Politics blog: A case for Scottish independence
Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) has declared her intention to seek a new referendum on Scottish Independence from the UK. Her argument is based on a clause in the Edinburgh agreement stating that the government of Scotland could seek a redress if the circumstances surrounding the referendum significantly changed. Since then, Brexit has endangered the economic future of the UK, as well as threatened the local sovereignty of governments in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The core of the issue is the centralization of authority. There is little to no transparency on the exit process from the European Union, and Theresa May has been keen to exclude any outside voices from her own cabinet. May is expected to invoke article 50 in the next two weeks, but the nature of her negotiations and objectives have been vague at best. The closest thing to a plan that’s been suggested by the prime minister has been a 12-point plan constituting slogans, such as “provide certainty wherever we can” and “bold and ambitious free trade agreement.” These are not negotiation objectives, and yet May has unilaterally assumed authority over the negotiation of Brexit without any transparency to the public or the other members of UK government.
This failure of international negotiations and accountability have a direct effect on the Scottish Economy. On the night of Brexit, the pound dropped to its worst level since the eighties. Since then it’s fallen even further, and at of the time of writing is at 1.234 to the US dollar, largely due to uncertainty in May’s government and her Brexit plan. This devaluation of the currency dramatically impacts the ability of the Scottish government to pay for social services. As May has indicated that she is not pursuing continued UK access to the common market, it is unlikely that Scotland would be able to use the Euro either. This would make continued social benefits in Scotland dependent on the financial policy of England, which has seen a dramatic increase in austerity policies since May assumed office.
The National Health Service (NHS) in particular seems to be most under threat from Theresa May’s government and a post-Brexit UK. In Scotland, the NHS has already been feeling the pressures of increased demand, fewer doctors and nurses, and uncertain funding. In England, the situation is even worse, as May has consistently pushed for privatization of NHS services and recently talked about having American private health insurance companies to take over health-care in the UK.
While the prime minister has neglected social services, she has been more than willing to intrude in the private lives of UK citizens. Her infamous “Snooper’s charter” allows for bulk data collection of citizens, requires that service providers retain UK internet connection records, allows police and intelligence agents to see these records without a warrant, allows targeted hacking by police, and suspends the Wilson Doctrine, which prevents police and intelligence services from tapping phones of and illegally monitoring members of the House of Commons and House of Lords. The act is overwhelmingly unpopular throughout the UK, and especially in Scotland.
The Brexit process is not under dispute, but its repercussions and effects are in the hands of a government that the Scottish National Party feels cannot be trusted. Theresa May’s objectives in withdrawing from the European Union clearly do not reflect the desires of more than 60 per cent of Scots that voted against leaving, nor do her hardline political stances represent the even-higher majority of Scots that favour remaining part of the common market. Far from being the stern dominatrix of the Iron Lady, May is insecure, petty, and vindictive in the mold of a Richard Nixon, with a disregard for international diplomacy that raises even Tony Blair’s eyebrow. The centralization of authority, austerity, and anti-European policies are against Scotland’s interest, but May has poo-pooed Sturgeon’s call for independence. The new political and economic reality of the UK clearly merits a reconsideration of Scotland’s place in the union, and a new movement to independence.