by Robert Henderson
The Scots Numpty Party (SNP) has managed to defeat the attempts of the unionists who deliberately devised the electoral system to thwart single party government (and hence leave independence off the practical political agenda) and get a majority in Scotland. The SNP leader Alex Salmond can now call a referendum on independence . However, to have a referendum which is binding, the SNP needs the sanction of the UK Parliament. From his public comments David Cameron appears to accept that such a referendum would be binding because he has stated since this SNP victory that if a referendum was held he would campaign for a NO.
Whether or not Scotland would vote for independence is debatable. Polls consistently show a majority against, although there are always a substantial number of “don’t knows”. In a referendum held only in Scotland with the YES campaign headed by Salmond and the NO campaign led by Scottish non-entities or people from outside of Scotland such as Cameron, it is possible that a Yes result might be obtained.
I have no visceral objection to Scots independence, but the strongest objection to Scotland walking away from the Union without taking full responsibility for themselves and leaving the English to pick up the financial mess which a mixture of regular English subsidy of Scotland and the massive costs of the rescuing the Scottish banks RBS and HBOS has disguised. To this end the conditions Cameron should lay down for Scottish independence are these :
- Scotland to take a share of the UK National debt (excluding the costs involved in supporting Scottish banks and building societies, mainly the RBS and HBOS banks) proportionate to the percentage of the UK population in Scotland. The servicing of this debt to be the first charge on Scotland’s public financing.
- Scotland to pay for the past and future costs of bailing out Scottish banks and building societies.
- The huge English subsidies to Scotland to cease immediately on a Yes vote being achieved.
- All English public sector jobs which have been exported to Scotland to be brought back to England. This would include not merely traditional civil service posts, but facilities such as those supporting UK nuclear submarines.
- Scotland to launch its own currency or join the Euro. If they remain tied to the pound they would have no true independence and practically be dependent on England for the macro management of their economy.
- The division of the oil and gas fields to be made on the basis of extending a line at the angle of the coastline on the England-Scotland border. This is in accordance with the UN convention on the Law of the Sea article 7 This would give England a substantial proportion of the oil and even more of the gas fields.
- Scotland to be gifted any state owned building in Scotland but to have no claim on publicly owned facilities in the remainder of the UK.
- Nuclear submarines and any other fundamentally important military equipment to be moved to England
- All military research to be moved to England.
- All future UK defence expenditure to be made in the remainder of the UK. Scotland to form its own armed forces. These to be capable of not only defending Scottish land but also of policing Scottish territorial waters.
- Scotland to be gifted all military establishments in Scotland, but Scotland to have no claim on military establishments elsewhere in the UK or abroad.
- Military equipment. Scotland to be gifted existing equipment sufficient to equip whatever forces Scotland forms provided this equipment does not exceed what is available to similar UK forces.
- All publicly funded non-military research in Scotland to be moved to the remainder of the UK.
- Scotland to be responsible for the payment of all public sector pensions earned in Scotland before independence.
- Scotland to be responsible for a share proportionate to the percentage of the UK population in Scotland of EU related pensions earned before independence.
- Scotland to be responsible for the financing all government contracts relating to building, goods and services supplied in Scotland which were entered into before independence.
- Property relating to UK diplomatic missions to remain the property of the remainder of the UK.
- Scotland to be responsible for a share of diplomatic pensions earned before independence proportionate to the percentage of the UK population in Scotland.
- Scotland to be responsible for a share of any public service pensions earned abroad before independence proportionate to the percentage of the UK population in Scotland.
- Immigration to Scotland from outside the EU and for any future new EU members to be controlled on the same basis as the UK controls immigration.
- Scotland to make its own application for EU membership without support from the Westminster government.
- If the remainder of the UK or England alone leaves the EU, the following may be put in place: a) border controls between Scotland and the remainder of the UK b) Scotland to be treated as any other member of the EU would be treated c) UK protectionist barriers to Scotland d) an end to free movement from Scotland to the remainder of the UK and e)an end to Scots citizens enjoying the benefits of the UK Welfare State
- If Scotland is unable to gain EU membership, all of 23 may apply apart from (b).Conditions 1-22 can be enforced while the UK without Scotland remains in the EU. If the UK without Scotland leaves the EU or England alone leaves the EU, then condition 22 is legal.
- Scotland to pay all the costs of separation including those involved in moving the nuclear deterrent to England.
Scots will complain about not being given a share equivalent to their proportion of the UK population of the material assets of the UK armed forces or of diplomatic assets abroad. However, it is not unreasonable to advantage the remainder of the UK because England has massively subsidised Scotland ever since the Union in 1707. The subsidy began with the Act of Union, viz:
“Clause IX. THAT whenever the sum of One million nine hundred ninety seven thousand seven hundred and sixty three pounds eight shillings and four pence half penny, shall be enacted by the Parliament of Great Britain to be raised in that part of the United Kingdom now called England, on Land and other Things usually charged in Acts of Parliament there, for granting an Aid to the Crown by a Land Tax; that part of the United Kingdom now called Scotland, shall be charged by the same Act, with a further Sum of forty-eight thousand Pounds, free of all Charges, as the Quota of Scotland, to such Tax, and to proportionably for any greater or lesser Sum raised in England by any Tax on Land, and other Things usually charged together with the Land; and that such Quota for Scotland, in the Cases aforesaid, be raised and collected in the same Manner as the Cess now is in Scotland, but subject to such Regulations in the manner of collecting, as shall be made by the Parliament of Great Britain.”
The population of England was five times that of Scotland in 1707. Had Scotland paid the tax listed in Clause IX at the same rate as England they would have paid £400,000.
Instead they were required to pay only £48,000, roughly a ninth of the pro rata sum.
As for the oil and gas revenues, a substantial part of that has come from oil and gas English waters. Moreover, oil revenues have only been flowing for around thirty years and Scotland was being subsidised by England for the better part of three centuries before that. Nor is it true that oil and gas revenues have been consistently high because the oil and gas price was very low for a decade or more. In most years since 1980 Scotland would not have been contributing more to the UK Treasury than they took out even if ALL the oil and gas tax was allocated to them.
If the Scots wished to start claiming they should be compensated for things such as the UK military expenditure , the retort would be all right we will let you have that, but in return we will expect you to repay all the subsidies Scotland has received since the Union began.
It is very improbable that Scotland would vote for independence on the terms I have outlined, but anything less would mean that England was taken for a ride and Scotland allowed to evade their responsibilities. There is a very real danger that Cameron would pander to the Scots and let them escape these obligations. That is why English campaigners should begin now to press politicians to make sure the Scots are not allowed an easy ride to independence at England’s expense.