Sunday, September 14, 2014

So, last Thursday I blogged about the upcoming Scottish referendum on it's independence due this Thursday, and why I thought it was a bad idea. Predictably, some people didn't agree with me, and one person in particular was passionate enough to write a full rebuttal to my post (which I personally don't agree with) but in the interests of not being totally bias (I reserve my total an unashamed bias of things for Canada, which is awesome) I asked this person if I could publish their response in full here and they agreed as long as I kept them anonymous. For those of you that don't care - I'll leave the politics after this one response and get back to my normal schtick soon, I just feel this deserves recording in my on-going blog of Oman (which I'll read back to myself in the future) as this is the potential ripping apart of the country I'm from.

So, "William Wallace" wrote this....

First of all I would like to echo the sentiments of Ms McKie, I also sincerely hope the next week and a half passes without any disturbances, I am hopeful it will.

I couldn't agree more with your opening statement that the Scottish Referendum has absolutely nothing to do with Muscat or Oman. 

From that opening point it went very quickly downhill.

I am Scottish by birth and Scottish by choice so it would be very easy to say that I am bias but one thing worth noting before I continue is that I am not a Nationalist.  I will leave that up to Better Together campaign with their intolerant immigration policies campaign and their constant battles against the EU.

Having read your piece I feel I need to get an idea of how far back we are going here and make sure we are both talking about the vote that is taking place on 18 September 2014

I'm not being flippant, well, maybe a little, but, although "It's Scotland's Oil" was a mantra used by SNP but it was during the 1974 General Election which of course went on to spark the '79 referendum.   I'm pretty certain Salmond was probably a teenager at the time and it was William Wolfe together with Gordon Wilson who headed up the SNP and the iconic campaign you mentioned. 

That's by the by but ultimately it is STILL our oil if you want to talk borders. 

Anyway these hydrocarbon tax revenues are all estimates, of course they are, they can be anything else and these ominous reports of a dwindling supplies have been thrown at us before.  In 1979 we were told the same scare stories and then, surprisingly, we hit an oil boom in 1985 by which time Thatcher had crippled our economy and industry.  We had little time to think about a second referendum before we hit another oil production high 1999.  

Were we lied to or is it just really difficult to know how much there is of something that is partially undiscovered? 

Probably a bit of both.

Whatever way you look at it, oil and gas are assets but as to how much is left is becoming a redundant point.  I mean we are going to have to slow down or stop production eventually otherwise we will be saying our goodbyes to The Netherlands and a few thousand windmills.  In my view It would be a priority for Scotland to create an Oil Fund and begin to immediately invest in our already substantial renewable energy resources.  Wind, Solar, Biomass and Hydro, that's our future, not just Scotland's but on a global stage and with more than 40% of Scotland's electricity coming from renewables in 2012 we are already in an extremely strong position.  Not only that but we are continuing to produce more energy than we use and as a result we exported more than 26% of electricity we generated last year.  

Moving quickly on to your subject of Sterling, the Great British Pound, I think it has now been made abundantly clear that we won't know the outcome of this particular debate until all the votes have been counted.  What we do know is that Salmond has put forward a number of different options and David Cameron has a signed an agreement that confirms the UK government, in the event of a yes vote, will agree currency terms that are best for both Scotland and the UK.  I do wonder though, am I the only person underwhelmed by the fuss surrounding the currency? Whatever happens, the short term solution may not be perfect but the idea that our economy will be thrown into abject poverty is ridicuous.

Now, since I am not an economist (prize winning or otherwise) I have no Idea what that agreement will be and as a result I have to trust that whatever the outcome, both Scotland's and the UK's interests will be paramount to the conclusion of the process, there is no reason for this not to be the case.   As for the debt then yes, Scotland should and must take responsibility for their share but only if there is a currency union.  The reason the UK has this debt is simply down to the fact it has borrowed against the Bank of England's capital and with a currency union you can't expect to proportionally split the liabilities and not the assets.

I did wonder how long it would take to bring up the EU. 

First of all, there is no mechanism in the European Constitution to expel more than 5 million EU citizens.  It is also highly likely that Scotland would be “exempt” from a new member application process as it is already a signatory to core requirements for nation states because of its 40-year membership of the EU as part of the UK.  That said, if the other EU countries did have to vote I would find it very difficult to imagine the would say no to the largest oil producing country in the EU and one that exports the levels of renewable energy that I mentioned earlier. 

