Why I’d vote yes for Scottish Independence

September 17th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I don’t have enough Scottish ancestry or residency to vote, but if I could vote I’d vote for Scotland to be an independent country. Here’s why.

Scotland already is a country

Scotland is not a region or a territory. It is a country that has existed for over 1,000 years. For 300 or so it has been in a union with other countries, but it is a country. You can’t compare it to Tasmania or Florida.

Scotland is not British

British culture is essentially English culture. Scotland has a culture and heritage very different to that of England, and the UK. They have less in common than arguably Australia and New Zealand.

They have a different political culture

Scottish political culture is very different to England. It is far more left wing. They’re never going to be happy having decisions for them made elsewhere. Their political culture instincts are vastly different. Could you imagine how Canada would go if it was in a union with the US? It would not be happy.

They need to be responsible for their own revenue

One of the reasons Scotland is so socialist leaning is because they don’t have to raise their own income. The UK does it for them. They just want more money spent on them. This is not surprising. By making Scotland responsible for paying its own way in the world, it will become more responsible and balanced.

It would be a great comparison of different economies

If Scotland leaves England/UK, then one will be able to see over a decade or two which economic system does better – a Scottish system with higher taxes and spending, or the UK one with comparatively smaller tax burden. This will be an instructive lesson for the world.

England may prosper

England (or the rest of the UK more properly) may end up doing well, after the initial shock. Many Scottish companies may move to London.

On a personal level I would regret the United Kingdom splitting. The UK has provided more good stuff to the world that arguably any other country. But fondness for the past is not a good enough reason to not vote for change in the future.

Now don’t get me wrong, I expect both Scotland and the UK will suffer economic damage in the short and even medium term if they split. This could be quite considerable. But in the long run I think Scotland will be better off responsible for its own economy.

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A Tory voting Yes for Scotland to become independent

September 10th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Moray Macdonald writes:

I’m voting ‘yes’ because I’m a Tory, not in spite of it. …

It is time to come out of the closet. I’m voting Yes and as a result, for the first time in years, I am excited about the future of centre-right politics in Scotland.

This might seem a surprising move for a former Director of the Scottish Conservative party and Tory candidate for Westminster, but I have to be honest, it wasn’t even a difficult decision.

Devolution has highlighted just how different Scotland is. Even the Westminster establishment, ever obsessed with the needs of London and her hinterlands, has noticed that there is no longer a demos in the United Kingdom. The desperate offer of extra powers to Holyrood acknowledges how poorly our needs are served by their politics.

The Scottish Conservatives despair of the left-wing consensus in Holyrood and yet they embrace a cosy and increasingly alien political elite that guarantees its permanency. True Conservatives should embrace the opportunity to bring real political decisions closer to home. Only a Yes vote will make our politicians truly answerable to us, for it is only when Holyrood and Victoria Quay have to account for the money taken from the pockets of the Scottish people will right-of-centre politics have a chance to flourish in Scotland.

I think Moray is right. I doubt the Tories will ever be the largest party in Scotland, but part of the reason they do so badly is Scotland blames England for their lack of money. Once Scotland has to pay its own way, and starts racking up huge deficits and debt, then the Tories will do better in Scotland.

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Scotland unlikely to leave the UK

August 10th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Support for Scottish independence has fallen following a TV debate this week and the campaign to split the United Kingdom will need a dramatic turnaround if it is to win a forthcoming referendum, the latest poll shows. 

The Survation poll for the Scottish Daily Mail newspaper said 50 per cent of respondents planned to vote against independence in a ballot due on September 18 that will decide whether Scotland breaks its 307-year union with England.

It was the highest level of support for remaining part of the United Kingdom in all Survation polls since February.

By contrast, just 37 percent said they planned to vote for a split while 13 per cent said they were undecided. Excluding undecided voters, support for independence stood at 43 per cent against 57 per cent in favour of the union.

It’s a pity in a way. I think England might do better without Scotland dragging it down. Don’t get me wrong – Scotland is a great country, but they chew up more than their share of UK expenditure.

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A 38% probability the story is about nothing

February 21st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff has a story from Reuters which says:

Support for Scottish independence rises

I got excited. There must have been a big movement in the polls. So I read the story.

The first opinion poll since Britain’s rulers warned Scots they would lose the pound if they voted to leave the United Kingdom showed a slight increase in support for independence ahead of a referendum on the issue scheduled for September 18.

