Opinion from Lord Digby Jones

Independence from what exactly?

Published Monday 1 September, 2014

With just over a couple of weeks to go to an event where a small minority of a Nation could well destroy my Country without any participation from the majority (some exercise in democracy that, Mr Salmond!) I do not intend here to rehearse again the reasons why the constituent parts of the United Kingdom would be better off being together rather than apart. The boos that Alastair Darling received from that typically unbiased (!!!) audience in the second TV debate when he raised again the issue of sharing the pound shows that reasoning will fail to counter the inaccurate Braveheart syndrome when it comes to dealing with facts.

I just want to address two fundamental areas of this whole subject which still trouble me.

Firstly. Independence from what exactly, Alex?

At the last General Election, the Scottish Conservative Party polled 17% of the popular vote and the Scottish Nationalist Party polled just 3% more at some 20%. So just as the Yes Campaign say they want to be free of rule by the hated Tories of Westminster, in a democracy Mr Salmond, what about those Scottish Tories and many more non-Tories who cannot abide your snake-oil? Why should they be enslaved by an ideology that will mean not that they will have a Government they have to tolerate for just the next five years (welcome to democracy) before they get a chance to kick it out but that they will become unwilling citizens forever in a new Country they didn't even want to exist!

Independence from what exactly, Alex? Being governed every so often by a political party you don't like isn't exactly slavery is it?

So sharing the pound but having no influence in the decision-making process concerning interest rates is Independence is it Alex?

So being punished severely by the markets (with higher debt-service costs for starters) for defaulting on Scotland's share of the deficit is Independence is it Alex?

Of course, if Scotland has to "take it" from the rest of the UK on monetary and fiscal policy because of the currency issue, that will be portrayed as the fault of the bullying English (again) putting out the flame (again) of Scottish Independence. There will not be a moment's acknowledgement of the fact that there does indeed come a day when venom-fuelled hatred of the English has to stop defining nationhood. They will have to stop blaming others (especially those south of the border) for all their ills; it will no longer work as a National Strategy for dealing with global competitiveness and the provision of public services you have to pay for from the money you earn, not from that which you are given. Precisely what do you want independence from, Alex? Being subbed by the hated English for spending more than you earn for all but one of the last twenty years?!

Secondly. What will the rest of the UK do if the tartan turkeys do indeed vote for Christmas on the 18th of September? I do hope the rest of the UK will not roll over and give an independent Scotland the fuzzy partnership of allowing them to cherry pick and keep all the best bits of the "old" UK (including Her Majesty the Queen; how arrogant of Mr Salmond just to assume she will still be their Queen! Has anyone asked her?!). We must not constantly take the Nationalistic (note, not Patriotic) punch on the chin of letting it be "business as usual" for all the stuff the Scots didn't think Independence meant.

So yes, let's have proper border controls. Given they won't be in the EU from the start (Spain will see to that, given they won't want a rampant Catalonia on their hands) let's make everyone north of the border apply for a visa. Until Scotland becomes part of the EU, someone resident in Scotland seeking to come and live in England should be treated just the same as someone resident in India. You asked for independence Alex, you've got it!

No they can't just decide unilaterally to share our currency......they wanted this divorce not us! Mr Salmond is like the husband seeking a divorce against the will of his wife but saying he's keeping all the best bits of the matrimonial home!  This isn't a demerger by mutual consent, Mr Salmond; it's a unilaterally driven "grab what you can as you go out of the door" divorce.

We will not build our warships in a foreign country so Govan and Rosyth will close for starters. That's what Independence means Alex; just explain that to the good men and women who have built our warships there for centuries but will no longer, and will be looking for those enhanced welfare payments you've promised everyone. How will Independence pay for those Mr Salmond? Increased taxes? Public spending cuts?

And most of all, when the oil price is cyclically against them, when the Financial Services Community have left town, when the Independent Scots are faced with cutting public services and putting up taxes (that's called running a country Mr Salmond, not taking part in a Mel Gibson fiction), when the Scottish at last awake from their Braveheart dream and will take no more, I do so hope that the new, Independent Nation of England, Wales and Northern Ireland will not use my and others' taxes to bail out the new Independent Nation of Scotland; no one gave us a say in this matter so it will not be our problem to pay our money out to solve.

You see Alex, Independence is forever; it isn't something you can change at the next Election if you don't like it; it isn't something you can call a day on. Every Braveheart voting with his or her heart will be stuck with it mate.....you won't be able to blame the English Tories, you won't be able to dip into the pot of English-hating venom that passes for a raison d'être of Nationhood. Indeed Mr Salmond ....... You will have no-one to blame but yourself!

But by then Alex, you'll be long gone; with your statue outside Holyrood lauding The Father of Independence for Scotland, you will be minting it on the International Lecture Circuit. It will be the grandchildren of all of Scotland (especially including those who didn't vote for this mess; around half your Country) who will be the inheritors of the realisation of what Independence really means.

"Think again" is enshrined in your National Anthem; you apply it to the English of some seven hundred years ago. Move on, for the sake of your grandchildren. Stop feeding on the bile of resentment; believe me, venom doesn't pay the rent.  I suggest you apply your quest for proper democracy to a modern world, to a modern economy, facing modern threats and opportunities ...... Think again about what the cold, harsh world of Independence really means.