Mon | May 22, 2017

Whither goes Scotland?

Published:Wednesday | September 17, 2014 | 9:00 AM
Sujanani

David Cameron has pledged to stay on as prime minister of the United Kingdom if Scotland becomes independent as a result of tomorrow's referendum. But he urged voters not to break up the union just to give the Tories a boost.

An emotional David Cameron at one point appeared close to tears as he spoke about the "heartbreak" he would feel if Scotland voted for independence, articulated in a speech at Edinburgh a few days ago: "If Scotland votes for separation, that would have to be respected by the rest of the United Kingdom; and as prime minister, I would have to make that happen."

He said a no vote would be "the best of both worlds" as the Scottish government would be given extra powers by Westminster. There were other unmentioned points that show adversity to the prime minister's position: Secession from the UK will weaken its economy, and offer encouragement to other EU nations that have pending claims: Spain (Baathists), Italy, Germany, Italy, Belgium, to mention a few, all have smaller communities that hope to secede from the major European nations.

The Southern Glasgow region in Scotland has 140,000 immigrants, including Caribbean nationals, Indian, Pakistani, Bengalis, Italians and Poles, who favour the Scots, and contribute four per cent of the vote; plus the other five million in Scottish population. Compared to 55 million in England, Scotland clearly has more room to grow. So immigration will be a major plus, and would create a somewhat different national identity. A significant change would then be likely to upset the European social mix.

He also warned that Scotland could "run out of money" if it goes independent. An independent pollster, Survaton, pointed out of late that there is a negative poll recorded recently; 47.6 per cent of persons plan to vote 'no' when polling begins on September 18, so the opinion is borderline. The reality is that 80 per cent of North Sea Oil are Scotland's reserves, so in my opinion there would be no problem finding the money to start. These changes will not come into being until 2016.

One of the fears is that the monarchy will be weakened as some of the Queen's favourite properties are in Scotland, including the summer castle at Balmoral, where the Royal family often resides. This property, which is operational as a developing business, including farms, animals, small business, is owned by the family and not by the Crown.

A foremost American economist, Paul Krugman, and the present governor of Britain's central bank, both believe that Scotland cannot use the pound sterling as its currency. The comparisons with Canada are being presented as a suitable basis for making the 'yes' decision, which I see as valid. Canada is now a highly prosperous and steady economy.

Lloyd's Bank and RBS Banking Group have indicated that there is a doubt that Scotland will be viable without England, but this is too early to determine the feasibility of Scotland as a country.

How badly could the Caribbean affected? The Caribbean, including Jamaica, receives much help from Great Britain in educational grants (Prince Philip's Trusts), crime management, and other social issues. Then comes the matter of reparations, which I do not believe is legally or economically possible, considering the large number of slaves (and possible claims by India, and countries in Africa, and so on).

The Union has existed since 1707. To date, who benefited and to what extent? Will the present associates agree on a formula for reparations, or any other liabilities? The chief minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, commented a few days ago regarding Britain's national debt that Scotland might not pay any share of the national debt, warning: "What are they going to do about that? Invade?"

Tomorrow, September 18, is D-Day. In a little over 36 hours we'll see how united the United Kingdom really is.

Ramesh Sujanani is a businessman. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and ramsuji78@gmail.com.

Ramesh Sujanani, GUEST COLUMNIST