The future of Scotland

 

             Today we debate the Scotland Bill.  Both Labour and Conservative front benches support the Union and believe granting more powers of self government to Scotland and its Parliament is the way to preserve the Union. The SNP see the opportunity to demand more powers for the time being, whilst seeking to use the devolved Parliament as a platform and stepping stone for full independence.

             The SNP sees it as heads they win, tails the Union loses. If they gain the extra powers and use them sensibly, they may be able to persuade enough people in Scotland that self government works well. If  sufficient powers are refused, they have an injustice to carry into a referendum on independence.

               All main political parties agree that any decision on Scottish independence should be settled by votes of people in Scotland alone. I would be interested in hearing from readers

1. Should the people of the rest of the UK have any say in the independence of Scotland?

2. Should there be any financial consequences from Scotland gaining more independence to make her own decisions within the Union settlement?

3. Should Scotland have more powers to raise her own taxation?

4. Do you support the Union or do you think it is time for break-up as the SNP suggest?

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154 Comments

  1. Elliot Kane
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Starting with the obvious: I am myself an Englishman who believes in the UK. I do not think any of our nations would have reached the heights we have without it.

    On to the questions:

    1. Should the people of the rest of the UK have any say in the independence of Scotland?

    No. The Union has to be willing, else it is meaningless. The other nations should neither chain Scotland, nor force Scotland out. If Wales, England, or Northern Ireland voted, it should be on their own membership of the Union, not Scotland’s.

    Scottish independence is a matter for the Scottish people to decide.

    2. Should there be any financial consequences from Scotland gaining more independence to make her own decisions within the Union settlement?

    Financial, no, Political, yes. The more power a devolved Scottish parliament has, the more urgent it is to deal with the West Lothian Question. It is simply untenable that Scottish MPs should have powers over other parts of the Union that is not reciprocated. It’s bad enough now, but if Holyrood gains more powers there will no longer be any excuse whatsoever to dodge it.

    3. Should Scotland have more powers to raise her own taxation?

    Don’t see why not. This one might be worth considering financial consequences for, though. It’s only logical, after all, that a Scotland which can raise its own taxes would need less money from the rest of us.

    4. Do you support the Union or do you think it is time for break-up as the SNP suggest?

    I strongly support the Union. Britain has a proud legacy of accomplishment in uncountable fields, and it is a legacy to which every one of the UK’s nations have contributed. A legacy that most likely would not have been possible, had we not stood together.

    As with any other winning partnership, why split while we keep on winning? Just makes no sense, does it?

    ***

    As a side note, I’d like to add that what the SNP seem to be proposing is NOT Scottish independence, but rather removing Scotland from the UK only to chain itself to the yoke of the EU. If I were Scottish, I’d be wondering what the heck the point of that was…

    • Bob
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      @Elliot
      Agree 100% with all of your points including the side note.
      If the UK wanted to leave the EU, would we need the agreement of the other members?

    • eddyh
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      I agree entirely with your point 1. Let the English have a referendum on their membership of the UK. This would solve 2 problems, the other members leaching on English taxpatyers and also remove us from the EUSSR requiring another referendum on reapplying to join.

    • Richard J
      Posted June 22, 2011 at 12:27 am | Permalink

      “Scottish independence is a matter for the Scottish people to decide.” I totally agree, but that still does not completely resolve the question of the appropriate franchise. Should Scottish people resident in other parts of the UK be given a vote? Why should the issue of Scottish independence be decided only by Scots who happen at the time to be on the electoral register in Scotland? We could speculate that a Scot working in London would be more likely to be pro union than a resident of Scotland.

    • Derek Buxton
      Posted June 22, 2011 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      It is not solely for the Scottish People to decide. the UK consists of all the Countries and any decision changing that is for all to decide. After all they did want the Union, they were bankrupt. They still exist on English money and do better out of it than the English. Once they produced great scientists and engineers and aided the Industrial revolution, but no longer, they are a drain on resources.
      I would like the Union to continue, it is stronger than it’s parts in general but there is a disconnect caused by too many Scots politicos causing problems in England that do not affect their own, that is patently wrong and must stop. But you have to laugh, just like Eire which fought for years for independence then promptly gave it away to the EU. Salmond will do just the same, hilarious!

      • John Marks
        Posted June 22, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

        1) Scotland was not bankrupt at the time of the Union. Many of the ruling class were, but the rest including the mercantile class, were doing well, despite the English Navigation Acts.

        2) In the last GERS report Scotland produced a surplus to the Treasury. Scotland has a lower structural deficit than the UK as a whole. And that is by the Treasury’s fiddled figures. The truth would be more favourable to the Scots.

        3) London is a bigger receiver of public funds than anywhere in the UK, not even counting projects classed as ‘UK’ projects.

        Do yourself a favour, google. oil Mccrone report to see the lie perpetrated on the Scots by Westminster. Also check out Joseph Stiglitz for that Nobel Laureate Economist’s opinion that the UK wasted the oil money cutting taxes and neglecting investment and increasing unemployment.

    • English Steve
      Posted June 22, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      I think John Redwood should be asking what the future of England is. We should be fighting for an English parliament if not full independence for England. You ask what’s the point of Ireland and Scotland breaking away from the UK yet joining the EU but I think that comment highlights the hypocrisy of you and all other unionists.

      On the one hand you say the UK should stick together because we’re stronger together than apart YET you’re against the EU or a European superstate which would make us part of an even bigger, more powerful country.
      Eurosceptics don’t want to be part of an integrated Europe because they want to protect British sovereignty yet those same people don’t want to break-up the UK. Why is British sovereignty so important to you and other Eurosceptics yet English sovereignty isn’t?

      I think its time for you and all other unionists/eurosceptics to stop contradicting yourselves and make up your mind on the following question:
      Are in favour of a union of nations or not? If you ARE in favour, then not only should you be pro-EU but you should also be in favour of the UK becoming part of a European superstate. If you’re NOT in favour, then you should be calling for the full-break-up of the United Kingdom and for an independent England.
      The choice is yours. Either way, you have no reason to be in favour of an independent United Kingdom.

      • Elliot Kane
        Posted June 25, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        Steve,

        Wanting to be part of something that demonstrably works but not part of something that clearly and obviously does not work is not hypocrisy; it is common sense.

        • English Steve
          Posted June 26, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

          Elliot,

          I apologise for calling you a hypocrite. You’re not that. Its just that this is one of the few issues which nearly makes my blood-vessel burst. I should calm down, I admit. I take your point but I still stand by mine. You say our union -the UK- works. Well, maybe in the past it did but do you really think that still applies today, especially for England in particular?

          Eurosceptics in England don’t like the idea of paying x amount of our money into the EU but what about the cost of England being in the UK? The government spends more per person per capita on other parts of the UK than they do on England. And this problem has got even worse since the Scots, Welsh and N.Irish got devolution which has allowed their respective governments to argue for an even greater slice of the public subsidy which means the English taxpayers get shafted even more more.

          And you think remaining in the UK is still a good idea for England? Face it, the UK is dead.

          • Elliot Kane
            Posted June 26, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

            No problem, Steve. I’ve been called far worse, I assure you 🙂

            As for the EU, well, it is utterly corrupt, over-bureaucratic and a protectionist power block. None of that is good. Throw in the fact that the one thing you need above all for a federation to work – even above a common language, which is vital – is that the people should want it, and you begin to see the scale of the problem.

            I am not opposed to the principle of federations. I have no problems with Germany or the USA. What I object to is the idea of being chained to a forced federation that none of its people want and which is doomed to fail by its own structure and the complete lack of understanding of the people running it of the difference between a successful federation and a folly of monumental proportions.

            The UK is a different thing. We have a common language, and the vast majority of the people are, if not enthusiastic supporters, at least content with the situation as is.

            Right now it is true that England is getting the rotten end of the stick. But there have certainly been periods when the other nations have done so, in the past, and the pendulum may well swing again in the future. The UK continues to muddle through.

            To my mind, there is one over-riding reason why we should continue to do so: we are stronger together than apart. We live in an uncertain world (We always have. That will likely never change) and no-one knows what problems or pressures we may face tomorrow.

            To give up on the United Kingdom because of a few current problems is, to my mind, to risk future disaster. I may be wrong, but it is surely the case that Britain reached the pinnacle of its fortunes when our nations all stood together as one.

            Should we stand apart now, I do not believe our descendents will thank us for it.

            Feel free to disagree. There are cases to be made for and against the UK on many levels, after all. This is simply mine 🙂

  2. Posted June 21, 2011 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Off the top of my head:

    1. Only insofar as how it is managed and should not be our (non-Scottish) detriment.

    2. No ‘penalties’. But the future liabilities undertaken in Scotland’s name (for example, pensions, etc.) should be adopted by Scotland in full (not less the subsidy they would have received). Additionally their proportion of committed British spend, such as our EU ‘contributions’, should also be adopted by them.

    3. Yes – but this should result in a proportional reduction in the non-Scottish contribution to Scotland. If Scotland want’s to show that it can manage itself, then the reality of that should be encouraged and, equally, we should not be subsidising better lifestyles.

    4. I support the Union and hope that it stays together. But Scotland chose to join the Union and can choose to leave. Wales on the other hand…

  3. lifelogic
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    The end of the Union is surely a consequence of the way the EU is developing making Westminster powerless – to be followed by the breakup of the UK into regions doubtless.

    Clearly in all decision the English must have a vote as they should have had on Scottish and Welsh devolution. The spit affects the English system government just as much. A vote on getting out of the EU should come first and would probably solve the problem.

    If Scotland why not Yorkshire, Cornwall, London and the Isle of Wight?

    And certainly no one should be given any more powers to tax until tax levels are reduced to sensible levels – about half current.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      I see the government is still dragging there feet in relation to equitable life.

      The web site says “Government plans to write to all eligible policyholders by mid 2012, confirming whether a payment will be made, the amount and when it will be received. Other than for with-profits annuities, all policyholders should receive their compensation by mid 2015. Lots of website but no real information.

      These often very elderly people just want to know how much and when they will get it – how long can it take to plug the numbers in to a spreadsheet and tell them – perhaps a week at tops – but 5 years +?

      JR – At least could we see the basic technical basis of the compensation figures so people could work it out approximately for themselves?

      Or is the money to be used just to buy votes, as usual, for the, hang on until the grim death, next election?

    • Acorn
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      Have a look at Table 9.2 PESA 2011.

      http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/pesa2011_chapter9.xlsx

      The elephant in the Loch is, what happens to the oil revenues. Most of UKCS oil and a lot of gas, are in the Scottish bit nowadays. Could make the Scots circa £10 billion a year for the next few years. A good bit of the £52 billion UK government’s spend on Scotland.

    • Stephen Gash
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      lifelogic If Scotland why not Yorkshire, Cornwall, London and the Isle of Wight?

      That question shows exactly why the United Kingdom has been an unmitigated disaster for England. This question would never arise if England were not in the UK. Unionists have frantically tried to replace England with regions to preserve the UK and now threaten England’s national status as the UK’s demise looms. England is now put in a no-win situation merely because of the UK. In it or out of it, England must disappear.

      No questions arise about the Shetlands going it alone, with a big “it’s our oil” as they wave Scotland goodbye. Why not?

      These same unionists prevent England from having its own parliament because, they claim, it would threaten the union.

