Independent Scotland Will Need a New Capital 209

This is going to annoy a good many traditionalists, but here goes…

Edinburgh is already the wealthiest and economically most successful city in Scotland. For the first time in 200 years it has overtaken Glasgow in population. Its housing is becoming prohibitively expensive for ordinary citizens. A two bedroom flat carved out of a converted house goes for £250,000 in a “normal” area. Three bed family homes are well over £350,000 in much of the city.

In any state, the capital sucks in economic resources from the rest of the country, because that is where the centre of government services lies. London currently absorbs an awful lot of Scottish taxpayers’ money, and the Treasury counts projects such as crossrail as a UK, not just English, benefit – a fact worth remembering when you look at GERS figures.

An independent Scotland will need new ministries of foreign affairs, defence, and immigration/security, and a much bigger ministry of finance. It will need a central bank. On top of which it will receive at least 60 foreign embassies and also, and often forgotten, about the same again in national offices of international institutions like the EU, World Bank, IMF, EBRD, etc. That also comes with an economic boom to supply all the needed accommodation and infrastructure.

But that is by no means all. Edinburgh is already a huge international finance sector. Insurance companies, fund managers and banks based in Edinburgh manage more assets than are held in the Paris, behind only London and Frankfurt in the EU. If the rest of the UK plunges out of the EU while Scotland stays in, where will be the obvious bolthole for financial institutions wishing to headquarter in a location which gives continued free access to EU markets, while minimising dislocation effects and need for new languages? Edinburgh.

That is not the only benefit which a Scotland still in the EU will gain from the new situation. The astonishing xenophobia south of the border is dictating a severe reduction in numbers of overseas students. If Scotland is independent and still in the EU, which English speaking destination with superb universities will those students go to instead? The continued expansion of the University and of student accommodation is already out of hand in Edinburgh city centre – this will get worse.

The truth is, post independence the economic boom which will hit Edinburgh will be more than the city can physically handle. It will be much more sensible to remove the public sector element – the functions and accretions of a capital city – to another destination.

This will shock traditionalists, but Edinburgh will always have its history and the tourists that come with it. There are older capitals available. Dunkeld of the Picts probably does not have enough available land. But Perth does, close to the ancient installation site of the rulers at Scone. Scone Palace would be a magnificent residence for Scotland’s President after Lizzie is given her marching orders.

Many countries have moved to brand new capitals. My own choice of capital would be Dundee. The railway, road and airport connections already exist and the Caird Hall could be converted to a magnificent parliament. The seat of Scottish government is currently Ruth Davidson’s constituency – surely it would be much better to move it to Yes City.

New Book Out: Sikunder Burnes: Master of the Great Game – Craig Murray

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209 thoughts on “Independent Scotland Will Need a New Capital

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  • Don

    Love it Craig but one wee step at a time, you more than most must value the importance of the issues at hand.

  • chic kirk

    Dunfermline was the old capital of Scotland and would be an obvious choice its history and near location to Edinburgh makes it ideal for the incoming boom that indy will be sure to bring

    • Je

      Dunfermline is just a small town. Yer wants a city surely? Somewhere with a coach stop at least?

  • dave clark

    As a Dundonian now living in Meigle I can’t agree more. Its well served by proximity to SNP voting Angus and Perthshire and strategically, its less vulnerable to an English invasion than Edinburgh particurarly now theres no English navy to speak of and it has better port facilities than Leith. Alternatively what about Berwick when it secedes from England?

  • Republicofscotland

    “Move it to a Yes city”

    Indeed Dundee, would be a fine place, and it would cheer Brian Cox up, no end.

    Edinburgh voted no, shame on them but I’ll forgive them, as long as they vote yes, next time around. Incidently Ruth Davidson fled Glasgow, with her tank between her legs, to Edinburgh, because she knew Glasgwegians didn’t want her or her ilk.

    Perth is considered, the centre of Scotland, and oh, how I’d love to see Old Lizzie, given her marching orders, what a day that will be.

    It could be boom time if Scots vote yes and remain in the EU, businesses South of the border, could jockey for premises North of the border, in the frenzied exodus to remain in a English speaking nation within the EU, all it will take is one tiny wee word…yes. Go on you know you want to say it.

    • Anon1

      Reading some of the comments one would imagine the Nats have just won a referendum on independence.

      Sorry to piss on your parade, but you lost. Ad if one were held now you would lose again.

      Wakey wakey!

    • Je

      This may sound a bit whacky but why not make Perth Australia the capital of Scotland? I’m thinking tick, tick, tick to all this:

      “An independent Scotland will need new ministries of foreign affairs, defence, and immigration/security, and a much bigger ministry of finance. It will need a central bank. On top of which it will receive at least 60 foreign embassies and also, and often forgotten, about the same again in national offices of international institutions like the EU, World Bank, IMF, EBRD, etc. That also comes with an economic boom to supply all the needed accommodation and infrastructure.”

