Predictions for an Independent Scotland

16Sep14

By Scottish_Flag.jpg: flickrtickr2009 derivative work: Endrick Shellycoat (Scottish_Flag.jpg) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

To be clear, I am not necessarily predicting that there will be an independent Scotland in the next few years. Though an old friend of mine in Edinburgh is predicting a 54-46 ‘Yes’ win, the polls I have seen have the election on a knife edge. On the other hand, I remember the general election of 1997, when the polls predicted a narrow Labour win, only for the result to be an historic Labour landslide. While I think that the election will be a close run thing, I still would not be surprised by any result from a 54-46 affirmation of union to a 60-40 win for independence.

That said, here are my predictions in the case that Scotland opts for independence on Thursday:

  1. The Scottish National Party will be the largest party (probably with a majority) in the first election after independence, making Alec Salmond Scotland’s first Prime Minister. However, Scotland will not be dominated by the SNP for long. With the SNP’s core issue having been achieved, the fissures in the party on the multitude of other issues will begin to show during the first post-independence parliament.
  2. The cracks in the SNP will be pounced on by the three currently unionist parties, who will shift their policies in order to appeal to a purely Scottish electorate. This will be particularly apparent in the Labour party, which will put its Blairite policies in the past in an attempt to attract SNP voters as well as Scottish Socialist Party voters. The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party will re-name itself (for obvious reasons) and become more centrist, and hope to bring in any of the old ‘Tartan Tory’ SNP members as well as some Liberal Democrat voters. The Liberal Democrats will struggle to carve out space amongst the SNP, Labour, and the Conservatives, but will mark themselves out as the most pro-European party.
  3. Whether to adopt a formal currency union, as proposed by the SNP, will be a close decision in Westminster. However, if the remaining United Kingdom chooses not to establish a formal monetary union with Scottish input, Scotland will re-create the pound Scots, pegged at a 1:1 ratio to the pound Sterling, in the manner of the Panamania balboa’s relationship to the US dollar. Since the Scottish banks already issue their own common currency, Scotland has a head start in establishing a new currency.
  4. Whether in formal currency union or not, the differences in the economies of Scotland and the remaining UK will lead to Scotland breaking away from Sterling within twenty years, but after at least five years. The period with a Sterling-based currency will allow the Scottish government to establish its creditworthiness and demonstrate the strength of the Scottish economy.
  5. As far as oil revenue goes, Scotland will follow the Norwegian model and invest the revenues outside the country, diversifying their investment base and saving them from the dangers of an over-priced pound.
  6. The remaining UK will be considered the successor state to the United Kingdom in the European Union. Scotland will flirt with the possibility of joining the Nordic Council before eventually re-joining the EU.
  7. There will still be no single word to describe citizens of the United Kingdom. This is problematic even now, as the UK includes people from Northern Ireland who have never set foot in Britain, but are still often called “British.” The departure of the northern third of Britain from the United Kingdom will not break people of that habit.
  8. There will be a lengthy and amusing debate in the remainder of the United Kingdom about what to do about the flag, possibly resulting in the first inclusion of a representation of Wales.

 

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