Scotland’s External and European Ministry 164


Scotland must be a fully functioning independent nation in two to three years. We need to start now to understand and plan for the physical infrastructure of governance a modern state needs. Just one of the vast gaps at present is the ability for an independent state to interact with other states; that is, after all, what defines the very being of a state. Scotland will need its own foreign ministry. In short time.

That foreign ministry will need to be physically somewhere in the capital. It needs to be a prestige location that can host visiting foreign ministers and delegations and top level international meetings. The answer is staring us in the face in the old Edinburgh Royal High School, a truly magnificent though sadly neglected building.

Edinburgh Council has just taken the lease back from the prospective developers of yet another luxury hotel in the centre of Edisneyburgh, a name I use for the hollowed out tourist attraction which the centre of Edinburgh is fast becoming (Jenners is now to be yet another luxury hotel). There is a consultation in play on the future of the Royal High School. What worries me is that I have not seen a single element of that consultation that factors in the coming urgent question of the needs of Edinburgh as the capital of an independent state, nor have I ever seen any indication that Edinburgh Council or the Scottish Government have ever given the matter serious thought.

I have even seen it suggested that Independent Scotland will not need a foreign ministry, nor a defence ministry, because in these areas it can continue to cooperate with the British state. I should hope that I could forever destroy the argument for an Independent Scotland aligning with UK foreign policy in just nine words. I shall try:

Iraq. Libya. Afghanistan. Palestine. Yemen. Chagos. Catalonia. Trident. Rendition.

We simply cannot align ourselves with the butcher’s apron abroad. Quite simply, that would be to sacrifice a key attribute of a nation state. It would not be Independence. The immorality of UK foreign policy is a key motive for many Scots to want independence in the first place, myself included.

The UK Treasury admits that it receives (pre-covid) approximately £30 billion per year more in revenue from Scotland than is given back to the Scottish Government in block grant. In fact, numerous accounting tricks make that £30 billion an underestimate, but let us go with it for now. That money is spent on our behalf by Westminster, on reserved matters like Defence (including Trident), the Foreign Office, the Treasury, Immigration and Nationality, certain benefits and social services, and projects of UK strategic value, like (ahem) London’s crossrail, HS2 and the refurbishment of the Palace of Westminster.

After Independence, none of that £30 billion (in reality it will prove to be well more) will go down to London. All of it will be spent through Scotland, and the large majority of it will finally be spent in Scotland. That will of itself be a major economic boost, but for the purposes of this article I am concerned with the administration of that expenditure, all of which administration will on Independence be moved up from London to Scotland.

That means Scotland will be paying for a lot more civil servants in Scotland, rather than paying for civil servants in London. Scotland will need a Central Bank, a Finance Ministry, a Ministry of External Affairs, a Ministry of Internal Affairs (including immigration and nationality), a much expanded benefits ministry, an overseas aid ministry, a Ministry of Defence, and its own, but hopefully very small, security services. There will be others.

Recruitment should not be a big problem as many Scottish civil servants will be very happy to repatriate from the UK civil service. I do however caution against an automatic right for senior civil servants to transfer as many will have been steeped in neoliberal doctrine. Almost certainly, as with Ireland, London will have to grant a residual right to Scots to continue in London service, as much would simply collapse without them.

But we have to think where we can physically put all these civil servants. The truth is – and I know it is unpopular when I say this – the current Scottish Government is really only a glorified regional council, set up to placate a nation, and is extremely far from the scale of operation needed to run an actual independent state.

Just as there are those who think we should just continue to follow the UK Foreign Office, there are those who seem to think that bunging a few extra desks into St Andrews House will solve the problem. There has not been enough planning for the sheer scale of what is needed to administer a real nation state. Most European countries of Scotland’s size will have 20 to 25 separate ministries.

Sweden has 48,000 “core” civil servants in central government. Denmark has 68,000 civil servants working in “central administration”. By contrast, just 6,500 “core” civil servants work for the Scottish “government” at present. It is hard to find exactly equivalent figures because, while all these numbers exclude agencies, civil service jobs have been farmed out to agencies in differing degrees in different nations. Agency and other non-core civil servants working for the Scottish Government total around 11,000, but do also have their equivalent extras in Sweden and Denmark. What is plain is that after Independence the Scottish Government central operation, once it really is an actual Government and not a Mickey Mouse one, will have to be on an entirely different scale.

Here is a little illustration. The Scottish Government’s civil service only has one Permanent Secretary, and perfectly bluntly she would never have made it to five grades lower than that in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the Treasury. After independence Scotland will need at least 20 proper permanent secretaries of high quality.

There are however 24,500 UK civil servants based in Scotland who work for the UK government. Many of these will simply be able to be transferred in – the very large majority of them (17,200) being from the Inland Revenue, and Revenue and Customs. But do not think this solves Scotland’s problems. There is a large difference between processing tax returns and running a state’s macro-economic policy, and the very large majority of all the UK civil servants employed in Scotland are non-policy staff.

The policy apparatus of central ministries aside, there is a useful legacy of physical government infrastructure currently housing these UK civil servants, much of it helpfully outside Edinburgh. Immigration and Nationality will have a good base in Glasgow for example and can expand into spare space in the overseas development administration in East Kilbride, which is larger than Scotland will need. But for reasons of democratic accountability the policy headquarters of these ministries, with their ministers – a whole new layer of Administration in Scotland – will have to be near parliament and the seat of government.

Speaking of parliament, I am convinced that Scotland will need after Independence far more by way of checks and balances on its executive, not least of which should be a bicameral parliament. That second chamber too will need to be accommodated somewhere, with its staff.

The new UK government buildings near Waverley station will provide a little of the answer to all of this, but will by no means be enough. Is there a masterplan for what ministry will go where, into what buildings – or even what the ministries will be? I hope you understand now why it is essential to commandeer the old Royal High School, and start to earmark other buildings in the capital.

To return to the question of external affairs, I hope in general we will avoid UK nomenclature for ministries. Ministry of External Affairs has a less pejorative tone than “Foreign Office”. I would tend to make it “Ministry of External and European Affairs”, to make plain Scotland views Europe differently. I also hope we will follow Ireland in eschewing the Imperial relic of the Commonwealth, and unlike the British Tories we will have a separate ministry for development aid.

As a state it is essential to interact with foreign states, and to do that, we must have Embassies abroad. Scotland will need Embassies in all European states, in major countries outside Europe including in the developing world, and in all fellow major oil-producing states. Ireland has 57 Embassies abroad, Denmark 71, Portugal 75 and Sweden 80. I suspect Scotland needs about 75.

In addition there are consulates, which will provide assistance to Scottish businesses and individuals abroad, and often issue visas, but do not handle political relations. If you need assistance in Los Angeles an Embassy in Washington is little use, for example. Ireland has 109 consulates and Portugal 250.

