Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Scottish Secession: Two Weeks Left

"This debate has raged around money for years! The English have been saying, 'Yeah! We subsidize you, and we needed that money for our own hospitals!' and Scots were like, 'Yeah! And you took our oil, and we needed that for cookin' chips!'"
- Bruce Fummey
In July and August, the BBC ran several audio segments about the impending referendum on their Global News and Newshour podcasts, which I listen to at work. One particular segment featured the that quote from Scottish comedian Bruce Fummey, so I figured I'd share it as a rare example of the lighter side of the referendum debate. That reminds me, I need to figure out how to make my own chips, cheese, and chicken fillet (pronounced "fill-it" - even the Scots love mispronouncing French words) like they did at Lionel's...

The BBC asks: Scottish independence: Does the rest of the UK care? In true BBC fashion, it says a lot without actually saying very much. However, in my last post on this topic, I discussed defense issues, and there are indications that Scotland's absence from the Union would be felt in the Ministry of Defen[c]e. General Sir Richard Shirreff is a Scot, a recently retired British Army officer, and the recently retired NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe. In a recent op-ed on the SNP's controversial white paper, he described its defense pronouncements as "amateurish, unrealistic and lacking any clear strategic purpose". He notes:
As for the nuclear issue, NATO is a nuclear-armed alliance and all NATO states must accept the principle of nuclear deterrence and being part of the NATO nuclear command and control system. Whilst the SNP may accept the principle of nuclear deterrence, it remains unclear how other members of NATO will view the disruption to the coherence of NATO defence caused by moving the submarine fleet out of Scottish waters[...] There is no mention of any naval aviation (yet Scotland would need a primarily naval force), no mention of air-to-air refuelling capability, no Mountain Rescue and no Search & Rescue capability[...] In particular, the financial services industry benefits from the robust protection provided against increasingly dangerous and sophisticated cyber threats. Customers and markets must have confidence in Scotland’s ability to transact safely and securely. Not only does the White Paper fail to make any provision to deal with this threat, it doesn’t even recognise it.
Those are the arguments I find most pressing, but his piece is brief and it's worth reading in full.

Gizmodo has an interesting, albeit far too long, aritlce on what will happen to the Union flag if Scotland secedes. It's really long, and I hope to go back and read it in full soon.

I've repeatedly tried to highlight elements of the Orcadian perspective with respect to the referendum. Last week, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (First Minister Salmond's deputy) visited Orkney, and she was interviewed by Robbie Fraser. For the time being, you can listen to the interview on BBC Radio Orkney's Soundcloud page. Mr. Fraser does an excellent job, in a way that he's uniquely qualified to do, of gently but decisively calling Ms. Sturgeon out for the outlandish claims of the Yes(!) campaign. I found it particularly interesting when Ms. Sturgeon, whose party is keen on selling Scotland as a rich (and well governed by the SNP!) nation that can have it all if only it were independent, but she blames budget cuts on recent shortfalls in frontline policing. On Friday, Better Together Orkney quite sensibly noted:
The SNP today patronisingly claimed Orkney was "waking up" to Yes. As their case for independence crumbles - with no answers on currency, no answers on EU membership, dangerous economic over-reliance on volatile oil prices and scaremongering over the NHS - hollow rhetoric is all they have left.
On the topic of Deputy First Minister Sturgeon, she's also just taken the position that she'll never support requiring tuition fees for Scottish students. This is a particularly prickly issue for me, as I paid a lot of money for my tuition and fees, and worked really hard as a result to ensure that I got a return on my investment. CN Black Sheep was the same way, he was paying out of hide and he was always on time and always busting his ass. Two of my coursemates, CN Ness and CN Homeboy, were Scots who qualified for free tuition, and I'm not sure whether they paid any tuition and fees (given that it was postgraduate study), but at the very least they were heavily subsidized. They were great guys and they did good work, but their attitudes reflected the fact that they didn't have much/any skin in the game. Free tuition is a wonderful benefit for Scottish students, but it produces the same problems that similar programs do here in the States: first, that you/the government still has to pay for it somehow; and second, that when something is free, people don't appreciate its value. The social drawbacks of free tuition aside, this is yet another case of the SNP promising the moon and stars without a credible plan to finance it.

We're down to the two week mark.

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