Monday, September 8, 2014
I can understand the passion that fuels those who favour independence - I'm a big fan of Irish independence after all. I'm just not sure why the Scottish want independence in 2014. The Scottish enjoy considerably more freedom to manage their own affairs (political, economic, social and cultural) than the Irish did one hundred years ago.
From various conversations with Scots over the years, I think some of it is a visceral hatred of the English that is as bad, if not worse, than the kneejerk Brit-bashing that was a familiar refrain in Ireland until recent times. Though not any more. And if it isn't as crass as that for many pro-independence advocates, then there is undoubtedly a big streak of anti-Tory sentiment. Let's face it, this wouldn't be happening if there was a majority Labour government in London.
Still, hatred only gets you so far: in the end you have to be for something, not just against everything. Nor will a 'rational' case for independence do: there are as many (if not considerably more) reasons to rationally favour retaining the status quo as there are for changing it. All that talk of tax revenues from North Sea oil might have worked back in the 1970s: but output peaked in the 1990s and has plunged since. Scotland won't be the next Norway, on the economic front anyway. Though it might be the next Norway on the social policy front, given the recent announcement of a state guardian for every child in Scotland.
Independence will likely mean economic turmoil - if not deep economic depression - for many Scots for the first decade or two after independence (unless the English taxpayer comes to the rescue, but frankly, why should they?) We had the best part of five decades worth of depression in Ireland, but hopefully they can learn from our mistakes in that regard.
But... even that might be a price worth paying if independence unleashed creative forces of construction that would make Scotland not only a better place to live than it could ever be as part of the United Kingdom but also an inspiration to small nations everywhere who wish to set out on their own path to the future, away, for example, from the lowest common denominator of globalisation and consumerisation.
The thing is, I suspect that following a new path is the last thing the SNP wants to do. Theirs is very much an ideology of Big Government, Big Spending and Big Taxes. Politics is their religion and Government is their God: they just want more direct control and the political power that goes with. Which is all very well if you're into that sort of thing - politics, after all, is just the negotiation of power between interested parties. But most people aren't that interested (though at times like this they probably should be). A Scotsman I know describes the SNP as a cult. He's obviously not a member, but then again 95% of people aren't members of political parties in most democracies.
I'd back a 'Pearse' any day in the cause of national independence, but I'd back away from a 'Machiavelli'. I'm still conflicted.