In the 2014 Referendum on Scottish independence I argued that that the best result would be for Scotland to vote to remain in the UK, but for the Westminster government to grant the Scots full home rule, that is full autonomy, including tax-raising powers, on domestic matters.
Now I'm not so sure. Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon (who talks more sense on the economy than any other British politician except perhaps Caroline Lucas) is right that the Westminster government's determination to take us out of not just the EU, but also, in spite of contrary assurances during the campaign, the Single Market and the Customs Union, is a game changer.
But it's not just the economics. I find to my surprise that, if I were Scottish, I'd rather be in the EU than in the UK.
For years the Tories have dominated English politics, and we have needed the Scottish and Welsh Labour parties to hold, however imperfectly, some sort of balance. But now that Labour looks unlikely to recover in Scotland in the foreseeable future and is maybe losing its grip in Wales, who wants to be in a Union dominated by a Conservative party which, to all intents and purposes, is in craven hock to its right-wing, xenophobic fantasisers?
I am ashamed to live in a country that:
- suggests we shouldn't rescue refugees and asylum seekers from drowning in the Mediterranean because that might tempt others to try escaping from starvation, civil war or despotism;
- promises to admit 3000 unaccompanied displaced children and then cuts the number to 350;
- gives yet more tax cuts to the rich and further squeezes the disabled to below the poverty line, (Personal Independence Payments, PIPs, are reduced as from tomorrow);
- is determined to spend up to £200bn on an irrelevant nuclear weapon system the use of which is in not independent but entirely dependent on the good-will of the Americans, and will probably be out of date by the time it becomes operational;
- presides with indifference over the disintegration of its health and social care services
- toadies to the most unfortunate president the Americans have ever elected;
- entrenches privilege and exacerbates inequality;
- supported by a client press, survives on lies and distortions;
- balances the books by selling off vital national assets, either to private profiteers in this country or to private profiteers or state-owned (sic) operations in other countries;
- in spite of the evidence of the1930sand the last seven yeras, sticks blindly to the counter-prodiuctive policy of austerity;
- is determined to turn our back on the bravest and most progressive example of international liberal co-operation of the last century and turn our island into an insular, sulky, low-wage, low-cost arena for short-term predators..
The Scottish have. There'll be complications: not least the Scots need concrete assurances hat they can remain in the EU once they are independent.
But a divorce from the backward-looking Tory dominated England is something I'd want thoroughly to explore if I lived in Scotland.
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