This is not at all as expensive as it seems. The UK has a major owned property estate abroad, much of it belonging to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and some of it literally palatial. An Independent Scotland will be entitled to 10% of that estate. Some of that will be able to be used directly to provide the offices and accommodation we will need, while some might be sold to provide funds for suitable premises.

To return to Edinburgh, I would expect at least 80 Embassies to set up in the Scottish capital, and possibly a good few more. Apart from the Europeans and major players, it is a fact of life that countries always like to open Embassies in really nice places for diplomats to live. There are over 1,000 foreign diplomats accredited to Sweden, of whom 667 are actually resident in Stockholm, the rest visiting. There will be a similar number of non-diplomatic Embassy staff. Edinburgh will need offices for at least 80 Embassies, some of them fairly large. While it is not up to the Scottish government to provide the premises, the demand will be significant.

Some 800 foreign diplomats with their families will substantially impact the higher end Edinburgh property market. That is aside from the much larger problem of housing perhaps 10,000 new Scottish Government civil servants in the capital.

These are excellent problems to have, and solving them will provide a major macro-economic boost to Scotland. But if the Scottish Government is serious about moving to genuine Independence within a short timescale, much more work needs to be underway on preparing Edinburgh to be a real capital once again.

If you want to campaign to bring about that Independent Scotland without delay, consider joining Now Scotland.

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164 thoughts on “Scotland’s External and European Ministry

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  • M.J.

    Let’s assume that Scotland becomes independent and that rUK is still outside the EU. Would Scotland have a hard border to the South? If not, how would it prevent rUK goods getting into the EU including Scotland?

      • Theophilus

        Except for the likelihood that the border areas may not want to join an independant Scotland and you will end up with a new Scottish Ulster. And then there are the Shetlands and Orkney islands.

        • Xavi

          Britain could get away with blatantly ignoring all-Ireland election results a century ago to carve off an ahistorical, antidemocratic statelet. But could it succeed in doing so in the 21st century, when its claims to being a functioning democracy are already in such dispute?

          • Mark Stephenson

            Why not allow any parts of Scotland that vote No in any future referendum remain in the UK?

          • M.J.

            @Mark, that’s a very interesting question, because I imagine that Scottish nationalists would argue that any parts of Scotland voting to remain in the UK would not be a nation. Which raises the question: is the UK a nation? If so, should it have a say in whether Scotland be allowed to secede?

  • John Monro

    Craig, you’ve given the practical matters of running a truly independent state some expert thought. Thank you. And probably provided some ammunition to the Unionists, as it all sounds horribly expensive. But that’s what having an independent nation entails and it’s only right that those proposing independence don’t just have the grand idea, but can provide the fully costed minutiae of what they propose. Otherwise independence could be another Brexit, an emotional reaction to a perceived problem, with unforeseen or deliberately concealed consequences.

    I live in NZ, a very similar population, but likely different (younger) demographics, we’ve had a population explosion with what appears to be unrestricted immigration, causing a frightening housing crisis. We have a uni-cameral parliament, with around 120 MPs, elected on MMP basis (you have two votes, one for the party and one for the local MP – around 70 of the MPs are constituency MPs, around 50 are party list members on a national, not regional basis, their numbers adjusted so that the final make up of the parliament reflects the overall party vote. MMP replaced FPP in 1994. New Zealand used to have a second chamber until 1951. The history is interesting https://nzhistory.govt.nz/legislative-council-abolished . Since then, under the FPP system, with three-yearly elections, New Zealanders basically voted each time for an elected dictatorship. Minor parties, which gained more traction in the citizenry than in the UK, still rarely managed to gain even a single seat, even if they gained 10% of the vote. I believe in Scotland you have something similar to our MMP, but only half the seats in the resulting parliament reflect the party vote in your several regions, whereas it’s a 100% in NZ. (I may have misunderstood this). I go on about this, because with MMP, and the much greater use of the Parliamentary committee system to examine legislation, it is considered (by those who now make the law) that a second chamber would be even less relevant. I remain unconvinced. Certainly if it contains appointed members, governments can gerrymander whoever they like into the chamber – just like the ridiculous House of Lords. However, a corrupt second chamber is not the argument for refusing to countenance a non-corrupt one. Legislation can still be rushed through under urgency, ill conceived and ill worded. A government of coalition can be just as incompetent or arrogant as any single party government. I would propose a second chamber of say five experts in each of the major human fields, (eg. politics, arts, music, economics, sport, environment, law, medicine, health, science etc) to be elected and appointed by MPs as a whole and to serve say ten years. They’d have the power to examine legislation pertaining to their expertise, some powers to alter or delay etc. They’d also have the power to suggest legislation for consideration by the lower chamber. Much like a private members bill.

    Finally, and I hate to say it, unless Scotland is treated very miserably indeed and has something really uniting to fight against, even if the polls suggest a majority for independence, when it comes to putting a cross in the independence box many will falter. In any case, I believe it would be dangerous to accept a simple majority as a vote yes. Just as we’ve seen with Brexit referendum, a major constitutional change should demand a much bigger vote, say a 60% majority of those voting. Ireland in the early 1900s would surely have a 90% majority of the entire population, if they’d actually been asked.

    I will be interested to see how the SNP’s present travails pan out, they could seriously undermine the very important moral argument for independence i.e. “we’re better than them”

    • craig Post author

      If your government is spending the money inside your own country, the notion of “expensive” has no meaning. We already pay for all of this, but in London. In fact this will be a massive economic boost.

      • John Monro

        Thanks Craig, I merely said it “sounds” very expensive. But you may be right, paying for overseas embassies and consulates is evened out by the embassies coming to Scotland. I suppose you just have to have your arguments well marshalled. Cheers.

      • DavidH

        Apart from the inflationary effects, if the money is being spent on stuff with a finite supply. Prime example already mentioned being property in Edinburgh. You wouldn’t want to start a new economy with huge inflation and thus devaluation of the currency. What currency did you say you’d be using, anyway??

    • Alf Baird

      There are now 5 or 6 independence parties, including the MI5 infested SNP. The UK alliance is almost over. Mony Scots widna mind a muckle wa’ on the border, tae be honest. Such is the deceit.

    • Coldish

      John Monro (20.52): I agree that 50% plus 1 in a one-off vote is an inadequate majority to justify an essentially irreversible major constitutional change like Brexit. I’d prefer a 60% or 2/3rds majority, whether of the whole population or of an elected legislature.
      Interesting to learn that NZ changed over from 100% FPTP to a mixed system without much difficulty. I suspect it may be mathematically difficult or impossible to place a limit on the total number of representatives (MPs) in a system which combines FPTP with party list PR. That’s not an argument against such a system, which does preserve the relationship between an individual constituency and ‘its own’ MP, while ensuring that each party gets the same percentage of MPs as its percentage of the total vote. There is usually a proviso that any party has to get at least a certain minimum percentage of the total party list vote (5% in Germany) to qualify for representation.
      Also worth looking at is the Irish system of single transferable vote in multi-member constituencies. In Ireland each constituency has (or had) between 3 and 5 TDs (MPs) and a single party commonly has more than one candidate in a single constituency. This feature enables voters to express a preference between, say, left-wing and right-wing candidates from the same party.

