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Sunday, 15 January 2012

Responding to Josephus ...

Josephus is right when he says I might wish to comment, I certainly do. Let me begin by saying that he is in a far better position to know the politics and the drivers which may or may not lead people in Scotland to vote "Yay" or "Nay" on this issue. I would also say that I think both nations will be the poorer for the break should Scotland decide to "go it alone." That said, I am of the camp that believes that Scotland is unlikely to survive as an "independent" economy. Denmark is a different case, one which possesses extensive overseas terrotories and assets, a fact often not visible in the UK. It is often forgotten that Greenland, the Faroes (and if you want to split hairs, the Shetlands) are Danish dependencies and the oil and gas fields off Greenland are huge. The country also possesses fields in the North Sea.

Contrary to the media misinformation, the Maritime Border between the England and Scotland does comply with international treaties and the fields lying to the East and South of it are in the English part. The revenues from these fields have been shared across the UK, but a division would see Scotland entitled only to those fields that lie in the Northern and Western areas.

Removing the RN and the RAF from Scotland (Faslane, Rosyth and Pitreavie) would remove between 15,000 and 18,000 jobs, but that is not the whole picture. At present several major warships are being built in Scottish Yards. These would also close and be moved and we can be certain that the Defence Establishment is already planning for this. As to how many jobs would be lost with those closures I can only guess.

Then there is the banking crisis, with the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Bank of Scotland (BoS or now HBOS), having been forced on English Banks to save them. Westminster owns shares in the part nationalised Banks Blair (a Scotsman posing as MP for an English constituency and Brown, a Scottish MP and Chancellor of the Exchequer responsible for the fiscal mess the UK economy is now in!) which raises the question of who would continue to bail out these banks? Tam Dalyel's "West Lothian Question" was one reason successive goverments refused to address the question of an Edinburgh Parliament. The mess Blair and his people created in tinkering with a Constitution they patently failed to understand at all, has raised some very tricky questions and is likely to result in some very acrymonious exhanges at the very least.

Josephus asks, why should Cameron demand the right to set the timetable, and as I understand it, the question, for this referendum ? I would answer that Mr Salmand does not have, under the current dispensation, the authority to refuse it. He is seeking to hold it on a date which is emotionally charged and favours his cause. In this he is trying to hold the rest of the UK to ransom. As Scotland is currently a part of the political and economic union that is the "United Kingdom" it is, whether it likes it or not, subject on constitutional matters, defence, economy and foreign affairs, subject to Westminster and not an independent entity in its own right.

Ironically, the demands from Scotland for independence are raising a reaction in England, one Blair could have avoided if he had not been intent on dividing England up into "Regions" which would have guaranteed a Labour control of large parts of it. Giving England a Parliament to deal with purely English matters, not controlled by Labour's Welsh and Scottish duplicates (Both nations now having their own "local" government) which allows some 75 Scottish MPs and around 30 Welsh ones to vote on law affecting England only has caused enormous resentment. So the West Lothian Question has now come home to bite.

Cromwell did enormous damage to relationships between England and Scotland and between England and Ireland as Josephus correctly points out. Ironic therefore that Blair, a Scot, thought he was the greatest Parliamentarian. One wonders exactly what he meant - or did he not know the real history? He was certainly ignorant of almost everything else of our history. As Josephus has said, it was a long time ago, but it is remembered. What is not remembered is the reason Scotland had to beg for Union in the first place. The "Darian Adventure" and one or two other "speculative ventures" embarked on with their Treasury had bankrupted the nation and the price England placed on bailing them out was Union. Blair and Co broke that Union, despite all the warnings, and now Cameron must deal with the result.

Alex Salmand may want to hang on for 2014 but I suspect he may not be allowed to. I am also suspicious of his motives. Josephus advances the idea that it is the 700th anniversary of the Bruce's victory over Edward II's army, but I suspect its so he can see who is in power after the next UK election, perhaps also seeking to run a campaign in conjunction with new elections for the Scottish Parliament.

As I said at the outset, I cannot see anything good for either nation in this. According to the financial papers I have read recently inward investment into Scotland is now stalling and a number of others are exploring what moving or relocation would involve. A large percentage of the Scottish Budget comes from Westminster with a higher per capita "tax spend allocation" in Scotland than in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, much of that is not raised in Scotland and will not be "made up" from the speculated "oil and gas revenue"  the public think they will get by redrawing borders, primarily since the borders will not change.

We will have to wait and see.

1 comment:

  1. As usual, well informed comments, however, there are some opinions passed here where I can't agree. Firstly, I do agree about Denmark and it's international territories, similarly the south and west/north and east boundary matters. My experience is in the North Sea and although the oil and gas in the NE is in the largest it is also in the oldest fields, so 50/50 there. However these are not matters of opinion, they are matters of fact. Where my opinion differs is firstly in the statement about Alex Salmond not having the authority to thwart Westminster; this seems to indicate that the Monk is siding with the Frau and the Monsieur here as they do not believe that Cameron has the authority to act independently of Brussels, veto or no veto.
    I secondly agree with the Monk's commentary on the ships and disposition of military bases, I would be a fool indeed to question his knowledge and understanding of matters naval, however, if the yards "closed" because the Royal Navy withdrew, where would said Royal Navy, bearing in mind that Scotland will not be a republic, Her Britannic Majesty was crowned Queen of Scotland too, obtain replacement services? Surely Scotland would / should be contracted to provide them as they do now. Personally I would rather that than allow, for example, les Francais to acquire the contracts. Certain high ranking members of both MoD and the Royal Navy have been on the sharp end of exocet missiles and super etendard fighters. Then there are those Banks; did Britain bail out British Petroleum, sorry, "BP" in the Caribbean? No! Why, because it is not a 'British' company, originally the Anglo-Persian company it is now ~60% US owned. In the same way neither the RBS or HBoS is 'Scottish' they have international portfolios, much of which was sold by speculators and entrepreneurs and bought by the British government. The Edinburgh markets, of course may wish to do something about that and buy the institutions with Scottish money, we would need to wait and see. The financial machinations of 1705 were as ill managed as those of 2005, Burn's poem "Parcel of Rogues in a Nation" still engenders much heated debate about exactly which nation had the rogues, certainly the Monk is correct when he agrees with Burn's line "We are bought and sold for English Gold"; that is why many in Scotland would love the power to move away from Edinburgh. It goes without saying that I agree with every word about the New Labour so-called leadership; having navigated the UK up the creek, they mysteriously lost the paddle. I also agree that breaking the union would not be good for either party, particularly when you think what the Welsh might do in the aftermath and how susceptible certain parts of England are to nationalist organisations. I think it would be a great shame, and I still think that the flag would look silly.

    For those interested, the feeling in Burn's above-mentioned poem/song is best read in the middle verse;
    "What force or guile could not subdue,
    Thro' many warlike ages,
    Is wrought now by a coward few,
    For hireling traitor's wages.
    The English steel we could disdain,
    Secure in valour's station;
    But English gold has been our bane-
    Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!"

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