Slight? So it wasn’t 5%. Maybe 4%? I presumed it a significant amount as Reuters has done an entire story on this.

A Survation/Scottish Daily Mail poll carried out on February 17 and 18 of 1,005 people found 37.7 percent support independence, which it said could be compared to 36.9 percent recorded in a PanelBase/Sunday Times poll carried out on January 29-February 6.

First of all comparing the results of one company to the results of another, to declare a change is bad enough. But even if the results were from the same company, is an increase of 0.8% significant?

My probability calculator tells me the two results mean that there is a 61.6% chance the second poll is actually higher than the first poll To turn that around, there is a 38% chance there has been no increase at all.

Hardly worth a story.

Personally I don’t think Scotland voting for independence would be a bad thing for England. But anyway the point is that Reuters have written a story about pretty much nothing.

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Would the Tories mind losing?

February 11th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Reuters reports at Stuff:

Cameron’s political future and historic legacy are on the line. He has pledged to contest the next British general election in 2015 and his own Conservative party would never forgive him if he presided over the break-up of a United Kingdom comprising England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

On the contrary many Conservatives would love Scotland to leave the UK.

In 2010 The Conservatives got 1 seat out of 59 in Scotland. With Scotland they were 306 out of 650 – a minority. Without it they would be 305 out of 591 – a majority.

In October 1974 the Conservatives got 16 out of 71 in Scotland and Labour got 41. With Scotland Labour won on 319 out of 635. Without Scotland Labour would not have had a majority and the Conservatives may have been able to govern.

In February 1974 the Conservatives got 297 seats, Labour 301 out of 635. Without Scotland it would have been Conservatives 276, Labour 261 out of 564. The Conservatives would have been given first chance to govern.

In 1964 the Conservatives got 304 seats, Labour 317 out of 630. Without Scotland it would have been Conservatives 281, Labour 273 out of 559 and a Conservative Government.

Opinion polls suggest support for independence has stalled. The latest put it at 32 per cent and opposition at 47 per cent. But Cameron and politicians from other parties remain nervous.

If the economy was stronger, independence would have a better chance. But people want security when times are tough. Hence a change is unlikely.

Some Scottish friends have suggested to me the eventual shape of the UK will be as a Federation of four countries.

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Misleading Scotland

October 29th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Alex Salmond has been accused of misleading voters about the legal advice given to his government about the right of an independent Scotland to join the European Union.

The first minister has repeatedly said that Scotland would be an automatic member of the EU, be free to adopt sterling as its currency and would inherit all the UK’s opt-outs on EU immigration and border controls. He has asserted that this position was supported by his government’s legal advice.

But Salmond was forced to make a statement to the Scottish parliament late on Tuesday after opposition leaders accused him of “lying” and “covering-up” following an admission from his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, that no specific legal advice had been given by Scottish law officers on EU membership.

You can’t have your independence and eat it also. If Scotland wants to be an independent country, they need to independently join the EU, negotiate its own opt outs, and have its own currency.

Even if Salmond had not lied, and had got a legal opinion from Scottish law officers, they don’t decide. The EU does.

 The Scottish government was due to appear at a two-day hearing in Scotland’s highest civil court in December in an attempt to overturn a historic ruling by Rosemary Agnew, the Scottish information commissioner, that this legal advice should be published in the public interest. However, this court action – which has so far cost nearly £12,000 in legal expenses –will now be dropped, Sturgeon said. “I can confirm that the government has now commissioned specific legal advice from our law officers on the position of Scotland within the EU if independence is achieved,” she said. “[The] Scottish government had previously cited opinions from a number of eminent legal authorities, past and present [but] has not sought specific legal advice.”

What this means is that the SNP Government had tried desperately to prevent the truth coming out, but the Freedom of Information Act won out.

Hat Tip: No Right Turn

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The Scottish Independence vote

October 10th, 2012 at 11:45 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Scotland will hold a vote in 2014 on independence in what could result in the eventual breakup of Britain, a British government minister said on Tuesday.

The announcement ended months of stalemate between the Westminster government in London and the Scottish devolved administration in Edinburgh.

‘‘What will happen is that Westminster will devolve the power to the Scottish parliament to hold a single-question referendum on whether Scotland should be in or out of the United Kingdom,’’ Scotland Office minister David Mundell told Sky News.

‘‘We anticipate that happening in autumn 2014.’’

A straight up and down vote is a win for David Cameron. The SNP wanted an in-between option which would have seen them gain powers without responsibility.

