It is like the broken record of a dull Caledonian folk song, permanently stuck in its groove as it plays the same old dirge, laden with victimhood and hostility to England...
Petulance, grievance, victimhood...and how this cynical bid to smash the Union could bankrupt Scotland
By Leo Mckinstry For The Daily Mail
14 March 2017
Here we go again. The rhetoric of Scottish nationalism is one of the most dreary, repetitive and grindingly predictable sounds in British politics.
It is like the broken record of a dull Caledonian folk song, permanently stuck in its groove as it plays the same old dirge, laden with victimhood and hostility to England.
The Nationalists’ Chief Balladeer, Nicola Sturgeon, is indulging in her favourite routine of demanding another independence referendum.
Bad losers: The stark reality is that Scotland is hopelessly ill-equipped for independence
Oozing her usual mix of petulant grievance and separatist menace, she claimed that — despite the Nationalist case having been rejected just three years ago — a new vote is justified because Brexit has transformed the constitutional landscape of the UK.
The central theme was that London believes Scotland’s voice ‘can be ignored at any time and on any issue’.
If only. Successive British Governments have bent over backwards to appease the Scots, to no avail. Despite devolution, massive subsidies and an independence referendum, the Nationalists refuse to be satisfied.
There was also a deep cynicism about Sturgeon’s timing yesterday. For she made her speech on the very day the Commons was set to pass the legislation to trigger Article 50, paving the way for the start of Britain’s EU withdrawal.
Her obvious short-term aim is to cause the maximum possible disruption in the Brexit process, using the threat of separation to blackmail the Government into granting exceptional concessions to Scotland, including the possibility of continued membership of the Single Market.
Her theory is that Theresa May — battling the EU and Remainer elements in her own party — will not want to fight on a third front. But the idea of a separate Single Market deal is clearly unworkable. A unified nation cannot operate with different sets of trading and customs arrangements.
And it is ridiculous of Sturgeon to suggest the referendum could be held as early as autumn 2018, before the end of Brexit negotiations. How can Scots make an informed choice when the details have not even been decided?
Just as cynical is Sturgeon’s abandonment of her own past pledges not to hold another referendum. The vote in 2014, her party stressed, was a ‘once in a generation event’.
Sturgeon herself said: ‘The politicians have to respect the democratic wishes of the people.’ But that is exactly what she is now failing to do.
In her desperation to break with England, she mirrors the stance of the EU oligarchy she worships. As the EU did with regard to constitutional referendums in France and Ireland, she wants to keep asking the same question until she gets the right answer.
There is no sign another referendum will produce a different response. According to one poll yesterday, independence would again be defeated, this time by 52 to 48 per cent.
Nor, contrary to Sturgeon’s shrill propaganda, is there any evidence that the Scots actually want another vote.
A study for the Scottish Herald newspaper showed that 49 per cent reject the idea of a second referendum, while only 39 per cent want one.
But then Sturgeon’s entire stance is riddled with hypocrisies and contradictions.
She portrays the desire of the majority of the British electorate for freedom from the EU as a dark, socially divisive force, calling Brexit ‘a licence for xenophobia’. Yet she paints her own wish to abandon the British Union as progressive and inclusive.
So, in SNP Orwellian double-think, English national pride equals bigotry, whereas Scottish pride equals liberation.
Equally absurd is her demand to stay in the European Single Market — while seeking to leave the British Single Market, which is far more lucrative to Scotland. Such a move would hammer the Scottish economy purely for the sake of her pro-EU ideology.
The latest statistics show that Scotland’s trade with the UK is worth four times more than its exports to the EU. Altogether, Scotland sold £49.8 billion of goods and services to the rest of the UK in 2015, compared with £12.3 billion to the other EU nations.
As Brexit is implemented, Britain will trade ever more intensively on the global stage. Yet the SNP, cocooned by federalist dogma, wants to cut Scotland off from these new commercial opportunities.
Not that the EU is likely to embrace an independent Scotland. It would have to apply for membership from scratch. And the process for an SNP-led Scotland would be far from straightforward.
Other EU states, particularly Spain, France and Belgium, will not be keen to encourage separatist movements within their own territories.
Moreover, the dire state of Scotland’s economy would preclude it from becoming an independent EU member. Brussels rules state that no member is meant to have a deficit higher than 3 per cent of gross domestic product. Scotland’s deficit last August was £15 billion — or 9.5 per cent of GDP. This is more than double the rest of the UK.
The stark reality is that Scotland is hopelessly ill-equipped for independence.
Ironically, the land that once produced the great economist Adam Smith — apostle of the free market — is gripped by debt, decay and dependency. Enterprise is too weak and state expenditure too high, running at a fifth higher per head than in England.
Almost 21 per cent of the Scottish workforce is in the public sector, compared with 14.9 per cent in the south-east of England.
Revenues from North Sea oil, which the SNP once eagerly cited as a prop for their cause, are drying up fast.
Four years ago, Scotland’s tax share of the profits from the North Sea stood at £11 billion. Even in 2014/15 the total was £1.8 billion.
But last year, the amount in tax receipts was just £60 million, smashing one of the key economic arguments for independence.
Nicola Sturgeon watches the results come in during the referendum in 2014. Why should it be any different this time?
Without England, Scotland would be bankrupt.
Even the SNP government in Edinburgh admits that it spends £127 for every £100 it raises in taxation.
It is this largesse from English taxpayers that enables Scotland to continue its reckless quasi-socialist experiment in profligacy. Only cash from the English allows Scotland to have free university tuition and personal care for the elderly, as well as no road tolls or NHS prescription charges.
In fact, thanks to the funds from south of the border, NHS spending in Scotland has been 15 per cent higher than in England over the past seven years.
No longer bankrolled by England, Scotland would face economic meltdown, unable to raise money on the international markets because of its lack of fiscal credibility.
Some Nationalists claim independence would be little different to Brexit, since both involve departures from political unions. But in economic terms, the crucial difference is the UK is a major net contributor to the EU. By contrast, failing Scotland is an ever more expensive freeloader.
Perhaps the greatest mistake Sturgeon makes is to overestimate how much the English care what she thinks. She is delusional if she believes her threat of another referendum will give the London Government pause over Brexit.
And increasing numbers of English people are fed up with paying for subsidies to Edinburgh while being lectured by the SNP about their supposed oppression and neglect.
For Scots, meanwhile, the case for remaining in the Union is stronger than ever. Even if their country could stand on its own two feet economically, there is little doubt it would be better off as part of our Union — one of the greatest success stories of history, that has seen us together build a vast empire, and allowed Scottish genius — from the Enlightenment to the Empire to modern times — to shine brighter on a global stage than ever before.
The case for our United Kingdom is, and always will be, far more powerful than Nicola Sturgeon’s divisive rhetoric.
Read more: A cynical bid to smash Union that could bankrupt Scotland* | Daily Mail Online
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