Bill Mitchell says Yes:
In my career I have had the good fortune to work globally. My perspective is formed from this journey and today I feel tremendous sadness, but also a growing sense of excitement.
I voted Remain, though I have no rose-tinted view of the EU; rather I have a clear understanding of the challenges of operating within such a bureaucratic monolith. The fact remains that we are part of Europe and to believe that by leaving we are 'regaining control of our country' is naiveté.
Such sloganeering is what passes for reasoned debate. The reality is that the unnecessary referendum was nothing more than the on-going death throes of an establishment utilising the growing fears and concerns of a strata of society whose voice over the past 25 years has not only been ignored but ridiculed, to further the ruthless ambition of a political elite.
This is not a new phenomenon. Any examination of history will show that it is a repeated pattern. Eventually empires self-destruct, and the British Empire, having been mortally wounded in 1945, has now finally breathed its last. Neither are the individual behaviours we are witnessing new. The conservatives (note the small 'c') from all sides of the political spectrum are struggling to hold on to fading certainties.
It is necessary to recognise that there is a distinction between England and Scotland. It is understandable that those Scots who consider the United Kingdom to be an inclusive body do not wish to see this entity destroyed. But the facts, both historical and current, paint a more realistic picture.
Scotland has always been the junior partner in the United Kingdom, our cultural identity gradually diminished to shortbread, whisky and bagpipes. At the same time England, both as an entity and a philosophy, has come to mean Britain to most people throughout the world.
Scots have few illusions about our relative place in the world. However, for the ruling class in England (and this includes many of Scottish nationality) to be ranked alongside such countries as the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria while the country we defeated in two world wars was top of the table, was never likely to be accepted.
For many decades the exercise of political power was aligned with the concept of society. Mrs Thatcher dismissed this concept and adopted the neo-liberal philosophy of the rights of the individual over the greater good of the collective. Her conscious decision to reduce the country's dependence on manufacturing in favour of so-called service industries began the process of social alienation. Her heirs (led by Blair) have taken this further. This has inevitably led to a drive for the retention of power at all costs, whether from overt self-aggrandisement or intellectual isolationism. For every Jo Cox there are 10 Boris Johnsons and Jeremy Corbyns. Strong leadership with its attendant responsibility has been replaced with focus groups.
At the beginning, I stated that, despite my sadness and concern, I also have a growing sense of excitement. The events of the past fortnight have further reinforced the growing disconnect between the Scottish and the English bodies politic. They represent tangible evidence that our societies have different values. This offers an opportunity to reinforce the message that being a supporter of an independent Scotland does not mean a dislike of England or the English, but that our perception of ourselves as a distinct culture is becoming ever more defined.
In short, I believe that Scotland will become independent, not because of a desire to be rid of England, nor because of any superficial antagonism based on real or perceived slights, but because the world we live in has changed to such a degree that the values we espouse are now dramatically at odds with that of our immediate neighbours.
Dick Mungin says No:
Naturally the losing side in the Brexit debate are feeling sore. Personally I’m aghast at the result, but an absolute requirement is a period of calm reflection. Worse things have happened in our recent history and we’ve come through them. Many of us have parents who survived a world war and in that historical context it is worth pointing out that some of the issues which arose during the recent referendum – immigration, racism, national sovereignty and the border in Ireland – were live and controversial political issues over 40 years ago.
My main worry is that the central issue – leaving the EU, a process so serious and fraught with problems that the Lisbon Treaty came up with Section 50 to regulate such an eventuality – becomes truly dangerous as other players in the political game in the UK pursue their own narrow and selfish agendas.
It came as no surprise to Arlene Foster, first minister of Northern Ireland, when Sinn Fein demanded a referendum on a united Ireland after the Brexit vote. Her response was wearily in the vein of – they would say that, wouldn’t they? The Westminster government was swift also in its rejection of that demand. Nevertheless, Martin McGuinness called again for a referendum on the border issue and connected the Irish nationalist case with that of Scotland, where Nicola Sturgeon is sabre-rattling and preparing the agenda for Indyref2.
The SNP had long warned that a vote in the rest of the UK to leave the EU would trigger a re-run of the September 2014 event, which the nationalists lost by a considerably greater margin than Leave defeated Remain just last week. There are those in the SNP who would have had a re-run any time and for any reason, and that is an attitude not just confined to the veteran ‘fundies’ and the shiny-eyed zealots who joined the party and drank the Kool-Aid after the Scottish people voted No.
Unfortunately for Nicola Sturgeon, her past rhetoric, designed to appease the above mentioned, has forced her to call for Indyref2 in the next two years when the political and economic agenda is out of her hands. The oil price is still on the floor and likely to be for a long time to come and the currency question has still not been answered – join the euro to get into the EU? Use sterling as the Scottish currency? We know the answer there. The related problem of the billions in trade between Scotland and England also has many complications.
The Scottish Government has stated that the first priority is its duty to the people of Scotland. Why it believes that adding to the political, business and economic problems of the UK in the fraught period of extricating ourselves from one union by deliberately bursting up another one is almost, but not quite, beyond me. It knows that inward investment to the wider UK and to Scotland will suffer. It knows that internal investment will decline. It knows that young people trying to get a foot on the housing ladder will find it even harder than they do at present. It knows that further uncertainty, caused by a Scottish referendum, on the future relationship of the UK to EU on matters of state and security issues may prove to be damaging to all of our interests. It knows all of this but I’m afraid its cause must take priority over all else.
Scotland’s Future, the white paper on which the SNP based the economic case for independence in 2014, was subsequently exposed as a lengthy wish list rather than a credible agenda for the economic future of our country. It is an understatement to say that we dodged a bullet in voting No. The collapse in the price of oil alone has holed the nationalist economic case below the waterline. It’s all very well for the first minister to assert that oil is a bonus, but she cannot explain how her government, after independence, would replace the massive subvention from Westminster which, according to the Scottish Government's own figures, amounts to some £9 billion a year. When asked by Andrew Neil for an answer to that question, her response was 'We’ll manage the deficit'. She’s right: that is what governments must do. What she’s not telling us is that it means swingeing cuts in public expenditure, tax rises and borrowing on the money markets.