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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/28/16

The Preposterous Farce of A Second Scottish Referendum

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When Alex Salmond of the SNP was making his argument of the sustainability of the Scottish economy in the last referendum he figured in the revenues of North Sea oil and the taxes that the producer companies would deliver to the Scottish Treasury. If that referendum had been successful, the almost immediate collapse of the oil price would have bankrupt the newly independent Scotland. It has become even worse for Scotland as time has passed. If it weren't for the large sums transferred to Scotland by Westminster under the rubric of the Barnet Formula Scottish governmental income would not meet its daily expenses.

But that is not the end of it. The SNP government is pledged to oppose the renewal of the Trident program. According to an official statement by the SNP on its website "Do the SNP support Trident renewal? The SNP will never support the renewal of Trident. We believe that nuclear weapons are immoral, ineffective and expensive. In times of imposed austerity, the 100 billion which would be spent on a Trident replacement over the next 30 years could be far, far more effectively used on improving healthcare, childcare, education and building a better future for our children." They don't mention that if there is independence then the 100 billion will not be given to Scotland or the Barrow shipbuilders nor will the UK and NATO defence revenues paid to operate the Fasslane naval port be paid to Scotland. These will all be moved out of Scotland, removing jobs, investments and prosperity. One would have to sell an ocean of whiskey or woollen knitwear to make up for around 140 billion in lost revenues on this project alone. The Scottish unions are scarcely likely to agree such a program.

The SNP doesn't take into account that if they, by some miracle, manage to get independence and to join the EU that this would not be of benefit to Scotland. They may be going bankrupt but their GNI would still make them one of the larger economies of the EU and, as revues are paid to the EU on the basis of their GNI they would become net contributors of the EU budget, not a beneficiary.
Each country's payment to the EU is divided into three parts: a fixed percentage of gross national income (GNI), customs duties collected on behalf of the EU (known as "traditional own resources") and a percentage of VAT income. Scotland would have pay into the EU additional funds rather than become a recipient. If it's economy starts to improve, it will have to pay even more; just as the UK had to pay in an additional levy of 2 billion in 2014 because it had improved its GNI.

There are several other reasons why a second Scottish referendum is unlikely. The most obvious is currency which was discussed in depth during the last referendum There is also little likelihood of an independent Scotland slipping into the EU under an Article 49 accession (that is an accession which would bypass the lengthy process needed by applicant states like Albania, Montenegro and others which takes years [iv] ). It is also very unclear why the EU would want Scotland in with the state of its economy.

The British economy is undergoing a sustained period of growth and is a powerful force in international finance irrespective of Brexit. It is an important part of NATO. Most importantly, the UK is on the brink of an energy boost with the beginning of the fracking of shale oil and gas. This will sustain Britain's' energy needs and allow the type of reduction of energy costs which attracted all the European corporations to move their investments to the U.S. Scotland has ruled out fracking. They will rely for their energy on the fading horizon of North Sea gas and oil. The rest of the UK has little need of Scotland but it is an integral part of the UK and will receive the funds from Westminster to keep it afloat. Independence will also require an independent Scotland absorbing generous part of the UK's long-term debt burden in the final settlement, a price that might prove overwhelming for the diminishing Scottish economy.

This turning to the Continent is not a new thing for Scotland. Throughout Scottish history Scottish kings, lairds and lords have looked to the Continent for assistance against the Sassenachs. Any student of Scottish history can find hundreds of examples of defeated Scots taking refuge on the Continent and seeking allies to restore Scottish independence and their lands and privileges. The SNP will likely have as much luck in this endeavour as the previous Scottish attempts.

Scottish independence is a self-delusional pretence and a sham. The Scots may be feeling dispossessed and unhappy but they are canny enough to recognise that a move for Scotland to become economic kamikazes is not desirable for them. The SNP is singing the only song it knows and the world must endure its wittering until they find a new song.

[i] Brian Ashcroft, "Scottish Economy Watch", Fraser of Allander, June 2016

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Jillian Ambrose, "Oil downturn to wipe out over a quarter of North Sea jobs", Telegraph 10/6/16

[iv] Article 49 = Any European State which respects the values referred to in Article 2 and is committed to promoting them may apply to become a member of the Union. The European Parliament and national Parliaments shall be notified of this application. The applicant State shall address its application to the Council, which shall act unanimously after consulting the Commission and after receiving the assent of the European Parliament, which shall act by an absolute majority of its component members. The conditions of admission and the adjustments to the Treaties on which the Union is founded, which such admission entails, shall be the subject of an agreement between the Member States and the applicant State. This agreement shall be submitted for ratification by all the contracting States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. The conditions of eligibility agreed upon by the European Council shall be taken into account.

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Dr. Gary K. Busch has had a varied career-as an international trades unionist, an academic, a businessman and a political intelligence consultant. He was a professor and Head of Department at the University of Hawaii and has been a visiting (more...)
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