Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Scotland does the hokey-cokey

I find the deliberations over Scottish independence fascinating. It reminds me powerfully of the hokey-cokey. In fact, the referendum probably should have had the choices:
  • In
  • Out
  • Shake it all about
Yesterday, former prime minister Gordon Brown (hard to remember, but he really was prime minister) was suggesting that the third option was the best. He told us that Scotland should stay in the union, but with greater autonomy, for example in terms of setting taxes.

I personally favour an independent Scotland, as despite the rhetoric from Edinburgh, my suspicion is that there is a net flow of cash from the rest of us to Scotland and I'd like to cut that off and see them pay for their 'extras' like free tuition and free prescriptions themselves. And I'd be genuinely excited to see what Scotland could do on its own. It's a dangerous experiment, but a brave one, typical of the Scottish character. However, should the vote be 'No', I can certainly see the advantages of making Scotland effectively independent but within the union. With certain provisos.

Clearly, if Scotland were in charge of its own taxation, we would no longer expect any money to go from Westminster to Scotland. I'm sure Mr Salmond wouldn't want our dirty London money either. But also we would need to redress the balance in the London parliament (as Mr S. calls it). With so much devolution it would be ridiculous if Scottish MPs had the same weight as those from the mainstream UK. (Yes, it's that old chestnut, the West Lothian question - but it's still true.) 

So we would have to see a reduction in Scottish MPs at Westminster at the very least - though arguably they could be done away with entirely. Another essential, if we do keep Scottish MPs, is that they should be banned from holding any offices of state at Westminster. Having a UK Prime Minister from a Scottish seat again, for instance, would seem bizarre in such circumstances. 

Alternatively we could have some English, Welsh and NI members in the Scottish parliament. But I don't think Mr S would like that.

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