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Any Scots here?

Maneesh Godbole
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Joined: Jul 26, 2007
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    8

There has been news recently in my local newspaper about Scotland attaining freedom sometime next year. I tried to google around to understand what it actually means, but just ended up getting more confused. Can any Scot shed some light on what is going on and what it exactly means?

I think it would be fair to disclose at the onset, as an Indian, I would be as happy as the Scots if they free themselves from imperialist remnants of Britain.


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Ulf Dittmer
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Joined: Mar 22, 2005
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  53
I'm not a Scot, but I do follow the British (English?) press in the shape of the Economist, which had this to say on the issue recently: http://www.economist.com/news/21589014-scots-will-vote-no-independence-nae-sayers. In short, next year Scots will get to vote on whether to break up the union with England and become an independent country, or to stick together in the UK. Beside self-government, there are some other interesting issues involved, like the fate of the British North Sea oil and gas fields (which would mostly be in the Scottish territory), what currency they would use (the British Pound being managed by the Bank of England), and whether they would automatically be a member country of the EU.


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Martin Vajsar
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Joined: Aug 22, 2010
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  60

Ulf Dittmer wrote:... and whether they would automatically be a member country of the EU.

That's an interesting one. Would there be a Scottish rebate?
Campbell Ritchie
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Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 38357
    
  23
Maneesh Godbole wrote: . . . Scotland attaining freedom sometime next year. . . .
Freedom? You obviously have the ScotNat version of the local newspaper
Next year? That is a very overoptimistic timetable. That might be when the referendum takes place; actual independence would take much longer.
Greg Charles
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Joined: Oct 01, 2001
Posts: 2848
    
  11

A thread about Scotland mentioning freedom, and no one's posted a clip from Braveheart yet? We must be slipping.
Bear Bibeault
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  65



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Ulf Dittmer
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Joined: Mar 22, 2005
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  53
A more well-rounded, less opinionated article: http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21590899-pitch-independent-scotland-has-fundamental-problem-salmond-sets-out-his-stall
Frank Silbermann
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Joined: Jun 06, 2002
Posts: 1387
If Scotland becomes independent, Andy Murray's Wimbledon victory will no longer count. Brits will still have to go back to Fred Perry for the last British Wimbledon champion.
Paul Clapham
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Joined: Oct 14, 2005
Posts: 18541
    
    8

Frank Silbermann wrote:If Scotland becomes independent, Andy Murray's Wimbledon victory will no longer count. Brits will still have to go back to Fred Perry for the last British Wimbledon champion.


The last male British Wimbledon champion, you mean.
Paul Clapham
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    8

Ulf Dittmer wrote:Beside self-government, there are some other interesting issues involved, like the fate of the British North Sea oil and gas fields (which would mostly be in the Scottish territory), what currency they would use (the British Pound being managed by the Bank of England), and whether they would automatically be a member country of the EU.


I think it would be interesting to see what the issues were and how they became resolved (example: Croatia and Slovenia still don't have an agreement on their maritime boundary after 23 years of Slovenian independence). However I doubt whether next year's referendum will succeed, so all of that is moot.

(Full disclosure: I'm a card-carrying Sassenach but I'm sympathetic to the idea of Scottish independence.)
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Frank Silbermann wrote:If Scotland becomes independent, Andy Murray's Wimbledon victory will no longer count.

Really? Even though it was part of Britain at the time of the win?


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Ulf Dittmer
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Joined: Mar 22, 2005
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  53
Interesting commentary on the position of the Orkney and Shetland islands with respect to the referendum. Their history and culture being more Nordic than Scot, the conjecture is that -their waters containing a large chunk of Britain's/Scotland's North Sea oil- they might use that as leverage to get a better deal of whichever country they end up being part of.
Matthew Brown
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Joined: Apr 06, 2010
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    8

Maneesh Godbole wrote:I think it would be fair to disclose at the onset, as an Indian, I would be as happy as the Scots if they free themselves from imperialist remnants of Britain.

It's not really the same, though, is it? Scotland is part of the UK, not part of its Empire. The Scots have as much a say over how they are governed as anyone in England (you could argue more so, because of the greater autonomy that Scotland has compared to, say, English regions).
chris webster
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Joined: Mar 01, 2009
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  14

Matthew Brown wrote:
Maneesh Godbole wrote:I think it would be fair to disclose at the onset, as an Indian, I would be as happy as the Scots if they free themselves from imperialist remnants of Britain.