      MPs in England must now assume that Scotland is leaving the UK and fight to preserve England as a nation, making sure England retains all its assets including coastal waters and mineral rights.

      Renegotiation with the EU (or even a referendum on membership) should be robustly done, making sure England pays only what is due and not what Blair lamely gave in to.

      This should be publicly thrashed out now, in fact, so we are all in the clear as to the consequences.

      Politicians fighting for England would be a mindboggling novelty.

  4. Mick Anderson
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    As the Scots already have their own talking shop administration, the Scottish Office in Westminster should already have been abolished. The same applies to the Welsh Office.

    Then English taxpayers can save money by not subsidising them, and solve the West Lothian issue at a single stroke.

    If either of them want to cut loose from the Union, that’s their choice. It should only be maintained willingly, and those who want to leave should be allowed to. The English would only need to be asked if they wanted to re-join in Union at a later date. Perhaps it’s a shame to break this piece of history, but I’m not that bothered either way.

    By the same token, the English should be allowed to divorce the Scots and Welsh. I can’t imagine that we’re ever going to be asked – like Lisbon, the poorly-supported administration in SW1 knows best. Apparently.

    • cynicalHighlander
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      the Scottish Office in Westminster should already have been abolished

      Concur

      Then English taxpayers can save money by not subsidising them, and solve the West Lothian issue at a single stroke.

      Links to back up that assertion would be good to see.

      newsnetscotland

  5. Paul New,am
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    1 – No – I don`t think you can plausibly deny that Scotland is a historic and ethnic entity with a right to decide its future if we accept such a principle at all. Britain was a comparatively recent invention using a name dragged up from Roman times much as we anachronistically use Mercia . It meant greater England when it meant anything and its mythic power has melted away.
    2 Obviously yes , an incremental transfer of debt proportionate debt is essential if there is to be a fair divorce.
    3 Yes and a commensurate reduction is the block grant
    4 The Union which has become a drag on the English and a bad thing in any number of ways . It imposes collectivism internationalism and , most of all a ghastly stale drizzly miserable culture of which the BBC is the exemplar non pareil.

    I think almost everyone feels the inevitability of the end of the Union a barring milky eyed old buffers of the sort who moped about the Empire in the 60s . These can move quickly and the only question now is to get the best deal for England
    Thus far we are being utterly betrayed by a political class who are out of touch paternalist careless with our money.

    • forthurst
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      Before the Roman invasions, Scotland was part of a continuum with Northern England with a Nordic influence in the same way that, as Julius Caesar had noted, the peoples on either side of the English Channel had much the same language and customs, a Germanic influence. So one might surmise that it was the Romans who invented Scotland by deciding not to garrison a part of Britain that only produced cattle food, and ultimately walling it off, whilst all they had come to expropriate, the wealth of Britain, was in England and Wales. One should conclude therefore that Scotland is a political construct only, with no unique ethnic or genuine cultural identity. Would that nevertheless deny them the right to secede? There again, the issue from the English point of view should be on the basis of what is best for the English which is not to say what is best for the treacherous individuals that in the main frequent Westminster and that is a tricky question. Certainly multi-culti UK has been horrific for the English by design and I think we all know whose design that was. Breaking up the Union might cause us to explicity discuss what is best for us, even if those that infest the BBC and other organs of the media and ‘establishment would hate it.

      • Posted June 25, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

        Mince. As a Scot from an area occupied by the Romans I find your grasp of history as woeful as your politics. The language of much of Western Europe at the beginning of the Roman Empire was Proto-Celtic while in England and Southern Scotland Insular-Celtic was spoken. At the time of the Roman occupation the South of Scotland was inhabited by Welsh people, the West by Gaels, and the rest by Picts. Scotland as a nation was formed a good 400 years after the Romans left (but before there was a country called England) in 843 when Kenneth MacAlpin becomes King of Picts and Scots.

  6. Julian
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    The key issue for me is the rather hazy question of how much money flows north across the border. Scotland is able to keep university tuition fees low, provide free care for the elderly etc, but it is not noticeable that Scots pay higher taxes to fund these things.

    1. The rest of the UK should not have a say. Suppose we all wanted to get rid of them but they didn’t want to go? It is for the Scots themselves to decide.
    2. See my point above. The very least consequence should be complete transparency about how much money is involved, where it comes from and where it goes.
    3. Yes, let them raise more by taxation but, unless we pay them less, they’re unlikely to do so. I understand they have some powers at the moment but don’t use them, proving that they’re very happy with the money we give them.
    4. Scottish people do seem to have a particular sense of identity that is not easily comprehensible to the English. It may be that this is artificial or learned but it’s there, none the less. If they want to express that by being an independent country, so be it.

    Finally, if Scotland does gain independence, there should be no fudges that allow MPs who are Scottish citizens to remain in Parliament. i.e. No dual citizenship etc.

  7. lojolondon
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    What Bliar did with the Scottish (and Welsh) parliament was pure bribery – spending millions of pounds to ‘give them independence and a parliament’ and gave them no autonomy.
    Whether Scotland (and Wales) stay in or out, we should stop the massive subsidy of Scotland (and Wales) from England, it is an £11 Billion (not sure of the Welsh subsidy) bribe from the Labour party to the Scots (and the Welsh) and it should be cancelled forthwith.
    If the Scots (and the Welsh) feel that they want self-rule, then they should, no hard feelings.

  8. Peter Huntington
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the invitation to comment. I am a strong supporter of the Union. I am British and independence foer Scotland would take away part of my identity so it is an issue I believe on which Westminster should not be silent. Unless the SNP government agrees the terms of any single referendum question with Westminster then any SNP -led process should be regarded as simply advisory and subject to a further referendum of Scots when the terms of any break are finally agreed. There is no need for a referendum on a UK basis as the terms of putative independence will be fully debated in Parliament.

    There is a case for a Westminster-led single referendum on the issue as Salmod seems determined to use every opportunity to make increasingly ludicrous demands over the next 4 years to try to wring out more concessions for Scotland. If he gets them-well, hey, look what the SNP can do. If he does not, then Westminster is holding Scotland back.

    Scotland already has powers to raise up to 3p in direct taxation. That`s the path to go down. Any other taxation proposals I would regard as a threat to the Union, such as Salmond`s ridiculous suggestion to control excise duty.

    If Scotland raised more tax itself then the block grant should be correspondingly reduced. Salmond also needs to know that independence comes with a price, such as the a proportion of the costs of developing the offshore oilfields, removal of Scottish military bases etc. Salmond seems to be going for “independence-lite” at the moment but he should not be allowed to get away with this. It`s another ploy to seem sweetly reasonable. That`s why ultimately Westminster must be involved in the terms of any final deal or consider pre-empting Salmond with a Yes No question sooner rather than later.

  9. electro-kevin
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    We’re going to need fresh water and lots of it in the not too distant future.

    That’s the one thing Scotland has in abundance.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      Far too expensive to move water from Scotland and no real shortage in the UK anyway just a lack of will to provide the right water infrastructure.

    • Simon
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      Is there evidence to suggest rainfall over England will reduce ?

      We have never had to make responsible use of water in England so there is considerable scope for improvement :-
      – dual stream reticulation ; separate supplies of potable and non-potable water
      – changing our road drain runnoff so the water is collected rather than funnelled to sewerage plants which it then overwhelms leading to discharges of raw sewerage into our rivers and onto out beaches .
      – building new reservoirs

      The above would create jobs and negate the need for innefficient solutions like desalination plants .

      I am sure the only reason politicians are looking at desalination plants is because some favoured vested interest stands to receive subsidies courtesy of the tax payer .

      Thats the real industry – getting your hands on public money or a official support for a monopoly situation .

    • BobE
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      There is no need for water to ever be in short supply in the SE. In the extreem we can extract from the Thames. But a few more reservoirs to cover the imigration boosted population will suffice.
      The sun is currently at the beginning of a cooling cycle. (Source NASA).
      Because of this we will need to produce more CO2 to help maintain the planets temperature. Coal fired power stations would be a good start. The UK has 500 years of coal available.

  10. norman
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    The SNP victory really came about as they fit perfectly the ‘none of the above’ role that the Lib Dems have, as well as they can be everything to everyman. I live in an SNP stronghold (60%+ of the list vote) and talk to people who are natural conservatives but are convinced that the SNP are really ‘tartan Tories’ but in other areas the SNP portray themselves as ‘progressive’ socialists. Alex Salmond played his hand well.

    As to the four points.

    1) Yes, but as you (the political class) are convinced that referenda concerning who our political masters are (EU) are off the table so I don’t really know what to think – best left to wiser heads (politicians) to decide for us what’s best for us.

    2) Of course, that should go without saying. With England borrowing like there’s no tomorrow (funny how people who go on about Scotland spending more than it pays in taxes conveniently forget the fact that the UK as a whole is borrowing massive amounts – should Scotland pay the interest on this but receive none of the money borrowed?) we should also be excluded from the debt if, and that’s a big ig, we can live more within our means. A great opportunity for the SNP to show they can be financially sensible.

    3) as 2), of course

    4) Does it really matter when most of our laws and regulations come from Brussels? The SNP are as pro-EU as the Conservatives / Labour / Lib Dems so it really doesn’t matter in the bigger picture.

    Reply: Some of us want a referendum on the EU and voted for one.

    • norman
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      I didn’t mean to imply any criticism of you, I realise there are a handful of MP’s who don’t toe the Party line at every opportunity but who will do what they believe is what their constituents want.

      An independent Scotland would put the Conservative Party leadership in a quandry – with Labour’s 50 seat start gone what would be to stop England being offered a referendum on EU membership?

  11. Duyfken
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Straight “yes” or “no” answers to your questions must be of little value to any one (although a well-constructed public opinion poll might indeed be useful to all in the Union). Reasons behind our answers however may be what you really wish to elicit.

    1. (Yes) Devolution of powers affects the British Constitution and should only be agreed by the UK as a whole.

    2. (Yes) Obviously if the Scots were to gain an advantage or disadvantage in financial terms (and in other ways) by way of obtaining more powers, then an adjustment should be negotiated.

    3. (Undecided) This impinges on an inverse variant of “no taxation without representation”, and if the Scots were to raise taxes for more than just local internal services, then this would seem to be a step towards independence and their rights to participate in Westminster politics should be curbed.

    4. (Undecided) If the Scots overwhelmingly want independence, it would be foolish to block it, but the terms must be fair. My personal feeling, for what it’s worth, is that the Scots should be given the opportunity to vote on their preference now, rather than at a time chosen by Alex Salmond.

  12. Mike Stallard
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    This is fascinating.

    I loathe the EU and the Euro. I am all in favour of a referendum in England to pull us out of the EUSSR.
    Meanwhile, I find that the people of Scotland want the same independence from us!
    So what do I say? That I am in favour of the one and not the other? How can I possibly justify this? If we were to insist on a referendum over the whole of Europe to allow us Brits to withdraw, then we would be being ridiculous.

    Secondly, I am all in favour of subsidiarity where, like the Catholic Church, local people run things when they can. So, when local people in Scotland want to subsidiarify (?) I ought to be in favour of it, oughtn’t I? But then, I also find my nationalism is being undermined, yet again, by Europe. And Alex Salmond is so annoying! Again, I am torn.

    I lost my Imperial Country in 1949, though, and my faith in the Church of England in 1989. So the final destruction of the country I once loved is just another body blow to which I am getting very used.