      • Mark

        I agree with John Monro and Coldfish with regard to a super-majority vote for independence. Without it the losing 50% minus one will never be placated as seen by the constant mind-numbing post Brexic diatribe.

  • Matthew

    Scotland should call its “home office” equivalent the “welcoming office”.

    Or at the very least have separate ministries dealing with policing and migration.

  • ScotsCanuck

    Totally agree with your analysis ….. a suggestion, why not consider this as the title of our External Diplomatic Operations “Global Affairs”, it’s the Official Department in my adopted Country (Canada) …. it states the obvious without any pretentions !!! …. we (Scotland) join the World as a “Partner & Contributor” … not a self perceived World Power & self appointed Policeman.

  • Sylvia Jardine

    Hi Craig I worked in the civil service in the 60’s. Our office was in Broomhouse Drive Edinburgh it was the Scottish office computer centre and Agriculture fisheries and many other departments. I know there was another at Sighthill, the tax office was at East Kilbride. Another small tax office was in Edinburgh. Old St Andrews house and New St Andrews house.
    Hope this helps. Glasgow would be great for another major Civil Service and other Cities too.

  • FranzB

    Might be worth thinking about a federal system, as e.g. in Germany, based on regions. The character of a (say) Highland Region would be different to (say) a Greater Glasgow region.

    Push lots of competencies out to the Regions – education and health would ensure lots of spending was controlled outside the capital. Other competencies could be benefits, culture, police, environment, housing. Regions could collect taxes and perhaps there could be local tax raising powers.

    This might go down well if there is an independence referendum. A second chamber could perhaps be used to represent the interests of the Regional governments.

  • Piotr+Berman

    Perhaps it would make sense to decentralize the location of the government. For example, Foreign Ministry and embassies in Perth, Industry in Glasgow, Agriculture and Fishing in Aberdeen etc.
    The other issue is if we Scotland needs 20 Permanent Secretaries — in the light of a delightful satire I read in this blog.

    • Mr Shigemitsu

      Good call.

      Without its own free-floating, non-convertible currency, and central bank, an Independent Scotland will be anything but.

        • Mr Shigemitsu

          “Convertibility” refers to the currency being pegged against a commodity, such as gold, at a fixed price – as was the US Dollar before 1971.

          Convertibility restricts the amount of currency that can exist, the amount being dependent on central bank reserves of that commodity, rather than the needs of the needs of the national economy, stifling growth and economic well-being in the process.

          Not to be confused with “exchangeability”, which means that a national currency can be exchanged for other currencies, as Sterling, and the USD, is today – and it would be essential for Scotland that its currency should be free floating, rather than fixed or pegged to another currency, so that economically damaging interest rate rises or spending cuts are not imposed solely in order to maintain some predetermined value against an external currency.

    • Contrary

      🙂

      Hopefully Now Scotland can sort out some of these competing interests…

      Why is no one considering putting the seats of power and financial control in a more CENTRAL location in our country though?

    • Shatnersrug

      That’s one of my favourite buildings in the world! I’m also partial to the deco noir of St Andrews House, truly some magnificent buildings, unlike the glass atrium crap they sling up these day.

  • Rosemary MacKenzie

    I believe covid provides a wonderful opportunity to think about how to do things differently. Many people have been working from home very effectively and happily through the covid pandemic. In the brave new world of Scotland’s independence there would be no need to commute, no need to have housing close to work, no need for employers to provide hugely expensive office buildings with car parks etc. Maybe we could think about providing government in a much more decentralized manner. Investment should be in IT infrastructure rather than in bricks and mortar. I have had the opportunity to work from home and could not believe how much more creative and productive I was. I was using technology in existence twenty years ago, capabilities are hugely different now. Just think about it, building a new state in the 21st century!

    • nevermind

      well said Rosemary, most of the vital local functions and service decisions of most councils have been delivered from home for near enough a full year, it works and over 55% of public and private office staff do not want to go back to hot desking or sharing an open plan office with dozens of others.

      Public transport has to be rethought, for one way in and another way out, e-scooters and electric bicycles to be offered to staff for local service deliveries and the charging infrastructure’s installed.
      There are many buildings which are superfluous after covid, unsuitable for public health, never mind MI 5 were the poor muts have to cram in to be secure under teachie screens to keep out wavelenght, that is not a great working environment.
      Some excellent ideas here and that is whats needed. When thinking of something new, we always must take the overall impact it xreates for our lives and that if the wider ecology/human environs into account.

      Do different was the motto at UEA Norwich, think out of the box, it could be much cheaper and better.

    • Kempe

      A very good point. Unilever have recently announced that not all their employees will be returning to their desks full time and I know of two small companies who have told their people that they won’t be renewing the office leases when they run out. Some people will still have to commute though, hospital staff, anybody still involved in manufacturing etc.

      If an independent Scotland has money to spend money on building projects it would be better spent converting empty offices to accommodation for the homeless and those on social housing waiting lists.

  • Giyane

    No doubt Peter Rabbit being in the cross eyebrows of Mr MccGregor’s double-barrelled shot gun focusses the mind wonderfully. because this is a wonderfully detailed and elegant map of his garden and the layout of his lettuces , carrots herbs and other delicious necessities of Rabbit life. I hope you don’t any tail hairs for your bold plans.

  • Stonky

    I agree with Craig that the foreign ministry should be in the capital. Other than that we should be very conscious of the German example:
    Political centre: split between Bonn and Berlin
    Financial Centre: Frankfurt
    Main Port: Hamburg
    Industrial Centre: Ruhrgebiet
    Main Central Broadcaster: Mainz
    World Cup Finals: Munich and Berlin
    Olympics: Berlin and Munich

    It’s very telling that if you go through that list for the UK, it’s London, London, London, London, London, London, London, London, and London. Which pretty much sums up everything that’s wrong with the UK.

    • Coldish

      Nice one, Stonky (04.21). One could add that Germany’s powerful Federal Constitutional Court is located at Karlsruhe, near the SW border of the country, while the country’s biggest international exhibition is held in Hannover, the capital of Lower Saxony.

    • nevermind

      Germans in Hollyrood? what are they doing there Frazer? genuinely interested as it is news to me.
      Just started snowing here, a little beasty from the east, nice and quiet.

