Home > Uncategorized > The Union: Is England Deliberately Keeping Scotland Poor?

The Union: Is England Deliberately Keeping Scotland Poor?


There has been a lot of talk about the future of the union in particular Scotland’s place within it. The other day, Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury kindly told us that Scotland’s share of the deficit was £65 billion which would be one of the largest in Europe and that had Scotland been independent, we would not have survived the financial crisis. The Treasury’s message to Scotland was quite clear, “Don’t leave us, you need us. You have no money. You can’t go. Where would you go? Nobody else would have you. You can’t leave. Please don’t leave.” Iain MacWhirter in the Herald gives a good rebuttal of this.

I would like to add a point to this rebuttal. How does Danny and the Treasury know how Scotland would’ve fared in the 2008 financial crisis had Scotland been independent?

Its true that had we gone independent in 2006 like polls suggested we wanted to, then we would have fared probably close to Treasury expectations. The Scottish government may not have responded to the crisis like Gordon Brown did. This would have directly impacted, for better or worse how Scotland failed in the financial crisis.

If Blair and the newly elected Labour government of 1997, had changed the wording of the question of the 97 referendum so that it offered independence as a choice and if Scotland had voted for independence then with the 1st election held in 1999, how would have Scotland fared in the crisis? I don’t know. The 99 election could have turned out very differently if the manifestos had to include how it would have dealt with tax & spend, banking regulations etc.. Let alone the decisions that the new government ministers would have to make to try and encourage a private sector – there would be no UK Business secretary to help out. Would we have regulated the banks, had we had the power too? What other decisions would we have made differently in the 9 years leading up to the crisis and how would that have affected how we fared in the crisis?

What about had we decided to go independent in 1979? 29 years before the crisis. We would have avoided Thatcherism! How much would that have helped Scotland’s economy or would we have made different mistakes that led to a country suffering more than it did under Thatcher? We wouldn’t have sold the oil so would have those revenues but what would we have chosen to do with those revenues? Would we have chosen to save them in case we were hit by an unforeseen disaster or would we have invested them?

What about had we never joined the union in 1707, how would we have fared? Would Salmond’s fantasy land of Scotland being a rich and equal country have been realised or would the Unionist’s doomsday scenario of Scotland having to default several times because we didn’t have England’s money helping us out, be closer to reality?

At least if the Unionists doomsday scenario was true, we would be helpful in the current crisis by being able to go: “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Now this is what you need to do.” The union has stopped Scotland working out how to survive on its own. Its stopped Scotland from finding out what works and what doesn’t work in this kind of financial crisis meaning we have less information to work out how to get out of the current financial crisis.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell how an independent Scotland would have fared. Danny may think he is clever but he is not that clever.

Putting all assumptions aside, lets focus on what we do know: the union.

In 1700, the Darien scheme failed and Scotland’s elite were plunged into economic difficulty whilst the poor were suffering due to a famine. In 1705, the English parliament passed legislation that would cut off trade with Scotland, which was at the point, half of Scotland’s trade unless Scotland entered into negotiations to form a parliamentary union and if successful, England would recoup Scotland’s losses from the Darien scheme. Needless to say, we entered into negotiations and the Act of Union was passed in 1707.

The English and the Scottish unionists of the time claimed that we would get economic benefits by joining with England (not including the bail-out and not having our trade cut-off.) Sound familiar?

Now Scotland’s economy didn’t start to pick up until 30 years after the union was signed – suggesting that the union wasn’t the cause. 304 years after the Act of Union was signed, you say we are still close to bankruptcy so where are these economic benefits that you speak of? Is the Barnett formula or has it become a way for you to say: “We’re bending over backwards to help you but you’re not pulling your weight” whilst making a decision(s) somewhere else in government that screws Scotland over. Maybe you don’t realise you’re making these bad decisions but if you want to save the union, you better wise up.

One might wonder because you are using the same arguments that you used 304 years ago that maybe that the British and UK governments from 1707-2011 have deliberately tried to keep Scotland poor so that you can still say that we need you and therefore we can’t leave you. If that is the case, we are better off leaving the UK. If that’s not the case and the reason why Scotland is still poor is because of the British and UK government’s incompetence, then we’re still better off leaving because the UK clearly can’t deliver the economic benefits it promises. Maybe an independent Scotland can.

I don’t know how an independent Scotland would recover but neither does the current UK government. They are basing our economic recovery on hope that the private sector grows.

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  1. lurpak
    April 19, 2012 at 10:33

    I wish you get that that rather large chip off your shoulders.
    To think that the English would want to undermine a union that they are part of is just plain silly.
    My advice, follow your international football instincts , when you can’t qualify for anything you bite the hand that feeds you and go and support Brazil !! instead of England .
    Join a union with Brazil and see where that gets you.
    The English are sick of your moaning and if we had a say in your referendum we would kick you out without hesitation.
    When your on you’re own and the grass is not greener you can moan to each other.
    The arrogant Mr Salmond will have alot to answer for.

    English and proud !!!!!!!

    • April 19, 2012 at 15:44

      You sound like you have a rather large chip on your shoulders as well.

      People undermine things they are part of like marriage for example. Some people deliberately undermine their own marriage.

      I was simply pointing out that since “unionist’s” keep banging on about Scotland can’t make it on her own that it could be a deliberate ploy to keep Scotland in the union. After all that has been the argument for 300 years surely if there are economic benefits, they’d have shown themselves by now.

      Thats not to say that I think independence will be any better. I actually believe independence won’t make a blind bit of difference.

      As for football, when Scotland is kicked out, I always support England. I always support Britain or any one of the “home nations”.

  1. January 16, 2012 at 09:12

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