It's not really the same, though, is it? Scotland is part of the UK, not part of its Empire. The Scots have as much a say over how they are governed as anyone in England (you could argue more so, because of the greater autonomy that Scotland has compared to, say, English regions).

I'm not a Scot, although I studied and worked there for several years during the 1980s and 1990s, when I remember Scotland having no meaningful influence at all over how Britain was governed by a rightwing London-based government (remember the poll tax was imposed on Scotland first), because the UK parliament remains overwhelmingly English-dominated. Anyway, I'm a Welshman, so I share some of Scotland's perspectives on the pros/cons of being part of the United Kingdom.

The "greater autonomy" thing gets raised a lot these days, often by English people complaining about the lack of regional powers within England. The fact is that Scotland and to a lesser extent Wales enjoy "greater autonomy" because they campaigned long and hard for it. If the English want more autonomy, they can do likewise, but so far they have generally seemed very reluctant to go down that path. I think there is a problem with the incomplete nature of the UK devolution settlement, which has led to some of these tensions between England and the other UK nations. Basically, Scotland got a fairly powerful parliament, Wales and Northern Ireland got less powerful "assemblies", and England seemed to think they didn't need a specifically "English" parliament because they've never really been able to understand the difference between the UK and England anyway. This is more of a cultural problem than a political one: the powerful never really understand how their powerful position distorts their view of their weaker neighbours, or how those neighbours really perceive them. I'm sure Indians saw the Brits very differently from how they saw themselves during the colonial period, after all!

I don't know how the Scots will vote later this year - the arguments/propaganda are heating up rapidly on both sides and the opinion polls seem fairly ambivalent - and there are certainly sound arguments for staying within the union. But at a time when the English-dominated UK parliament seems to be drifting ever more rightward, with increasingly vehement anti-EU rhetoric, I can well understand why many Scots would prefer to take their chances as an independent nation determining their own priorities, rather than continue to be ruled by a "Daily Mail"-obsessed English political establishment.

Personally, I think the best solution would be a German-style federal structure with powers devolved to all the regions, but there's no chance of that happening. Unfortunately, if Scotland goes its own way, we in Wales will find ourselves even more dominated by our English neighbours, which might be a good argument for applying for asylum in Scotland!


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Matthew Brown
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    8

I'd pretty much agree - although I reckon that several parts of England would vote for regional assemblies given the chance. Some areas have pretty strong regional identities. I don't see the real problem as being the domination of the UK by England: I see it as the domination of the UK by London and the South-East. There's a big gap, and it's getting bigger.

I can understand why some Scots would want independence, and I'm not sure how I'd vote if I was Scottish. I want them to stay in the UK, though, because I think without them the rest of us are in even more trouble.

(English regional assemblies are also the obvious answer to the "West Lothian question" that used to crop up - though strangely enough few of the people raising it ever suggested that solution)
Ulf Dittmer
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Joined: Mar 22, 2005
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  53
... the domination of the UK by London and the South-East. There's a big gap, and it's getting bigger.

I keep being surprised reading about how big that divide is.
chris webster
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Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1650
    
  14

Matthew Brown wrote:(English regional assemblies are also the obvious answer to the "West Lothian question" that used to crop up - though strangely enough few of the people raising it ever suggested that solution)

Ah yes, I remember dear old Tam Dalyell and his endless concern about the "West Lothian Question"! For those of you outside the UK, the argument was basically that, if Scotland had its own parliament, why should politicians from Scotland be allowed to decide matters that only affect England in the UK parliament, when English politicians would no longer have any say over Scottish matters? The solution is as Matt says: have an equivalent governing body for England (or the English regions), while national issues are dealt with by a national government as in Germany, the USA, etc. Duh.

But the way this question was framed tells you a lot about the cultural biases. It was always raised in the context of arguments about Scottish devolution, and always presented as a Scottish problem that could not possibly be resolved. In fact, it's an English problem - the "West Midlands Question" perhaps - because it's only the English insistence on treating the UK parliament as an English parliament that creates the problem in the first place.

