Alba Gu Bràth

Is there anything Australian actors can’t do? 😉

Seriously, though. I got sick of publicizing an ex-politician at the top of my blog, and thought a discussion of Scotland’s secession vote next week might be worthwhile.

I’m still trying to get my head around the ramifications of Scotland seceding from the United Kingdom. What do Scots see in it for themselves, beyond an emotional boost? So far as I am aware, Scotland is officially a mendicant nation, relying on economic support and welfare from England. How are they going to pay their oversized public service, teachers, nurses and firemen?

Scotland’s native economy has been in decline since the end of the Second World War. Once one of the world’s great centres of heavy industry, Clydeside shipyards once produced over half of Britain’s shipping tonnage. Locomotives, heavy machinery and agricultural equipment all flowed from Scotland’s shores. But no longer.

You can’t run a national economy on whisky and tourism (the world’s best malt whisky isn’t made in Scotland any longer, anyway). And while much is made of its new, high-end industries like micro-electronics, software and biotech, these are information- and capital-intensive industries, not labour-intensive, and will never employ more than a tiny fraction of the nation’s two-million-plus workforce. The same goes for banking and the finance sector. Scotland is too large to be a banking haven like Liechtenstein or the Channel Islands, yet too small to be a global financial hub like London.

So why do Scots want to secede from the Union? Is is a purely emotional thing? I could understand that if it were true. The earliest non-convict ancestor of mine to arrive in Australia was a fellow from Aberdeen back in the 1830s. The inferiority complex, born out of history, still burns many Scots today, or so we are told.

There are some logistical issues surrounding Scotland’s secession too. The flag is a prime example. The Union Jack without the Cross of Saint Andrew looks rather anaemic and awkward. And the flags of Australia, New Zealand and indeed all Commonwealth states and colonies currently sporting the Union Jack would likewise have to be altered. Maybe that’s how Scotland is planning to support itself in future—as the vexillogenic capital of the world.

Then there’s the monarchy. Scottish Independence leader Alex Salmond says he is in favour of the Queen remaining the head of the Scottish state (and indeed of Scotland remaining in the Commonwealth), but many of the loudest proponents of Scottish independence are out-and-out republicans, or even Marxists. This is a bit odd, because when William (who is descended, through Diana, from the House of Spencer and the Jacobite kings of Scotland) is crowned king, he will bring a very Scottish strain to the royal bloodline, for those who care about such things.

In the end, the decision to secede is entirely up to the people of Scotland. I’m fond of them now, and will be just as fond of them after the referendum, whichever way they jump.

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24 Responses to Alba Gu Bràth

  1. farmerbraun says:

    The reasons why Scotland should vote Yes

    The money markets have finally woken up to the possibility of an independent Scotland.

    To anyone who is part of the Scottish diaspora, such as this writer, Scottish nationalism is a no-brainer in a connected, globalised world.

    Small nations can do better than big ones if they adopt pro-business and free-market policies that emphasise competitiveness, innovation and lack of regulation.

    Few would argue New Zealand would be better off as part of Australia, given even the most generous disposition to that country’s politicians.

    The Scotland Yes campaign has moved into a majority for the first time, indicating the pro-union politicians – usually MPs from the Scottish Labour Party – are failing to sell the message that Scots would be economically worse off if they lost the subsidies from London.

    One of the most serious threats is the loss of the UK currency, which is losing ground against the euro.

    It is not unusual for a country to use another’s currency
    – even without permission by merely pegging it – and London would be silly to force Scotland to use the euro, though that might be a wiser choice for the Scots.

    Successful small countries with free-floating currencies are the model to follow, examples in Europe being Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland (all non-euro); Ireland, Finland, Estonia and Luxembourg (euro).

    It wouldn’t be too big a stretch for NZ chief science adviser Professor Peter Gluckman to invite Scotland to join his small nations innovation and research cluster that also includes Israel, Singapore, Ireland, Denmark and Finland.

    Opponents point to uncertainty about Scotland’s financial system, which relies on the Bank of England to guarantee its banks. While no solution is perfect, Nordic countries have much to offer in how to handle banking crises, not to mention Australia and New Zealand or Singapore.

    Prudent management, of course, is supposedly a Scottish virtue so running its own central bank should not be impossible.