Support for independence is well under 40%, and hard to see that changing. Personally I’m not sure it would be an entirely bad thing, as losing Scotland would mean Conservative Governments almost always in the rest of the UK. And the SNP would then have no reason to exist, once Scotland was independent.

What chance Scotland would join the Euro  or even the EU, based on the current situation in Europe? Pretty low.

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Let Scotland go

January 12th, 2012 at 3:18 pm by David Farrar

The talk in the UK is of when the vote on Scottish independence should be. Amusingly the UK Conservative Government wants it early and a straight up and down vote, while the Scottish SNP Government wants it in 2014 and a third option of great devolution. I suspect this is because they are realising what full independence may cost.

Losing Scotland would be great for the Conservative Party. The House of Commons is currently:

  • Conservative 305
  • Labour 255
  • Lib Dems 57
  • Others 33
  • Total 650

You need 326 to govern.

59 seats are in Scotland. Remove them and you need 296 to govern. And the House of Commons would be:

  • Conservative 304
  • Labour 214
  • Lib Dems 46
  • Others 27
  • Total 591

So the Conservatives would then have an absolute majority in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Scotland as an independent country would presumably not be able to keep the pound, and would adopt the Euro instead. Can’t see that being too popular.

That is why I suspect the SNP don’t want full independence anymore – it would cost too much. They want all the powers of independence, but none of the responsibility.

Cameron should stay firm and insist on a straight up and down vote.

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Back to England

July 2nd, 2011 at 11:11 pm by David Farrar

On Thursday we left the Isle of Skye and drove to Glasgow. Just past the Kyle of Lochalsh, is the Eilean Donan Castle. It has featured in many films, especially the great Highlander.

On the road to Fort William is this memorial to the British Commandos who were established in WWII to attack behind enemy lines, and those who have served since. There’s also a section for photos and memorials, which include some who died very recently in Afghanistan.

We drove for many miles alongside Loch Lomond. Have been there before but can’t get enough of it.

We spent Thursday night in Glasgow and it was very pleasant. Our apartment was in the golden mile, so hundreds of cafes and restaurants around. Like Cardiff, Glasgow, has changed a lot from its traditional image.

On Friday arrived in Lytham St Annes for pre-wedding drinks. We are staying at The Grand hotel and I love the room with six large windows in a semi-circle meaning it gets lots of sun.

We are on the South Promenade next to the beach, so the views from the room is very English coastal.

Popped into St Annes for lunch, and found this nice pub called The Victoria. You get a massive lunch for three and a half pounds.

Is now Saturday and the wedding is in two hours so time to get ready!

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The Isle of Skye

July 2nd, 2011 at 4:16 am by David Farrar

I asked earlier this year on the blog where to visit in Scotland, and by far the most common response was the Isle of Skye which is the most northerly of the Inner Hebrides.

You really only appreciate how far north you are by the fact that it only started to get dark at 11.30 pm. No seriously.

The drive from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye was six hours, but the scenery was magnificent Lochs and hills everywhere. This photo is of the Laggan Dam on Loch Laggan. Water from the dam flows three miles by tunnel to Fort William.

A typical view along the way.

In the distance is the Skye Bridge which connects Skye to mainland Scotland.

Many of the roads on the island are single width but two-way, so every 200 metres or so there are indents where you can pull over to let ongoing traffic through.

Went on a tour of the wonderful Talisker Distillery and learnt all about how crucial the shape and size of the stills are. Also got to taste their product and happily purchased a bottle of their 57 north single malt. I would have loved to have got their 30 year bottle but the price was rather steep.

A view from the “capital” Portree.

We drove around the north of the island, and it was all views like this. I stopped for so many photos I was asked if I intended to stop at every corner, and my response was only the corners with great views. The response to that, is that is pretty much every corner.

Looking down a very steep cliff, you can see the large boulders at the bottom through the clear ocean.

This is known as Kilt Rock.

We only discovered this by chance. As driving around the coast by Kilmuir, we noticed this cemetery inland a few hundred metres. This is the resting place of Flora MacDonald who as a 24 year old helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape the authorities by having him pose as her Irish spinning maid, Betty Burke.

Samuel Johnson said of her “a name that will be mentioned in history, and if courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with honour.”

This is the cottage we stayed in near Edinbane on the Isle of Skye. It was wonderfully remote.