        • nevermind

          aha, have no crux with such money grabbers. BP just won the auction to access and build windfarms on seabed claimed by the Crown Estate on the west coast, incl. Anglesey and parts of the Irish sea, for an annual appagage of 889million/ per annum for the next 10 years, with 25%of that sum going directly to the Royal damily’s ‘ sovereign grant’.

          money for old rope from assets that should benefit the country.

  • Steven Bowles

    There seem to be an awful lot of UK civil servants based in scotland. Its a pretty safe bet they will all lose their jobs as there is no chance any country would allow their public servants to be based in another country. The £30 billion you talk of will probably go a lot less far than you think!

  • iain

    Demonstrating Scottish maturity and ‘seriousness’ on foreign policy will be a major priority for Sturge. That will entail relentless demonization of China and Russia and shrill support for any and every piece of DC warmongering. For an ardent Atlanticist and dyed in the wool neoliberal those postures are de rigueur.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Articles like this are of value to understand the underlying cognitive dissonances which always occur in those on a mission.

    Here are a list of assertions of Mr Murray I read with absolute incredulity:

    1. The EU is a benign and peaceful organisation.

    All the following are EU policy:
    a. Imperialism.
    b. Kowtowing to the USA over policy in Ukraine and Russia.
    c. Abolishing ancient human rights and freedoms under cover of the Covid19 scamdemic.
    d. Ostracising nationalists in countries like Hungary and Poland for disagreeing with Franco-German diktat.
    e. Economic terrorism of countries like Greece for the sole interests of Franco-German banks.
    f. Organisation of an entire bloc based on policy being made entirely by unelected, unaccountable technocrats who listen almost exclusively to the lobbyists of big business and absolutely never submit themselves to the censorious evaluation of the peoples of Europe.

    Given Mr Murray’s obvious brown nosing to the EU in this article, it is clear that he is of a similar mind set to unelected technocrats: he thinks them wiser and more reliable than those who actually answer to their electorate.

    2. ‘Policy making civil servants’.

    I think we can all agree that the ‘policy making civil servants’ Oliver Robbins and Mark Sedwill represent the absolute antithesis of what any true democrat seeks in an unelected official. They actively sought to undermine democratic mandates, they aligned themselves closely with anti-democratic globalist elites and were- and still indeed are more than prepared to destroy the careers of any elected official who tries to stand up to them on issues such as the Brexit Referendum, policy over bioweapons etc etc.

    If Mr Murray considers Mark Sedwill to be the sort of official he considers suitable to be a ‘policy-making civil servant’ in any democratic nation, then I would have no hesitation in calling him a dictatorial, pseudo-nationalist arsehole.

    He needs to make absolutely clear where the lines of authority are drawn as to how ‘national policy’ is framed, who frames it and what levels of accountability such policy refers back to the people of a nation.

    Otherwise he will become another disgusting little turncoat who secretly wants to be an unaccountable dictator himself…..he cannot on the one hand denounce the FCO as all that is wrong with a nation state and then try and recreate all the conditions of unaccountable group-think in Scotland, can he??

    3. Mr Murray is clearly seeing oil as a key component of Scotland’s future economy, which means that he will be denouncing all the current Green Crap that is seeking to pretty much bankrupt all ordinary people by sending their energy bills through the roof.

    There are consequences to that sensible policy and the first is a robust denunciation of German energy policy since 2000, a robust condemnation of Joe Biden’s new administration in the USA and a much closer alignment with Vladimir Putin’s Russia than Mutti Merkel would be prepared to tolerate.

    Does Mr Murray see ‘problems on the horizon’ of following an energy policy in direct conflict with EU mores whilst at the same time seeking to rejoin that deeply flawed and anti-democratic organisation??

    4. Mr Murray seeks to ‘denounce the Imperial Commonwealth relic’, which seems an indubitably petty thing to do. With the greatest of respect to former diplomat Murray, there are far worse places on earth than many of the Commonwealth nations like Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, various states in the Caribbean etc. Starting with the USA, Saudi Arabia and some of the Caspian States. I wonder how long we will have to wait for Mr Murray to state what Scotland’s policy toward Israel will be??

    It seems strange to be eschewing oil states such as Nigeria just to stick two fingers up at Boris Johnson, doesn’t it?

    If you are going to be brown-nosing the USA and Russia (as oil-producing nations), Saudi Arabia, the UAE etc, are you not going to be running up against precisely the sort of accusations that you turn a blind eye to global terrorism and centralised oligarchy but ostracise the Queen of the UK?

    And will you be able to brown nose the USA without being ordered to brown nose Israel as a consequence, eh?? Boris Johnson doesn’t seem to be able to and the UK is far more powerful (for good or evil) than Scotland ever will be.

    Far better to make a clean breast of it and simply say: ‘the Commonwealth is far too associated with the UK, an organisation we are leaving via a contested divorce’.

    5. You do seem desperately keen to kick a lot of Scots out of Edinburgh just to house a load of foreign diplomats’ children. Will you be setting up a new International School for their offspring or will all the traditional ‘private schools’ of Edinburgh (which you surely must abhor as much as Eton, St Pauls and Winchester?) be turning themselves into the pursuit of educating the competitors of Scotland in perpetuity?? And there I was remembering all your outbursts about the ‘evil private school system’ that you didn’t attend as a working class boy…..OK for Azerbaijanis, not OK for the English, eh?? Or is QVS miraculously a more moral school than Winchester or Wellington??

    Have you thought about setting up an ‘Oil Ministry’ in Aberdeen so that the embassies of the smaller states with major oil interests could be housed there? Perhaps you could do a deal with Donald Trump to build a massive complex to house diplomats in the sort of surroundings they might enjoy?? Most will probably be arriving via a hub airport like Schiphol, CDG, Heathrow, or Frankfurt anyway, so whether they landed in Edinburgh or Aberdeen would be pretty irrelevant, no?

    I think you are likely to encounter considerable anger if the first thing you do in an ‘independent Scotland’ is turn Scots into second-class citizens and kowtow to foreign diplomats as part of some ‘old boys club’.

    It may be how diplomacy works, but it certainly isn’t how local politics works, is it??

    People will not surprisingly opine that you are showing your true colours, seeing diplomats as some kind of superior ‘elite’ that ordinary Scots must kowtow down before….

    6. Are you intending cutting off the North of England from your strategic business plans?

    You want to spend money on infrastructure, you could of course spend some of it on HSR links to the North of England. Not to London per se (although no doubt connections would be possible).

    I am sure you could engage with the Swiss about a tunnel through the Cheviots to ensure train links from Scotland’ two major cities to Northern England occurred at high speeds: they went through the Alps after all recently, so they certainly have the skill sets, the experience and the project management experience to put Scotland on the map there…

    Most of the north of England think similarly about London as you do, after all. They are natural allies, even if they are a part of England. You would do well not to alienate them…..

    The first rule of being a political leader, Mr Murray, is this: once you denounce your opponents for something ON PRINCIPLE, you are dead in the water if you do the same as them IN PRACTICE.

