getting a bill through parliament, it was often more representative of the populations wants and needs. It meant things were pretty bland over the past 5 years but nothing too damaging was done. No massive damage to the NHS for example and no minimum pricing on alcohol.

It will be interesting now to see how the SNP perform with a majority. Now we will get to see which side of the fence they lie on. No longer can they perch in the middle, dipping their toe in both left and right sides while staying stoically in the centre. We will get to see the true colours of the SNP and it can be either quite exciting or totally terrifying.

It’s no secret the SNP want Independence for Scotland and judging by the differences between Scottish and English political preferences in elections, it may not be such a bad idea. For sure, Westminster do not adequately reflect the needs and wants of the Scottish people on national issues and haven’t done so for a long time, even pre-devolution. With only one (YES ONE!) Scottish Conservative MP at Westminster, there is currently no real representation in the British Government for the Scottish people.

The real problems arise when looking at the logistical nightmare that would be gaining actual independence beyond the vote. We already know England would not happily give up the lucrative oil industries in Scottish waters. What would Scotland’s defence system look like? What about the state benefits system or pensions? Would the BBC still be advert free or would it need additional funding or more governmental support? Would we become a republic or keep the monarchy? Would the UK become a federal state or would Scotland gain full independence and leave the UK? Would we stay in the EU or not? How would independence affect UK made legislations retrospectively?

What would this process actually cost the country? What would this process cost the tax payer?

I’ve already heard some people suggest we’d just take 1/4 of the UK finances as we leave, but does that include 1/4 of UK debt too? Scotland already pay a proportionally high tax thanks to their oil/gas industries, that both Labour and Tory governments have  helped themselves to with ‘one-off’ tax payments when they feel so inclined. Would we take a proportional amount of what we’ve put into the UK on a territorial basis rather than a human one?

What would happen if the Scottish parliament bankrupted the country? What if the oil actually did run out? Would there be the chance to go back or would we be on our own?

The entire situation is more complex than I can be bothered going into (or researching) but there are definitely a lot of questions than would need answering. I am neither completely for or completely against. I’d need to know some truths and not political spin.

Of course this is all hypothetical based on the results of a hypothetical referendum that may or may not be legal.

And for the legality of a referendum; as a fact-finding exercise, I can’t see how it would be breaking any laws, but the results would not be legally binding and that legality is what the SNP would hope for and need to make the transition from a devolved parliament to an independent state. The only party pushing for independence are the SNP, all other parties in Westminster and indeed Scotland appear to oppose it. Even if the Scottish people suggested they would like independence, as a reserved UK Parliament matter there is little hope of Westminster agreeing to it.

And then this opens up a whole new bag of worms, referring back to the fact that the UK Government do not represent the Scottish people well. If the Scottish people do not feel that Westminster listens to them, their wants and needs, what next?

A situation like we’ve seen in Ireland over the past 40+years? Egypt? Libya? Syria?

Will we see revolution? Would this be silent or would this be violent? Would it be political or on the streets?

This could be the start of something really interesting and potentially exciting, regardless of what the public want. Conversely it could be a nightmare.

It will definitely be interesting finding out.

 

 

 

For those unaware of the Scottish system you get 2 votes. 1 for the constituency candidate and 1 for a regional candidate. On the whole its a reasonable system. The constituency candidate is selected using the traditional First Past The Post system used in the Westminster elections.  The regional vote uses the Additional Member System where you essentially select a party rather than a person that you want to have that element of the vote. Based on a Proportional Representation system, the percentage of seats a party gets equates roughly to the percentage of votes the party gains in one of the 8 regions. Each party has a list of people who will get into parliament should they get enough votes.

 

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