There was a rare agreement about two or three weeks ago. The Treasury spokesmen for each of the three main political parties in the United Kingdom – and in this instance I do mean the whole of the UK – Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat, each stated separately but on the same day that if Scotland becomes an independent state, she will not be permitted to enter into a currency union with the rest of the UK and so keep the pound sterling.
It may well be that the foregoing paragraph has caused you to scratch your head and wonder what on earth I am burbling about today. British readers, however, will be aware that there has been rumbling north of the border and the result is that a referendum is to be held in September this year in which people will be asked whether or not Scotland should become an independent country.
Neither I nor anyone else domiciled in England, Wales or Northern Ireland (the other three elements of the United Kingdom) will be entitled to vote. Voting will be restricted to those who are registered to vote in Scotland. That, on the face of it, seems fair enough, all very just and equitable. But is it really? What about those people who were born in Scotland of Scottish parents but who are, possibly only temporarily, resident in England?
I would also contend that, regardless of who is enfranchised in this instance, voters should be given a lot more information about future plans before they can decide how to cast their votes. Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish National Party and Scotland’s First Minister, is also the leader of the campaign for independence. It was he, presumably on behalf of the SNP, who stated that Scotland, after becoming independent, would retain the pound. Interestingly, the Governor of the Bank of England (who happens to be a Canadian) pointed out that a country joining a currency union would perforce surrender some of its independence. And then the Treasury spokesmen shot down this idea completely. Mr Salmond’s response was that this was just a bluff on the part of the political parties which want to retain the union. But he has not suggested what other course could or would be taken in the event that this is not a bluff.
Mr Salmond has also suggested that Scotland, given its existing membership if the European Union as an integral part of the UK, would have its application to join the EU fast-tracked. Mr Barroso, President of the European Commission, has, however, stated that he considers it unlikely that an independent Scotland would be permitted to join as Spain would almost certainly object and admission must be approved unanimously by the existing member states.
In addition to those uncertainties, nothing, to the best of my knowledge, has been said about who would have Scottish nationality. Would anybody who is now registered to vote in Scotland, those who will be able to vote in the referendum, be eligible to apply for a Scottish passport? And what about those Scots living in England? Then again, if Scotland becomes independent but is not allowed to join the EU, will Scots working in England become illegal immigrants if they do not apply for and receive work permits?
With the referendum just over six months away – and an awful lot hanging on the result – there is a great deal that I consider should have been negotiated and decided before then. If it were me, I should not be prepared to vote blindly for independence, I would want to know what would be involved.
But the cynic in me says, that’s politics for you.
It occurred to me yesterday (I very nearly typed "dawned on me") that although I have frequently taken pictures from the bedroom window and, almost as frequently, posted them here, I have never tried an evening shot. So I took one.