We’ve hit the hundred-day mark before the Scottish referendum – so I need to discipline myself and get back to that theme. An article in today’s Open Democracy – Should Scotland vote for what is best for Scotland? has helped me steel my resolve.
First off, let me say that I’m one of 750,000 Scots living out of Scotland who will not be entitled to vote – and I resent that. Indeed I’m “scunnered” to use a good Scots word. I lived in the country for 48 years; contributed a lot; and yet I'm being allowed to vote. ....
The author of today’s Open Democracy has a name “Kieran Oberman” which sounds as if he is one of the 366,000 expats living in Scotland who will be entitled to vote and wrote a good piece about all this last December - but his article today is one of the few which tries to take the debate outside the rather narrow confines into which it has been so far restricted eg
If Scottish independence generates a rightward shift in UK politics, then this will affect the rest of world to the extent that UK foreign policy affects the rest of the world. Again, the right should welcome the shift, but the left should be troubled. A UK without Scotland might be even more likely to support US-led wars, even more reluctant to take action on climate change, even more restrictive of immigration, even more hostile to EU efforts on consumer and worker rights, even more eager to back neo-liberal economic policies overseas.
It's fairly obvious that a vote in Scotland for Independence on September 18th would be a pretty fatal blow to the chances of Labour ever winning another election in what we now call “rUK” – the remainder of the UK. A block of 50 odd Scottish Labour votes has been a reassuring boost for Labour leaders for the past few decades (although the Scottish nationalists could bite quite strongly into that in any 2105 General Election). That would confirm the neo-liberal grip on rUK – indeed many would argue that New Labour has never– even after Bliar – made any attempt to shake free from that grip….
That is indeed one of the arguments of those who have, with some reluctance, recently joined the “yes” argument – and who, with others, look to the “Nordic” neighbours for a social democratic vision….
But even if we accept the idea that an independent Scotland would be some kind of Scandinavian-style social democracy (writes Oberman), the role-model argument seems far-fetched. After all, if the rest of the world wanted a Scandinavian role model to inspire it, it already has one: Scandinavia. What need has it of a Scottish imitation? Moreover, no one should underestimate the capacity of large countries to ignore the affairs of smaller neighbours. The UK’s ignorance of the politics in the Republic of Ireland is rivalled only by the US’s ignorance of Canada.
I’m reading Scottish intellectual Gerry Hassan’s “Caledonia Dreaming” whose main themes are sketched by the author in this advance summary in the Scottish Review of Books
But emotional attraction is not enough! The Nordic Option (we used to call it Sandinavian!) is one which – as Hassan rightly emphasized – took almost a century to develop. In the meantime, with the best of intentions, an independent Scotland would be competing with an England even more disposed to compete “in a race to the bottom” on corporate and income tax. What then for our much-vaunted social democratic model?