    • BobE
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Agreed.

    • Phil
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Agreed!

  13. JimF
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    In the interest of equality of opportunity, I’d also propose a parallel referendum on English independence, to follow, quite closely, any Scottish referendum.

  14. Mike Stallard
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    “Posted on 20 June 2011 14:44 by Neil Craig

    Douglas

    A bit off topic in one sense, but still about the EU.

    The Mail on Sunday had a report about “the EU loyalty Clause” written into EU pension schemes, and outlined a number of Members of the House of Lords who cannot speak or vote against EU policy unless they are prepared to loose their EU pension rights.

    It is reported that this clause apparently is written into EU Pension contracts and forbids any adverse action or comment about EU policy, from any EU pension holder who wishes to retain their pension rights.

    Please advise if our Deputy Prime Minister, and Energy Secretary, who have both served in the EU for a number of years, are likely to be bound by such similar conditions, given I assume that they are holders of an EU Pension agreement.

    I thought elected members of the House of Commons had a duty to serve their Country and constituants first and foremost.

    Are you aware, or do you know of any such EU restrictions?”

    I think this is one of the most important remarks which has been made on any blog in the last month. Please, please do answer it for us.

    Reply: I will make enquiries as I do not know if this is true.

    • Corin Vestey
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Mike,

      I think about this issue a great deal too. The only kind of Lords Reform I want to see (except the reinstatement for the hereditaries) is the requirement for any member to be barred from accepting money from any foreign power or supra-national authority if that money requires support for the interests of a body other than the United Kingdom.

      If we ever get a leader willing to try to pass a referendum bill we shall need such an Loyalty Act if fear.

      • Simon
        Posted June 21, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

        All we have had to date was passing of laws to dilute treason legislation before they proceeded to commit it .

    • alan jutson
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      Mike

      Actually it was 15.23 on 20th June, and it was me.

      Neil posted the blog before this one, on Dougas Carswell’s site.

      Certainly very, very, interesting if the reports are accurate.

      Regards

      Alan.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      You say “I thought elected members of the House of Commons had a duty to serve their Country and constituents first and foremost.”

      Just like Fred Goodwin had a duty to RBS shareholders!

      It seems party, career, consultancies, pensions, expenses and the EU come well before constituents for most MPs.

    • Simon
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      How many other societies (besides our main political parties) require their members and alumni to put their interests before those of the country they are supposed to serve ?

      At the very least there should be a legal requirement to declare these conflicts of interest at election time , preferably on the ballot form .

    • BobE
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      Its true, it was reported on R4 as well. Many of them are not allowed to vote against any EU ruling!! Madness.

  15. Caratacus
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Being a simple soul, I try to reduce things to their basics in order to understand them. I figure that the EU is a rolling disaster for the majority of peoples in Europe. I would like to see the UK secede from the union.

    It seems to me that the SNP only wish for Scotland what many of us would wish for the UK. Therefore, as much as I would prefer the United Kingdom to remain united, if the majority of Scots would like to ‘go it alone’ then they must be allowed to do so.

    I now stand ready to be cut off at the knees by far more thoughtful commentators … 🙂

    • Robert K
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      Looks like perfect logic to me

    • cynicalHighlander
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      Better friendly neighbours than surly inhabitants.

  16. Richard1
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    I think the time has come that we must hav a referendum in Scotland on Independence. The Government should announce the date now to stop the SNP seeking to spring it whenever it feels the timing is most advantageous to itself. The Euro Election day of 2012 is one idea. If the Scots vote ‘Yes’, the Scottish executive should negotiate the terms of separation with the UK Govt – who takes how much debt etc. Then it is essential that the final deal is put to a referendum of the whole of the UK. There is no reason the UK taxpayer should have a potentially disadvantageous deal imposed on them. The fact that there needs to be such a 2nd referendum will discourage the Scottish executive over-playing their hand (eg by claiming that all N Sea oil is in Scotland). I think the Scots will vote ‘No’ in any event. Then all we need to do is make sure the English MPs have the same powers as the Scottish MSPs.

    • alan jutson
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Richard1

      Surely you seek terms first, otherwise no one knows what they are voting for.

      • David Price
        Posted June 22, 2011 at 5:55 am | Permalink

        I agree, after all why would we want to repeat the blank-cheque disaster of the EU.

      • Richard1
        Posted June 22, 2011 at 8:23 am | Permalink

        I dont think that works. First the people of Scotland need to decide whether in principle they want independence. The process of negotiating it will be v complex – the Govt couldnt & shouldnt get into that until it was clear there was a desire in Scotland for independence

    • cynicalHighlander
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      Democracy out the window then except on your terms.

  17. lifelogic
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    I see the SORN car insurance requirement mugging systems comes into force today. So please make sure if you have an unused vehicle you do your SORN every year without fail or you will be fined – so cast iron Cameron-Heath can use the money to waste on wind turbines, Greece, the EU, pointless wars, the equality commission, pointless paper shuffling jobs or something else daft or more likely actually damaging.

    • Mick Anderson
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      It was already a fining offence to not make a SORN declaration if your car is untaxed and off the road.

      All they’ve done is add another fine for the same offence – a bit like charging VAT on fuel tax.

      Who was it pledging to end the war on motorists? I forget…

      • lifelogic
        Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        Indeed the car is essential to get people to work and vital to get growth going. It is also in the real world probably the most efficient way of travelling in the real day to day world.

        It can also be shown to be more efficient in CO2 terms and very much safer than bikes (bikes being fuelled by very energy intensive extra food intake).

        Why is Cameron so anti car and anti growth?

      • Simon
        Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:55 am | Permalink

        It is no business of the Govt what I do or don’t do with my cars on my property .

        Even the most subnormal idiot in Westminster must be able to see that increasing the fine will have no effect on untaxed vehicle usage .

        Why punish the rest of us with yet more pointless paperwork .

        • lifelogic
          Posted June 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

          Perhaps they will extend it to force you to insure your bikes, wheel barrows or children next or declare them off road too on pain of fine!

    • alan jutson
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      Wonder what happens when someone clones the reg number of an off the road car?

      Speed offence, parking offence, congestion charging scheme.

      Original owner has to prove car was not on the road ?

      We seem to be getting more and more of these guilty with ines applied, until you can prove yourself innocent ( no simpe task sometimes) by an extensive appeal process.

      • lifelogic
        Posted June 21, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        Indeed and even if you do win you have lost in time and pointless effort – you will get no compensation for the inconvenience.

  18. John Bucknall
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    1. Yes of course. It affects us as much as it affects the Scots. From a practical point of view I understand that opinion polls show that more people in England would be willing to let Scotland go than Scots who want to go (40% to 20%).
    2. Of course. Scotland is currently pursuing a highly socialist economic policy (in the land of Adam Smith!). They should reap the consequences.
    3. No. Enough is enough.
    4. Great Britain is founded on the Union. I do not want us to break the British Isles into tiny medieval fragments.

    I have not been to Scotland since I did business there in the early nineties.
    The financial powerhouse that was Edinburgh has been destroyed by the hubris that was evinced in the RBS takeover of ABN and the demise of HBoS. What is the Scottish economy built on these days? Windmills?

  19. Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    I don’t care about the Union one way or the other. Of course a breakup would be messy and inconvenient, but if the Scots want to leave, that’s entirely up to them.

    (My personal preference would be for England to secede, leaving the rest to subsidise each other and pay for their UK EU membership. England would decline to reapply.)

  20. Richard Calhoun
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Only Scotland should vote for their independence .

    They should not be granted any more powers until we have a referendum, would have thought this was obvious but there must be another agenda in Westminster, probably linked to a referendum on the EU. In other words once again the politicians are ‘frit’

    I am a firm believer in the Union and I believe the Scottish people are also.

  21. alan jutson
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    How complicated it gets when politicians get involved.

    This is exactly what happens when you start with allowing devolving powers in the first place, more and more powers are then requested, because part is never enough.

    Before answering your questions perhaps we should discuss the following before any sort of vote, if one is to take place, takes place, then people would now what they are voting for.

    Scotland first of all has come to an agreement as to how much (what percentage) of the UK national debt it will take on board, after all its Mps were in positions of power, when this debt as racked up in part in their name as part of the UK government, and their MPs had an equal opportunity to vote on such at the time.

    If Scotland were to become independent then they surely have to stand on their own feet financially, completely, otherwise they are not independent, so they must have the ability to raise all of their own taxes, and receive nothing from the UK Parliament or the rest of the UK taxpayer.

    Clearly if independent, then Scotland should have power over its own coastal waters and all of which that contains, oil, fish etc.

    Could we have some working agreements on defence? probably.
    Could we have working agreements on other services? possibly.

    Would each need to charge for such services when used by the other? I guess so.

    Would Scottish MPs be allowed in Westminster at all ? clearly not, unless any debate perhaps involved Scotland, but then why should it !.

    Would the remainder of the UK be funding any part of Scotland, clearly not, other than for services purchased from them.

    Would Scotland need a seperate agreement to contribute to membership of the EU should it choose to belong. Of course !

    Clearly there are many more details which would need to be ironed out before a sensible vote could be taken, because it would be idiotic to have a vote on independence, or any form of part independence, without knowing what the liabilities and benefits t both parties would be.

    Devolving part power was yet another dogs dinner agreement, and yet another additional cost of government overhead on the Uk taxpayer.

    Should Scotland be able to just walk away with no liabilities and still get funding from the rest of the UK taxpayer ? You must be bloody joking !!

    Politicians, I love em !

  22. Nick
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Let them go.

    They take a Barnet formula share of the debt with them, as the Barnet formula is fair.

    We get rid of the Socialists North of the border. They have to support the PS (50% of the economy north of the Border). We have a no bail out clause, Scotland has to go to Europe, or even, let England get it’s independence, and we join the EUFTA. Scotland, Wales and NI can then deal with the resulting mess.

  23. Paul
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    (1) The rest of us should have a vote too – essential for those of us who want to be independent of Scotland.

    (2) The financial consequences should be proportionate and fair. What is fair now about Scotland affording citizens there extra advantages in health care and education over those available in the rest of the UK?

    (3) It has income tax-raising powers now it does not use. Alex speaks of lowering the corporation tax rate to attract investment: how does that help us?

    (4) No. The rest of the UK would certainly be better-off without Scotland. Scotland as a separate sovereign might do ok too – but who cares?

  24. GJ Wyatt
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    There are many English people living in Scotland, just as there are many Scots living in England. Are any of these to be disenfranchised? As an Englishman who has lived most of my life in Scotland the referendum issue is quite piquant. I would answer “yes” to each of your questions. Despite the recent SNP victory, most people here would stick to the Union. But Alec Salmond will clearly use his victory to launch arguments for independence, and will dig up bones of contention to do so. If there is to be a referendum in Scotland it should be advisory only, serving to inform a full scale debate in Westminster on the issue, including the matter of a subsequent, deciding referendum on independence. For example it could be determined that that referendum should embrace the whole UK, where independence would follow if there were a simple majority across the UK or a two-thirds majority in Scotland.

