Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Scotland The Practical

If I had been born in Scotland there's no doubt in my mind that the idea of independence would have a strong emotional appeal. As it is I've just chosen to live here in a country that to me is not, as the Joker chooses to call it, 'the best small country in the world' - what a daft phrase - but it's certainly the best place I can think of to live and would chose nowhere else. It's partly why I just don't get all the expatriate Scots who live over the seas or in England wagging on about Scotland as they do. Someone in the Scotsman comment column the other day said there would be a huge rush, behind Mr Connery, of Scots from overseas coming back to live in Scotland. As for politicians who chose to do their thing down south as far as I'm concerned most are there for what it means to them and their career rather than for Scotland.

So why do I question independence. Above all else it's the financial and practical issues of running a new and separate country. Back when I had a proper job it amazed me that one of the things that fascinated businesses was a new corporate identity. It enabled corporations to break from the past and launch off into a brave new future. The one thing that companies that did this always underestimated was how much it ended up costing them, and the practical issues that always rose to the surface. I think we face a similar scenario if Scotland breaks from the union.

Nowhere can I find anything substantial from the SNP about how much it will cost and how will it be managed. What will happen to the civil service? Right now many of the things that are 'government run are done so from England. Do we suddenly set up whole new ministries and departments to take care of the practical stuff? I'm not talking here about the big issues of defence and health but some of the more mundane stuff like the DVLC or pensions or foreign affairs. Does Scotland contact out services to English run government departments or do we have our own. How's all this going to work.

I know it's all rather mundane when compared with the emotional stuff characterised by a scene out of ‘Braveheart’, but it's really important. Boring it maybe, but it could also be very expensive. I wonder if it will ever be discussed in this election? I’m none to surprised no one in the SNP talks too much about it. The Salmon, on the TV ten days ago, was very glib about it all.


David Ross said...

You seem to be missing a very important point - with independence there will be zero unemployment. OK, it may create a nation of civil servants (we are half way there already), but everyone will be employed and happy.

Richard Havers said...

Damn, so that's the plot. What will happen is that each week there will be a whip round amongst all the civil servants and what's collected will be shared out amongst all of them. Can't say fairer than that.

r morris said...

The points you raise are excellent, Richard. At a time in Europe when nations are realizing the importance of their combined economic clout through the EC and the Euro, it seems to go against the grain to be pushing for independence. Even stranger to people outside the UK, who see Scotland and England as being basically the same country already in many ways (rightly or wrongly).

Ewen Bruce said...

The SNP remind me of an intriguing social phenomenon I’ve observed over a number of years. Go to any supermarket, do some shopping, then go and stand in a long checkout queue. You’ll see many women (there’s no nice way to say it, it’s always women) who have picked loads of stuff off the shelves; they watch it all being scanned then the total flashes up in their faces. They scramble around looking for their purses and cobble together some cash, some credit, and a few old buttons they found at the bottom of their handbag; shocked that it really did cost that much and someone actually has the audacity to expect them to pay for it! The SNP is no different; they have a huge shopping list, but not much of an idea how they’re going to pay for it, and they don’t intend to worry about it until the bill arrives; at which point they’ll throw up their hands in horror and find their trousers are ‘round their ankles. Sounds like a bit of a farce to me. Where’s Brian Rix when you need him?