Independence thoughts

When Mood Music
2013-06-29 15:35:00 contemplative my NAS consolidating old backups

I’ve kept quiet about this online until now, mostly because I believed I can’t add to the debate and partly because I wanted not to make a fool of myself online. But this week’s spending review has tipped me over the edge, so here goes.

Reasons I’ve considered voting for the status quo

  • In general I’m not in favour of extra borders and divisions. We are one species, living on one world. The only borders that make perfect sense to me are geographical ones, because these naturally give rise to genetic and cultural differences. Even then, such borders should be administrative borders, not reflections of or encouragements for you’re not one of us, so I’m going to beat you up mentalities.
  • Similarly, I’m not keen on UKIP, BNP and those of their ilk, nor am I any fan of the current UK government. Removing sources of opposition to those might help condemn my England-dwelling friends and family to more of such unpleasantness. (It has been pointed out that the number of Scottish MPs is nowhere near enough to prevent the UK government doing things that Scotland – or the rest of the UK population – might not want.)
  • For whatever they were worth, some of the senior members of the previous government were Scottish. Assuming Scotland can produce more worthwhile politicians (read ‘more’ however you want), should the rest of the UK be denied their talents?
  • The upheaval that might be caused by independence would strain the Scottish Government and civil service more than it can take. The civil service already under huge strain due to reduced head-count and increased tasks. For example, Scotland is about to take over two forms of taxation (landfill revenue and a replacement for equivalent to stamp duty), along with some responsibility for the Scottish rate of income tax.
  • Nor do I want an extra government that can get into debt, or have an army of its own.
  • The current government is, I’m reliably told, reasonably competent and coherent. Independence may well lead to the SNP dissolving into factions. I’m not a natural fan of coalitions and scrabbles for bits of power.
  • Scotland would have to renegotiate its position in Europe and a lot of treaties to do with international relations – more strain on the civil service.

Reasons I’ve considered voting for independence
My preference would have been for more devolution, so that the first ‘pro-status quo’ argument fell. But that’s not currently an option, so here goes.

  • There are some cultural differences between England and Scotland. Should administrative borders not reflect and nurture regional cultures? (Having said that, I tend to think ‘this is our culture/tradition, so we’ll keep on doing this’ arguments are loathsome and stupid.)
  • The current Scottish Government has said it will get rid of the nuclear weapons in Scotland. I’m all for that, especially if leads to a reduction in the total number of nuclear weapons.
  • If there are going to be armies, I’d sooner they were under local control.
  • The current UK government is, to me, a pernicious bunch of lying, incompetent, stupid, evil tossers which whom I wish no association. Reducing the number of people they can influence for the worse might be a good thing overall. For example, the recent spending review  contains three pernicious pieces
    1. the amount of money that Scotland could ‘spend’ has increased – and has been portrayed by UK government as extra generosity to Scotland. Not true: the UK treasury has said ‘here is some money you can spend lend’ (I’m not sure whether such loans are restricted to businesses or can also go to individuals) but it must be repaid to the UK treasury. It’s not a grant or any form of generosity, it’s a way to eventually increase the UK treasury’s income with no guarantee that such profits will return to Scotland. I don’t think tempting people or organisations into debt is a good thing. Also, Scotland’s capital budget has been reduced, while the rules on how much can be spent in different areas have been tightened. So much for local democracy and the Scottish Government having control.
    2. Unemployment benefits will be denied for a week after a person has become unemployed. From what I recall, it already takes ages for benefits to arrive. Desperate people may well be forced into the hands of loan-sharks during this time. Reduce the amounts, tighten up the qualifications, turn benefits from grants to loans (to be repaid when income allows, like student loans) but for goodness’ sake don’t increase the number of dispossessions and other forms of debt-misery. I’ve seen debt collectors in action – very, very scary and the individuals concerned didn’t give a toss that I was unrelated and had nothing to do with the debtor concerned. (It’s possible that I’m arguing here against the increased availability of
    3. This one tipped me over the edge: the denial of benefits to those who don’t already speak English and will not take lessons. I’m all in favour of integration, which probably needs a common language so that good things can flow BOTH ways’. (I’m not in favour of the form of integration that says ‘you must become like us but even then you’re originally foreign so you can never become a first-class citizen’.) However those in need of benefits who don’t yet speak English may well be desperately in need, having arrived from war-torn or otherwise horrible places. Food, shelter and security from persecution and rendition are likely to be major priorities. Arranging lessons is likely to be far down their list of priorities.I agree that speaking English is likely to help with these aims, and I can’t imagine any sane person wanting not the tools to get on in his or her new circumstances. But unless the lessons are provided along with the benefits, then this measure is simply an instance of ‘shun the poor’ combined with ‘dirty foreigner’ mentalities.I’d also like to see how many people this measure will affect. If there are many, it’s a classic case of British injustice and I want nothing to do with it. If there are few, then it’s just a bit of popularist rabble-rousing while still being unjust.
  • There is no guarantee that future independent governments will be competent or even decent. Who can tell whether my place here in Scotland will remain secure. After all, I was born in England to foreign parents, one of whom still does not have UK citizenship after 50 years of living and working here, contributing to the UK economy for almost all of that time.
  • There is no guarantee that the UK government will continue to be as repellant to me as it currently is.

I realise that many of my pro-independence thoughts are emotional. Certainly I feel emotional as I write them. Perhaps its impossible to remain emotional about this. I would like to base my reasons on quantitative evidence but that’s unlikely to be the full story. For the moment, I’m very, very likely to vote for independence and just hope that the government and form of independence that might result are ones that no longer sicken me.

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