    Here is your list:
    1. No promotion of private education in Scotland, not even for diplomats’ children.
    2. No associating with dictators, even if they produce lots of oil.
    3. No brown-nosing to Israel and Saudi Arabia.
    4. No putting unelected officials in front of elected politicians.
    5. No supporting EU Imperialism, US imperialism, Chinese imperialism (if it occurs), Russian imperialism (if it occurs).
    6. No kowtowing to any monarchies.
    7. No promotion of extremely expensive Green Energy for Scotland but oil, coal and gas for foreigners.

    You may find yourself somewhat hamstrung in every day diplomatic reality with that list.

    Too bad……

    • Franc

      @ Rhys J.
      ” 6. No kowtowing to any monarchies ”
      I think an exception could be made, particularly after the amazing performance last Saturday at jolly old Twickers. Besides, King Finn the First has an appealing ring to it.

    • Courtenay Barnett

      Rhys Jaggar,

      You paint a sort of ‘Jeeves – Yes Minister’ portrait; sadly, much of what you have stated is true.

    • nevermind

      I hope you manage to stop all that ‘Green crap’ as you call it, in Anglesey and Wales at large, before your dirty oil and coal brain realises that you and your children, should anybody bothered to carry your sporn for 9 month, need to BREATHE, boyo.

    • Mark

      Rhys, whilst I agree with your conclusions, your commentary seems overly harsh. I read CM’s article from a viewpoint of it painting a picture of what an independent government’s administration and its associated pre-requisites look like. As such, I didn’t read into it any political proselytisation. I did however enjoy reading your post as it brings up many topics worthy of discussion.

  • Ian

    Excellent and badly needed article that focuses on being independent rather than just winning a vote for it. Even though the economic position of Scotland is shown as a positive, too many of the comments still jump onto the ‘can we really afford it’. I suspect that the GERS figures are still at the heart of this. To counter this I think the GERS figures need to be recalculated with the revenue and cost sides adjusted to strip out the bias that has clearly been inbuilt into it, particularly since 2014. Mentioning that costs such as HS2, trident etc, which have no relevence to Scotland right now, but are included in the current GERS figures isn’t in my view enough. The current GERS figures are deliberately incorrect and misleading. That needs to be countered with a truer view of how Scotland’s finances sit right now. The ‘deficit’ like the GERS figures are a political construct. Showing that GERS, like the Brexit £350million a week for the NHS has been exposed as a lie, would then help put GERS into it’s rightful category of UK treachery. To do this, an adjusted Scottish GERS should be produced, with the approriate and justifiable changes made to make it a more accurate view of how Scotland stands right now. If the UK wanted to argue against this, then since explicit revenues and/or cost adjustments would be readily visible, it would make for an interesting argument when the UK tried to argue that HS2 or Cross rail or London Olympics costs are imposed on Scotland, when the UK didn’t contribute anything to the Queensferry Bridge or the Glasgow 2014 Games.

    It’s also interesting that since only Scotland has an annual Expenditure & Revenue report, why one hasn’t also been created for England, Wales & NI. My own view is that England in particular has clearly been heading downhill economically for a very long time and with an England GERS equivalent, and without Scotland’s resources, it’s weak financial position and probable further decline would be much faster than it would be if Scotland remained in the UK. The big lie isn’t just that Scotland’ couldn’t afford to be independent, but that England would face a severe decine if Scotland becomes independent. To me this explains why the GERS figures have been so falsified to the detriment of Scotland. Allowing this lie to stand has been and continues to be a major error imo.

  • Eoin

    A separate foreign minister for an independent Scotland? Surely, you wouldn’t find anyone as sublime as Dominic Raab.

    Also, will ministers be called “ministers” or “secretaries of state” in an independent Scotland, the former is more modern and in keeping with our European neighbours.

  • np

    Craig, That £30 billion of revenue which the UK levies in Scotland doesn’t “go down to London”. It doesn’t go anywhere. It’s simply erased from Scottish taxpayers’ bank accounts.

    In today’s world, taxes don’t pay for government spending and the government doesn’t “spend taypayers’ money”, contrary to the standard narrative.

    Instead, whenever the government wants to spend, it creates the money. It can do this because it’s the monopoly issuer of pounds sterling, which are government IOUs. (“I promise to pay the bearer on demand…”).

    For example, when Whitehall “sends” you your monthly pension as a former UK civil servant, it just increases the balance in your bank account (adding government IOUs). Likewise, when you pay any tax owing, the balance in your bank account is reduced (redeeming government IOUs). In both cases, it’s all done electronically and instantaneously, with your bank acting as the government’s agent.
    In principle, there’s no limit to the amount of IOUs (pounds) the government can issue (spend); it can afford anything that’s available for sale in pounds.

    But, in practice, total spending by individuals, businesses and government (all together) will ignite inflation if it outruns the economy’s capacity to supply their wants.

    With the government constantly injecting new IOUs (pounds) into the economy as it spends, the main financial purpose of taxation today is to prevent inflation by withdrawing IOUs (pounds) from circulation.

    1. It wasn’t always thus. Until the early 1970s, the government had to borrow and raise taxes to cover its spending because it was prevented from issuing pounds at will by international agreements to maintain a fixed value of the pound. The international financial system then broke down and governments have since been free to issue currencies at will.

    2. The UK government can act in this way because it is a monetary sovereign, like the US, Japan, Australia etc. That means it issues its own freely-floating currency and all its debts are denominated in its own currency.

    Countries which don’t meet these basic qualifications don’t have monetary sovereignty and are subject to financial constraints (for example, EU member countries which use the euro, developing countries which borrow in foreign currencies and local governments, such as Scotland).

    3. The UK government also doesn’t have to borrow to finance its spending. It continues to do so for other reasons, including to provide a safe vehicle for long-term investment (government bonds) for wealthy people and others.

      • Pigeon English

        Meanwhile in the real world people still believe that national economy operates as household.
        Sovereign state has sovereign right to create it’s own currency and impose it’s use on it’s own territory.
        Read again np brilliant summary.
        My favorite site is https://positivemoney.org/ where things are explained and sourced.
        In 2018 swiss had referendum about DEBT FREE creation of money by central bank https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_Swiss_sovereign-money_initiative. It did not pass unfortunately

        • Pigeon English

          Most important and difficult part is as np points

          “But, in practice, total spending by individuals, businesses and government (all together) will ignite inflation if it outruns the economy’s capacity to supply their wants”

      • Mr Shigemitsu

        If you object to np’s description of the monetary system in current use in the UK, US,Aus, Japan, etc, please provide a well evidenced, or at least a halfway convincing argument.

        Silly quips contribute nothing.