    Viable economic independence rests on access to North Sea oil revenues but is not the end of the story. Scotland ranks the third-highest region in the UK in output per head and will have a manageable budget deficit if it absorbs only 8% of UK debt (based on population).

    Welfare and employment demographics and rates are comparable and possibly better than the UK as a whole, while external trade, access to capital and fiscal policy might possibly improve as Scotland made itself more clearly identifiable on the world stage.

    The tourism industry has been told an independent Scotland would reduce punitive travel taxes for overseas visitors and a low business tax rate would be a boon for overseas companies wanting to be based there.

    While it seems silly for Scotland to have to go through a European Union accession process, surely it would immediately adopt free trade agreements as the norm, not just with the EU and UK but other countries, such as New Zealand and Australia.

    This would put it one up on London, which has studiously ignored trade developments in this part of the world and, in fact, has largely obstructed Antipodean aspirations on just about any economic, political and social initiative you can name (except, of course, the Royal family).

    Ironically, if the UK without Scotland votes to leave the EU in a planned Conservative-backed referendum, Scotland would surely end up better off.

    All of these positive outcomes could fail if Labour-style policies become entrenched over
    entrepreneurial ones.

    One recent study on employment shows Scotland has performed as well as the UK in jobs growth and this has been concentrated in the private sector.

    A portent is that Scottish voters have no Conservative MPs in London and not all nationalists are pro-business.

    Scotland’s leading political party will need to reject union-dominated Left politics and Business for Scotland, a lobby group, needs more traction against those favouring the status quo.

    Whether money market uncertainty over the post-independence currency will continue remains to be seen. So too is the effect on the sharemarket, which has seen a big selloff in companies with large exposure to the Scottish economy.

    It wouldn’t be the first time the money markets have got it wrong.

    The National Business Review

    Polls consistently show about 10% of Australians and 9% of New Zealanders favour political union with Australia (though the possibility is provided for in the Australian Constitution). But the two situations aren’t comparable. Scotland isn’t separated from England by an ocean. And New Zealand’s isolation forced it from the very beginning of European settlement to be self-sufficient, and concentrate on industries suited to its land, climate, people and geography.

    In fact, a better comparison IMHO would be if Tasmania considered secession from Australia. Which it won’t, as it would be bankrupt within about 72 hours. It goes back to my earlier point, how could an independent Scotland expand its economy to provide work and food for its 5-million-plus population? I agree deregulation would be a great start. But they will need to do so awfully quickly – Oz

  2. Ozboy says:

    I hear the British Labour Party is desperate for Scotland to stay in the Union. This is because it currently holds 41 of the 59 Scottish seats in the Commons, and will find it extremely difficult to govern in its own right again if the Scots secede.

    So in England there is bipartisan opposition to Scottish independence. Nigel Farage has also weighed in (H/T Bufo), siding with Cameron and Millipede. Though Farage argues that a Yes vote, far from giving Scotland independence in any meaningful sense of the word, will merely replace rule by Westminster with rule by Brussels.

    I reckon the Irish must be enjoying a little chuckle at all this, no?

  3. farmerbraun says:

    ” how could an independent Scotland expand its economy to provide work and food for its 5-million-plus population? ”

    I’m not sure that expansion is needed. total redesign might be what’s need.

    It depends on what future scenario is being planned for. But a nasty period of readjustment may be inevitable , regardless of which option- stay or leave the Union-or which future scenario- more of the same or the cold wind of reality- actually comes to pass.
    It could be that taking the drop now will prove to be the best long term option, providing that your aim is a self-sufficient /self -reliant/self-governing association of autonomous libertarians.

    No work- no food might not be a bad policy.

    Agreed – but a mighty big call for what, as I said above, is an officially mendicant state. Changes in mindset are needed, from whence economic changes will naturally flow – Oz

  4. karabar says:

    I think a more appropriate parallel is Quebec’s bid for separation in 1995. The NO vote was more than 50% by precisely 100 votes……..out of six million.
    Had those 10 votes gone the other way, I am certain it would have resulted in civil war. It is the main reason I am in the Southern Hemisphere. I thought that the Parti Quebecouis was on track to win the referendum. The PQ had tabled a declaration of independence in the National Assembly. It was essentially the US one from 1776 translated into French. It would have left a colossal national debt to be paid by the ROC (rest of Canada).
    Personally I like this Breitbart article on the subject

    LOL – a brilliantly back-handed bit of praise for Scotland. Hoots mun! Oz

  5. They wouldn’t be so mad…..Would they?

    You’ll be needed to design a new Union Jack, Fen. The one which the government has planned looks anaemic and sickly:

    Union Jack

    Any suggestions? Oz

  6. This one was obviously rejected as they crossed it out.

    I quit liked the old one. If the Scots continue using the pound without our approval, We’ll continue using the Scottish flag without thiers. It won’t be long before they surrender and negotiate a new peace agreement anyway, it seems a shame to change it in the mean time.

