Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

Kentish Men for Scotland

(Health warning to Scottish readers: This article may will contain stereotypical English views of Scotland. I live in Kent – what can I say?)

As an Englishman, I am guilty of apathy when it comes to the issue of Scottish Independence: my baseline is much as it is on Welsh issues – it’s their business as long as I am not paying for it. The logical progression of that view would seem to be that if the Scots want independence, then let’s leave them to it – at least we won’t be subsidising them anymore.

Yet I like Scotland. I happily admit to having some Scottish blood, even if that means also acknowledging that (I think) the McFaddens (my lot) sided with the Jacobites, but nobody’s perfect.

Yet in political terms I feel there are two broad reasons why my apathy could be wrong. First is the opportunities presented by a small-government, low regulating, low taxing Scotland, as well as perhaps a moral duty to save them from the Socialist abyss. Then there is the more selfish motivation that even if independent, we will still be subsidising the place. (“Bloody English and their subsidising-Scotland myth” – yeah, whatever.)

As I see it, an independent Scotland could go two ways: either a high spending bloated state, which at the worst could draw some pressure off of English public services as those most likely to benefit move northwards, or a small-state free-market area following closer to the economic ideals of one of its greatest sons, Adam Smith. Who knows, perhaps a bit more tax competition could still produce benefits for those of us who won’t by then have done the sensible thing and headed up the A1 past the Tweed. Yet for the time being, the Socialist paradise seems the more likely outcome – with or without the oil revenues. (Actually, I haven’t checked, but I suspect that the supporters of independence, in their grand plans, have already spent the dwindling oil revenues several times over, particularly if they are using LibDem arithmetic).

I guess the reason I have held a nonchalant view of Scottish politics until now is that I have always assumed that the place is destined to be run by statist Lefties. From this far corner of England, there hardly seems much to choose between Labour, SNP and LibDem – all are liberal only in the way they like to spend the taxpayer’s hard earned cash. Annabel Goldie and her hardy band may do what they can, but a Conservative Holyrood seems a long way off. Yet should we, morally, be leaving Scotland to the mercy of the socialists?

As with green issues, Scottish Independence has been left for too long to the Left. The image of an independent Scotland has a decidedly red hue. So perhaps the English Right should take more of an interest, as a free-market, small government Scotland could be a significant catalyst in bringing and maintaining those same ideals to south of the border. Even if they only succeed the making the difference in Holyrood, then I’m going to be taking a far closer interest in Scottish Estate Agents’ websites.

But there is a second reason to turn our political attentions northwards. Back to my baseline: I’m not bothered as long as I’m not subsidising them. Whether Scotland is independent or not, the good taxpayers of the “rich” parts of England, ditto many other European regions, will be subsidising them nonetheless. If we have a choice between (a) a Scotland that will continue to plead poverty to grab our Euro millions, and (b) one which is proud to stand on its own economically successful, low-regulation, low-taxing two feet, then of course that choice should be for the second option. So it’s a libertarian Scotland (whether independent or no) that we should all be working for – even this Kentish Man.

(And so our cousins west of Offa’s Dyke don’t feel left out – I suppose I see no reason why this couldn’t also apply to Wales.)

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