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By Jason Michael
Scotland will get by just fine as an independent country, and – as even the figures the UK government has distorted show – we will be boxing well above our weight. What London really wants to know is how it will get by without us.
Scottish independence, as a political idea and ambition, has been pinned down by a relentless barrage of questions about the future. What currency will an independent Scotland use? Does Scotland have the economic wherewithal to be a viable autonomous state? How will Scotland manage its share of UK debt? All of these are good questions. But they are all equally misleading. Given that bartering cattle is no longer a realistic option, an independent Scotland will have a currency. Much in the same way as other countries cope with debt Scotland will cope, and if Denmark manages as a country we can be pretty sure Scotland will be fine.
During the 2014 campaign even David Cameron was forced to concede that Scotland would manage as an independent state, so we have to ask: Why all the pointless questions about the future? It was a tactic, as we all now know, to sow uncertainty about our abilities, but recently I have been thinking that it is likely that the prospect of our independence caused a serious amount of concern in London over the future of the rUK. The real question – as we have come to see in light of Brexit – is how will the rest of the United Kingdom cope if and when Scotland ups and leaves?
Unionist argument has focused on oil, insisting that too much of Scotland’s independence hopes were based on our oil revenues. Why not? Norway appears to be doing pretty well from its oil resources – even now when the income from oil is so “uncertain.” Yes, US and British foreign policy objectives have pushed the members of OPEC to drive down the price of oil by agreed overproduction, but this doesn’t mean that Norway – or even Scotland – has had to give its oil away. Oil is still a lucrative commodity, and well London knows it.
Britain has been banking on Scotland’s oil since it was first discovered, and Scotland – as a result of Westminster’s use of this uncertain commodity – has managed to become the only oil producing nation in the world to get poorer as a result of striking black gold. When the Westminster hacks ask how Scotland will cope, what they are really asking is how they will cope. They know we’ll be fine – because they have experience of how fine a bit of oil makes a country. They also have an inkling of how different things will be when it’s gone, and it is thinking about this that is making them so nervous about Scotland leaving the Union.
Now that the Brexiteers have a better picture of how dismal being divorced from the EU is going to be, Scottish oil has become – short of actually going to war with Spain – one of their last remaining bargaining chips, and even that has become as uncertain as their uncertain Brexit future. Europe doesn’t have an oil producing member state – or, at least, it won’t have after the UK is gone – and, last time I checked, oil still makes the world go round. Will the European Union welcome Scotland – an oil producer – into the club? Do we really need time to think about that?
One way or another, an independent Scotland will be fine. It won’t be a utopia. Sure, but we can cope with that. But the only thing certain about the future of the rUK is that it is all uncertain. Not having the use of Scotland’s oil is only going to make this uncertainty a damn sight more uncertain. In the next independence referendum – when London lets us have it – we should turn the tables on these stupid questions, and ask the unionists to answer questions on how what’s left of the UK will cope after we’ve gone – we’ll be fine.