    Failing that I think I like the Idea of a lion and a dragon, in a sort of Riders of Rohan style elaborate intertwined graphic, with some gold around the edge perhaps.

    ……It’ll create jobs for flag makers, and stop people trying to make home made versions.

    It would also be the coolest flag in the world.

    Now you’re talking. The sort of banner that would frighten the bejeepers out of an enemy on the battlefield.

    Now I think of it, James’ brother Dick Delingpole is into historical battle re-enactments; he might have an interesting opinion on this. I might ask him – Oz

  7. Ozboy says:

    The more I think about it, the more I realize that Australia is inextricably entwined in this issue. The flag business is merely emblematic of this. Here’s the wiki article on Scottish Australia. It says there are 1.8 million Australians who claim some Scottish ancestry (I’m one). The list of prominent Scottish-born Australians is long and distinguished, and includes names from Lachlan Macquarie, the father of colonial Australia, three-time Prime Minister Andrew Fisher, our first saint, Mary MacKillop, Nobel laureate virologist Sir Macfarlane Burnett, to Bon Scott, Angus and Malcolm Young, rock gods of the universe. Surely the Scottish diaspora worldwide should have some sort of say, the way the Italians do?

  8. Ozboy says:

    The whole royal thing’s got me wondering, too. Prince Philip is the Duke of Edinburgh. When he croaks, his youngest son Edward will inherit that title (which is why he’s still only an earl, while his brothers are both dukes). But won’t it seem ridiculous to have aristocratic landed titles outside the United Kingdom? I mean, no Australian would stand for any British royals declaring themselves to be the “Duke of Sydney”, the “Baron of Brisbane” or the “Earl of Adelaide”. So perhaps Scottish titles may have to go?

    And after that – where would it end? If the Scots go, I reckon Cornish nationalism will be next. I’d be willing to bet that the Duke of Cornwall (who happens to also be heir to the throne) might just receive an ultimatum from his peasants…

  9. Of course Oz, we could add a Koala bear to our banner, but I fear it will spoil the whole effect.

    True… best keep Aussie icons out of it – Oz

  10. farmerbraun says:

    ” best keep Aussie icons out of it ”

    Tell David Campese to shut up?

    Yeah right!

    He’s got a mouth on him, that’s for sure. But when you’re as good as him, I suppose you can afford it – Oz

    This is still the best Rugby try I’ve seen, on debut vs the Barbars in 1982. Sheer sorcery:

  11. Ozboy says:

    On that score FB, what’s going to happen to Lions rugby tours? Will they still include the Scots? Or maybe we should just have a Northern Hemisphere vs Southern Hemisphere series every other year (between World Cups)?

  12. I like the Queen Anne flag. Remove the Scottish Lions, replace them with dragons for Wales and we’re in business!—5-x-3-flag-3932-p.asp

    Thanks for stopping by Dick.

    I guess battle flags aren’t as important now half the actual fighting is done either by robots and drones, or at such a distance that you can’t see the enemy anyway. War ain’t what it used to be – Oz

  13. farmerbraun says:

    Whereas this guy didn’t speak much; didn’t need to really:-

  14. Ozboy says:

    The website What Scotland Thinks has compiled this aggregate of about 90 polls over the last year asking the same question as the referendum: Should Scotland be an independent country?


    What’s interesting about this graph is that the No vote has been consistently around (or just under) 50%, while the undecidededs have been swinging overwhelmingly to Yes. With a week to go, there are still around 7% undecided, which would suggest to me a small but comfortable Yes victory is likely.

  15. Ozboy says:

    OT, but Bill Shorten’s accuser has today told her story to the Pickering Post (WARNING – graphic detail). (Update: Part 2 of article here. The woman says she became pregnant as a result of the rape and had a miscarriage four months later; saw a string of psychologists, and reported the rape to police twice, all long before Shorten rose to public prominence. She provides names, dates and places.)

