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Wise up England, you’d be better off without Scotland

To date, the debate on the Scottish independence referendum has focused on why the Scots should or shouldn’t back independence. There has also been some recent academic research on why the Scots have arrived…

Time to say adieu, England! d100

To date, the debate on the Scottish independence referendum has focused on why the Scots should or shouldn’t back independence. There has also been some recent academic research on why the Scots have arrived at a referendum in the first place.

But very little has been written or said about why the English should back Scotland’s exit from the union. I know many people in England would like to have a say on Scottish independence, and if the polls are any indication the vast majority of English voters would cast a no vote. But I would argue there are several powerful reasons why the English should accept or even be enthusiastic about the Scots going it alone when they vote at the end of the summer.

What good will devo max do?

The first revolves around the most popular alternative to independence, “devo max”. If the Scots decide to vote against independence, David Cameron is already promising that more powers will be devolved to the Scottish parliament. Many have interpreted these additional powers as equating to devo max.

But what would be the likely outcome of the Scots being granted devo max as a concession following a no vote? Some people are calling this bribery to keep the Scots in the union. Whatever you call it, it is nothing more than a short-term solution for maintaining the British state. Does anyone believe for a split second that a Scottish government run by the Scottish National Party devoted to extricating the Scots from the British state would be placated with devo max?

Once the Scots have it, what’s to stop them, just like any good negotiator, from continually asking for additional powers and threatening to separate if they don’t get them? Wouldn’t Scotland and England continue to grow further apart within the UK until all that would be left to say is that they are the two largest national components of one excessively decentralised state? What good does this do for England, Wales and Northern Ireland? The English must know that in the long term, offering devo max is a disastrous policy fraught with dire consequences for the union.

Ditch Barnett, resolve West Lothian

Another contentious issue from an English point of view is the Barnett formula, which provides extra subsidies from the British government to the people of Scotland for public services. If Scotland were to regain its independence after the referendum, this would free up additional taxpayer dollars to be invested elsewhere in what remained of the British state (albeit Scottish nationalists argue that Scotland is a net contributor to the UK once North Sea petroleum revenues are taken into account).

Then there’s the West Lothian question, which concerns the fact that MPs representing Scottish constituencies in the Westminster parliament are allowed to vote on legislation that does not affect their electorates. This would immediately disappear with the establishment of an independent Scotland, which English people ought to see as a benefit. After all, why should the Scots have a say on issues like English education when English MPs have absolutely no control over the Scottish equivalent?

One understandable anxiety from an English point of view is the fact Faslane in the west of Scotland is an important storage site for UK nuclear weapons. But there are other places to store them if an independent Scotland demands their removal. There has even been suggestion, reportedly from within the British government, that these weapons could remain at Faslane in the west of Scotland in exchange for a currency union.

Get real, England

This all raises the question, how exactly is England hurt by Scottish independence? Wouldn’t England be better off financially and governmentally by seeing Scotland leave the union?

I understand the emotional connection to the historical union and the desire to keep the borders of the British state intact after more than 300 years. But the British state today is not the British state of 100 or even 50 years ago, when the the Scots and English were still both benefiting from the spoils of empire.

Sometimes you have to know when to let go. Jason, CC BY-SA

A Britain with a Scottish population constantly angry or depressed or demanding further authority is not conducive to the remaining UK being a productive global power. Internal conflicts at home undermine Britain’s power abroad as history has demonstrated time and time again. Numerous distractions for the English, and the rest of Britain, would be eliminated with a yes vote on September 18.

Dr Glass put forward these arguments at the Chalke Valley history festival on Sunday June 29 in a debate with education secretary Michael Gove, former Lib Dem leader Menzies Campbell and journalist Simon Jenkins on whether Scotland should gain its independence following the referendum.

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7 Comments sorted by

  1. Mary Bruce

    logged in via Twitter

    Firstly, no UK political party has offered the people of Scotland anything remotely resembling devo max. Devo max is gererally understood to mean devolving all powers to Scotland, including taxation, welfare, pensions and, crucially, the oil revenue. Only foreign policy and Defence would be reserved with London. The tory party is suggesting devolving income tax but no other tax and that is all. They would maintain control of everything else including National Insurance, Value Added Tax, Scotland's…

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  2. Steve Kerensky

    logged in via Facebook

    This is ill-informed and also ridiculous. Without Scotland we will have Tory government without end. Thus emboldened,the parasitic scum will then take us out of the EU and bankruptcy.

    1. David Allen

      logged in via email

      In reply to Steve Kerensky

      Taking England out of bankruptcy is a bad idea? ' The parasitic scum - if you mean the Conservatives - are unlikely to take England out of the eu, anyway. If Scotland votes for independence we'll both be out of the eu as the United Kingdom joined not the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England. An independence vote for the Scots will free the English from the shackles of two unions.

    2. James Morrisey

      Self -employed

      In reply to Steve Kerensky

      @" Without Scotland we will have Tory government without end"

      This is total nonsense. England is more than capable of electing a Labour Govt if it wants too. Scots vote have almost zero influence in UK General elections... Read the following
      Why Labour does not need Scotland: "for 65 of the last 67 years, Scottish MPs as an entity have had no practical influence over the composition of the UK government. From a high of 72 MPs in 1983, Scotland’s representation will by 2015 have decreased to 52…

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  3. James Morrisey

    Self -employed

    This article has holes that were left over from drilling the Channel Tunnel.
    Scots pay on average £1700 per head more in tax than the rest of the UK.
    Scotland's bill for HS2, a railway that goes nowhere near Scotland will be £4.6 billion. We subsidised London's Crossrail, London's sewage upgrade and loads more projects that are English [London and south east] only.
    Scotland is the wealthiest part of the UK outside of London and the south east yet we have the highest poverty rates in the UK. With…

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    1. David Allen

      logged in via email

      In reply to James Morrisey

      Why does it need the Barnett formula extra grant then? Why do they want to keep the pound.

      Scotland is the wealthiest part of the UK with its English subsidy. Scotland has the same population as Yorkshire but each citizen gets more money. It has its parliament to ensure the majority of immigration affects England.

      When the number of employees that work in the public sector is removed from the workforce, there are allegedly only 275 000 productive net contributors to the widespread expensive population outside the central belt.

      I hope Scotland gets independence, proper independence, not some faux charade where the English can still be blamed whilst having their pockets open in case of need.

    2. Jimmy Irwin

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Allen

      Are you lot stupid down there? There's no such thing as an English subsidy to Scotland. Uk taxes go into Westminster, each region receives a subsidy, not just Scotland. Our healthcare and education is a "devolved matter" as quoted by Cameron recently, which means no one pays for either except us. The reason we have more money spent per head on us is because we raise more taxes per head, undeniable facts. We're 8.4% UK population, generate 9.6% UK taxes and receive 9.3% UK expenditure, which includes…

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