Scottish passports and the Scottish-English border

Most people have assumed that an independent Scotland won’t introduce passport controls at the Scottish-English border.

I’m sure that’s not the intention, but as a blog posting on Better Nation pointed out today, Scotland will probably have to join Schengen at some point post-independence, simply because England will be seen as the continuation of the UK, so Scotland will be treated as a new EU member, and they generally don’t get many opt-outs (which will also mean that Scotland will eventually need to join the Euro).

Personally I’d be delighted if Scotland joined Schengen, given that we tend to travel much more often to Schengen countries (such as Denmark, Germany, France and Italy) than to England. Who knows, it might even convince the English to join, too.

Writing this blog posting, I was a bit surprised that I couldn’t find a realistic mock-up of what Scottish passports will look post-independence, given that the layout of EU passports is heavily regulated.

It didn’t take me long to make one myself in the Gimp, though. I made the assumption that it’ll be the lion rampant that will be on the front page, although it might of course be some other emblem.

The LibDems suffered because of incompetence in Scotland, too

tavish speech 07
Originally uploaded by Liberal Democrats

The English media have to a large extent described the LibDem collapse in Scotland in terms of dissatisfaction with the CoLD coalition.

However, although this is bound to be part of the explanation, I don’t think one should underestimate the part played by their own sheer incompetence in the Scottish Parliament.

As I blogged exactly four years ago, the LibDems behaved very strangely in refusing to even sit down with the SNP.

Back then, the obvious interpretation was that they only wanted to form a coalition with Labour, but now that they’re in a coalition with the Tories in Westminster, insisting on a Labour coalition up here seems a bit odd.

I think many voters asked themselves who would govern efficiently and stand up to Westminster in a constructive manner, and almost nobody thought that the LibDems were the answer to that question.

They need to redefine themselves. Perhaps, as suggested by Liberal Vision, there is a gap “on the pro-independence centre-right” that they could fill. I’m sure that would work better than whatever it was they tried over the past four years.

Let’s see what the new leader decides to do!

Not too small

When ordinary Scottish voters are asked whether they’d vote yes or no to Scottish independence, one frequent response is that Scotland is too small to be independent.

I really don’t understand how anybody can believe this. Surely it must be a consequence of living in a big country and being used to comparing yourself with Germany and France.

In reality, Scotland has a very average size for an independent country in northern Europe. Have a look at the graph on the left, which shows the population sizes of various northern European contries (it’s Scotland in blue).

Of course Scotland won’t have the same influence as England, but similar countries such as Denmark, Norway and Ireland typically feel they have plenty of influence.

I definitely don’t know of a popular movement in any country the size of Scotland that advocates joining a bigger neighbour because their country is too small to remain independent. Even very similar countries with a long shared history, such as Denmark and Norway, never seriously discuss becoming one country again.