  25. Robert K
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    In the past I have favoured the Union. The disaster of the EU has brought home to me the importance of regional, preferably local decision making.
    In answer to your questions:
    1) Yes, insofar that the English should be allowed to declare their preference to be separate from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
    2) Yes – the Scots should be allowed to raise taxes as they see fit and live within their means. England should not subsidise any aspect of Scottish life, including defence.
    3) Once independent, taxation would be entirely up to the Scots. Tax revenues from the North Sea may be one of those things that the English will have to shrug their shoulders over.
    4) It is time for a break-up, although I wouldn’t accept an SNP model for anything (I haven’t looked at their devolution proposals in detail but my impression is that they are: “we should be able to do what we want as long as the English pay for it”).

  26. javelin
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I think politicians are out of touch with the people in England. We should have a referendum on Scotland. I dont think there should be complete independence. I think stuff like the military should be shared. But I think more independence is needed for Scotland. Things are not balanced at the moment and they need to be. I have not met a single English person who is happy with the settlement. Scotish independence is an emotional issue for the Scots (nothing wrong with that) and a financial one for the English (nothing wrong with that either).

    Importantly, you can’t cherry pick your responsibilites and benefits. If Scotland wants independence on such-and-such there needs to be responsibilty for such-and-such if it goes wrong. Somehow budgets and problems steming from them need to be linked. So if Scotland gets to raise and keep taxes for Schools, when schools goes wrong they need to sort their own mess out. This means stopping the few thousand a year we sent to the Scots for their free education and prescriptions etc.

  27. John B
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Before we start. Scotland joined in a Union with England because it bankrupted itself largely by trying to compete economically with its bigger neighbour, and was not a viable economy on its own. What has changed?

    I. If other Nations are polled and the result binding rather than out of curiosity, it would de facto be a vote on ejecting (or not) a member of the Union. So Scotland should vote alone.

    2 & 3.. Yes. Scotland should be assigned its portion of the UK National debt; it should be allowed to keep its income, corporation, tax, VAT and NIC plus oil revenue receipts less an amount to cover interest on National debt and shared costs, such as security, border control, for example.

    It should be allowed to set its own tax, NIC and VAT independently from the UK as a whole out of which it must fund itself entirely. Any money from the UK should be in the form of interest bearing loans – or instead it may get money from the markets independently (good luck with that) for which the UK should bear no liability.

    4. It seems the end of a Union was set in motion by the Labour Government, to be replaced by a federation paving the way for sovereign, independent States at least in theory.

    It seems clear that Scotland, or Wales and Northern Ireland are not going concerns on their own and only England has critical mass enough not to be any worse off alone, and indeed probably better off. Northern Ireland could of course join up with the Republic but I don’t think they are that daft.

    The problem with break up of the Union experiment is likely mass migration from the peripheral Nations to England and impoverished neighbours rattling their begging bowls at the new borders.

    It is inconceivable the SNP does not understand this and talk of independence is only a game to try and get more power to play with at England’s expense.

    So the the Coalition should play alone and give Scotland independence in all but name and tell the Salmonites to go ahead, knock themselves out, have a blast – but England will not, repeat NOT, pick up the pieces when it all goes horribly wrong.

    • sjb
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

      Most of Ireland broke away from the Union, John. 2010 GDP per capita (est.) is $37,300 compared to $34,800 for the UK (Source: CIA Factbook).

      “Independence has given Ireland the freedom to compete with others on a level playing field, and win. It has enabled the Irish people and economy to flourish. Independence is the best thing that ever happened to Ireland. It could be the best thing that ever happens to Scotland too.”
      http://www.snp.org/node/256

  28. John Lewis
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    1. Yes – its a union after all and both countries should have input into whether it remains a union or not.
    2.Yes- There are always financial consequences from whatever action is taken. Why should Scots and English be immune from them?
    3. Yes.
    4. I support the union is that’s what the majority of Scots and English both want. If they don’t want the union to continue then lets make that decision and get on with it. Life moves on.

  29. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    JR: “Both Labour and Conservative front benches support the Union and believe granting more powers of self government to Scotland and its Parliament is the way to preserve the Union”

    Contrast this with the European Union where the exact opposite occurs i.e. removing powers of self government is seen to be the way to preserve and strengthen the Union.
    Is Salmond showing the UK government the way to negotiate – threaten a referendum to leave and watch all the politicians run around offering concessions and more self-governance? The only problem is that Cameron has said he won’t hold such a referendum on EU membership because he thinks the UK should stay in the EU despite what the electorate think.

    • Simon
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      Look at the irony of the Irish situation .

      After hundreds of years of fighting for independence from England , Scotland and Wales they willingly subordinate themselves to Brussels !

      Some of the Scots will support Germany when they are playing England in football .

      If they suceded from the Union , would they go so far as to voluntarily subordinate themselves to Europe to spite the English ?

      • norman
        Posted June 21, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        Why would it be spiting the English when we both are already subordinate to the EU?

        Spiting England would be for us to refuse to sign up to the EU lock, stock and barrel (I realise this won’t happen) but pick and choose which parts of the EU we want – much the same as Norway does.

        • sjb
          Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

          “When we enlarged the European Union these outer-ring countries [such as Norway] had to pay into the funds that we make available to help the poorer new members. I remember a Swiss negotiator telephoning me to plead that this subscription should be presented as a voluntary donation for development in the deprived parts of Europe, not an additional fee for access to a larger market. But we both knew the truth. De facto sovereignty or de jure?”
          http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2005/sep/12/conservatives.toryleadership20051

  30. Peter Turner
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    When considering this suggestion of independance for Scotland look at it the other way. What would the Scots, the Welsh and the Northern Irish argue should England be discussing the pros and cons of holding a referrendum regarding establishing their independance from the rest of the UK?

    I have no doubt that the English would be reminded of their responsibilities to the other nations and that they, the English, would be pursuing a policy based upon selfish self interest. Somehow I have a feeling that we would be painted in a bad light .

    As for an Independant Scotland? What Independant Scotland? Just a far more controlled Scotland under the yoke of the EU (unless, of course, the collapse of the Eurozone leads to the collapse of the EU).

  31. rose
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    What happens to all the Scots living in England and vice versa? Isn’t it more practical to keep the union of the two nations? The political puzzle is, why, if union with just one other nation is too oppressive for the minor nation, does it want to go into union with many, and even larger, more alien nations? Is it because it still sees the EU as a gravy train for corrupt little nations to exploit ? A union in which they will be even more subsidised than they are by England?

    When I talk privately to individual Scots, something else emerges. They are horrified at the suicide England has committed, and don’t want to follow suit. There is still a chance of preserving their own national identity, and they want to take it.

    • Simon
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      Which suicide is that please Rose , could you elabourate please ?

      • rose
        Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

        The usual censored subject, Simon, which only comes up in private conversations away from authority. Curiously, it now comes up in the street with total strangers, at bus stops, in hospital waiting rooms, in the park, with beauticians and hairdressers, with shop assistants, with men working on the roads, with taxi drivers of course, even with one’s liberal and socialist friends who would have denounced the subject ten years ago but now start it up themselves …can’t you guess?

        • rose
          Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

          PS Simon, the subject has even came up in conversation with a senior Anglican clergyman!

      • BobE
        Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

        Simon, England commited suicide by joining the EU. She will die and be replaced by several provinces of Northan Europe.

      • Jon Burgess
        Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

        Where do you want to start? These are some of the things that evidence the winding down of what once was the leading world power to an insignificant region in the north east of the EUSSR:
        Subordination to a foreign power (the big one)
        Loss of control over UK borders
        ‘uman rights instead of our Bill of Rights
        Loss of control over fishing grounds
        The loss of of our traditional weights and measures systems
        The failure to stop the foreign purchase of vital UK assets – for example, utilities
        Failure to retain significant trading links with the Commonwealth
        Running down the armed forces to a bare minimum (whilst racking up the number of unending conflicts)

  32. Steve Cox
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Although I am Welsh, I lived and worked in NE Scotland for over 8 years and enjoyed just about every second of it. Beautiful country, friendly people (at least as soon as I mentioned my Celtic ancestry), it was just a pity about the weather, and the national inclination towards strongly left wing politics. Perhaps the two are related? Anyway, although I have now moved to yet another country (this one MUCH warmer, I am happy to say!), I still have many Scottish friends who I keep in touch with. To a man (or a woman) they all seem to feel very strongly that Scotland needs and deserves to break free from the Union. These are mostly highly educated folk (post-graduate degrees by and large), so it is highly unlikely that it is simply knee-jerk dislike of England and the Conservatives, and that they have not properly thought through the probable consequences of independence. So much as I have always felt that maintaining a strong Union was in the best interests of all concerned, I have to bow to what seems to be an almost overwhelming feeling north of the border that they wish to decide their own destiny. I do not believe that the English (and Welsh!) should deny them this opportunity, although I am personally convinced that the result will end up being pretty messy. I would wish the Scots every success if they do vote for a split. The most major long-term impact south of the border, IMHO, is that it will become much, much harder for Labour to achieve a majority in the House of Commons (especially when combined with the impending Boundary Commission changes). That would be a highly positive outcome for us southern softies in my view.

  33. stred
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    The problem with the Scots, as with the English, is that there is no typical Scot or region. They differ completely, region to region and individually. The English would be well rid of the Lowland windbags, such as Gordon Brown, but would miss the intelligence of the others.

    I do not, on the whole see how the English can continue to pay the same taxes, while the Scots enjoy free university fees and prescriptions. We should be able to vote for independence too.

    A voluble Scottish neighbour of mine, who is always complaining about the unfairness of the union, pointed out that the same proportion of Scots live in England as English live in Scotland. I suggested that perhaps there could be a population exchange in order to solve the excessive density in the South.

  34. David John Wilson
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    As England has been ruled by a Scottish Royal Family since the 17th century surely an English vote should determine whether we wish to remove ourselves from this association. More seriously I do believe that the other nations of the union have an equal right to vote on whether we wish to separate ourselves from the Scots.
    What we do need to do is to put a stop having the Scots having the right to vote in parliament on issues which do not involve Scotland. Fridays in prliament should be reserved for matters which do not affect Scotland. The Scottish MPs could then go back to Scotland a day earlier which would also reduce their expense claims.
    The representation in parliament needs to be reduced so that the number of people represented by a Scottish MP is the same as those represented by an English MP.

    • eddyh
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      Surely, since the time of George 1, we have been ruled by a German Royal family.

    • BobE
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      I though the Royal Family was German? Brandenburg changed to Winsor because of the war.

      • zorro
        Posted June 21, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

        Saxe Coburg

        • BobE
          Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

          Very true.
          The House of Windsor is the current royal house of the Commonwealth realms. It was founded by King George V by royal proclamation on the 17 July 1917, when he changed the name of his family from the German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the English Windsor, due to the anti-German sentiment in the United Kingdom during World War I. Currently, the most prominent member of the House of Windsor is Elizabeth II, the reigning monarch of the Commonwealth realms.

        • rose
          Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

          Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

          • rose
            Posted June 22, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

            She is still descended from Edward the Confessor and beyond, as well as from the Stuarts. The Spencer blood has reinforced both.

            But this generation of the family remains quite German, as shown by its foisting on us a pseudo morganatic marriage.

    • JoolsB
      Posted June 22, 2011 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      @ David John Wilson,

      Even four days at Westminster is excessive as most decisions for Scotland are taken by129 MSPs at Holyrood. Their main purpose nowadays to justify their existance is to meddle in English only matters. Same goes for House of Lords where the likes of the digraced Mick Martin and other Scottish Lords scrutinise legislation which applies to English only matters. They do not scrutinise legislation passed by the Scottish Paliament so why are they there? Just think of all the money that could be saved in expenses alone!

