A Scottish debate: Oil and independence

General Richard Shirreff: The aftermath of a Yes vote

September 17, 2014 Comments (0) Views: 2025 News

The Case for the Union

Tomorrow, September 18th, let us reassert the true patriotic choice to be Scottish and British.

Let us be clear we all benefit, Scots, English, Welsh and Northern Irish, from being part of Britain. The true Scot’s patriot is the one who understands that Scotland and the rest of the UK benefit mutually from being together. Our fellow countrymen south of Berwick have made it clear – they really want Scotland to stay. The moving rally in Trafalgar Square clearly demonstrated that. And what else could be expected, with Horatio Nelson looking down on the square; one quarter of his Navy was Scottish.

We have fought together and played together. To split our armed forces, in this most dangerous world would be vandalism. We together have been a force for good time and time again.

We have a seat at the top table as a United Nation’s security council member and as the fifth largest economy on earth genuine influence over both the US and EU. It is delusional to believe that Scotland, with less than 1% of the EU’s population can have any meaningful influence at all.  We benefit from being British.

Our great Scottish universities are world class. But by being part of the UK they benefit disproportionately from access to UK resources, cultural exchange and ultimately British research grants. Scotland, with an economy one twelfth the size of the UK’s simply could not hope to support the breadth of excellent research currently undertaken. We benefit from being British.

The BBC, for all its faults, remains cherished. Scotland would no longer be a partner in that and other cultural institutions. Sure Scotland could’ buy in’ programming but that is not the same as being part of the entity. There are not many southern Irish accents on the BBC today. Scottish voices would slowly disappear. Scottish culture is enhanced by being British.

One sees daily the unstable world we live in from Ukraine and Russia to the Middle East. Britain remains one of the world’s most significant military powers with an unrivalled security and diplomatic network. Scotland plays its full part in British defences but we could not possibly match the UK’s diplomatic, military and security reach alone. In today’s unstable and dangerous world we benefit by being British.

The NHS, despite what Alex Salmond would have you believe, was a British invention by Aneurin Bevan, a Welshman, in 1948. Scotland benefits from sharing resources with the rest of the UK. Scotland is not big enough to provide healthcare care for every eventuality. For example, although health spending is higher in Scotland, than in the rest of the UK, certain transplants and specialist cancer care is available only in other regions of the UK.  Scotland has no Ebola clinic, nor given our size would it not be sensible to do so. That sharing of facilities would be lost. We benefit from being British.

We have shared kith and kin. My father is Scots, my mother English. That is a typical tapestry.  Many leave to go to London, and many from ‘down south’ come to Scotland. We have similar cultural experience and shared history. We have fought side by side. The opportunities we all have to work and play are greatly enhanced by being a part of a united isle. We all benefit by being British.

The 21st century has seen borders start to come down; it would be eccentric to raise an artificial one tomorrow. So let us awake on Friday morning still with the pound in our pocket, still protected by our forces and still under the same flag.

Ewen Stewart is the Scottish Research Society’s economist and director of Walbrook Economics

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