‘HONESTLY, I really don’t know what all the fuss is about,” my Auntie Jean said to me the other day. “It’s not as if independence is going to make any difference, is it?”
“Why do you say that?” I enquired politely, not wishing to influence my great aunt’s answer with my own notions of the pros and cons.
“Well, Mr Salmond has said we’ll still be in the United Kingdom because we’ll still have Her Majesty the Queen as our monarch, we’ll still be in the Common Market, we’ll also still have the pound and not that horrible euro, and we’ll still get BBC programmes like EastEnders. It really doesn’t seem very different from how we are now so what’s all the fuss about?”
My Auntie Jean had a point. What is all the fuss about if nothing is really going to change?
There are two ways to look at her remark – the first is to take Mr Salmond at his word and say, yes, it would appear there won’t be much difference, and the second is to challenge the great tipster’s assertions and see if they are more than a side bet but are in fact a great gamble – one that could leave us wishing we had never placed that bet.
The difficulty with the first approach is that the more Mr Salmond tries to tell us there will be hardly any change the more it begs the question: “Why, if there is so little difference, does it matter so much to Mr Salmond?”
Surely there must be more to this malarkey than just giving Holyrood the power to levy corporation tax? Surely having a seat at the United Nations must mean something will be different?
If so-called “independence” leaves us with all the baubles of being British then why have the vote at all? Why go to all that expense? Why even have a Scottish National Party?
The answer must surely be because it will make a difference.
Scotland will still have Her Majesty as our monarch? Of course we shall – for Mr Salmond to suggest anything else would alienate a large number of people who recognise her dedication to public service; the real question is, will Scotland still have a monarchy after she leaves the throne?
Is Mr Salmond not just being sleekit by postponing the question of monarchy versus Scottish Republic until Charles the Duke of Rothesay should take the throne?
This is the mother of all deceptions – that because we shall have the same monarch as England we shall be in the United Kingdom. This is a lie.
We shall need a different passport and it shall not say, “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” because we shall no longer be part of Great Britain and thus no longer part of the United Kingdom.
The UK is not defined by Her Majesty being head of state of a nation – are Australia, Canada or Jamaica members of the United Kingdom? Of course not. Is the Republic of Ireland a member of the United Kingdom because it is in the geographical area of the British isles? Of course not.
The truth is an independent Scotland will not be a member of the United Kingdom – for good or bad. The fact that nice Mr Salmond makes this claim must ring alarm bells to all reasonable people – and to nationalists that want independence – because it will be different.
Scotland can choose to keep the pound? Of course it can, but with our central bank suddenly being in a foreign country and utterly unaccountable for its actions (except to Westminster where we shall no longer have any politicians) things could begin to get very different when it starts making decisions that don’t consider the needs of our economy.
When we need interest rates to go down they could go up. When we need them to go up they could go down.
When we need tight monetary controls the bank could be debauching the currency with quantitative easing (the modern term for printing money without any assets to back it up).
The truth is that keeping the pound will become very different, especially for those pensioners on fixed incomes like my Auntie Jean.
The there’s the idea that we shall still get EastEnders and any BBC programmes we currently want (and Corrie too). A new Scottish Broadcasting Corporation will be able to buy Eastenders and include it on its schedules – but let me explain what will be different.
Any production of British programmes made in Scotland such as Question Time will go south. Any BBC and ITV programmes that have British entries will not include anyone from Scotland. British programmes will be just that – with Scots excluded. No Scots on Masterchef, no Scots on antique, fashion or makeover programmes – unless they live in England.
Britain will become sans Scotland, it will be smaller and we shall be excluded – but able to watch.
I think my Auntie Jean will notice the difference to all these things. But will it be too late before she understands what the fuss is all about? Thankfully, I don’t think so.