  35. Gary
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    I favor devolution of all political power right down to the town hall. It has the effect of providing a bulk head that prevents the stupidity of one region taking down all the others. It also dilutes the power of the corporate lobby.

    If you hate the EU , I cannot see why you would love any political union. Except for purely emotional reasons.

    The subtext here is, who gets North Sea oil , or what’s left of it ?

    • alan jutson
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      Gary

      The sub text is also:

      How much of the existing UK National debt does Scotland take on, after all their MP’s voted for it, and supported all this wasted spending.
      A Scottish Mp was UK Chancellor for 10 years and a Prime Minister for a couple more.

      Many other points also made, see blog entry 09.12 am above (still held in modification at the moment)

      • alan jutson
        Posted June 21, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        oops meant “moderation”

  36. Stephen Gash
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    1. Independence of any nation comprising the UK affects the other nations. If Scotland is afforded a referendum on its independence then each of the nations should also be afforded the same courtesy. In any event the rest of the UK should not be made to hang around for Scots to make up their minds to be in a union with us or not. Leaving such a destabilising constitutional matter brooding for years is no way to run a country. The referendum should be had this year whether the SNP likes it or not. The SNP only has six MPs at Westminster, so I fail to see why it considers it has a mandate to hold the rest of us to ransom, anyway.

    2. Scotland should be made to pick up its share of the UK debt, seeing as Scots were largely responsible for it. Selling off English assets should benefit England only. No Scottish asset sell-offs benefit England so why should English sell-offs go into the UK treasury to benefit Scotland?

    3. Scotland should only gain more tax rasing powers after England has its own parliament with the same fiscal control. It would be intolerable for Scotland’s parliament to gain more powers while England is governed by the UK parliament with Scottish ministers such as Danny Alexander deciding matters for England only. Most people in England find the present situation intolerable enough without having our noses rubbed in it further. Alexander’s campaigning to save Scotland’s forests from being sold while being in the vanguard in the proposed sale of England’s forests shows exactly why we need an English parliament. Similarly his stance on full tuition fees for students in England and defence of no fees for Scottish students seems a tad hypocritical.

    4. I’m against the Union because the Union is flagrantly against England.

  37. Jonathan Tee
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Personally I’m all in favour of small government and a more federal UK would be a step in the right direction so long as Westminster devolves sufficient powers. So I’m relaxed about Scottish independence (or greater devolution) so long as it is not independent policy making wedded to dependent financing.

    1. Should the people of the rest of the UK have any say in the independence of Scotland?

    Unless there is great clamour for a divorce from non-Scottish voters, I don’t see what would be achieved by giving the rest of the UK a say. If the rest of the Union wants Scotland to stay but the Scots want to leave what would be the next step?

    2. Should there be any financial consequences from Scotland gaining more independence to make her own decisions within the Union settlement?

    Absolutely. The Scots should receive less subsidy and more tax raising powers. Otherwise it is independence in name only.

    3. Should Scotland have more powers to raise her own taxation?

    As above – yes. Otherwise the conversation will be about how much the English should pay to Scotland in subsidy, and that would generate a lot of toxic sentiment on both sides of the border.

    4. Do you support the Union or do you think it is time for break-up as the SNP suggest?

    I’m relaxed either way. The reason for tying the Scots into the Union was to keep them from raiding and pillaging the North, and preventing another power such as France landing troops unopposed (as happened under Marie de Guise’s regency for example); that is not a realistic concern today. So the question is really whether the Scots feel they can prosper more under self-rule than rule from Westminster. If the answer is yes, its a benefit for all.

  38. Scottspeig
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Devolution is a bad idea for all since it fundamentally altered the system of the UK. Rather, “The Plan” (by Carswell & Hannan) should be implemented which pushes a lot of issues to the local level. As such, Scotland should get a referendum on that along with the whole UK as it moves taxation down away from the treasury. This would be a bribe to Wales, N.Ireland and Scotland to come back into the fold.

    The alternative is to reduce the UK to national states (United States of Britain) which should be offered to Ireland (as a united state) similar to the US. The only issue I’d have with that is that it would pave the way for a United Europe which I am dead set against (Since it would vastly alter the democratic power of the people).

    Alternatively, we should re-unite the outlying lands into the fold and remove the assemblies (this would be very hard to do if even possible!)

  39. Bryan
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Let them go.

    Half of the North Sea Oil is in English waters and just think of those billions that we would get back in exchange for the UK Scottish tax take which they can keep in exchange.

  40. Posted June 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    I don’t wish to break up the Union, but I think that its whole structure should be changed, mainly because as an Englishman I’m fed up with the constant whining of the Scots, and the fact that they have undue influence over English matters.
    I would like to see all four constituent parts of the Kingdom being largely independent, with a central government being just responsible for collecting general taxation to pay for defence, foreign affairs, etc.
    In other words, a sort of four state United Kingdom run in a similar manner to the United States where the individual states control most day-to-day activities. Of course, the fact that the whole union should be outside the EU, goes without saying!

    • norman
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      I’m not going to say that Scots aren’t whingers (it’s a national trait I like to think we share with you English!) but up here we get much the same impression and I’m sure neither is really heartfelt, or at least not on my part.

      I don’t know how many posts I read with people stating as fact that England subsidises Scotland (at the moment we are both massively subsidised by massive government borrowing and even leaving that aside it isn’t as cut and dried as people make out) and that England would be best shot of us, as though England is being ran on fiscally conservative lines and getting rid of the scrounging Scots would right the apple cart.

      I wholeheartedly agree Scottish MP’s shouldn’t get to vote on matters that don’t concern Scotland, if the main political parties had any scruples they would make an informal pact that they wouldn’t do this – but then that would scupper Labour forever.

  41. EJT
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Give them a referendum – in or out of the UK. “In” means closing the devolved parliament. It’s an unnecessary level of government which generates endless pointless hassle, and it represents unequal status for english voters and taxpayers.

  42. Posted June 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    The big issue is will Scotland get to control corporation tax.

    Cutting corporation tax, along with cutting regulations, particularly building regs, have been the prime causes of Ireland’s spectacular growth from 60% of our per capita GNP in 1989 to what is still, despite its banking crash, significantly higher than the UK’s. This has been recognised for some years in Scotland, where we are more attuned to the Celtic fringe than in Westminster (though not as much as in Northern Ireland). Leaders of all parties here have suggested cutting CT here and it is the most noticeable issue on which the Scots, normally considered to be left leaning, are noticeably to the right of the UK average.

    The SNP first promised to promote cutting CT before the 2007 election and I believe it was a significant factor in their popularity in a very close election. After they came to power they did nothing noticeable to redeem this pledge, saying the Engklish were preventing it.

    The argument for Westminster parties here is that if Scotland (& Northern Ireland who are even more determined to get the same power as their neighbour) get this power they will “steal” jobs from the rest of the UK. I think that is a bad argument for 3 reasons.

    Firstly it is openly claiming to sacrifice Scots interests to English ones, and in a way which an independent Scotland could rectify. That is hardly likely to inspire anybody to maintain the union.

    Secondly it is an example of Milton Friedman’s remark – “Most economic fallacies derive from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another”. Certainly some industries which would choose Scotland would have otherwise gone to England. Some would have gone to Ireland, or France, or Germany, or the USA, or Dubai. Its a big world out there. And many investments simply wouldn’t have been made, the investors spending it on wine women and amateur dramatics. That’s how free enterprise works. Moreover over time successful investments spill over borders. A growing Scottish economy is thus good for the Westminster Exchequer and for English workers.

    Thirdly, and more subtly for those who want a successful economy south of Berwick, is the example it would give. Just as Ireland has been a good example for Scotland, leading Scots to appreciate the benefit of pro-growth policies a successful Scotland would encourage the same understanding in England. If Scotland was cutting CT successfully voters, particularly in the north of England would be receptive, indeed clamouring for, similar cuts there. George Osborne has made a small CT cut and I am certain would like to make a bigger one if it was a priority with the voters. Tax competition, between very similar economic areas, in a beneficial direction is unequivocally a good thing. The fact that different states in the USA compete over taxes is one of the reasons why their economy has historically been so successful and a strong argument against both a unitary state and full separation.

    The complaint against tax competition only makes sense if the purpose of government is to get away with as much taxation as possible. Free market radicals, as Scots once were and the present Westminster government claims to be, should welcome Holyrood getting the power to cut the single tax most destructive of economic growth.

    And in due course, with improved growth, both sides of the border would prosper.

    • Jonathan Tee
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      Great post – even without full independence healthy tax competition between UK regions would be wonderful. Of course a (con?)federated Scotland running a low CT model would have to be prevented from sharing debts with the rest of the UK if its spending policies were misaligned to that model.

  43. Richard
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    The Union should be kept whole.
    Splitting into smaller and smaller units at a time when nations such as India and China are developing as competing world economic powers makes no sense and devolution just increases the size of our Government and the numbers of politicians at a time when we need less of both.
    We should revise the Barnett formula which is too generous to Scotland and revise the rules on what Scottish MPs can vote on in Westminster.
    It is theConservative and Unionist party after all.

  44. Robert Eve
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    I strongly support Scottish independence.

    It’s a win-win for Conservatives as we would get rid of all those socialists in one go.

  45. Alan Wheatley
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    As technology has allowed the World to become smaller, in the sense that it is ever easier to travel round it and communicate between all places, it seems there is no shortage of pressure for recasting national boundaries in an endeavour to match them to special interest groups. Events and activities on a global scale are increasingly having an impact on widespread communities, no matter how small and specialist their nationalistic viewpoint. So we humans need to work hard at developing improved ways where by microscopic interests can be blended with macroscopic considerations.

    This, of course, is nothing new, but it is increasingly significant. I have long thought that if after 300 years of trying the English and the Scots can not work out a way of living together in one nation, what hope is there for the rest of the World.

    In the UK we are not helped by the fact that the Government is, or at least seems to be given the abundant evidence, governing to suit London, and elsewhere is second best. The English in, for instance, the West Country and the North may well feel as estranged as the Scots, but they do not have anything like such a good historical and political basis for a realistic break away campaign.

    Scottish Independence is a change to the UK, and therefore is of concern to the whole of the UK and all must have a say. If the Scots do decide on independence then it can not be simply on their terms, and as an Englishman I would expect them to pay compensation to the rest of the UK for the cost of the reorganisation their departure would cause. A three-hunder year investment in Scotland is not wiped out by short-term oil.

  46. john elliott
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Any partnership needs to willing partners. Either party should be able to dissolve the parnership

  47. RDM
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    “Today we debate the Scotland Bill. Both Labour and Conservative front benches support the Union”

    Good, so do I!

    “and believe granting more powers of self government to Scotland and its Parliament is the way to preserve the Union.”

    Rubbish! I believe the people (except South England) want change, not more layers of Democracy! They want a means to build their own life’s without having to rely on more politicians, and change from the effects of the ups and downs of an economic policy focused on the Financial markets. If we do live in a Market (free?) economy then it needs to be an Inclusive Markets system, everyone (all regions) should have access to an inclusive Banking system, one not centered around London. The people of the regions do not have the same access too collateral, and the same Enterprise culture as S England. The Politics of the regions tend to be based on Socialism, a dependency culture! At one time, back in the 1800s, Wales had more Banks then Sheep!

