Scottish Independence poll
The SNP conference is about to get under way in Inverness and again the question of Independence is on everyone's lips. Now if you haven't noticed, I am Scottish although I live and work in England and have done since 1991. Prior to that I lived in Inverness for 10 years after coming out of the British Army in which I served, also for 10 years. Prior to my time in the British Army I spent the first 15 years of my life in Coatbridge, which was an industrialised town nearer to Glasgow than Edinburgh.
Ever since I was a kid I can recall, from time to time, the clamouring outcry of nationalism from people and from some Scottish newspapers, usually just after England had again demolished the Scottish football team in another one sided match and that it was time to go independent, and that the 1707 treaty forming the Kingdom of Great Britain should be dissolved. Another source of discontent back then (when I was a kid not 1707 - I'm not that old) with many Scots and one that still exists today, is, TV News and Sports commentators who would be commentating on international sporting events where the Great Britain Team would be participating. If someone from Scotland, Ireland or Wales was doing good and looked on course for a medal it was so and so from team GB but as soon as it looked as if they were out of the running for the win/medal, then they suddenly didn't/don/t belong to team GB any more but suddenly revert back to being Scotland's or Ireland's or Wales Joe Blog and this really is annoying. And then the English wonder why, and complain bitterly, when other parts of the United Kingdom are routing for any team in a competition rather than the English; it's not difficult to understand under the circumstances.
Now, as a kid some of those calls did, from time to time have some resonance with me, particularly later when I began to take a little interest in history and politics and reading, becoming more informed about 'my past as a Scot', I would get angry at the treatment of the Scots at the hands of the English. But then you really have to temper that with the realisation that it was not just the Scots who were treated abominably by the English, the whole world was treated the same way by them; they colonised the greater part of the world and in many instances brought order, not that Scotland needed it, although much of the country still lived in poverty, as did much of England and the majority of the population were nothing more than serfs to their masters in the aristocracy as it was the same in Scotland, but those were the times. The same argument rages today with the minority controlling politics and the banks and in some cases governments, but at least the populations of most countries do have a semi fluid choice of who they elect to govern them today, back then they didn't.
In modern times we have seen countries and races demanding apologies from other countries and in some cases reparation of lost lands and fortunes for the ills visited upon them by ancestors and in many cases apologies have been forthcoming, slavery of black Africans, the Highland clearances of Scotland (although it is worthwhile pointing out that this was also done for and by the convenience of some Scots and not just by the English), Ireland, India, Native Americans and the list goes on, and in many cases apologise have been forth coming from Prime Ministers and Presidents. But when is enough enough, how many times are the sins of our forefathers visited upon us.......
And this brings me to the question of Scottish Independence, the SNP and clearly some Scots are still upset with the sins of the English and Scottish forefathers who allowed the Union of the countries of this small island to take place and rather than forgive them for it, they don't just want an apology, they want to take back their independence as well and be recognised as a country standing on its own two feet within the British Isles. The only thing that surprises me at the moment is that there is not a greater and louder voice from the English to be rid of the ungrateful Scots!
I listened to a brief interview this morning on TV with Alex Salmond, leader of the SNP and Scotland's First Minister under devolution. Now the interviewer was BBC Breakfasts Bill Turnbull, seems like a nice guy but he is no heavyweight interviewer, but he did ask a couple of questions, one of which was on Defence and 'Scotland's Army' and Mr Salmond seemed to say that 'we' would not rely on the English for 'our' defence and that 'we' would have, "our own army".
Now, you will recall I am Scottish, I am proud of being a Scot. It is also important to note that I do not have a lot of time for British (or any other) Royalty and I think that they are an anachronism that we as a nation could do without , but, as well as being Scottish I am also British and proud of it and I really cannot understand why some in my 'Home Country',(for it is, after all, still Scotland, a country within the Kingdom of Great Britain), are calling for independence over devolution.
On the SNP's home page they compare Scotland to Sweden, why? Why should they need to compare Scotland to anywhere? Sweden is 5 times larger than Scotland. The estimated GDP for Sweden in 2010 was $337.893 Billion compared to Scotland's (for the same period) of £137.774 Billion. So there really is no comparison that I can see and being 5 times larger they probably have lots of untapped energy resources that they can find and exploit! Whereas in Scotland 'our' oil which will never be given up by the English, is beginning to run out, or so we are told, and if it isn't why are we still paying through the nose for fuel at the pumps?
Scotland, as far as I can tell is being funded by tax payers from across the United Kingdom; This is paying for the free prescriptions, the free care for the elderly, the free bus and travel passes for the retired, the free university places, none of which are available to the English or us Scots living and working in England. Mr Salmond wants full Independence and no doubt he will want to get his hands on the oil to continue to pay for these social causes, but how long will it last, if he gets his hands on it. Does it generate enough income as it stands at the moment to pay for all these things and then to include an Army and a Navy and an Air Force and a full defence policy?
How does he propose to create jobs to get people into work who will then be paid and in turn pay taxes? If there is a wonder plan for the creation of jobs, why wait until Independence, create them now, and don't be selfish, tell the rest of the UK countries how to achieve this so that they too can get people into work that doesn't currently exist!
You will recall in the first paragraph of this post I said that I came from Coatbridge, an industrialised town to the East of Glasgow. I left in 1971 at 15 as all of the manufacturing and smelter plants were declining and closing down and thousands were thrown onto the scrapheap. Places like these have never recovered either in Scotland or anywhere else in Britain or across the world and yes, while there have been some betterment of employment figures in most countries the days of massive factories employing thousands have long gone and the education of the masses in this country does not turn out today, at the end of schooling of our children , with the level of competence or skills required for future employment. In the face of that where, again, are the jobs going to come from to allow people to work and pay taxes to maintain the benefits currently enjoyed by the Scots through the monies given back to them from the rest of the United Kingdom?
Do the Scottish people really believe that the small population that they have can sustain them as an independent nation through taxation? Are they being lulled into thinking that as an independent nation that membership of the European Union and that handouts from Brussels will replace the handouts from London? I don't know, but what I do know is that the British Isles is a relatively small island. It has been living under one Flag for 300 years relatively successfully and I see no reason to break it up. It's strange that the SNP want to be the architects of destruction of the United Kingdom but then want to join the European Union. It seems to me that the EU was set up to bring a stronger integration between countries in the EU and whether you like it or not this has happened. In some things the EU seems to usurp national governance and while there is a hue and cry about it life goes on, so I really don't understand the need to leave the Union.
Population of Scotland
Population of Sweden