The Unionist campaign against Scottish independence took a bit of a battering this week. No less than three of their major scare stories were blown out of the water. To add to their misery it was the UK government which itself did most of the damage. First we had the admission from the UK Treasury that the rUK would honour all the UK’s current sovereign debts. This of course more or less guarantees that rUK will agree to a currency union with an independent Scotland as I pointed out here. Then we had the Home Office confirming that Scottish citizens would be entitled to joint citizenship in the “continuing United Kingdom” after independence, allowing them to carry British passports. Finally we had Ian King from BAE Systems confirming that future naval ships for the rUK will continue to be built on the Clyde in Scotland. This common-sense approach to all three issues was contained in the Scottish government’s White Paper. Though much derided at the time by assorted Unionists and BritNats, it seems that the UK government at least regards the White Paper as a sound basis for agreements.
Of course Unionists are not going to give up easily – they have too much to lose if Scotland becomes independent. Think of all the tax revenues and the massive loss of prestige if the once mighty Great Britain becomes just England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Doesn’t have quite the same grandiose ring to it. So, dutifully acting as His Master’s Voice, Alistair Carmichael could be heard on our airwaves warning us that independence could lead to all manner of border controls on the English side of the border with Scotland. The Daily Mail rose to the occasion and hysterically talked about Border Pandemonium. Now the UK already has a land border with another independent country – Ireland. And lo and behold there are no border controls to be seen. For the UK and Ireland are both part of the Common Travel Area for all of the British and Irish Isles. It would of course be natural for Scotland to become part of this Common Travel Area. However this would not suit the scaremongers of the No campaign. Too much good news might encourage Scots to vote Yes! So out come some old rehashed scare stories. The first is that an independent Scotland would be forced to join the Schengen free travel area. As the UK is not part of this agreement, border controls would have to go up. The Schengen claim is pure nonsense. The EU does not force countries into doing things they do not want to do. On the contrary the EU works by seeking agreements. As the UK and Ireland are the only countries outwith the Schengen area, it does not make any sense for anyone, rUK included, for Scotland to be forced to join Schengen. Especially as both rUK and Ireland would be arguing from within the EU for Scotland to be allowed to continue in the Common Travel Area. The other scare story was that if Scotland were to pursue a different immigration policy, then the rUK would again have to impose border controls. Another feeble attempt to frighten the masses. Since Ireland does have a different immigration policy and yet there are no border controls along its border with the UK, why would rUK go to all the cost and trouble to erect one with Scotland? As with the UK’s debt and dual citizenship, once the votes are in, common sense will prevail.
As the independence campaign gathers steam, expect more Unionist myths to come tumbling down. What I continue to find amazing is the alacrity and glee with which Scottish Unionists try to talk Scotland down. Their constant refrain is that we are too poor and too small and just not up to the task of running our own country all on our own. Everyone will be against us and will be desperately trying to do us down. Even the rUK would be trying to make life bad for us. Do any of them really believe any of this rubbish? The fact that dozens of small countries in Europe have become independent over the past 20 years never seems to enter their consciousness. Yet all are now successful independent countries. Most are now full members of the EU. None of them wants to give up their independence. But somehow, for Unionists, Scotland, and uniquely, only Scotland, would not be able to do this. Slovenians, Slovakians, Lithuanians, Estonians and others can all do so without any difficulty, but Scotland not. There must be some condition that explains this blindness and fear on the part of Unionists. Perhaps we should just pity them!