    Also; Westminster needs to be more Representative of them. Reform the House of Lords with elections base on merit and experience!

    “The SNP see the opportunity to demand more powers for the time being, whilst seeking to use the devolved Parliament as a platform and stepping stone for full independence”

    But they know that if they had a referendum now there would be a clear majority in favour of the Union, so why are we letting them? Provide the people of Scotland with the means to build their own lives, now!, building a strong middle class.

    ” The SNP sees it as heads they win, tails the Union loses. If they gain the extra powers and use them sensibly, they may be able to persuade enough people in Scotland that self government works well.”

    Only because the front benches are blinkered! Stop trying too democratize everything, and consider now to make the Union more inclusive. I believe we need a covenant with the people and Parliament, a written Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the means to build a life, an Inclusive Banking Systems, not based on ownership of houses (collateral)!

    Ownership; It is very common for people within the regions not to be able to gain access to mortgages, Startup loans, Project Finance, etc … Very little competition between Banks, and a very small number of capital providers. A contradiction of an Inclusive Markets Systems!

    “If sufficient powers are refused, they have an injustice to carry into a referendum on independence.”

    Call their bluff! Have a Referendum and hope? Or Take a longer view, and appeal to the people with a message that highlights the benefits of the Union.

    “All main political parties agree that any decision on Scottish independence should be settled by votes of people in Scotland alone. I would be interested in hearing from readers”

    1. Should the people of the rest of the UK have any say in the independence of Scotland?

    The act of Union is an agreement between Scotland and the Union of England and Wales. Established, by agreement, by Eward I and written within the Henry VIII clauses. Right or Wrong; lets see you dispute this, and you will discover how difficult it will be, and find the hornets nest hidden beneath. It is not going to be as easy as people believe!

    British politicians need to enter into their debate, for no other reason then to lay out the benefits of Union, and the cost of independence! Not something the SNP will be willing to establish!

    Morally, if they want to go it alone, they will eventually. So, we should let them decide for them selfs!

    2. Should there be any financial consequences from Scotland gaining more independence to make her own decisions within the Union settlement?

    Yes; The “Costs of Independence”, not just financial, but political, etc …

    3. Should Scotland have more powers to raise her own taxation?

    Not until they have their own currency, when they can take full responsibility for their spending decisions. Currency Unions, beware of half way houses. See the Euro!

    4. Do you support the Union or do you think it is time for break-up as the SNP suggest?

    I am a Unionist, if you haven’t already guessed!

    I am British, before I am Welsh! Just how the country’s themselves started! Celtic Britain was establish well before Wales! Wales was, and is, just a bunch of tribes arguing! Except when the English get ahead of them selfs, again!

    I believe in the benefits it CAN bring to us all! But also, The People believe in HRM, the power to unite us all!

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  48. cynicalHighlander
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    1. No

    2. ?

    3. Yes

    4. Independence.

  49. Yarnesfromhorsham
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Yes let them go if thats what they want – and take their forty Labour MPs with them.

  50. Fred Goodwin's Ghost
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    If Scotland devolves, who gets landed with the debt? I would be in favour of Scotland’s devolution as long as England isn’t left holding the baby. Basically, the following conditions are to be met:
    1. Scotland takes 100% of the responsibility for the current salaries and future pensions of all it’s past and future state employees. This includes Gordon Brown, and such other employees of the Scottish state.
    2. Scotland takes 8.4% of the British National Debt (represents Scotlands population as a proportion of UK population whole).
    3. Scotland takes 100% of the responsibility for all PFI contracts for developments on its territory.
    4. Scotland receives all tax revenue from oil and gas sourced from it’s land or waters – and the Barnett formula is dropped forthwith.
    5. Scottish members of the Armed Forces may still serve as they have taken an oath of loyalty to the Queen, but they are to be asked if Scottish independence affects their oath. If it does, they may be invited to resign.

    • alan jutson
      Posted June 22, 2011 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Fred

      Agree with many of your points.

      I blogged similar points myself 09.12am above.

      They smply cannot walk away scot free (debt free) as many of them I am sure think they should, and then expect us (rest of what is left of the UK) to pick up the bill.

      If you want independence, then it should be all or nothing, there really is no halfway house, because then you ar not independent at all, you are part dependent.

  51. James Matthews
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    1. Should the people of the rest of the UK have any say in the independence of Scotland?

    No, but they should have a veto on any changed relationship between Scotland and the rest of the Union short of independence (and that should include the Calman proposals). It is simply unacceptable for Alex Salmond to have a referendum which offers the Scots “devolution max” or “independence lite” without first agreeing it with all the British people. HMG should already be making that abundantly clear to Salmond and the Scottish people.

    2. Should there be any financial consequences from Scotland gaining more independence to make her own decisions within the Union settlement?

    Of course. The Barnett Formula is long past its use by date anyway. It should be replaced by a needs based formula and the amount paid under that formula should be reduced by any reduction in the taxation paid to the central government as a result of increased Scottish independence. There should also be political consequences. Scottish MPs should be excluded from voting on any English issues which would be devolved matters in Scotland. The only satisfactory way of achieving this is through the establishment of a separate English Parliament.

    3. Should Scotland have more powers to raise her own taxation?

    No, but see above.

    4. Do you support the Union or do you think it is time for break-up as the SNP suggest?

    Although I was formerly a Unionist I can not support the Union as presently constituted. Neither can I see any politically realistic chance of a new Union settlement which would (or at least should) be acceptable to England. Reluctantly, therefore, I think it is time to end it. All English MPs should therefore be directing their efforts to ensuring that England gets a fair settlement from the break up and that the Westminster Government does not allow Scotland (government and people) the kind of soft terms which were given to Ireland in the nineteen twenties. If the representatives of UK constituencies do not prepare themselves Alex Salmond will run rings round them.

  52. Posted June 21, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, under international law, the only effect one Independent State can have upon another Independent State is through the obligation and terms of a bi-lateral Treaty. This principle is embodied in Article 27 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties , that states: a “…party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty.”

    The UK Government draws upon its LEGAL BASIS from Union with Scotland Act 1706 and or the Union with England Act 1707 Article 4 of the Act of Union states: “That all the subjects of the United Kingdom of Great Britain shall from and after the Union………have the same Rights Privileges and Advantages”

    However, since devolution the people of England & Scotland, have had different rights, privileges and advantages.

    The treaty of union is therefore null and void and England or Scotland can withdraw using the provision of Article 61 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties .

    Article 61 Supervening impossibility of performance

    A party may invoke the impossibility of performing a treaty as a ground for terminating or withdrawing from it if the impossibility results from the permanent disappearance or destruction of an object indispensable for the execution of the treaty. If the impossibility is temporary, it may be invoked only as a ground for suspending the operation of the treaty.

    And that is the Answer to the West Lothian Question and to out membership of the European Union too.

  53. Jonathan
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    The UK needs to look at a federal/localist model where most tax is collected locally and competition is introduced between regions; most tax would then be retained locally and with this the West Lothian question will also need to be resolved.

  54. Anthony Harrison
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    1. Don’t know about “rest of the UK” but England, certainly. Puzzled by those who think it should be for the Scots alone to decide: 85% of the UK population is in England, yet votes in the Celtic fringes are permitted to skew General Election votes. Quite apart from the Barnett Formula cash inequities. It is clearly wrong for the Scots to be allowed to vote on whether or not they should continue to be permitted to mess the English about in this way: let the English vote on whether they wish to retain Scotland…

    2. I don’t think the Union should continue – see below. Let the Scots be self sufficient.

    3. Certainly – raise their own taxes, and spend them accordingly. It might prove an interesting corrective to some of their more egregious State-handout practices.

    4. Many here seem to be curiously sentimental about the Union, a relatively recent innovation that has had its day. There is no reason for acrimony, just a parting of the ways. Let the Scots decide to stay in the EU – or not – while England, I hope & trust, leaves that body.

  55. i albion
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    England needs needs freedom ,England is the only country in this Union that has not got a Parliament indeed i would say in the world…..and no, the Parliament at Westminster is not English it is British,some people do not know the difference.

  56. Posted June 21, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    1. No. But the people of England should have say on how England is governed.

    2. The Barnett Formula needs to be scrapped NOW! There is no justification for the UK valuing Scottish, and Northern Irish lives as worth around £1800 and £2000 more per person per year than English lives. Time for fair funding for the people of England.

    3. All the way and cheerio.

    4. Not any more. What kind of a “Union” is it that denies the existence of England and the English? The UK government has treated the English with contempt and continues to do so.

    Home rule for England.

    • cynicalHighlander
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

      I agree bar your No2 as the common mistake is taken that England is one region when it is actually broken down into nine. London region competes with NI for top spot for spending per head yet the SE and SW regions are at the poorer end of government funding.

      • James Matthews
        Posted June 22, 2011 at 11:04 am | Permalink

        There is no mistake.The breakdown of funding within England is entirely irrelevant. As a national entity England gets around 20% less per head than Scotland . The balance in favour of Northern Ireland greater and that in favour of Wales substantially less. These are is the statistics that matter in this context. Obviously there are differences between English regions, but these regions do not claim separate national identities or their own political systems (the London Mayor and Assembly have, between them, fewer powers than the old London County Council). Return our 20% and we will sort out the relationship between our regions thank you very much. Fiscal transfers on the basis of need are normal within a country with a common identity.

        There are of course large differences in spending within Scotland – between e.g., Edinburgh, Glasgow, and the Highlands. Comparing London with Scotland is no more valid than would be comparing Glasgow with England (which would produce a much larger balance per head in favour of Glasgow than the balance in favour of Scotland as a whole.

  57. Bazman
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    This UK is small enough as it is and whilst many Scots might support an independent Scotland after a swally, in the sober light of day agree with this point. We could always reenact the battle of Culloden to settle the question, but how many Scots would turn up?

  58. Posted June 21, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    No problem with Scotland achieving independence, or full client status within the EU for that matter. But what about the logistics? £30 billion per year means higher Scottish taxes, driving many Scots southward looking for work – as if we haven’t got enough people looking for jobs already. Given the international difficulties Israel has encountered since building her wall, do we really want to make enemies of half the UN by pursuing a similar project? Ethnically cleansing Berwick on Tweed could be tricky too – what do you do with all the mixed-race households? On the other hand an English isolationist policy might just work, and, accompanied by cries of “Send them back!”, the mass deportation of everyone with any non-Anglo-Saxon blood to Wales, Scotland and Ireland would certainly eliminate unemployment, as England would then have a population of about half a million. No more bosses’ market, so sky-high wages, and no more whines from Salmond, because the deportees, now suffering massive rates of taxation to pay the benefit bill, would vote him out of office. Yes, I’ll go for it.

  59. Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    If Scotland wants to go it alone, let her go. That is, alone. Paying her own way with no subsidy from England.

    I would like to declare independence from England. We used to run our own show up here in Shropshire keeping out the Welsh for English kings. It was much more fun than being dragged through the dirt in permanent debt by incompetent English governments. We will stop paying taxes from hereon, and will require no government services or subsidy either.

    The English kings might as well be got rid of. The current prince is nuts about windmills that cost ten times the power they create and are bankrupting the country as well as despoiling it. We used to have Welsh kings years ago, who were most successful in keeping out the Vikings. The English depended on us militarily for hundreds of years. I am pretty sure we’ll cope.

