All posts by thomas

Nobody will stand up for Scotland abroad

Sam’s Boys
Originally uploaded by acidrabbi

Joan McAlpine has an important point about the al-Megrahi affair (hat-tip: SNP Tactical Voting), namely that both the UK and the US are saying Scotland’s government were wrong to release him, but there’s nobody on the international stage to fight Scotland’s corner:

Since foreign affairs are not devolved to Edinburgh, David Cameron officially speaks for us. On this occasion he trashed us in front of the world. Where were we? We should have had a right to reply at least. After all, Scottish troops are fighting and dying in Afghanistan, as they did in Iraq, to support America. Would Obama and Cameron have condemned a friendly, independent sovereign nation like this?

Even those who disagreed with the decision to free al-Megrahi should agree that this situation is untenable – the US government should be discussing this issue with Alex Salmond, not with David Cameron, and only independence will resolve this issue.

Is the Scandinavian model restricted to Scandinavia?

Swedish Guard
Originally uploaded by Brendan Plant

Charlemagne is quoting Johan Norberg for wondering whether the Swedish model is restricted to Sweden: “If countries don’t already have a tradition of an efficient, non-corrupt bureaucracy with an impressive work ethic a larger government only means more abuse of power and more waste of money. I often try to convince Americans, no, more government in the US would not get you a big version of Sweden, it would get you a big version of the US Postal Service.

It’s an interesting point, and I think it’s at least partly true.

I do think Sweden in this context can be replaced by a much larger area, at the very least Scandinavia and parts of Germany, but living in Scotland, I can see that many things are just not working because of different attitudes.

For instance, buses are regularly late, but people just shrug their shoulders and use their car the next time. In Denmark, people would be very upset and it would eventually become a priority for the government to sort out.

Banks in an independent Scotland

Wallace Monument
Originally uploaded by john1710

Lots of unionists seem to see in the problems of Bank of Scotland (HBOS) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) the ultimate proof that Scotland is too small to be independent.

Not all unionists are convinced, however.

Apart from Fraser’s points, it’s worth remembering that independence would have consequences in many unexpected ways, and the size of banks is likely to be one of them.

If Scotland had been independent for the past hundred years, it’s unlikely that BoS and RBS would have grown so big. Other small countries don’t tend to have any banks that large. (Apart from Iceland, that is.)

It might also be that independent Scottish competition authorities would feel obliged to split up the banks as they’re too dominant here.

But even if Scotland was home to the headquarters of massive financial institutions, they probably would have separate structures in Scotland and England, and Scotland would only have to save the Scottish bit.

L’Écosse: Nul points?

Originally uploaded by drgillybean

Just finished watching the Eurovision Song Contest (“Europæisk Melodi-Grand Prix” in Danish) with Phyllis and the kids.

The UK did badly, as usual.

According to this article, there should be nothing preventing Scotland from participating separately from the UK: “There’s nothing to stop Scotland submitting its own Eurovision entry . . . as the European Broadcasting Union has confirmed. The BBC, ITV, STV and Border Television could submit an entry.”

Surely Scotland could do better outwith the UK?

When to hold a referendum

Yes No
Originally uploaded by jepoirrier

The LibDems said at some point that one should only hold a referendum on a topic that one is in favour of. And so they supported a referendum on the European Constitution (which they’re in favour of), but oppose one on Scottish independence (which they are against). A bit strange that they abstained on the question of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, though, given that they were in favour of that, too. Makes you wonder whether the principle is fully set in stone.

Labour seems to be of the opposite opinion: They were against a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty (which they supoorted), but they now seem to be in favour of a refendum on Scottish independence (which they’re against).

I actually tend to agree with Labour here: A party is voted into power to implement their policies. It therefore doesn’t need a referendum to get a mandate to do so. However, if there is something the party doesn’t want to do, but that is very popular in the wider population, it can make sense to hold a referendum to defuse the issue. It’s a bit masochistic, though, and most parties would prefer to delay the issue instead.

I’m not very fond of referendums anyway. They tend to be about everything else, and they often get quite emotional. And in many cases, the major parties can only really live with one result, which tends to provoke the electorate to vote for the other option in spite.

I tend only to support referendums on topics that transcend political parties, such as Scottish independence. I am looking forward to that one, just like Bendy Wendy! 😉


NHS Family Planning Advice
Originally uploaded by Firefalcon

There is no single health service in the UK. People speak about the NHS, but it’s actually four different organisations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

I think using the same name is unhealthy. It means the English find it illogical that they aren’t getting the same treatment in England as is provided by NHS Scotland.

So the four services should be renamed. They already have different logos, so surely that wouldn’t be too hard.