Interestingly, Tam Dalyell was a Scottish Labour MP (for West Lothian), but he seems to have been part of a very strong unionist tradition in the Labour party that has always resisted moves towards regional devolution of political powers away from the centre. So I guess he'd be less than happy about full Scottish independence as an alternative solution to the West Lothian Question, eh?
Frank Silbermann
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Joined: Jun 06, 2002
Posts: 1387
Isn't war the appropriate means of deciding these kinds of questions?
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
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  14

Frank Silbermann wrote:Isn't war the appropriate means of deciding these kinds of questions?

Could be tricky: most of the UK nuclear submarine fleet is based in Scotland!
Peter Rooke
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Joined: Oct 21, 2004
Posts: 802

and a large part of the British Army too..

It feels like most of the UK’s policies favour the south east in particular the (smelly) London area, but what will Scotland do if they get independence – join the European Union and suffer fate of the poorer counties in the EU?

I’m not Scottish – but as close to being Scottish as an (northern) Englishman can get! Accent often get mistaken for being Scottish, as its very similar, but a bit harder to understand...

Regards Pete
rohit chavan
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Joined: Oct 08, 2010
Posts: 132

Would there be free entry to Scotland for UK Citizens/Residents?
Frank Silbermann
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Posts: 1387
Peter Rooke wrote:
It feels like most of the UK’s policies favour the south east in particular the (smelly) London area, but what will Scotland do if they get independence – join the European Union and suffer fate of the poorer counties in the EU?
What sort of policies favor the south east?
Paul Clapham
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Joined: Oct 14, 2005
Posts: 18541
    
    8

rohit chavan wrote:Would there be free entry to Scotland for UK Citizens/Residents?


That would be part of the separation treaty which would be agreed upon after the referendum passed. Along with a long list of similar non-trivial questions. For example would the citizens of newly-independent Scotland still be UK citizens? Or would they automatically be turned into Scottish citizens? Or would they have a choice between those two options?

And that's the problem with separation by referendum -- if you figure out all of the ugly details in advance, then many of the people who would vote for separation because it was a romantic notion would have their romantic hopes deflated. On the other hand if you don't, then people are going to be shouting about "betrayal" when their romantic hopes don't make it into the treaty.

I don't believe that there has ever been an example where part of a country seceded strictly via referendum. The nearest was the Czechoslovakia breakup, but that formed two new countries and the original country ceased to exist. All of the other examples I can think of involved violence of some kind; like Frank said, war has been the traditional way of doing this.
Martin Vajsar
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Joined: Aug 22, 2010
Posts: 3610
    
  60

Paul Clapham wrote:I don't believe that there has ever been an example where part of a country seceded strictly via referendum. The nearest was the Czechoslovakia breakup, but that formed two new countries and the original country ceased to exist.

And there wasn't a referendum, it was decided by the parliament. It probably wouldn't happen if there was a referendum, though I do remember there were quite some tensions at that time. Wikipedia has some interesting facts about it. What I didn't remember is that the original flag of Czechoslovakia was not supposed to be used by the Czech Republic, but the Czechs eventually kept it, against the Slovak wishes.

The relations between the two new states were - and still are - special. For a long time it was possible to cross the border without a passport, for example, long before we entered Schengen. Slovaks could draw their pensions in Czech Republic (and vice versa), and they could see Czech doctors. And so on.
Peter Rooke
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Joined: Oct 21, 2004
Posts: 802

What sort of policies favor the south east?


In the last few years, the economic ones; it seems that the current govenments spending is focused on the South East;
New national infrastructure plan – old North/South divide
Englands North-South Divide

Frank Silbermann
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Joined: Jun 06, 2002
Posts: 1387
Peter Rooke wrote:
What sort of policies favor the south east?


In the last few years, the economic ones; it seems that the current govenments spending is focused on the South East;
New national infrastructure plan – old North/South divide
Englands North-South Divide

Roads? Universities? What is the government buying them?
Peter Rooke
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Joined: Oct 21, 2004
Posts: 802

Roads - already owns them (mostly) - Department of Transport
The article above concentrates on government investment on transportation - and the difference between the south and north...

The new figures need further careful analysis but in headline terms it appears London and the South East will together receive three quarters of all transport investment in England in the years ahead. This is less than the 86 per cent that we have seen in past analysis but it equates to £4893 per person in London, in contrast to just £215 per person in the South West, £246 per person in the North East and £303 per person in Yorkshire and the Humber.
 
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