With regards to the Schengen agreement then again, we don't know if this will even become a consideration and it depends if Scotland is considered to be a new EU state.  Even then the suggestion that there would definitely be a border in place is ridiculous and has absolutely no real foundation. Ever traveled from mainland Britain to the Republic of Ireland?

As for being forced to join the Euro then although it is unlikely it could depend on whether an independent Scotland remains part of the European Union with Britain's conditions.   You probably want to have a read through Articles 139 and 140 of the "Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union".  These articles apply to all Member States without a euro opt out, whether old or new, whether accession or not.  Specifically Article 139 sets out that "Member States with a derogation" do not participate in the single currency and Article 140 makes it clear that euro membership is not automatic.  When an EU lawyer argues these points I'm inclined to pay more attention to him as opposed to Alistair Darling stuttering through half sentences while wagging a condescending  finger.

Democracy!? Okay, now you have got my attention.  This is what we are really talking about here.

"A Democratic Farce"

Sorry, I just need a bit of time to let that sink in.

Up until this point I had a diminishing splinter of respect for both your opinion and prose but this remark is incredible.   Did you dream this and write it down thinking it would be a good idea?  It really is quite extraordinary. 

I remember in the mid nineties I heard Crispin Mills of "Kula Shaker" fame say he thought "Hitler had the right idea".   As you can imagine, I was petty taken aback but I came to realise that it might have been taken out of context but your quote - "this referendum is a democratic farce".  

That's up there.

Before I go on I think it's probably worth pointing out that this is not just a vote for us Scots, I think we all need to be on the same page with this.   There are around 55,000 non Scots EU citizens currently working and living in Scotland that will be eligible to vote.  On top of that there are around 500,000 English voters who live in Scotland and who will get a vote next week.   

That is more than 10% of our population.

We could debate about the fairness of those Scots living overseas not getting a say but since Independence will fundamentally impact those people who currently exist in the current economic and political bubble that has been created by Westminster, I think that's probably the fairest way to do it.  It's not without its flaws but it is what it is. 

Let's move on to Scotland's part in the current democracy setup.   During the 2010 General Election a massive 80% of the seats went to SNP and Labour and despite only one Conservative seat being awarded we ended up with the abomination that was a Tory and Lib Dem coalition.  Quite simply, we were given the reverse of what we had voted for. 

Explain to me how that is fair! 
Explain to me how that is democratic!
Explain how that is not a farce!

I am too frustrated to get involved with your bizarre passport comments as you seem to have already demonstrated there is no real issue and as we will hold British Passports we will also be entitled to use the British Embassy for the time being. 

What I would like to do is go through some of the other points you have just thrown out there at the end of your little rant.

The National Health Service is currently run by the Scottish Parliament and government and will remain so.   In terms of health policy, Scotland is already effectively independent but with a yes we will be full control of the budget.  The Scottish government will continue to fund all the health services it currently provides, including cross-border services.  Medical experts have already made clear that the contracts currently in place to provide for cross-border treatment would carry on in exactly the same way.

The current Scottish Government intends to use BBC Scotland’s resources to build a dedicated Scottish Broadcasting Service funded by licence fee, set at the current BBC level. The existing BBC charter expires on 31 December 2016, and the SBS will begin broadcasting on TV, radio and online on 1 January 2017.
Our Pensions
There is no current pension pot, there never has been and it will continue to be those in work paying the current pensioners.  Seeing as how Scotland has the highest employment rate of any country in the UK (as of 2014 Budget) then this is under control. Perhaps we can also spend some of that money on improving our poverty forced mortality age that is currently 6 years lower than the rest of the UK.  Aside from that however, the Scottish Government has guaranteed to continue to pay every state pension after independence including all the rights you have built up to enhanced pensions such as through SERPS.  The Department for Work & Pensions has confirmed that UK pensions will continue to be paid in full, even if Scotland becomes independent.