      Lets think out of the box here.

  • nick j

    re the central bank: if you’re going to be in the EU you’ll be required to use the Euro, in which case you’re stuffed. At a pinch the EU might accept the pound sterling. You’re still stuffed on a sterling peg. The Scots Dollar would be fine, but I can’t see the EU wearing it. Ask Varoufakis about the constraints of introducing a new currency….

    Apart from all that, keep up the good work!

    • Anon1

      Indeed, the currency question is another one ignored in favour of jerking off about Pictish capitals and giving Lizzie her marching orders.

      • Republicofscotland

        Two choices I’d imagine, keeping the pound, or floating a new Scottish currency. The former has its benefits with regards to cross-border trade, the latter however, also has benefits, such as not being tied to the Bank of England’s interest rates.

        The Westminster government will again proclaim, Scotland can’t use the pound. So in order to negate that, I’d imagine Scotland will float its own currency, which could see Sterling take a dip.

        • fred

          No trade with the rest of the UK, not without tariffs, they would be in another economic zone.

          Scotland would have to forego their free market with the UK, with whom we do 64% of our trade in exchange for a free market with Europe, with whom we do 15% of our trade.

          • Republicofscotland

            Tariffs work both ways, however, as you say Scotland does trade heavily with the rest of the UK, but that’s a two way street also. However independence will see Scotland regain control of its natural resources and all manner of taxes, which could help fill any gap in the rUK market that’s missed, and we’d still have the largest trading bloc in the world the EU to export to.

            Also Scotland receives substantial EU subsidies, which Scotland would miss if its dragged out of the EU.

            If you think things are bad now, up North, wait until Brexit realky kicks in prices ate already on the rise.

            I’m warming to a new Scottish currency

          • fred

            So how many votes do you think independence would get in Dundee when they find out it would double the price of a bottle of Buckie?

          • deepgreenpuddock

            That would change within a very short time as alternative arrangements were made.
            The 64% is to do with established relationships. There is only the transition phase, which I think would be short,-to worry about. And it would be in everyones’ interest to make sure it was a speedy process.

        • Richard Laird

          it was already admitted that Scotland would have been perfectly able to use the pound. So yet again it was all lies and smokescreens from westminster as usual!! whether we want to use the pound is another question altogether. Personally I’d be happy with the euro or pounds or buttons if it gains independence from this bloody union!!

    • Republicofscotland

      Sweden is a EU member and has been for quite awhile, it has not joined the Euro, and doesn’t look like doing so anytime soon.

    • fred

      They did a survey in Dundee asking if people would be in favour of changing to the Euro.

      63% said they wanted to stay with the Giro.

    • Niall

      Scotland can’t join the Euro — not straight away. There are certain preconditions to joining the Euro, based on the stability of your current cuurency. The UK doesn’t meet them, so even based on Sterling we would not be allowed in, and a new, untested currency certainly wouldn’t hit the threshold.

    • Tarisgal

      Nonsense. LOL!! That old chestnut is just that – nonsense. EU countries do NOT have to use the Euro. Scotland wouldn’t qualify to use the Euro and there is no need anyway! The Brit£? At that exchange rate? I DON’T THINK SO. Scotland will use the Scot£ and use their own Central Bank. As for the UK being Scotland’s biggest trading partner, I think you’ll agree the WHOLE OF THE EU is a much bigger one! Scotland will have a seat at the EU table, finally, and can garner new contracts with the other EU countries which will net more than rUK will give us. Having said that, do you REALLY believe that rUK will stop buying from the EU?? Because Scotland will be PART of the EU – so rUK will trade with us, same as always.  And the way things are going, I don’t think rUK can afford to get in a snit with Scotland and refuse to deal with them! Lol!

  • CE

    Dundee! You’re havering man, you can just about make an argument for Glasgow, but Dundee no chance. Even though it’s a great, and rapidly improving, city. We have to base our capital on more than the affiliation of it’s elected representatives. Will always be Auld Reekie for me.

    • fred

      Come off it they already call Dundee the Las Vegas of the north.

      Mind you I think that’s because you can buy sex with chips there.

      • JOML

        I’ll take your word for that, Fred, as you appear to have first hand knowledge of what’s available.

      • dave clark

        Fred, been hanging around Blackscroft again? I think the offence is importuning but you seem to know more than most on this forum about that.

        Aren’t we all subsidy junkies/colonies of Londinium- S E England: rUK Eng, N I, Wales, Sco, EU, UN etc.

        Buckie is a West coast appertive.

