Should we really be bribing the Scots to stay in the UK?
George Osborne doesn’t strike me as a particularly emotive or soft-headed politician, but even he – in fact, especially he – was falling over himself today to promise the Scots whatever they wanted short of full devolution if they voted no in eleven days time.
The realisation that Scotland might just vote to leave the Union – and thus effectively bring it to an end – seems to have concentrated a large number of English political minds, all bent on seeking to persuade the Scots to stay at almost any price.
But should the English really be working so hard to keep Scotland?
If Scotland were to decide for independence, we might perhaps expect the following consequences:
1. The removal of the estimated £3,150 per head subsidy that the rest of the UK currently pays to Scotland
2. The removal of the 41 Labour MPs who can vote on English matters such as health, education and transport, but have no say on those issues in their own Scottish constituencies
3. The stemming of the flow of Scots men and women into English jobs, as they presumably fall foul of the same rigorous immigration restrictions applied to other European countries.
4. A final cessation of the constant Scots whinging about how all their problems are the fault of the English
5. The excitement of a new constitutional experiment
6. More jobs in the north of England as we man the northern border with shiny new customs points
7. The need to re-think – and possibly abolish – the hugely expensive and largely useless nuclear submarine deterrent, on the grounds that we’ve nowhere to put them
8. The departure of Scottish politicians like Gordon Brown and Douglas Alexander from English politics (although we are sadly doomed to keep George Galloway, who cannily moved to English constituencies – but see point 3 above as a promise of no more similar Scots’ politicians in England)
9. A boom in English business and financial industries as firms exit Scotland and relocate to England
10. An end to Sean Connery’s persistent witterings about Scottish independence.
Quite a few positives there, I’m sure you’ll admit, and a full blooded ‘Yes’ vote would also have the advantage of at least providing a clear solution – something an anaemic ‘No’ vote absolutely wouldn’t. So perhaps we should stop promising the earth, and just wait on the Scots to make their own decision about a brave new world; one which perhaps might benefit England too.