Do our global policy makers welcome Scottish Separatism?
As the first exit polls came in after polls closed on Thursday 12 December, one key trend caught my attention. While the working classes in the Midlands and North of England had swung to the Conservatives, many voting Tory for the first time in their lives, Scottish voters had bucked the trend and shifted their support to the misnamed Scottish National Party, who in government have prioritised radical social engineering even more than Labour before them. As the Conservatives look set to win a comfortable majority, I monitored BBC coverage only to notice they displayed vote share for mainland Great Britain alone. Their reporters struggled to hide their glee that for the first time in history a majority of parliamentary seats in Ulster had been won by parties that support unification with the Republic of Ireland, with the moderate SDLP gaining two seats and the Alliance Party one seat. This clearly marks a move towards a secular Ireland detached from both the sectarian divisions in the North and from its cultural heritage. When Boris Johnson agreed a compromise with the European Union on the Irish backstop, did he know that sooner or later the province would merge back into Ireland anyway? It now seems the only distinctive features of Ireland's two jurisdictions, except for strong regional accents, are road signs in miles and prices in pounds Sterling in the North East, but in kilometres and Euros in the rest of the Emerald Isle. So Ireland may regain political unity just as it becomes a lot less Irish.
The SNP only really disagree with Corbyn's Labour on the constitutional issue and look set to emulate the transformative mass migration policies of Leo Varadka's Irish government (known as Project Ireland 2040). If the SNP had their way, Scotland may sever its ties with England but will become a lot less Scottish as is already evident in many parts of Edinburgh and Glasgow. However, unlike Labour, they ran a very sleek campaign that would meet the full approval of Guardian columnists and Blairites alike. Blair's advisors only really supported the Union to maintain social peace and keep alive the British wing of the Anglo-American military industrial complex. Traditional Scottish nationalists are correct in observing that the British Foreign office sees Scotland as a convenient location for their military toys. Now the European Defence Union is a done deal, international NeoCons like Henry Kissenger, Emanuel Macron, Guy Verhofstadt may turn to the Franco-German alliance for their global policing operations rather than the UK. Other big businesses really do not care about the Scottish constitutional settlement.
For the time being, England's new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson (and yes I know he's technically the PM of the whole of the UK), has turned down Nicola Sturgeon's request for a second referendum on Scottish Independence, but it may well only be a matter of time before he announces a policy shift. With growing support for Scottish separatism coming not just from international academics and economists, but from former Scottish Labour politicians such as Kezia Dugdale, the outcome may depend on the unpredictable stability of the British and European banking systems. If Boris Johnson not only passes the Withdrawal Agreement, but successfully agrees on a full divorce settlement with the EU in the form of a Free Trade Agreement by the end of 2020 that would keep Great Britain out of the Single Market and Customs Union, we may just see a run on the pound which may increase the price of imports and cause the markets to panic leading to temporary disruption and hardship. The SNP could capitalise on such a scenario to win a narrow majority in a referendum. However, in the same time frame, we may see the collapse of the Italian banking system prompting a continent-wide recession and widespread civil unrest as governments raise taxes to keep alive the Euro and bail out banks. Other European countries cannot expect German taxpayers to keep subsidising economic mismanagement in Southern and Eastern Europe when they are struggling with their own social problems. In a Europe-wide crisis, Britain may seem a safe haven and support for Scottish separatism may well dwindle. Some recent polls have suggested figures as high as 51%. However, if the central government can manage an orderly departure from the European Union and the UK as a whole outperforms most other European economies despite Brexit, then the case for Scottish Independence falls. The question remains whether our business elites really want to keep the Union or do they think they can play a nominally independent Scotland off against a future Kingdom of England & Wales, e.g. by demanding lower corporation taxes or de-regulations of biotech experiments (something like human closing may be unpopular UK-wide, but may just win the SNP's approval if meant higher investment from biotech giants)?
I think most people on the ground crave economic stability and cultural continuity, i.e. do not want radical economic upheaval, top-down social engineering or rapid migratory flows. The SNP is building its entire case for Scottish independence on continued EU membership and a wishful assessment of Scotland's potential revenues from oil and other natural resources. That would only work if Scotland retained full control of both its territorial waters and banking system. As a separate member state within the EU Scotland would have neither. Norway prospered because it could invest the immense proceeds of its short-lived oil bonanza in education, infrastructure and training for just 5 million citizens.