The Three Chimneys Restaurant is not only the best food on the island, but is rated one of the top five restaurants in all of Scotland. They managed to fit us in for a late dinner at 9.45 pm. Normally might be weird eating so late, but as it stayed light until midnight, it was actually wonderful being able to gaze out the window at Loch Dunvegan, at 11.30 pm

This was my entrée – a haddock omelette. Words can not describe how divine it was. It was the best of food, helped down with some champagne, a Wild Earth pinot noir from Central Otago and finally some dessert wine. All with the sun setting over the beautiful loch. The highlight of the holiday.

The road home was one of those narrow single width ones, but even worse there were hundreds of sheep sleeping next to or even on the road. Crazy fun.

A typical highland cattle.

And when you combine rain and sun (which sorts of sums up Scotland), you get a rainbow.

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Invading Scotland

July 1st, 2011 at 9:58 am by David Farrar

On Monday driving from Darlington to Edinburgh and got distracted by a sign pointing to Hadrian’s Wall. So we turned off the motorway and headed to Chesters where they not only had section of Hadrian’s Wall intact, but remains of Cilurnum, a roman cavalry fort. This was the commander’s quarters.

This is the River North Tyne, and you can see on the far side the remains of the wall continuing on. There was originally a bridge here of course.

The location also has a museum with hundreds of well preserved artefacts, especially engraved stones.

Nearby was this lovely field of poppies.

And another section of Hadrian’s Wall.

The border between England and Scotland is well marked, unlike the Welsh one. They have some mobile retailers selling food and souvenirs at the border, plus large rocks with Scotland marked on one side and England on the other.

Had a well located apartment in Edinburgh, just up the road from Holyrood. My second visit to Edinburgh – a truly lovely city.

No caption needed!

Caught up with an old friend and colleague at Monteiths. Most of the bar was inside, but they had covered over this alleyway to create an enclosed outdoor area.

A statue of the great Adam Smith.

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Scotland

February 15th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I’ve got a mate’s wedding in the north of England in July, and am looking to spend some time holidaying in Scotland before the wedding. It would be stuipid to fly so far just for a weekend.

I’ve been to Scotland before but just Edinburgh for a couple of days – did a bus tour around a lake.

For those who have been to Scotland, what would you recommend in terms of both places to stay and things to do. Will have between one and two weeks in Scotland. Ideally we’d like to see some amazing scenery, do some walking or even cycling tracks, go out on some waterways etc. Also nice to see any historic sites but that is secondary to nice scenery.

Cost is of course a major factor, but not the most important factor.

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Self-rule for Tuhoe?

August 9th, 2008 at 9:37 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports on an aspect of the terms of negotiation between the Crown and Tuhoe, which is to provide clarity regarding their constitutional relationship.

Calls from Maori activist Tame Iti for self-government arrangements for the Tuhoe tribe similar to those Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have in the UK have been backed by a leader likely to negotiate the tribe’s Treaty settlement. …

“It’s one of the things which has been consistent since the 1870s: Tuhoe’s regard for their nationhood and their independence.”

However, before formal negotiations proper began the iwi had to decide what specific arrangements of self-government it would like to see, Mr Kruger said.

He said nations had existed within nation-states for hundreds of years and while other iwi – for example, Te Atiawa or Ngati Toa in Wellington – might struggle to make a compelling argument for self-government because of the large number of non-Maori in their areas, Tuhoe’s geographical isolation changed things.

The United Kingdom is certainly an example of having countries within a country.  But I am unsure one can draw the analogy too far. As noted in the article, the presence of non-Maori in an area is a huge issue.

You see self rule in Scotland and Wales etc is not based on bloodlines, or ethnicity, or nationality – but simply location. An englishman living in Edinburgh has just as many rights to vote in Scottish elections, as a native Scots.

There are around 30,000 Tuhoe, and currently it seems only around 6,000 live in their traditional lands. I am unsure how many non-Tuhoe live there, but I could not imagine a situation where non-Tuhoe living there would be allowed to become second class citizens with lesser rights of representation.

It is also worth noting other differences between Scotland and Tuhoe:

  1. Length of self-rule – Scotland existed as a country for around 1200 years before 1707. it is unknown how long Tuhoe was a distinct tribe in NZ, but far far less
  2. Population – Scotland has 5 million residents and only around 6,000 Tuhoe live in their traditional lands
  3. Legal System – Scotland, despite being part of the UK, continued to have its own legal system

I’m not oppossed to devolution of powers in cases that are appropriate. But in the UK the devolution has been to all citizens in an area, not just those of a particular ethnicity.

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