David Cameron, the British prime minister, had a great incentive to prevent Scottish devolution. When he felt that the vote for Scottish independence might succeed, he hurried to Scotland, in a seemingly un-orchestrated and late flurry. He then proceeded to offer all Scots a number of types of inducement to remain within the Union. There was clearly much more to this than met the Scottish voters eye.
Amongst the threats waved at the Scots was the likelihood that the Scots would lose the Queen as head of state. But, historically, the King had been head of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales for a hundred years before the Union of Scotland into the Kingdom. This joint monarchy had occurred in 1606 with the ascension of James VI of Scotland to become James I of England.
Another threat was the loss of the pound as a potential currency for Scotland. Again, Scottish banks have been producing Scottish notes in parallel with the Bank of England for much time.
Economist support for a separate Scotland had been promoted in academic papers by eminent economists. This appears to have been ignored in the motivating manifestoes, and in fact diametrically denied.
In deciding, for the Scots, the benefits of staying within the United Kingdom one – and not unimportant – parameter could have been to reappraise the original reasons for the Union.
In 1707, at the time of Union, the population Scotland was about 1 million: that of England and Wales about four and a half million. Thus at the time of Union, the Scots were outnumbered by a little over 4 to 1. Things have changed considerably since then. The population of England is now over 60 million, whereas the population of Scotland is about 10 million. Therefore, the Scots are currently outnumbered by more than 10 to 1.
At the time of Scottish union with Britain, there was a considerable international threat. The War of the Spanish succession was in place, and the possible outcome of this might have been the entire domination of Europe by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Clearly, Britain would have become vulnerable to invasion should that have eventuated. Therefore, they were very good reasons for, on strategic grounds, for Scotland to amalgamate with England in 1707.
The Scots were coerced into the Union by ruthless ecoomic pressures from the English. One of these was the English prohibition of much Scottish trade, notably the prohibiting of the Scots from importing sugar (one of the key-stones of English wealth)
Do all those factors still apply? Do the Scots now want to be dominated in the ratio of 10 to 1? What was Cameron’s hidden agenda?
In any list of the happiest and most successful economies in the world, those with a population of less than 6 million are always prominent (if not leaders) on that list. It matters not which list, whether by the Economist, by Forbes, or anywhere else, populations of less than 6 million, with homogenous societies, are happiest.
What does Scotland want?