  • Anon1

    May I suggest a motto for this great, new nation, to be displayed proudly in the government buildings of Dunkeld or Dundee?

    “Scotland. Independent in the EU.”


    • Republicofscotland

      No need we already have one.

      “Nemo me impune lacessit”, or: “No one provokes me with impunity”. It is used by the Order of the Thistle and on later versions of the Royal coat of arms.

  • Martinned

    after Lizzie is given her marching orders

    What makes you think an independent Scotland would be a republic? Ireland wasn’t until 1949. Or is IndyRef2 going to be one of those magic referendums, like the Brexit referendum, where magically it turns out the one question that was put to the people contained lots of secret invisible sub-clauses?

    • Republicofscotland

      I’d imagine, after independence, at some stage that question would come onto the table. There’s still a lot of disgruntled folk, over the Pillar box war. ?

    • Kempe

      Why go for any existing city? If Scotland is going to enjoy an economic boom with all this building work (albeit one funded by public money and therefore at the risk of ramping up inflation) why not start from scratch with a new purpose built capital on a greenfield site? That way it could be designed to be fit for purpose from the ground up, eco-friendly buildings, efficient public transport etc etc.

      Just don’t let anyone associated with Holyrood or the Edinburgh Tramway* get anywhere near the project or you’ll be paying for it for eternity.

      *Or Edinburgh’s schools, unless all inhabitants are going to issued with hard hats.

      • Republicofscotland

        I think you’ll find the Edinburgh tram debacle was perpetrated by unionist politicians, (Lab/Tory)who made such a pigs foot of the whole project, that the Scottish government had to step in subsidise, and direct the sinking ship to a safe port.

        The jist of the matter is, never let the unionists in Scotland, build anything important, I suppose that could extend to Westminster, birds of a feather and all that.

        • Kempe

          From the awarding of the contracts through to completion Edinburgh council was a coalition of SNP and Lib Dems and then SNP/Labour. The construction, which is currently being used by management schools as a case study of how NOT to run a project, was managed by a private company wholly owned by Edinburgh council.

          However you look at it it was a 100% pure Scottish cock-up.

          • Republicofscotland

            I think not.

            “The future of the scheme came under threat in 2007, when the Scottish National Party (SNP) published its manifesto for the Scottish Parliamentary election. The party made clear its intention to cancel the scheme, along with the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link, to save £1.1bn.”

            “Following a lost vote in the Scottish Parliament, the SNP-led minority Scottish Government had to continue the line from the airport to Leith on condition that no more public money would be supplied.”


          • Kempe

            ” The party made clear its intention to cancel the scheme, along with the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link ”

            Which wouldn’t have been influenced by their biggest donor owning Britain’s biggest bus company would it?

  • Cloggins

    Is there a problem then? None were observed in Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia etc. so maybe such a drastic measure should be deferred for a while. There is also no direct requirement to make the capital also the centre of government – as The Hague so aptly demonstrates.

  • Anti-JWO

    Sorry but a 5m population (compare Mexico City 22m,Beijing 22m,Karachi 25m,etc) would require a Finance Ministry seated in one open plan office, we all know you have a grouse but this is more like Famous Grouse musings. !

  • Je

    Okay… I’m getting excited here…. nobody’s mentioned Evonium…

    We carefully decide where it was… (picking the best location possible)… and we rebuild it as the new capital… complete with banks, embassies, methadone clinics, everything. Its perfect.

      • Je

        Fantastic! Everyone can be made to go and stand there in person on that exact spot next to the A87 on their 16th to be handed their Young Scot booklet. They’ll be awe inspired and will promise to be good citizens until their 160th. We can hint they’re descended from the Kings. We’ll need helipads. We can have some of those big new modern airships… it’ll be brilliant!

  • John Walsh

    Come walk with me along the Clyde financial district. Plenty office space at £23per sq ft and enough land for 4 generations of expansion. 1hr commute from Edinburgh Glasgow could become the second city of the Empire again. Boom for all central belt . I know the smart money is coming here if we get Indy !

  • JOML

    I always thought Stirling would be a great place to have the Scottish Parliament and a national sports stadium. Great for Stirling, while also very handy for the big two cities and airports.

  • Resident Dissident

    OH well its nice to dream.

    Might I suggest KInlochbervie – it would spare most of the Scottish population and its neighbours from the sound of whining politicians. The summer Parliament could spend those 2 months on Rockall. I notice Craig still has a fairly typical civil service view of what constitutes wealth generating infrastructure i.e. an even bigger bureaucracy.

    Of course all of this is a bid for Pictish hegemony – Edinburgh really should have stuck with Northumbria..

    As for the central bank – I hear that Goodwin chap and Salmond’s mate Sir(sic!) George Mattewson might still be available.