    Not sure what to make of this, actually. A very thorough police investigation into the matter concluded that, without witnesses, forensic evidence or a confession, and after the passage of so much time, it boils down to he-said-she-said. You can’t take a case like that to trial, and the Crown Prosecutor rightly declined to pursue the matter. And our legal system says you are innocent until proven guilty.

    But Larry Pickering seems to believe this woman’s story, to the point where he has staked his reputation on it, and declared that if she is shown to be lying he will apologize to Shorten and close his blog permanently. She has also (apparently) turned down some big-money offers to tell her story in the MSM. Either she’s delusional, or the alternative Prime Minister of Australia is a rapist.

    Interestingly, Andrew Bolt came out very early on in this story (long before Shorten’s name had been mentioned) and declared that he personally knew the politician in question, had spoken privately to him about the allegations, and was completely satisfied with his (Shorten’s) denials. Completely convinced, in other words, that his accuser – a woman he has never met – is either delusional, or an embittered and/or vexatious liar. Quite a leap in the dark, I’d say.

  16. Ozboy says:

    Back to Scotland – P.J. O’Rourke weighs in with his usual utter solemnity…. not.

  17. Ozboy says:

    Now this is interesting. Harking back to my article in July, it seems that separatist movements around the world are taking a keen interest in the Scottish referendum, hoping a Yes vote will add public interest and momentum to their own causes. The Flemish, Catalans, South Tyroleans, Kurds and even Texans are hoping the Scots can achieve democratically what they have been agitating for for years, often violently. If Scotland secedes, it could very well have a snowball effect around the world.

  18. izen says:

    Well the answer is NO.

    A irrelevant bit of political theatre with little relevance to political/economic independence and interdependence of nations, states, regions and municipalities is thankfully over.

    Bar the endless postmortem and arguments about other constitutional reform.
    Sigh. Surface froth and film-flam that distracts from more substantive factors that really affect the well being of the majority of the population.

    G’day Izen,

    I think in the end, the very canny Scots voted with their wallets, er, sporrans – Oz

  19. meltemian says:

    Bit of a let-down this morning, I was hoping for something a bit more exciting than ‘Business as Usual’. Now there’s nothing to look forward to but a lot of haggling over the ‘Midlothian Queston’ and the ‘Barnett Formula’.

    Hi Mel,

    I wonder, how long will it be before the Nationalists start the whole circus again? Also, whether Scotland’s No vote will put a dent in other separatist campaigns, particularly Catalonia’s, which appears much larger and better-organised than Scotland’s – Oz

  20. farmerbraun says:

    There is an election on in Godzone, but it only matters to us residents. Polls close in three hours time, and with luck the incumbent National Party will be returned with a stiffened -up right wing . . . we hope.
    The electoral campaign was highjacked by a vindictive arsehole by the name of Kim Dotcom, but he proved finally to be a complete wind bag, having promised for weeks to depose the Prime Minister.

    A bit of an oddball, that dotcom bloke. What’s New Zealand to him, beyond a flag of convenience? Oz

  21. farmerbraun says:

    Kim Dotcom believes that he was quite deliberately given residence in NZ , against all recommendations , because NZ has an extradition treaty with the US.
    He’s pretty pissed off; but he’s dog-tucker anyway.

    Anyway , very good result in Godzone.
    One libertarian (ACT Party) candidate made it , with the help of a nod and a wink. Greens and Labour are both licking their wounds.

    In a higher dimension somewhere, Piggy’s having a little chuckle too – Oz

  22. farmerbraun says:

    For the first time since we changed from first- past- the- post to proportional representation, a party is is in a position to govern alone without coalition partners.
    However , as always , inclusion is the name of the game , so we will see the National Party in coalition with the Maori Party, and the other two centre-right parties.
    The Greens tried hard to milk the climate vote, but the public has had a gutsful of that nonsense.
    And in difficult economic times nobody wants higher taxes and increased welfare ; working people are doing it tough and are disinclined to part with more money to help bludgers.
    Hence the swing to the right.

    Soon it will be Oz’s turn ; lower income , company and trust taxes. Raise GST and include everything; keep it simple. Adjust welfare to compensate those at the bottom disadvantaged by a higher all-inclusive consumption tax (GST).

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