The Case For NO: “For all of its faults Great Britain is a force for good …” from Jamie Lord Sempill

grunge-flag-of-the-united-kingdom--union-jack_00450483For all of its faults, Great Britain, is a force for good, in a world which is becoming less orderly and a lot more dangerous. The history of the last 300 years shows the extraordinary contribution that Britain has made to the modern world. A contribution that includes the promotion of parliamentary democracy, the rule of law, and the freedom of expression. Today, we see these core values under threat, and if there was ever a time to stand fast, it is now.

We are facing a constitutional crisis. The creation of an independent Scotland, and the time and expense required to bring this about, is a huge distraction from the greater task of rebuilding the British economy and ensuring a better future for all those that live in the UK. Successive governments, regardless of their political hue all seek to achieve this. The Britain of today is a more prosperous and successful country, than it was 50 years ago. We are the sixth biggest economy in the world, and the fastest growing economy in the G7.

A major theme of the Independence campaign is the often quoted democratic “deficit.” This is the Achilles heel in the British electoral system.  The assertion that we are ruled by a Westminster government that we did not vote for is equally applicable to the many Scots who did not vote for the SNP in the last Scottish elections. This perceived democratic deficit was addressed in the Scotland Act and the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

I sat in the House of Lords at the time, and listened to all the parliamentary debates on devolution. It was clearly understood then, that devolution would be an evolutionary construct, and that over time it would change. As it is, we already have had  major alterations to the Scotland Act, and will as a result of the referendum, see further changes, all of which will give the Scots a greater say in how they are governed, and more importantly, how they allocate their tax revenue.

The exclusion of 800,000 first generation Scots, who are not resident in Scotland, from voting in a referendum on the future of their birthplace, is a greater democratic deficit.  Also, what of the 60 million British citizens living in the rest of the country. Assuming a “Yes” vote wins the day, we are looking at breaking the Union with less than 5% of the vote. What is democratic about that?

The ‘Better Together’ campaign has been criticized for being negative, and for not portraying a more positive side to what it means to retain the status quo. The facts and figures presented by independent fiscal institutions and academic bodies have been largely ignored, but all have questioned the wisdom of voting for independence.

However, there are two indisputable facts.  Firstly, there is going to be a substantial cost involved in breaking the Union. A cost running into billions, which the UK and Scotland can ill afford. Secondly, an independent Scotland would look to increase its welfare expenditure, a cost that is to be covered by volatile oil revenues. An independent Scotland will start with a strong socialist agenda, which is not conducive to creating a more entrepreneurial society, and may well result in shrinking the Scottish tax base. This likely scenario is causing massive uncertainty in the UK’s financial markets. Capital flight is a very strong possibility and will have a knock on effect on jobs and business investment.

And therein sits the greatest risk of separation. Can the separatists finance their ambition for a fairer more egalitarian society with a costly welfare dependency?  It has taken over 50 years to build a welfare system that is the envy of the world.  I believe that there is far greater security in ensuring the maintenance of the current UK welfare system with the UK tax base of sixty million than a super enhanced Scottish welfare system based on a Scottish tax base of 5 million.

These observations are deemed negative by the “Yes” campaign. As a voter, I think they have to be understood and factored into the debate.

There are many other aspects of the independence debate, but I maintain that the best solution to the aspiration of many of those planning to vote “yes”, is constitutional reform. It is already in the pipeline, and has the great benefit of being implemented without breaking the most successful Union of all time.

Finally, it is well known that the Scots have played a disproportionate role in the making of this successful Union. As a result of 300 years of that combined effort we have created one of the great nations of the modern era. Britain today is widely respected and has a formidable reputation. I, for one, have no desire to see all that effort discarded for the selfish interest of the few.

 

 

 

 

4 responses to “The Case For NO: “For all of its faults Great Britain is a force for good …” from Jamie Lord Sempill”

  1. Will MacQueen-Carpenter says:

    Sir:

    As an American, I’m unqualified to comment on the specifics of the affairs of any country save my own. However, it seems as the countries of the rest of the world may, like any landowner, do as they seem fit within their own halls. It does seem, though, as if the peaceful partition of a country along historic lines — among modern, Western nations — is without precedent.

    With that in mind, and knowing that voters will follow their hearts with regard for little else at the polls, I can only wish you, Scotland, and England and Wales the best of all outcomes in the upcoming election.

    Kindest regards, &c.

    Will

  2. Jock Campbell says:

    Great Britain is our realm, created in 1603 by Scotland’s James VI. This existed for 100 years before the sovereign state known as “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” (UK) came into existence.

    Thus Great Britain and the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” are two seperate entities… one is a realm, the other a sovereign state.

    The UK came about as a bilateral treaty between Scotland and England in 1707. As with any bilateral arrangement, if one signatory annuls their party to it, the construct ceases to exist, it is dissolved! And so too any prior contracts, treaties, agreements, nods or winks (unless contingencies are made). You cannot have Laurel and Hardy without the Laurel, or The Two Ronnies with just one Ron. And let’s remind ourselves that Scandinavia (once a sovereign state uniting Norway and Sweden) is no longer a state!

    This means that following a Yes vote, England as well as Scotland are destined to be independent sovereign states in their own right on 24th of March 2016… the same day the sovereign state known as the UK, ends.

    As Head os State of our realm. Her Majesty protects our democracy, the rule of law and our freedom of expression. Thus it is in the preservation of the realm of Great Britain that the future mutually-independent sovereign states of England and Scotland are ensured… NOT in the preservation of the UK (Westminster-run) sovereign state.

    The Union flag, which was created in 1606 to symbolise the realm of Great Britain, will remain unchanged and continue to symbolise the unified British realm.

    Furthermore: There is no such thing as a UK pound, there is an English pound and a Scottish pound, both of which are backed by assets collectively held on either country’s behalf by the independently-governed BoE.

  3. Although it is now water under the bridge, the UK pound is exactly that, backed by the Bank of England, another UK institution. They both belong to the UK. Not Scotland, England, Ireland or Wales. The pound is an institution of the UK. If one of those countries leaves the UK, under international law, it leaves the institutions of the UK. That is why independent Scotland would have had enormous difficulty in negotiating a currency union with rUK. Such a thing would have had to have been agreed in the UK Parliament in Westminster. Another institution that Scotland would have left if she had achieved independence.

    Malcolm MacGregor

  4. William says:

    Yet again all i see and hear is the rhetoric of the rich extolling the virtues of their own invested self interest’s.Their arguments are not based on the sovereignty of Scotland or Scotland’s people but rather how it will affect Briton as a whole.The real point here is this, should Scotland as a nation have the right to our on self determination.This is a question for Scotland’s people to decide in a fair debate, unfortunately the vested interest’s in Briton would not allow a fair debate, with their lies, deceit and scaremongering rife among the “Better Together”campaign. This is what undermined the confidence and belief of the undecided.And, yet again, the “Chieftain’s” sell Scotland to whoever will line their pockets the most, with no concern for their own people. Scotlands history is full of the same sellout for individual concerns and self gratification. However, the tide is turning.The inclusion of social media in all of our lives allow’s everyone to read, and then verify what they have read. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice,…… you own the shame.

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