    • Resident Dissident

      Of course Dundee which has acted before as the stunt double for Moscow (if you ignore all the nice bits of Moscow) would strike the appropriate note of Scottish dourness.

    • Ba'al Zevul

      Does Kinlochbervie still have a fisticuffs derby (alternate dancehalls weekly) with Durness? While we’re up north, how about Thurso? Er…Imagining the MPs’ travel exes, ok, perhaps not…

    • Je

      If we’re into annexing then everything North of Hadrian’s wall should be Scotland. That means Newcastle could be the new capital. Anyone who doesn’t like it can move to Gateshead…

  • Kenny

    Craig, I suggest doing what Germany does. The Germans plan everything beforehand, hence why their economy tends to do well.

    They have spread out their resources among many “capitals”: Berlin (administrative), Munich and Stuttgart (industry), Frankfurt (finance), Hamburg and Bremen (ports).

    Scotland should have four capitals — Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness. This basically divides the country into a square and it is easy to move from one to the other. Edinburgh for finance, Aberdeen for oil, Glasgow for industry/tech/design/creativity… and so maybe Inverness as administrative capital??? To show Scotland is looking north to Norway, Iceland, the developing Arctic area??? Why not? The Moray Firth is a hidden gem and has loads of potential for development… foreign embassies would love it there!

    Germany allows former duchy capitals (Darmstadt) to be the capitals of the new Laender (Hesse: not Frankfurt, but Darmstadt is the seat of the Land government). So there is a role there for our secondary capitals, like Stirling, Dumfries, Oban, Aviemore, Perth, Ayr…

    • Chris Hanning

      Oh, I never read the comments before posting. I agree: Germany as a successful model.

    • Johnstone

      What about fundemental public rights issues? Isn’t this more important to the people than where to put its capital city. Who cares! In Scotland people are being denied rights to public assets about which they are unaware.

      Take deer for one. They are a public assets but the law gives the sole shooting rights to landowners. Who (in general) neglect their duty to ensure enough ‘good’ stags and in doing so theres overpopulation with resulting land and herd impoverishment. Counts of deer numbers by Frank Fraser Darling and in the 50s and estimates by John Hunt in the 90s were suppressed. Heres part of a paper by Andy Wightman on Scottish Common goods assets.

      Common good assets are the heritable (land and buildings) and moveable (paintings, furniture, chains of office etc.) property that belonged to the Burghs of Scotland. Under local government reform in 1975 Burghs and Town Councils were abolished and replaced by District and Regional Councils. In 1996 further reform introduced unitary authorities. Common good assets were subsumed within these local government reforms and placed under the stewardship of these new bodies. …The history of the common good over the centuries has been a history of wise stewardship followed by corruption, nepotism, cronyism and criminality. Today the situation is characterised by ignorance, bad record-keeping, impoverished funds, confusion and a continuing dose of cronyism, nepotism and evidence of occasional criminality.

  • Born Optimist

    Personally I would prefer Inverness. This would clearly lead to a refocusing of the Nation”s life and perhaps also a new weather map with a northern perspective ie viewed from the Arctic to give a diminished image of england.
    More seriously I think a new capital would be ideal for a renewed Scotland and would indeed counter the numerous issues raised above.
    In the spirit of democracy perhaps we should vote on the matter after there has been sufficient airing of the pros and cons of the matter.

  • fwl

    Why the assumption that an independent Scotland would need a capital bank. Why not let privateers open up banks and print money or digitise its equivalent – it’s only a matter of trust after all.

  • Loony

    Why not go with the idea of a special purpose new town – perhaps it could be called Darien.

    If there is interest in a new flag perhaps you could resurrect the flag of “The Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies”

  • Jeff

    No, no no, Edinburgh must remain the capital city. It’s association with the Scottish nation as such is much too important for that to change. Just farm out the ‘executive’ departments etc. Like they do in the Netherlands, Amsterdam is capital but Den Haag is the seat of government.

    • Kempe

      There’ll no need for a foreign or defence ministry for very long either. Just a bloke in an office with a rubber stamp.

  • Chris Hanning

    I am in agreement with the strategy of diffusion.

    Here in New Zealand, while we have our capital separate from our largest city, we still do nothing to check the rapacious expansion of Auckland which is suffering the usual blight of such cancerous growth: increasing crime, reduced productivity due to clogged transport systems, poverty through unchecked residential investment.

    On a natural disaster level diffusion is the sensible path by which risk is minimized.

    West Germany was successful with Bonn remaining small and efficient. Several government institutions have retained a secondary seat in Bonn thereby alleviating the congestion of Berlin and providing a comfortable and affordable life away from the capital. Perhaps there are more parallels to draw from Bonn and the West German economic (and social) recovery during this period of their history.

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