I have just watched the Scottish Independence Debate between Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond, shown on Bank Holiday Monday this week. Amongst all the rhetoric there was one fact that struck me, and it was given by Darling, that Scotland as a nation, has spent more than it makes for every one of the last 23 years. In other words for every one of the last 23 years, England has subsidised Scotland! There can be no other explanation for this fact because we know it would be ludicrous to suggest that Wales and Northern Ireland were capable of doing this, they are even smaller than Scotland. In Northern Ireland’s case they are more subsidised by England than even Scotland.
This ‘little gem’ of information was not disputed by Salmond and so therefore seems reasonably believable. Yet the bitter truth behind this is that England has been pouring money into Scotland for at least a quarter of a century. In actual fact this has probably been going on for much longer than that and the reason Darling picked 23 years duration is that there are no records beyond that point. To support this view a few months ago I did an article which picked-up on recently released cabinet papers from 1983:
These papers showed that in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s Scotland was being heavily subsidised by the UK government, with the particular intent to keep Scottish Independence at bay! All very interesting you might say, but what does this actually mean?
In my mind it means that for at least 35 years, since the first referendum in 1979 on a Scottish Parliament, that all the main political parties have cooperated to keep Scotland’s voters ‘sweet’ on the Union. However if we go back to the 23 years which does not seem to be in dispute, there was a Labour Government in power for 13 of those 23 years. Therefore Scots, like Darling and Gordon Brown, both Chancellor’s of the UK Exchequer, were major players in a UK government committed to subsidising Scotland for their own political ends. That is the central point after all, the reason that successive Conservative and Labour governments have subsidised Scotland is to keep Westminster intact, for without the UK Government these parties and the easy careers that go with it, are doomed.
It is an act of breath-taking arrogance on the part of Darling, to so brazenly proclaim to Scots that England subsidises them and that this is the reason they should stay in the union. Darling was Chancellor of the UK Exchequer when Gordon Brown was the UK Prime Minister. These 2 Scots presided over the greatest financial crisis in the UK for at least 80 years, and they spent vast quantities of English taxpayers money bailing out failed Scottish banks. They ignored the obvious signs of credit over-extension after the Northern Rock collapse and so lead the UK ‘blind’ into the banking ‘run’ in 2008. Just to add insult to injury Darling and Brown both signed-up to the Scottish Constitutional Convention in 1989, which committed each signatory to put the interests of Scotland first, above all else!
My conclusion is that the debate on Scottish Independence has been enormously beneficial for these reasons:
- Helped many Scots understand the nature of nationhood and what it means to govern and finance oneself
- Helped some English people realise what they are missing, that perhaps England needs a similar debate
- Pulled-down the facade of the United Kingdom showing what very unfair treatment each nation receives
- Revealed the utter deceit of the idea of Britain as a nation, the Scots readily refer to themselves as a nation so where does that leave the English, surely we are a nation too!
I sincerely hope that whatever the result of the Scottish Referendum, the English are given a similar opportunity to debate their sense of nation.
England is a country, Scotland is a country, Wales is a country; the UK is just a state, a political and bureaucratic entity. The UK organises and exploits the English but it is not their nation. We are not British, we are English!