        Helpfully, Rishi Sunak has proved, in front of our very eyes, that even £400bn of recent Covid-related govt spending does not require prior taxation, and that the BoE can match that excess govt spending, pound for pound, via secondary market Gilt purchases – with the requisite reserves created at a keystroke, such that no borrowing from the private sector is required either.

        Are you really suggesting Rishi Sunak and Andrew Bailey aren’t carrying out nearly half a trillion pounds worth of unfunded govt spending, and the equivalent amount of BoE QE operations *in the real world*?

        Because that would be news to them, and all the recipients of his largesse – from Dido Harding, AZ and Serco, to those on months of paid furlough, or whose UC has temporarily increased by £20pw.

        Where did that money come from, if not from thin air, and some Treasury and BoE computer keystrokes?

        • Kempe

          This should answer your question:-

          https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/governmentpublicsectorandtaxes/publicsectorfinance/bulletins/publicsectorfinances/october2020

          If the UK government can just magic money out of thin air at will (which would be a route to hyperinflation) why is the country in debt to over 100% of GDP? Why in debt at all?

          Increases in taxation to pay for it will come later, hopefully after the economy has picked up. Be prepared for increases in existing taxes and a few new ones.

          • Mr Shigemitsu

            Kempe, it’s not how much currency is created that risks inflation, it’s what is done with it.

            Inflation occurs when the amount of currency in circulation exceeds the capacity of the *real* economy (labour, materials, energy, land, etc) to absorb it.

            Hyperinflation is very rare, and has occurred in situations (the examples of Weimar, Zimbabwe and Venezuela are the usual ones trotted out) where there has been a catastrophic collapse of the productive capacity of the country (loss of the Ruhr to France, handing over of the farming sector to cronies, sanctions leading to loss of oil production…)

            If currency, in aggregate, is saved by the private sector then this is not, and cannot possibly be, inflationary. It can only become inflationary when its spent – and spent into an overheated or capacity-constrained economy.

            Monetarist, sound-money theories are no longer relevant, and haven’t been since at least 1971, with the abandonment of Bretton Woods. No nation on earth is on the gold standard any longer, and this is liberating for nations with their own sovereign fiat currencies.

            Politicians, and the establishment economists who serve them, haven’t yet caught up with this – although recent events have been illuminating; billions created and inflation nowhere in sight.

            Of course there may well be supply bottlenecks ahead due to Covid, and, in the UK, due to some aspects of Brexit, which could lead to price and wage increases once (if?) demand were to increase, but that is the only reason to worry about inflation, and taxes can be increased, and/or public spending reduced in that event. But that’s the only metric we need to concern ourselves with, and it is looking unlikely for the foreseeable future; distribution is still grossly unequal and poverty is rife.

            Because the private sector is currently net saving in huge amounts due to understandable insecurity, and lack of opportunity, (which we can tell by the high govt deficit) there is currently zero inflation risk, no matter how much the govt is spending into creation.

            As far as your link to the ONS is concerned, thank you for the information, but it’s not really important. The Treasury-owned BoE currently holds £875bn of the £2100bn of Treasury so-called national “debt”, that’s about 42%. It could buy up the lot if so instructed, at zero cost to anyone or anything; the balance of the so-called national “debt” is held by savers who wish to hold safe Sterling-denominated financial assets, mainly pension funds, banks, and foreign exporters. If they hadn’t wanted to hold gilts, and preferred cash reserves, equities, or exchange into their own foreign currency, well… they wouldn’t have bought, and be holding onto, Gilts, would they?

            #LearnMMT

          • Mr Shigemitsu

            Don’t forget that once (when, if?) private sector demand does increase, and the frequency and size of transactions in the economy increase, then of course the taxes imposed on all those new transactions (VAT, Income Tax, NI, Duties, etc) will occur in the normal way, and at any positive tax rate, the Exchequer’s initial spend will eventually return (“re-venue”) back to the Exchequer in full.

            Apart from what’s saved rather than spent, which will continue to precisely equal the government “deficit”, and the accumulated govt “debt”. Once/if those savings are spent, then again, that spending will incur taxes in the normal way, and the deficit, and national “debt” will reduce accordingly.

            So, no need to panic!

          • Mr Shigemitsu

            The govt, via the Treasury-owned BoE, really is creating money out of thin air – as it does in the normal run of events every single day of the week when it spends money into existence.

            The govt is the monopoly issuer of Sterling. Where do you *think* money comes from?

            There are various arrangements to mask the fact – but the reality has been exposed clearly by Sunak’s recent, massive, Covid related spending.

            Not only was no prior taxation required, but no “borrowing” from “investors” was needed either.

            Currency was simply credited at a keystroke, as it always is, to the reserve accounts of the banks of the initial recipients of govt spending; the accounting “deficit” was covered by the issuance of some IOUs (Gilts) which were sold to primary bond dealers (mostly banks), and then quickly snapped up on the secondary market by the BoE, who very simply credited the reserve accounts of those primary dealers (banks) with the requisite amount of currency.

            So now the Treasury owes another £400bn to the BoE, which is itself owed by…the Treasury.

            All at a “cost” of zero; every single pound created out of thin air, via a computer keyboard at the BoE.

            It could be done even more simply, either by the BoE acting as a primary dealer and buying Gilts directly from the Treasury, or simpler still, by operating a govt overdraft at the BoE, via the mothballed Ways and Means Account. Ex-EU, this is no longer verboten.

            It has suited (right-leaning) politicians ever since Denis Healey to keep very quiet about the reality of currency creation in the UK, using the stick of so-called “debt” and “deficits” to scare the nation into accepting endless austerity, privatisations, unemployment, low wages, job insecurity, high levels of inequality, rent-seeking, and the erosion of the public realm.

            MMT provides the lens to finally liberate us from this nonsense, and understand how fiat currency sovereignty allows an aware and wiling government to improve living standards, eliminate unemployment, invest in improving economic capacity, including green investment, to permit the maximum amount of non-inflationary public spending to occur, and generally maximise well being – instead of eternal penny-pinching, for no economic reason whatsoever.

          • Pigeon English

            Some argue that there is inflation. As Mr Shigemitsu points out it is what is done with the new money.
            Most of newly created money went in Real estate and Stocks ( QE ) and as result we have”inflation” in those assets.
            Another myth is that banks lend savers money to borrowers.
            They create new money in exchange for borrowers promise to pay it back with interest.

          • Mr Shigemitsu

            Kempe, that ASI article is a lovely example of the neoliberal old guard still living under gold standard delusions.

            As I explained earlier, Zim, Weimar, Ven’s problems were caused by catastrophic reductions in their productive capacity – and/or their debts being in foreign currencies; the Job Guarantee is the inflation anchor that also signals when the economy is overheating by virtue of the declining numbers of participants in it; its “cost” is irrelevant because the govt is monetarily sovereign; its “bureaucracy” creates employment in itself.