Armed Forces
Currently £3.3 billion of the UK’s defence budget comes from Scotland’s taxpayers but only £1.9 billion of defence spending comes to Scotland.  The Scottish Government’s proposed defence budget is £2.5 billion which will give us a better defence capability and a saving of £800 million every year. Westminster also plan to replace Trident a yes vote will save Scotland £100 billion over the lifetime of this replacement. Detailed plans have also been published for the Scottish Defence Force, designed to ensure that Scotland can  secure its borders, land, air space and sea, deter attacks and protect its citizens and assets whilst making a contribution to peace keeping under the auspices of the United Nations

As for your ludicrous comments with regards to tuition fees, I am just going to assume you don't understand how this works?  Clearly you don't have the faintest idea of how the Scottish Parliament has enabled this and I don't have the time or energy to explain to you the difference between Devolved Powers and Reserved Matters.  Google it!

In closing, I feel I need to convey that our reasons, or certainly mine, have nothing to do with greed or spite as you have alluded.  As a nation we want to continue to share what we have and that is why I believe we will prosper and remain part of the EU, exporting our oil and renewable energy, sharing our research an our industries.   

Put simply, we want to be in control of our own future, we want the people in charge to understand the impact that political decisions will have and more importantly we want a government voted for.

We are a nation of innovators, inventors and  scientists and there is nothing to suggest that we will stop contributing on the level we have previously and continue to now.  Despite this naysayers have continued to suggest that the Scots are incapable of financial, political or economic decisions and as a race we are genetically inept at coming to any sensible conclusions on our own.  Perhaps they would do well to remember that the Bank of England was a creation a Scotsman in the name of Sir William Paterson, modern economics was founded by Adam Smith and David Hume is still regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of political philosophy.

Ask yourself this, if we were such a drain on the rest of the UK why would Westminster be fighting so hard to keep us?

That's my take the (2014) referendum.  

Note: The yes voters of Scotland are not voting for the Alex Salmond. We have been asked the question "Should Scotland be an Independent Country?" Not "Is Mr Salmond a charming man and one you wish to be crowned King?"


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much to the writer of this post for articulating so well what I had neither the time nor energy to do. I was wholly enraged by MM's original post and am glad we now get some sensible perspective. I have Scottish friends voting no for their own reasons. I dont agree with them but I respect their democratic choice to do so. It is far more difficult to accept the inaccurate ramblings of people who dont even understand the basics. The media bias in this whole campaign has been shameful. Im glad Im no longer contributing to the BBC licence fee. Yesterday in Glasgow there were thousands of Yes campaigners dancing in the streets yet nowhere was that broadcast. The BBC showed a small No contingent and conveniently lost their live feed when a Yes banner appeared. I am disgusted by the media manipulation. There have also been blatantly false articles about Scottish soldiers based outwith Scotland being banned from voting in the referendum. It is such utter sensationalist tripe. Im happy to say that here in my military compound in Oman at least 3 yes votes have been cast!

Anonymous said...

wow.. that was so dull.
Does anyone in England actually give a toss?

Anonymous said...

The referendum isnt about England it's about Scotland. If you're not interested no-one is forcing you to get involved in the discussion. If I were English (or Welsh or Northern Irish for that matter) though I would be very interested given the outcome will affect the rest of the UK massively. Even in the event of a no vote things have changed forever. There is no going back to the status quo. Your attitude though sums up exactly why Scotland needs to go it alone. Westminster doesnt give a toss about us either, except when it's in their own self interest. How can you fail to be interested in one of the most momentous political decisions of our time?! Westminster also woke up to it too late. In Scotland we've been discussing the referendum for years. The media & Westminster seem to have only decided to give it a thought in the final weeks!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I can only assume the highly articulate individual above with comments such as 'boring' and 'who gives a toss' has returned to his colouring in.

Sythe said...

To the original writer of this response; he asks a few questions and my responses (Whether they're right or wrong) are as follows:

Regarding Democracy:

1. It's not particularly fair that Scotland voted lots of Labour but it's a predominatly Tory government. Much the same way that it's not fair that I voted for the Green party (I didn't) and they didn't get power. Scotland must accept it's a smaller population and the point of democracy is it is for the majority of the people. And thus it is democratic, especially given devolution of powers to Scotland to control some of the things they care most about. And thus not a farce.

2. I call this referendum farcical because for everyone to vote in the UK you must be 18, this is because it's deemed an age where people start thinking like adults. Yet Scotland lowered this age to 16 and then blocked anyone who was Scottish but not currently living in Scotland from having a vote on THEIR country. It's just wrong.