  60. Caterpillar
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    1. Yes – position of border may need to change due to opinions either side!
    2. Yes – Oil. (Scottish) bank bailouts.
    3. Don’t know
    4. Its time to break it up (Wales & N. Ireland much less clear).

  61. IMarcher
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    The Union is a contract between England and Scotland. It is for the two parties to the contract to come to an agreement on whether to terminate the contract, and to negotiate terms, and no one else. Therefore until the English Parliament, elected and with an English government, is re-instated, there can be no such negotiation.
    The UK government cannot negotiate because it is not a party to the contract. Its remit is to the UK, not England, and therefore must not negotiate, and in any case could not be relied upon to negotiate the best terms for England. And as Scotland would still be a member of the UK until the break-up it would be in part negotiating with itself, which is absurd.
    Scotland must take its share of the national debt. Consideration should also be given to repayment, with interest, of the amount paid by England to Scotland to pay off its debts at the time of the union.
    I support the Union. This is one island and its native inhabitants are one people. How could the island be adequately defended if there were separate defence, immigration and foreign policies, not to mention separate currencies when, at present, there is one economy?

  62. Gareth hughes
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Dear John,

    Thank you for your excellent website comments and opinions, most of which I am usually in full agreement.

    On the issue of the future of Scotland, I would answer your four questions in the following way:

    1. Yes – the people of the rest of the United Kingdom must surely have a say in the independence of Scotland. I have long been baffled as to how it is conceived that this is purely a Scottish matter when it involves a fundamental break up of our cherished union with consequences both political, geo political, economic and financial for the other three countries that comprise the union. Clearly, if the majority of Scottish people require independence then that would have to be given a degree of weight in consideration of the issues but as the vast majority of the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland do not desire the breakup of the union in this way, then that should also be given a significant degree of weight. I think the comments that portray a concern in circumstances where the majority of English, Welsh and Northern Irish people want Scotland out of the union whilst the Scots themselves do not, is not in itself a reason for not holding referendum and asking the question. The fact that it may produce difficult answers is for the politicians to grapple with after the results of the referendum are known. Further, any referendum would not have to be binding but a significant test only of the opinion of the British people as a whole.

    I should add that I speak in this debate as a Welshman, passionately in favour of the union who has lived in London for over 25 years.

    2. I think the question of whether there should be any financial consequences from Scotland gaining more independence to make their own decisions within the union settlement, is a non-question in this context. There will surely be financial consequences from Scotland gaining more independence albeit that they are difficult to quantify at this time. If the Scottish parliament obtains tax raising powers for itself then there will surely be financial consequences for the people of Scotland which would necessarily result in financial consequences for the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland in terms of the transfer of funds between the regions.

    3. Yes – on balance – if the Scottish parliament has more powers to raise its own taxation that seems fair enough as it is subject to the verdict of its own people in the ballot box every few years. Presumably, if the Scottish people think that taxation is high and above and beyond United Kingdom taxation then they will throw out the existing Scottish government of the day. Again, however, it seems to me that in so far as they have extra powers to raise their own taxation, there should be an offsetting against any monies being transferred to them from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    4. Yes, I do support the union and I certainly do not think it is time for a break-up of the union as suggested by Alex Salmond and his SNP. I am not sure that the majority of Scottish people even think this as polls tend to suggest time and again that whilst they may vote for the SNP in substantial numbers from time to time, they do not support the principle of an independent Scotland going its own way in the world.

  63. John Baines
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    The only thing England gets out of the laughably titled “United Kingdom” is the BILL!, it is time for an English Parliament and Government to put English people and English interests first, second and third.

    It must be noted that to be “Independent” England needs to get out TWO “Unions”, the sham “UK and the EU, not just getting out of the “UK” and being a little EU Region ruled from Brussels pretending that we are an “independent Country” like the Scots will be doing up there in the Scottish EU Region.

  64. Iain
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    1/ No, its up to the Scots to decide if they want independence, but the terms and conditions of that independence is all of ours to decide , its not for the Scots to write the terms and conditions of the divorce.

    This is where England is badly served, with the three stooges in Parliament all in favour of the Union, none of them are considering what comes after the Union, and with all of them institutionally hostile to England, no one is fighting England’s corner, certainly not Cameron who thinks of us as ‘sour faced little Englanders’ nor Ian Duncan Smith, whose heart lies in Scotland.

    eg

    Currently the oil resources are divided along the 55th parallel , that goes through Newcastle when the border is nearly 100 miles north of that and going in a NNE direction.

    If the Union is to be broken, and the Scots say they are a net contributor, that means they have an on going financial obligation to Wales and Northern Ireland, those costs shouldn’t be just dumped in England’s lap.

    The British Parliament has given the Scottish Parliament sovereignty over some English rivers, this cannot be allowed when the Scots go independent.

    Then there are all the questions about the diplomatic service, military eg

    And of course the border, the Scots think they will have the right to wander across it when ever they feel like it, a historical habit they don’t seem to have lost. No doubt we will hear the same squeals of anguish from them when they find they can’t make free with their neighbours territory, and told to get back to their own side of the border.
    (I am sure independent Scots would be welcome to come to England and vice versa – ed)
    2/ Yes there should be consequences. The Scottish Minister should go. The Scottish office should be scrapped , and the West Lothian question should be resolved. It’s a bloody disgrace that this (unfair-ed) constitution has been allowed to go on for a decade or more, and its to the Conservatives undying shame, that many an Englishman will never forgiver them for, that they as opposition failed to put up a whimper of protest at it, and as a Government have completely ignored this injustice, pursuing political Westminster fads like the vote on AV, and not cared to give an Englishman equality again.

    3/ Not Corporation tax, I would have said yes let them, but only if I thought I could trust the British Parliament look after England’s interests. As I can’t, I fear that letting Scotland or any other devolved region the ability to set their corporation tax rates they would as result cherry pick the English tax base with Cameron looking, if not cheering them on, certainly not doing diddly for England.

    4/ No I no longer support the Union, it finished for me in 1998 when I was made a constitutionally second class citizen.

    WHAT DOES THE BRITISH STATE ACTUALLY STAND FOR.?

    Democracy? equality? Looking after the interests of its people? If this wasn’t killed off by the EU, it certainly has been by devolution. There is no line in the sand I can perceive that the British establishment will defend, they are a decadent bunch, and as for the British state it no longer serves the people, it is removed from us, and just a vehicle to disposes us of our lands . As far as I am concerned the sooner it goes into the dustbin of history the better. What concerns me is the damage it will do to England in its death throws.

    • Iain
      Posted June 22, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      (I am sure independent Scots would be welcome to come to England and vice versa – ed)

      I am not sure about that, English people haven’t been welcome in Scotland for a long time, though the English have been very hospitable to Scots, and the English tolerance of Scots meddling in their affairs has been truly remarkable. This I feel is part of the problem, the Scots thinking they can have independence and still make free with England, a line of thinking that our politicians haven’t challenged, which your response confirms.

      Look I have made it clear I want to see the end of the Union, but if you want to see the Union survive then you have to make a case for some benefits for being part of it. If you are going to sell the case for the Union to the Scots that they can have their cake whilst continuing to take their fill of the English cake, then Doh it’s a no brainer for them.

  65. matthu
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    All very well debating Scotland – but when did we debate giving the EU increased rights at the UN?

    http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/253504/Lady-Ashton-snub-to-William-Hague-at-UNLady-Ashton-snub-to-William-Hague-at-UN#ixzz1PpHYFPAT

    Instead I gather that the Conservatives were actively promoting the transfer of new diplomatic powers to Brussels? What happened to the promise not to transfer additional powers to Europe?

    Apparently Europe Minister David Lidington thinks the new development is no more than a “simple technical change”. But now we have the EU represented on the UN human rights council.

    Do the Conservatives not realise that they are playing into the hands of UKIP?

  66. Jon Burgess
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    I am all for the Scots to declare their independence if they so wish. I agree with all those here that have sighted the reason why this is a decision for Scotland alone to make is that I would not expect the rest of the EU to be allowed a vote on whether the UK (or at least the non Scottish bit) wanted to leave the EU.

    Without full independence, there should be no more devolution of power to Scotland – it’s one or the other, not a slow transfer of power over the years to hide what’s really going on (very European, that approach, far too Franco German for my liking)

    Not without full independence – and at that point you are on your own with no recourse to the remainder of the UK.

    I support the Union, but accept that if the Scots collectively don’t then they need to be given the opportunity to decide their future. I like to think, though, that the Scots are canny enough not to give up membership of our union only to lose themselves in the suffocating embrace of the EU.

    If Scottish independence does happen, where would that leave our membership of the EU? Intact, or would there need to be some form of re-affirmation? If there’s a chance that the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland would have say on continued EU membership because of an independent Scotland, then I’d be happy to take it.

  67. Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    1. Should the people of the rest of the UK have any say in the independence of Scotland?

    No

    2. Should there be any financial consequences from Scotland gaining more independence to make her own decisions within the Union settlement?

    Yes. To be negotiated. It’s not clear cut

    3. Should Scotland have more powers to raise her own taxation?

    Yes

    4. Do you support the Union or do you think it is time for break-up as the SNP suggest?

    I support the union but my support for self-determination is greater. Let the People (of Scotland) decide. Let’s stay friends. If Scotland ever became independent, the union door should be kept open if Scotland wished to return at a future point.

  68. Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    We must not forget that, without Scotland, England will be much more Conservative.

    If Scotland became independent I would wish her well, but the good news is that the remainder of the union could look forward to far more sensible policies and a better life for the population.

    • Bazman
      Posted June 22, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      Copper wire was invented by two (mean people-ed) finding a penny at the same time.

  69. Derick fae Yell
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    1 . Should the people of the rest of the UK have any say in the independence of Scotland?
    No – principle of self determination negates this. Just as, should England have a vote on leaving the Union, Scotland would have no say in the matter. This is an arranged, but not forced marriage.

    2. Should there be any financial consequences from Scotland gaining more independence to make her own decisions within the Union settlement?
    Yes, but this is a lot more complex than straightforward Independence. Alimony? lets not go there!

    3. Should Scotland have more powers to raise her own taxation?
    Of course, the current situation of a legislature with spending powers but no control on it’s income (see corporation tax) is daft. However, the only way this would work, within the Union, is for all taxes to be levied in Scotland, and a negotiated sum to be remitted to the Treasury to cover remaining shared services (Defence principally). This is the position of Full Fiscal Autonomy.

    4. Do you support the Union or do you think it is time for break-up as the SNP suggest?
    No, the Union was a specific initiative, for a specific time. Got sidetracked by the small matter of Empire, but that is long gone. Britain will remain as a geographical entity, much like Scandinavia is. Lets just be friends.

    Final thought from a Shetlander and Scot Nat: what will England make of itself, extricated from Enchanted Glass (Nairn) of Britishness? Something better, I think.

  70. Ian Hartopp
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    1. At the same time Scotland holds its referendum as to whether to remain in the Union, the rest of the Union should also vote on whether Scotland should be allowed to remain. A vote on either side for separation should take precedence over any vote to maintain the Union.

    2. All countries in the Union should pay their way as far as possible – i.e. minimum subsidies only. Equality should not be the objective.

    3. Yes. What otherwise is the point of devolution. Perhaps it might bring home to the Scots the folly of socialism.

    4. I think it is time for Scotland to leave. With luck, England may never have to live with a Labour government again. Wales and Northern Ireland seem more appreciative of the Union, but England deserves to be properly governed and appreciated.