            The ASI are instead quite happy to condemn a permanent 5% of the population to unemployment in order to keep wages low and protect their wealthy supporters’ financial assets. It’s inhuman, made worse as they oppose a fully functioning welfare state at the same time.

            As far as the appeal to authority that “most economists” oppose MMT, well… that’s what you might expect from a neoliberal establishment when “the old is dying, but the new is yet to be born”.
            Progress comes about one funeral at a time.

    • Coldish

      Thanks, np (11.47) and Mr Shigemitsu (passim) for the effort you put into explaining how money is created in a sovereign state. It’s an uphill struggle.
      It has occurred to me that even ordinary citizens like ourselves create money out of thin air whenever we use a credit card (CC). A credit is added to the account of the payee and simultaneously a debit appears on our CC account. No pre-existing money is involved. When we pay our monthly bill we reverse the process and the new money we created is cancelled.

      • Mr Shigemitsu

        Coldish, the fundamental difference between govt spending the currency into creation, and the borrowing of currency by the private sector from banks, either by credit card, personal and business loans, or mortgages, is that the latter is simply *credit*, which always requires eventual repayment, thereby cancelling out that bank-created currency when the loan is repaid.

        Govt spending via the central bank, on the other hand, creates net financial assets which do not need repayment – although taxes will be incurred as and when those financial assets are ever spent.

        So only spending by govt – and in the case of net importers like the UK, deficit spending at that – can allow the private sector, in aggregate, to accrue net financial assets, by saving.

        That’s the essential difference: “vertical”, or high-powered, money, created by govt spending – vs. “horizontal”, or low-powered, money, as created by repayable loans from commercial banks.

  • ivan the Terrible

    As an English reader of this blog, thank you Craig for your nine-word argument. It makes a lot of things clear. Good luck.

  • Robert Graham

    Hi Craig I hope you emerge safely from your undoubted malicious targeting by people who do their work out of sight .
    Most people would has thought by now if we are to believe the stated aim of the SNP is a Independent Country , as with anything preparation is essential to competently complete any endeavour , I’m at a loss to think of anything being setup and prepared for the day after Independence, I am baffled by people who say ah there’s a plan and we shouldn’t give our moves away do these people not realise every move ,every permutation of anything the SNP government do or propose to do has been worked out by very clever people , people who dont spend their day playing cards , they know the moves probably before most SNP MPs or MSPs given the british establishments civil servants all over Hollyrood who primarily answer to Westminster , so the only element in the SNPs favour is timing and speed , are they up to it well given past experience we are fkd we dont have the talent I believe the top management realise this and thats why they probably haven’t a Plan and are just bluffing to keep the plebs on side .
    Anyway the very best of luck you probably have more support that even you realise ,take care your input is needed more than ever now .

  • Deepgreenpuddock

    Splendid idea and I see some of the thinking that should have already occurred.
    only fly in the ointment is that the current Scotgov is unlikely to welcome any input from someone so associated with the discrediting of the current regime.
    Not sure if still available-it was a while ago- but the Deaf school in the west end is also a prestige building that might be useful for some aspect of any plans.

  • mark golding

    Politics is not about facts, it’s about establishing a dominant narrative. The dominent narrative currently is “save lives” and it is why the Scottish independence 11 point plan and the independence task force are esoteric. I believe Douglas Ross and his advisors are using the pandemic to thwart any Scottish independence crusade while ‘bumbling Boris” is eager to ‘long out’ the Covid restrictions through May 2021 to skew the SNP vote and also why ‘bumbling’ Johnson will use the UK Supreme Court to uphold his veto on an independence vote taking place.

  • Dan Hardy

    Craig, Though I agree with some of your blog posts and some of your actions, I do find it awfully strange that you came to the independence movement/ SNP (2011) only after several failed attempts at getting into Westminster as a UK MP.
    Some of your previous actions and accusations border on the bizarre, namely the Clinton/DNC server and the Skirpal issues. I have formed the opinion that your very keen intellect is sometimes distracted by some very real conspiracies which exist inside your head in addition to much self aggrandisement.
    I do feel that the focus for Scotland, if independence is achieved, should not be on the civil service nor an overblown public sector. It really is amazing how socialist style politics invariably results in bloated taxpayer funded institutions. Politicians just love spending taxpayers money no matter how batty the ideas they conjure up or the needs they seem to decide are important.
    Scotland needs to be a nimble nation, adaptable to change , and not weighed down by the same type of politics, institutions and stunted thinking as we are so desperate to escape from. We need greater devolution of powers inside our own country with taxpayers and communities having a far greater say than they have now, or will have in a one Party state future. Interesting to see exactly how much the SNP continues to feel that Scots have to have a say in their own country when it’ll be them who will be holding the reins and all the levers of power.
    As others here have mentioned, I do also agree that regionalisation should be the way an indy Scotland proceeds and not simply centralise power in Edinburgh, instead of London. We want new thinking as well as new governance for a newly independent nation.

    • Giyane

      Dan Hardy

      Self aggrandisement . It is not particularly productive for anybody to belittle people you think are bonkers or intellectually flawed.after all the catastrophic meltdown of 2007 has been completely ignored by most Tories and many Socialists, because the State refused to.make the main.perpetrators of financial.stupidity pay the price of their failure.

      Much better to hold fast onto one’s own wisdoms and realities than to try to change fools. For example Russia. It encompasses the entire breadth of Eurasia, while Britain spans the Greenwich Meridian and used to control the waves, but can’t even stop dinghies drifting across the Channel. Why should Craig waste his breath on lost souls living in the past glories of our naval Empire?

      I think the term self aggrandisement is better applied to Tories and other wonks who want to build a second Empire 2, and who have in Syria singularly failed. All.it took was a small number of expect missiles to take out Al Qaida’s USUKIS bunkers, fired from the controller of Eurasia, bogeyman Putin , who didn’t make Novichok or use it on Navalny’s underpants.

      A person who does not believe the absolute tripe put out by the losing side deserves to give themselves a tiny pat on the back from time to time.

      • Dan Hardy

        I also have enough critique to not blindly accept something posted in a blog. Craig’s Skripal ramblings are nothing more than repetitions of the same claims made before him by right-wing US sites/commenters. They preceded him by several months. Bellingcat has done more informative work on this than Craig’s conspiracies have resulted in.
        As for the Tory’s, whatever their ails, trying to hold them to account for what took place under a Labour Govt is another weird argument to make. It’s another similarity with the US right-wing diatribe of blaming Obama for what took place under Bush.