3. A currency union just won't work - Scotland won't be able to influence policy on the Pound and it's threatening to default on it's share of the national debt if it doesn't get it's way. Why would the UK sign up to allow a foreign power control over it's currency? It wouldn't.

4. There is a mechanism for removal of EU citizens. If you leave a country, you forfeit all the rights you had as being a citizen of that country. If Scotland strikes out on it's own, the simple fact is that it has left the UK and is thus not a member of the EU under the UK anymore. Which means Scotland would have to apply for membership to the EU - as CLEARLY stated by the then European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in a letter to a member of Britains upper chamber of parliment in 2012. This letter stated: "If part of the territory of a member state would cease to be part of that state because it were to become a new independent state, the (EU) treaties would no longer apply to that territory," This was Reiterated last week by European Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen who stated that the EU executive's position HAD NOT CHANGED. And guess what? There's a queue for membership of the EU, and all new entrants are FORCED to join the Euro (which is why a currency union wont work).

This is FACT. Not scaremongering. Fact. It means there CANT be a lasting currency union between Scotland and the United Kingdom. And it takes my breath away that people so blindly think it will be something different than this.

Do you think that Spain, with it's Basque separatists are going to vote in favour of Scotland joining? I doubt it. Baltic European states with their Russian separatists? I doubt it.

Scotland is gambling, and it's not a sure bet.

As for the Anonymous commenter who says this isn't about England, it's about Scotland. That's a bit like opening an all night open-air nightclub inside of a residential neighbourhood and telling the residents of the neighbourhood it's nothing to do with them.

In the final question from "William Wallace" and to retort to the anonymous commenter; Why is "Westminster" fighting so hard to retain Scotland? It weakens the UK as a whole on the world stage, and destabilizes the national security of the UK to boot. But mostly, it's ripping friends and families apart.

Anonymous said...

If independence goes ahead, best start sucking up to the Shetlands and Orkneys. They have the same views of 'distant government' regardless of it being London or Edinburg and could just as well have their own referendum to a) Join rUK or more likely b) Join Norway. At which point this bottomless well of oil to support the economy goes with them.

Anonymous said...

'Scotland must accept...', why must Scotland accept this!? In the event of independence Scotland will always have the government the majority of people in SCOTLAND have voted for. That is a democracy!

Anonymous said...

It's strange they are letting 16 and 17 year old vote, EU citizens who are residents of Scotland, and Commonwealth citizens who are residents of Scotland.

Anonymous said...

Ultimately the vote affects the people living in Scotland regardless of their nationality. The result of the vote will have the biggest impact on the younger generation which is why it is important that they have a say.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

I was an acting member of Canada's Youth Parliament at age 16, representing the Malahat Jaun-de-fuca riding of British Columbia. My vote didn't influence the governmenet but our party's overall stance influenced as a consultant party the majority government of the opinions of the youth in Canada towards national and provincial issues.

I think 16 year olds can vote. I think at 16, I certainly was more well-read and researched about the poltiical and economical ties of politicians than my grandmother... ect...

We've studied our country's government in exactly this year of school and the year before so it is exactly the right age to have a concept of how it all works.

The majority of candadian citizens over the age 0f 35 polled couldn't even say who the head of the Canadian government is and how election work. Whereas, 90% of 16-18 year olds could. I think that says something.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Excuse my typos. This keyboard is broken;)

Anonymous said...

Sythe, you have to realise that Scottish independence is not a destination, it is merely the start of a journey. A lot of the points you mention are with a tone of finality when, in actual fact, they will provide a lot of interesting political debate before agreements are concluded regarding EU membership, currency etc. What I would say is that Scotland would have a very strong case to present as they are now and will continue to be a very tradeable country due to its vast resources (not merely oil, that equates to around 15%).

Although I am fairly well travelled, unfortunately I do not know any Basque separists so I have no idea of their wants and desires.

Your comment that families and friends are being ripped apart is hyperbole to the extreme...we're not replicating the Berlin Wall!

Anonymous said...

'Scotland's oil will last for 40 years. Westminster's oil will last 4 more days'

Proud Scot said...

The referendum is about a positive future (after some bumps in the road) and being away from the quasi-US led current UK parliament with the 'born to rule' public schoolboys. It is showing confident in the Scots being able to govern their own country.

Begbie said...

More shite than a Glasgow public toilet

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