Tuesday, 16 September 2014

TUKES (The United Kingdom Except Scotland) Isn't Good Company.

I'm not very patriotic, to me that means I think the UK and Scotland will be worse off if The UK Excludes Scotland (TUKES). My lack of patriotism means I'm pro-union. Here's two personal reasons why:

  • Thanks to Scotland being in the UK it's easier for me to invest in Scotland. Case in point: I've invested thousands of pounds in the Boyndie Windfarm Cooperative; which means I effectively supply carbon-free energy to a number of houses in Scotland. With TUKES it would have been much harder for me to invest in Scottish wind farms and by that token harder for me to invest in English wind farms either.
  • My largest sales for FIGnition have been thanks to Strathclyde University, a Scottish University; through their investment with me RS Components decided to take the risk and place an order with me too. It would have been much harder for them to do that if Scotland wasn't part of the UK.
So far who's winning? On balance, Scotland. The amount of money I've made out of Scotland is less than the amount Scotland's made out of me in this respect. And what if Scotland leaves the UK? Then I'll make more money from Scotland than it's likely to invest in me simply because trade won't be quite so open and my current investments have a long-term payback.

To my mind, being part of the UK is in one sense an unpatriotic and therefore good thing to do, because it means considering the interests of the community outside the country. To my mind the whole Nationalist cause, whether it's the Front Nationale in France; the UKIP or the Scottish SNP are all expressions of the same trend when faced with the economic challenges post-2008: an inevitable trend to blame the issues on outsiders (the EU, immigrants or London) combined with hubristic jingoism. It doesn't follow. It's far more likely that the loss of Scotland would lead to greater economic hardship for both TUKES and Scotland.

For example, here's one scenario. If Scotland leaves the UK then it is likely that TUKES would shift in a more right-wing: England, Wales and N.I would become more nationalistic, UKIP (or TUKESIP as perhaps it should be called) would gain power, not least because there would be a loss of confidence in David Cameron, but also because the same trends that would have pushed Scotland into independence have been pushing the whole of the UK towards Nationalism.

This would raise the prospect of TUKES leaving the EU sooner, which would mean that Scotland (though newly independent) would also be at least temporarily leaving the EU. So, Scotland's independence will make it more likely the whole of the UK would leave the EU and the loss of the TUKES from the EU would help destabilise the EU itself (which isn't exactly looking solid right now).

The outgoing President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, said a few years ago that "a rising tide of nationalism is the EU's biggest enemy... In every member state there are people who believe their country can survive alone in the globalised world. It's a lie... the time of the homogenous nation state is over."

The mistake is to think that independence means escaping from domination, but in reality the UK is interdependent and so the process is one of de-interdependence. That's what's really being voted on. It's the same issue as independence from the EU - though the ties are less strong and France/Germany have been the dominant partners, it will be bad for all concerned if we leave.

The mistake with Nationalism is to undervalue the level of interdependence. That's the problem with London, because it has an implicitly built-in Regionalism which under-values the interdependence of the rest of the UK. So, a vote for Nationalism validates London's attitude because it says "Hey, you got it right, we'll take it a step further." The rest of the UK feels the Regionalism and doesn't like it, but the solution isn't to go it alone and to form a break-away Northumbria (though with 15 million people* they'd have nearly 3 times the clobber of Scotland).

The solution is to make London more accountable, to redistribute power across the Kingdom rather than validate the Regionalism. It means bringing in laws that cause concentrations of power within the UK to look further afield and that can only be done by increasing the level of interdependence.

And another reason why I don't want to lose Scotland? Because I really like Scottish people, and so in my mind, The United Kingdom Except Scotland just Isn't Good Company.

(This is the first blog of two on why I think Scottish Independence isn't a good thing, the next blog is coming soon!).

*Comprising of the North West, the North East and Yorkshire & Humber = 14.9million.