    • Coldish

      Dan Hardy (14.19): thank you for your interesting comment. I suspect you have not had the opportunity to read much about the Skripal affair, which has not received the attention it deserves from the main-stream media (MSM). May I recommend a visit to the website of Salisbury resident Rob Slane, who has taken a close and sustained interest in the affair? Slane has no answers to the numerous conundrums, but he assembled on 3 March 2020 a list of dozens of anomalies and weaknesses in the various official accounts, classifying them as ‘implausible’, ‘absurd’, or ‘impossible’. See theblogmire.com/the-salisbury-poisonings-two-years-on-a-riddle-wrapped-in-a-cover-up-inside-a-hoax/
      An informed observer needs to consider these and many other difficulties with the official Skripal story before dismissing the conclusion that we still don’t know what happened in Salisbury on 4 March 2018. But perhaps you have done some research to justify your curt dismissal of Craig Murray’s reasonable scepticism?

      • Dan Hardy

        I believe Rob Slane’s ramblings are self-evident of his beliefs and values. His conclusion, for example, that COVID lockdowns and vaccines are nothing more than a mass experiment on humanity, should be enough to make any sane person leave the page – never mind his born-again right-wing conservative ‘Christian’ thinking on all issues he touches upon.
        Craig seems to be gravitating to the same sphere of ‘information’ in his opinions.

  • DoctorK

    How I envy you in your determination.
    Back in the 1960s I hoped that Wales, my country of birth, would begin to move towards independence.
    Meanwhile for career purposes I spent most of my adult life in England.
    Even now in spite of the example being set by NI and Scotland, Wales lacks the balls to go for it.
    So with settled residences in China and the Philippines I wish you all you wish yourselves and if I live long enough (being 76 and it being a few years since I last visited Scotland – Edinburgh, Glasgow and Isla during the set up of the police station installed evidential breathalyser equipment in 1998) I may yet see you again.

  • SleepingDog

    What should the Scottish civil service oath be?

    What happens to UK Official Secrecy? Will civil servants and others bound by it, who wish to gain Scottish nationality, be released from their lifetime oaths automatically at a certain point? Will the Scottish civil service continue to have access to some UK records and archives, and if so, on what basis? Will some records be duplicated or transferred? What should Scottish official secrecy be like in the intervening period before a new democratic constitution can be arrived at? Will the prospect of being released from their oaths of secrecy attract people who want to write their memoirs, and the attention of agencies who will want to prevent them doing that? What new Scottish treason legislation should be in place to govern the behaviour of Scottish officials who work secretly on behalf of foreign powers?

  • Fwl

    Here’s to a federation of equal nations bound together within these Isles – If Scotland were independent then Craig as Foreign Secretary would be interesting but his key civil servant should be a pragmatic moderate and small c conservative type.

    A better role for Craig in a Scottish government should be as a sort of Old Testament prophet shining a light and warning of whatever crap is going on. Perhaps such a role should even have a cloak of immunity from prosecution. If there was a second chamber Craig’s the sort of person for it. Fearless and willing to speak out. The opposite of an upper house crony.

  • PeeMer

    Just looking forward to any possible referendum, I would be interested to hear how Craig or any of his Scottish readers would answer the widespread assertion in the mainstream media that Scottish independence post-Brexit would be almost impossible given that 80% of Scotland’s exports go to England, bearing in mind that there would have to be new customs borders if Scotland were to re-join the EU.

    I am aware that it was also said pre-Brexit that Scottish independence was impossible whilst the UK was a member of the EU because any Scottish attempt to re-join the EU would certainly have been vetoed by Spain and Belgium on grounds of parallel threats to the unity of their own states.

    • Drew Anderson

      Where did you get 80% from? Usually when this drivel is rolled out, the quoted figure is 60%.

      The fact is, if I buy Scottish goods in any of the big four: Asda; Morrison’s; Sainsbury’s or Tesco, in Scotland it is effectively counted as export trade. Retail operations based in England don’t usually break down sales by constituent parts of the UK; they’re not required to, so it would be a waste of money if they did. Scottish dairies sell milk to Morrison’s in Yorkshire, for example, but if sold within Scotland it is counted as export trade even if it never left the country.

      That said, trade with England is significant, but it would continue post independence. Unless the implication is that trade would somehow stop dead overnight? The trade is there because there’s a demand for the goods, that won’t change much post indy, unless England actively sources the products elsewhere. I’m sure England would manage just fine without Scottish energy, water, seed potatoes or whisky for a short while, but at some point they’d have to get real.

      The veto myths were debunked long ago.

  • dearieme

    Independent or in the EU? For any small country those are mutually exclusive.

    Perhaps they are mutually exclusive for all countries bar France and Germany.

    And maybe not France.

    • Pigeon English

      Are you the same one talking nonsense in independent comment section? Please no. If not I apologise.
      In EU small country has disproportionately more voice/votes
      Germany population rounded 84 mil 96 seats
      Greece 10 mil 21
      Ireland 5 mil 13
      Germany 17 Times bigger than Ireland has 7.5 more seats .

    • Giyane

      Dearime

      The Corbyn Brexit would have left the UK with all the benefits of free movement and free trade, but without the problem of a Federal Europe Neo- Napoleonism and Neo-nazism. Only the incompetent ERG Tories as the Guardian put it ” move fast and break everything “. Mrs May’ s Deal was the worst of all , retaining Federalism and duplicating conflicting laws.

      In the end what we see is that whichever Brexit version had happened, the EU would have bullied us for leaving, just because they can. Therefore the ERG version has the massive advantage that when they bully us for leaving them, we can ignore their childish tantrums.

      If Scotland were independently to apply to re-enter the EU , more childish behaviour might get Scotland into the EU, but on very submissive terms, worse than Greece and Spain, if what happened last week in NI is anything is to go by. The EU decided to create tensions in NI, until forced to back down possibly by Biden. The EU would make Hadrians Wall into the Berlin Wall.

      Kurdistan tried to get independence from Baghdad , but instead of independence lost half its territory at the barrel of Iranian tanks who had just finished demolishing Mosul. The moral.of the story is, the moral of the story really is, you can mess with the UK or the EU, but if you mess with the US you are likely to be completely destroyed.

      • Dan Hardy

        There is not and has not been a single ‘Iranian’ tank in Mosul. Iranian backed Iraqi militias (Shia) assisting the Iraqi Govt, yes, and Iranian ‘technical advisors’ – who also by the way assisted the Kurds, including with weapons.
        The KRG did not lose half of it’s territory either, as it still exists in the same footprint (behind the green line) it did prior to the Kurds retaking land from ISIS and holding it as their own. Declaring independence after a unilateral referendum was never a wise move and the Kurds lost out as a result of it. That right does exist within Art.140 of the Iraqi constitution and was originally supported by the UN – however, they (along with the US/West) keep on pushing it back and thereby denying the Kurds any rights over the ‘disputed territories’ as the Iraqi Govt hide behind Art.58. Those territories, namely being historical Kurdish populated lands which were ‘Arabised’ under Saddam, but predominantly Kirkuk province which sits atop a sea of oil and gas.
        I’ve worked in Iraq since 2004 by the way.

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