Yer know… I love Scotland; the Highlands are the last great wilderness in Europe apparently. The history of the place is nothing short of staggering! There are more castles and fortified houses than you’ll find anywhere and the people? The people are awesome. One of my oldest friends is Scottish and I understand fully why he and his family are proud of their heritage.
Recently I took Gabsatrucker up there and showed her the basic sites; Glasgow, Loch Lomond, Fort William, Loch Ness, Inverness and Edinburgh, and while I’d have loved to taken her further north, sadly time simply didn’t allow.
Scotland is of course a major part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and through a thing called “devolution” Scotland now has its own parliament and has a fair amount of control over its own affairs, not everything because together we are one nation – not separate entities.
This has been both good and bad, Scotland is a credit to the UK as a whole, its history and traditions kept alive through tourism and investment from the greater nation, but there has always been a strong nationalist movement in Scotland who have wanted independence from the UK.
This is based mainly within its proud history, but the reality of life today is often quite different. Nevertheless, some of the “Freedom” chants are not always a brandishing of a historic nation – today some are just downright rude and out of order.
It’s funny I guess, the first time I noticed a difference apart from the culture, landscape and accent was as a child. We were on holiday up there when my mother noticed some of the “keep the place tidy“ type signs. You see in England and Wales they say “Keep Britain Tidy” but these signs simply stated “Keep Scotland Tidy”. It was as though they were all but saying “and F*ck the rest” – and I noted that at 8yrs of age.
Nevertheless there is now a real call to vote for independence… But this seriously doesn’t make sense. Scotland has a greater identity because it’s part of the UK than without, but you don’t have to go far to hear some interesting claims from our Scottish brethren. Things like “England takes all the money from Scottish oil” or “We pay all our taxes to England and what does Scotland get?” This infers that Scotland is being robbed by England and in turn shakes the historic references of England stole Scotland from the Scottish – which they didn’t – they actually signed it over to the then King.
So, while I have posted something similar previously on Facebook – I’ll point out the benefits of Scotland being in the UK and it not… and yes we’ll mention some money too – then I will tell you what I personally feel.
If Scotland leaves there will probably be a lot of unemployment and discomfort for a good few years.
As of 2007 the population of Scotland was 5,494,801 (call it 5.5m) and of these, only 2,475,386 (2.5m) are of working age – take away between 8 and 11% unemployment and of the remaining 2.2m only 80% of them are working at any given time. This leaves 1.76m people working and that is a major problem with income versus what has to be paid for. Best case we’re looking at 2.2m people working, supporting Health, Defence, Social Services, Govt/local authorities and Police/Fire. Now consider the upkeep alone of thousands of miles of roads, street lighting, snow clearing and then the pockets and mouths of the other 3.3m people…
What about the upkeep of the national heritage, all those castles and the history…
So contrary to popular belief, England DOES NOT keep all the tax… Spending £12 billion alone on Scotland’s NHS and in 2010 Scotland’s public spending was £78 billion pounds, not bad for a country that only raises around £35 billion in taxes etc.
So when people say England keeps all the tax, well, I’d say evidently they don’t… more the case they collect it and share it out across the UK as a whole… And remember, people in Northern Ireland get a bigger cut per capita than most people in the UK.
Then there is the loss of the military, if Scotland goes it alone, it won’t have an airforce, army or navy – it simply won’t be able to afford one. This of course means the disbanding of some of the oldest and proudest regiments in the world – one of the things that make Scotland just as proud a nation today as at any time in its history.
All joking aside, this issue is about the here and now, a 21st Century Scotland… Yet no matter which way around you look at the figures, they just don’t add up… You see these days people like their creature comforts, but when they see there isn’t the money for Hospitals, Defence and most other things – life would get very tough considering the sheer scale of the short fall.
However; the energy industry is an area that can be capitalized on – but in doing it, it would bastardise every acre of stunning beauty that is Scotland’s natural trademark to do so.
Financial services is another area already developing, but if you were to throw in a Free Trade Zone – then there could be a very big future. That said a free trade zone would put Scotland outside Europe.
Ok, My feelings on the subject:
Scotland just rocks!! And yes there is and will always hopefully be an age old rivalry between England and Scotland. The Scottish have done incredible things for the UK throughout its history and certainly while many think of Irish hard work building in the Empire, it was the Scottish who did most of the exploring and managing.
David Livingstone was one of the greatest explorers in the world, he found most of Africa, the best governors of Australia were Scottish and today there are huge Scottish communities in every English speaking nation on earth. Infact of all the UK nationalities, none move away from their home country like the Scottish.
In 300 years no one has prevented Scotland becoming its own economic goldmine and centre of global entrepreneurship… Yet today we live in different times, the internet age – a global nationality in cyberspace. Even the CBS Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson enjoys poking fun at England which is fine and fun, but then you find he soon left Scotland and lived in London, then moved to the US saying that his entire previous life was a failure… This is common and yet so many things were invented in Scotland;
The TV and Colour TV,
The Flushing Toilet
The first automated can-filing machine
The Ghillie suit
Pioneering the use of surgical and general anaesthesia
Identifying the mosquito as the carrier of malaria
The MRI body scanner
The ultrasound scanner
and of course “Swish F*ck-it” (sorry, I meant Golf…)
There are just so many more things, and an irony? The Bank of England was designed by a Scotsman as well and there are just far too many things to list here that Scotland has achieved. But the question remains, why isn’t Scotland a wealthy nation? No one put handcuffs on these inventions, they’re not stolen by England – they’re used by the entire world…
So Scotland has fewer than 2 million people working and over 5.5 million people, and yet at a recent stay in a hotel in Scotland – every single member of staff was eastern European, not a Scottish accent between them. I don’t want Scotland to leave the UK, I too am proud, very proud of Scotland – and yet I’m English…
Some attitudes are just too snarky, often said beyond humour and certainly recent comments by tennis player Andy Murray soon lost him a massive amount of support across the UK in his Wimbledon final… Is this the way we want it to go? Really?
Scotland would have to do a great deal if it left the UK and wished to join the EU, until it did, border controls would have to exist, all the British Military real estate and jobs would be gone over night making tens of thousands unemployed. The Scottish SNP leader has been touting this real estate to the US DoD but forgets that the US is reducing its UK presence considerably. They’ve already shut down their operations in Scotland for the most part and closed several major bases in England too.
Then there is the sheer cost of administration – all those UK passports held by Scots that would be instantly void and a Scottish one would need developing to replace them. What money does Scotland have for foreign embassies? What back up support can Scots be able to rely on while living and travelling overseas with a home country that spends £78 billion yet only generates £35 billion in taxes? I’d argue none… in fact I’d argue that beyond the romantic notion of an incredible history and days of old – anyone wanting to put Scotland through this is no Scottish patriot, in fact they gotta hate the place to even conceive of putting a nation through it. Heck the base rate of tax would have to be 60% over night…
To my Scottish friends… don’t accept the people with venom in their whinges, yes historic and rival piss-taking is ok, but know that England isn’t England without a bit of grief from Scotland. But likewise – don’t let the people who would foolishly destroy your country – do so.
Also remember; if Scotland goes it alone, you’d be saving England over £43 billion a year… and that constitutes a third of the UK deficit… add to this the cost of the Scottish Military and that’s staggering. Yet Scotland will be strapped for cash.
Go if you wanna, we don’t want you to, but if you go – you can’t come back :-(