Another look at Scotland its independence question

Before wondering if the uneven union between Scotland and England should be dissolved, its vital to examine and understand what  brought the countries into a union in the first place. In the 1690s the Darien scheme was set up, an attempt by Scotland to evolve from its dependance on trade through and with England, who implemented tariffs and charges on goods destined to for Scotland. Scotland planned to escape this unequal trade relationship by setting up its own colony at Darien, in whats modern day Panama. It was to be called Caledonia and Scots collectively invested a quarter of the whole countries entire wealth into the scheme which ended in complete disaster.

The scheme, although mismanaged from the start was effectively ended by England who threatened European banks into withdrawing support for the scheme. The East India Company who held a near monopoly in international trade sued the founders of the Scheme, along with King William who stopped any nearby colonies coming to Scotland’s aid as he didn’t want to upset the fragile relationship with Spain. England were left as Scotlands only savior and came up with a plan, which was effectively a one nation takeover.

Laws in favour of amalgamation with England were pushed through Scotland’s parliament using bribery, for example the Duke of Hamilton, an outspoken anti-unionist dramatically changed his stance after receiving cash, while others had their Darien debts repaid to them. As the English offered gold to Scotland’s representatives the Alien Act was passed, which effectively made any Scot not in the army or engaged in business an illegal immigrant, this vote was passed after London threatened further tariffs on Scottish exports. Daniel Defoe, an English spy at the time exclaimed that for every Scot pro-union, 99 were against it. The process of union was by no means a democratic or collective decision, there was hundreds of petitions against the union from all over Scotland, this anti democratic decision and refusal to recognize the hundreds of petitions sparked rioting in Edinburgh and Glasgow and martial law was stringently imposed.

Scotland received a mere 45MPs out of 558 seats in Westminster and 16 seats in the House of Lords out of 212 a completely disproportionate representation, and eventually the ancient Scottish parliament voted itself out of existence, it is also vital to remember that these elected representatives were only voted in by a fraction of the population, as women and young men as well as the landless were excluded from suffrage. From the outset the union between Scotland and England was never an equal or proportionate one, and even after hundreds of years of rule, Scotland is still a very different country to England, where the SNP and Labour are voted for year after year and conservative seats are exceptionally scarce, yet Scotlands laws and finances are controlled by a conservative government in London that draws its support from the south of England and uses this as a mandate to rule a country hundreds of miles from the main conservative voter base.

The main argument for a pro-union vote (a no vote in the upcoming Scottish referendum) is the economic question, and the effects this will have for the people of Scotland. The Financial Times has stated that Scotland will start off with a better financial situation than the rest of the UK, even Scottish independence most outspoken critic stated in 2007 that

“Supporters of independence will always cite examples of small, independent and thriving economies, such as Finland, Switzerland and Norway. It would be wrong to suggest that Scotland could not be another such successful, independent country” – David Cameron (April 2007).

Over the last 30 years Scotland has raised more tax per head than the rest of the UK and over the last five years, Scotland has generated 9.5% of UK taxes but only received 9.3% of Westminster funding, an unfair and unequal amount, it is also important to note that  Scotland spends a smaller share of its money on welfare and social protection than the rest of the UK. According to the Financial Times if Scotland was to become independent it would become one of the top 20 wealthiest nations per capita in the world, surpassing France, Italy and the UK.

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