The Meaning of Scottish Independence

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The Scottish government is due to release the White Paper in November, which will set out a vision of what independence will mean. In the meantime, it is interesting to consider what international posture an independent Scotland could adopt, what effect independence could have on British identity, and how a fairer more democratic Scotland can be constructed.

There have been intense debates over whether independence would lead to the isolation of Scotland from the international community, and whether it would be ejected from multiple international organizations. If Scots vote to end the current constitutional arrangement with Westminster, it is held that the EU, the UN, even the Monarchy and Commonwealth might block their continued membership, or at least make rejoining so onerous it is not worth voting for independence

If Scotland were ejected from the EU, imagine the cancellation of treaties, repatriation of EU citizens living in Scotland and vice-versa, revocation of EU citizenship rights for 5 million people, and forcing Scotland to go through the entire accession process for new member-states, with any current member state having a veto. This would be pointless, punitive, hideously complex, and simply should not happen within an institution purportedly committed to human rights.

The EU will ultimately be obliged to find a way to allow Scotland to seamlessly remain in, and become a new member state in its own right without a member-state veto. Even if the EU does expel Scotland, and takes it to its logical legal conclusion, an independent Scotland can simply create its own network of treaties, and not be bound by any to which the UK is signatory. Perhaps remaining in the WTO would endanger Scottish workers’ rights, and an independent Scotland could give it a miss.

Simply put, Scotland can chart its own course in the world, and shed much of the UK imperial baggage. An independent Scotland can constitutionally ban nuclear weapons from its soil, and move to decommission them quickly after independence. The r-UK government can decide whether it wants to station Trident elsewhere and refurbish it at phenomenal cost, or simply forever scrap these unaffordable weapons of mass destruction.

Independence does not mean being cut off from the rest of the world. All countries trade, adhere to different trans-national institutions, share currencies, play their own unique role, and design their own mosaic of international engagements. Independence will afford Scotland the opportunity to choose its bilateral and multilateral treaties and engagements consistent with their interests and values, and no longer be bound by the 14,000-odd treaties to which the UK is signatory going back to the imperial slave colony era.

Independence would not make Scots any less British, nor be the end of Britain. Britain is a collection of islands and an identity, not a constitutional order. The original Britain, (Breizh, Bretagne, Brittany) in France, has more in common with Scots through their shared Celtic and Gaelic heritage than with Anglo-Saxon UK nationalism. Individual Scots will decide how independence will define his or her self-identity, and what allegiances they choose to adhere to.

Scottish independence will drastically alter the United Kingdom and Westminster Parliament. For Scots, the doctrine of UK Parliamentary supremacy will be laid to rest, and sovereignty will be vested in the people, rather than decrepit medieval notions of monarchical divine right. For the r-UK, they will need to take a long look in the mirror, and decide whether they too want to adopt a system of true representative democracy, or indefinitely continue with the archaic feudal relics that are the Monarchy and the House of Lords.

Independence means that the tools to build an effective, non-corrupt government are brought home to Scotland where they belong, rather than worrying whether the next UK government will be even more dysfunctional and destructive than the current one. Scottish citizens will no longer be represented at Westminster, but will have enhanced democratic authority to choose their own government, and change it in the next election if it does not live up to expectations.

Once Scots absorb the amazing potential that independence will provide to build a better future, vote ‘yes’ and get through negotiations with the r-UK, become independent and clearly demonstrate how much better they can run their own affairs and invest the revenue from their own natural resources, they will wonder how much better off Scotland would have been if independence had occurred decades before.

Do you see any former UK colony clamoring to get back into the Westminster system?

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