NOTE: A lot of effort went in to some comments from a certain R2D2 (who will soon have his or her own blog I am very sure), so I've decided to bump this posting up to the top again to give folk a chance to read it. Apologies to any regular readers (note the hesitancy there actually arer any) who are sick of this one already. I think it's kind of nice to actually debate the union rather than skirt around it like some...
I've decided to prepare (as much as one can in 40 minutes) a positive argument in favour of staying within the union, since Jack, Nicol and Annabel were only able to give us negative rebuttals such as:
"We will listen, but we fear this will be less of a conversation than a one-way megaphone."
"The SNP is squandering taxpayers' money in pursuit of their own narrow and failed agenda."
"Alex Salmond's pet project of independence"
My four main reasons for not yet being convinced of the merits of Independence are:
Economies of Scale – Britain (244,820 sq km) is bigger than Scotland (78,783 sq km). Not just in terms of land mass but also in terms of economic and global might.
Much in the same way as America would have more bargaining power than Arkansas on a global platform. Scotland has a stronger voice inside the UK as opposed to outside of it with regard to international conflict, trade agreements and climate change treaties to name but three areas.
Clipping our own wings would be detrimental to a very successful Foreign Office, Army and UK Cabinet as a whole. The cream of British talent at the Westminster table has a synergy that would always outscore the combined cocktail involving the whisky cream of Scottish talent and the sour cream of English talent (couldn't resist, *laugh*).
Also Scotland and England+Wales+NI would pay two separate lots of "overhead costs"; paying twice for administration of government systems, politicians and bureaucracy not to mention set up costs for new frameworks and processes after Scotland won her independence. Much like when a couple go their separate ways the two mortgages, the two sets of TV licenses, the separate dinners and the separate travel costs all make it harder to get along financially, regardless of how free the heart feels.
Grossing this up to the national scale for Mr and Mrs Britain would apply similarly. Britain makes great savings in pooling so many of her resources.
All great reasons for Scotland to be independent one may argue but the overbearing risk is that Scotland's route to financial strength is too narrow. Relying primarily on oil, whisky and tourism is inherently risky and with the UK as a whole able to provide an altogether larger and more varied manufacturing and financial sector might and more diversification in other areas of the markets that Scotland doesn't contribute to, Scotland will be less liable to take hits from falling oil reserves/prices, less international travel and cuts on importing luxury items in foreign lands. All very real risks in the 21st century.
Dependency culture - Scotland still has a dangerously unhealthy reliance on public money to prop up failing areas of our society. The comparison to the Eastern bloc countries in this regard doesn't seem to be goingaway and with the value of Sterling sitting at such a high level, Scotland requires to be as lean and mean as possible to make independence work. Within the Union, there is less uncertainty and therefore less of a risk that the Scots relying on the state for handouts or jobs will financially pull us under. Not enough entrepreneurs and not enough people pulling their weight would, in my view, be too heavy a millstone at this stage to carry alone.
While Scotland languishes bottom of the league of small European nations, we surely are not healthy enough to be successful. We shouldn't be independent in order to be healthy, we should be healthy before we become independent. Our diet, our levels of exercise, our reading and writing rates and our aspirations need to be in good form at the best of times to be a successful nation, but they need to be firing on all cylinders before we can successfully be independent without the UK safety net.
Passports at the Borders - It is much more sensible to live on an island where one can travel freely from country to country. To have to be stopped at checkpoints on the A1 and M74 and fish around for your passport would be immensely frustrating and no doubt would dissuade our English brothers and sisters coming north to see us as often as they currently do. I have family in England and it would be horrible if something as silly as Scottish Independence was the reason we lost touch.
Scotland can be independent, absolutely, and in my heart of hearts I think we should be. We're just not prepared yet, physically or mentally, and as things stand it'd be a safer, savvy and more sensible option to stay within the UK and focus on playing our part to as full a level as possible. If we are then able to punch our way into a position where the undoubted benefits of independence exceed the benefits of the union as set out above, then we should grasp the thistle and go for it.
But an intriguing paradox is this:
The more Alex Salmond and the SNP succeed in improving Scotland and shaping it into the healthy, dynamic nation it needs to be for independence to work, the more comfortable people will be with their lot and the less they will want to say "Yes" to any referendum put before them.
So, as things stand, I'll be voting "no" if this white paper somehow makes it through to an actual referendum. Does anyone care to disagree with me? Or back me up?
(OK, I put the Passport/Border guff in for a joke and also so certain people could get that sweet puff of self-righteous annoyance for a second or two when they thought I was being a prat. But the other 3 arguments still apply for me as things stand. But only just.)
" Jeff should change his name to Uncle Ben, such is his knack for producing perfect results every time" J Arthur MacNumpty
"not as partisan as you might think, well-written and informative." Tom Harris - Labour MP
"Glasgow East - political earthquake! was the 1.58am verdict on SNP Tactical voting." Channel 4
"I particularly enjoyed this blog during election time due to Jeff’s number crunching ability but it seems his blog has turned into quite an impressive political and social commentary." Scottish Tory Boy
"SNP sympathiser with very little sympathy when the Nats properly cock up. Rational debater free from the shackles of internal Holyrood blogging. Very readable with just the right personal touch." Kezia Dugdale
"The sheer volume of posts and the quality make Jeff's SNP Tactical Voting blog essential daily reading. Some thoughtful posts on wider society, Scotland and local politics make it an interesting mix." Malc in the Burgh
"Probably the most prolific blogger and certainly the site that I read most. I first started reading this before the 2007 Scottish Parliament elections and thought it was an excellent and balanced read - nothing's changed since then. Here's hoping the fact that Jeff has now actually joined the SNP doesn't change that!" Ideas of Civilisation
"I would say this has become one of the best Scottish political blogs going — despite the fact that Jeff is an SNP supporter! He’s always there with some thoughtful opinions on the political stories of the day. " Doctor Vee
"I never fail to be impressed by Jeff's ability to think critically before the 'experts'!" Yousuf Hamid
"Jeff at SNP Tactical Voting deserves some sort of prize for contriving to compare Hillary Clinton to, er, Kris Boyd..." Mr Eugenides
"this is one of the first blogs I tend to turn to in the day, mainly because typing snp into the explorer window is easy, but also as there is usually something there to be read." Stephen Glenn
"I have given up debating directly with this person on any matter even if his blog remains in my blogroll and I continue to read some of what he writes on occasion as 'entertainment' " Bill Cameron
It's become a ritual. Get up, fire up the Mac, check out the BBC homepage, check out SNP Tactical Voting, if Kezia has posted have a quick read there, then its onto the hardcore porn. Rare Export
I love his blog, and have to have my daily fix. I enjoy his style of writing, his well thought out arguments and his non bias most of the time. I would say that Jeffs blog is the least biased of the lot of you, and probably the most well written. Rare Export (again)