    3.

  71. Bill
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    Be difficult for Scotland to go it alone, with oil revenues in decline.

    Independence? It would be a bad conclusion, it took centuries to bring about the union and Scott’s have been instrumental in manufacturing, the sciences … all aspects of development.

    On the other side of the coin the Scots seem to be hell-bent on an “east European” type economy based upon subsidy and a huge public sector.

    Is it fair that English people struggle when Scott’s enjoy free prescriptions, home care, University fees and the abolition of tolls on the Skye and Forth bridges?

    I’d be sorry to see a divorce, but right now – it seems the river banks are widening

    England have a say? No in my view not practical, but the sussidy should end.

  72. Sarah Springham
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    What about the future of England – surely an ever more pressing issue as the Government clobbers England in its so called cost cutting reforms? We want an English Parliament so that we can decide what we do and do not want.

  73. Mike Mahoney
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    John – can you see the disparity between what the Westminster Village is discussing and what the voters are actually concerned about?

    It’s not about Scotland any more – or Wales, or NI. It’s about England. It’s about the fact that the English taxpayers bankroll the rest of the UK but don’t have their own Parliament.

    Until this democratic deficit is addressed and there is a referendum on the re-establishment of the English Parliament, all other attempts to sort out the constitution is mere tinkering.

  74. JoolsB
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    John,

    I used to be a Unionist and considered myself British but since Blair & Brown granted Scotland, Wales & NI their own parliament/assembly and deliberately & cynically left England out for pure partisan self interest, I now consider myself English. As far as I am concerned the union started to break up then and England has been the poor relation in this ‘union’ ever since.

    As the union is between England and Scotland, then England should also have a say on what happens. Why should England wait around waiting to see what Scotland decides and in the meantime the UK Prime Minister on our behalf gives Alex Salmond whatever he demands to stay in the union at even more cost to the English taxpayer no doubt even though, as you know, the likelihood is Scotland will never vote for independence whilst they’ve got as good as already but without having to worry about where the money comes from but the chances of England voting YES to independence would be quite likely as recent polls suggest. The Scots may have voted SNP for their own parliament, but we all know come the next general election, the people of Scotland will send their over-represented army of Labour MPs to Westminster to govern England.

    What I am more interested in is when is England going to be asked if she wants her own parliament, as we are now the only nation in the western world without one, where she can get on with her own affairs without outside interference from those MPs whose business it is not. I would like to see England get the Government it votes for and not the one chosen for it by the rest of the UK who don’t have to abide by most of it’s decisions. I would like to see England have someone stand up for her interests and hers alone which at the moment is not happening. Our Prime Minister and our supine MPs with English seats cannot even bring themselves to say the word England in their ploy to deceive the English people into believing we are all in this together which we are not. I actually campaigned for a Conservative Government last year in the belief that a Tory Government would stand up for England and end Labour’s discrimination but sadly nothing has changed. Since then £9,000 tuition fees have been introduced but only for English youngsters of course, making them the most disadvantaged in the UK and Europe and which will put many of our brightest off going to university but only if they’re English of course, EMA has been abolished but again only in England and now England and nowhere else has to pay prescription charges and to add insult to injury, on the day Scotland abolished them, 1st April appropriately enough, our UK Government increased them in England. All introduced since last May to add to the many other things which dicriminate against England by the ‘English Party’ put there by the people of England, nowhere else.

    The British Irish Council Meeting was held at Downing Street last week where Ministers from Scotland, Wales, NI, Eire,Channel Islands & the Isle of Man attended. Where was England’s representative? Is England not a member of Britain anymore? Where is England’s Secretary of State or First Minister. It’s not David Cameron because he is PM of the UK not England and puts the interests of the union before his consituents as does every Tory MP with an English seat. If they ever decided to stand up for their constituents, they would demand to know why their constituents get much less per head than the rest of the UK via the skewed Barnett Formula which means they are denied things which UK taxes and predominately English taxes at that provides for others and they would demand an end to Scottish, Welsh & NI MPs having a say on matters which affect their constituents but not their own. One day they might discover a backbone but I won’t hold my breath. In the meantime, I hope there are many people like myself in England who will never vote Tory again until they start standing up for it and stop putting it last.

  75. MarkE
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Mike Mahoney

    As an Englishman I most certainly do not want yet another layer of govenment interfering in my life. At present I am subject to rules imposed by: Curbridge parish; Witney town; West Oxfordshire district; Oxfordshire county; Westminster; and the EU. If I am to gain an English parliament I would want to see at least two of those (the first and last) removed.

    I would have no problem however with the break up of the union because we see that nine of the ten wealthist countries in the world are small (population less than ten million). While England, at 50m, would still be a large country, maybe we could have laws better suited to our needs if we didn’t have also to consider the needs of other countries. Obviously this does require freedom the EU, but that may be closer than we dared hope.

  76. ConcernedEnglishman
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    The UK is a nation with a constitution (albeit unwritten) which clearly requires the agreement of Parliament to a secession. It is quite wrong to equate this situation with that of the EU, precisely because the EU is not a nation with a constitution, and we should probably get out before it becomes one.

    What is interesting is how little has been said about the conditions under which Parliament might reasonably agree to Scottish independence. For example, being about 8% of the population of the UK, it would be unreasonable to yield any greater than 8% of the land area of the UK to “Scotland”, or greater than 8% of the natural resources (such as oil fields), and so on. Even the precise identity of the 8% of the land would be a matter for debate, as would ongoing terms governing foreign policy, trade agreements etc.

    All of which is to say that it may not yet be clear to all, certainly not to the Scottish people, both how good it is to remain in the Union, and, by corollary, how costly it may be to leave.

  77. Scotsfox
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Well, the majority of comments here simply prove that English education is failing most.
    1. Scotland is not subsidised by England.
    2. Scotland was not bankrupt at the time of Union, individual nobility were and sold their Country for gold to cover their Darien folly.
    3. Sorry but the vast majority of N Sea oil IS Scotland’s – not the UK’s or England’s’.
    4. Why is it that Unionists say that Scotland is a hopeless subsidy junk yet they insist we must not be “allowed” our independence?

    • James Matthews
      Posted June 22, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

      1.http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jun/22/new-study-undermines-economic-independence-scotland – but as what you say is an article of faith for Scottish nationalists I am sure you will not be convinced.
      2. Evidence?
      3. True, or at least it will be if Scotland becomes independent and denies Orkney and Shetland the same right of self-determination it claims for itself.
      4. This (ex) unionist, like many others thinks , Scottish independence should not be allowed, it should be compulsory.

  78. Jacqueline
    Posted June 23, 2011 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,
    As an English woman and a proud one, I would to say to you Sir why are you not asking about the future of England? Our country does exsist and I am getting very annoyed with it being overlooked and in some cases completely ignored. I would like myself and my family recognized and I know there are many English people that feel the same, we want Sir the recognition and representation of a re-established English parliament. How about working towards that end Sir? As an Englishman, in an English seat, in an English county, voted there by English men and women, within England.

    Reply: I have written for England before and will do so again. The point of the Scotland piece was to inform at the time of the passage of legislation about Scotland.

  79. sm
    Posted June 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    1) No – but i think all Scots particularly in the other parts of the union should be considered.
    2)Yes but in proportion
    3)Yes
    4) I on balance support the UK union, but only outside of EU control.

    The UK union makes less sense (for some) within the EU structure and i support local politics and responsibility. I wish all independent democracies well and its not all about money.

    If the Scots take a different route for ”independence” they may wish to consider an EU referendum simulataneously.

    It would be rude not to let the rest of the UK vote on that add on question perhaps with Scots in the UK on ”independence” for Scotland? Once we are free from the EU we can then work on good relations with our close neighbours. The union may or may not
    change but friends, allies we remain. Doors to friends are never closed.

  80. John English Patriot
    Posted June 23, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I think most English people would vote yes to Scottish independence, and the best of luck, and please could the English have a vote on our Independence.

  81. English Steve
    Posted June 23, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    I think John Redwood should be asking what the future of England is. We should be fighting for an English parliament if not full independence for England. Some of you ask what’s the point of Ireland and Scotland breaking away from the UK yet joining the EU but I think that comment highlights the hypocrisy of all unionists.

    On the one hand you say the UK should stick together because we’re stronger together than apart YET you’re against the EU or a European superstate which would make us part of an even bigger, more powerful country.
    Eurosceptics don’t want to be part of an integrated Europe because they want to protect British sovereignty yet those same people don’t want to break-up the UK. Why is British sovereignty so important to you and other Eurosceptics yet English sovereignty isn’t?

    I think its time for you and all other unionists/eurosceptics to stop contradicting yourselves and make up your mind on the following question:
    Are in favour of a union of nations or not? If you ARE in favour, then not only should you be pro-EU but you should also be in favour of the UK becoming part of a European superstate. If you’re NOT in favour, then you should be calling for the full-break-up of the United Kingdom and for an independent England.
    The choice is yours. Either way, you have no reason to be in favour of an independent United Kingdom.

  82. Posted June 25, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Cut their Barnett formula public expenditure premium of 17% to 5%, remove their tax raising powers and dare them to do their worst.

  83. John Souter
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    I’m a Scot. who has lived in England for the thick end of forty years. I’ve neither time or inclination towards the xenophobic claptrap of arguments nor for the ill informed rhubarb of statistics and financial gobbledegook.

    That said I’m all for Scotland gaining its independence for no other reason than it will give it the opportunity to form a more democratic governance, which may prove the catalyst for England to benefit from similar changes.

    It’s the Westminster model of sham democracy that ends at the ballot box that has destroyed the Union and every country in it.

  84. Posted June 25, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    I am in favour of the right of nations to self-determination. I’d like to see an independent Scotland/England/Wales/Ireland and all the other nations now held against their will in the EU. English folks, be advised, Scots are not your enemy. We would like to see a prosperous, democratic, and independent England once more in this world.

  85. Chris
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    hello

    I know this is quite out of time but I was wondering something. If the SNP gets its own way and we get a referendum, surely division of natural resources, military and commercial assets should be done on the basis of population. I read somewhere recently that Scotland will take roughly 8% of the military assets of the United Kingdom. To me this seems very fair, I hope that they also take 8% of the national debt and 8% of the mineral rights.

    There was also rumour that oil rights would be split by virtue of coastline length. I hope not, Scotland’s coastline must be close to if not longer than England’s. It seems a very poor way to allocate things, seen as only 8% of the population lives there. I think you would see legal challenges and possibly military intervention in future.

    Good luck to the Scots, personally I feel that England, Wales and Northern Ireland are doomed without them. As Gilpin argues the basis of social reality is the group. The sooner we realise that the future is with Europe the better off we’ll all be.

  86. Hugh Hunter
    Posted June 30, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Let’s get one thing straight from the off. Scotland is nor ever was democratically joined to the rest of the Union. She was sold to the Union by the privilaged few for a paltry sum. The ordinary people of Scotland were sold out and had no say in the matter. Today Scotland contributes more into the Union than she receives back, so the idea that the rest of the Union subsidise Scotland is both a myth and offensive. I agree with a referendum as at least this time if Scotland chooses to remain in the Union it will be ligitimate. PersonallyI hope she decides to go it alone and prosper without the shackles of Westminster holding her back.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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