I will be campaigning strongly for a “No” vote in the independence referendum in 2014 and have already been out campaigning in my constituency, alongside activists from the Labour Party and other parties.
When international co-operation through mulitnational institutions has become the norm throughout the world, it is absurd that the SNP want to take Scotland backwards to a time when the sovereign nation state was a meaningful concept. I have always been suspicious of a party that regarded the Union between Scotland and England with contempt and even outright hostility, yet considered our membership of the European Union so much more positively. Union with a people who share the same culture, language and history – not to mention currency – is a natural and stable state. Union with our European partners, although desirable and worth fighting for, is far less natural and fraught with many more difficulties than those which exist within the UK.
A House of Commons Library research paper recently concluded that the EU decides on “up to” 50 per cent of UK laws (and would, according to the SNP, continue to do so for an “independent” Scotland). To describe a future Scotland that was outside the UK but inside the EU as “independent” is therefore stretching the truth. But “independence” is not really what the SNP want; they simply believe in separating Scotland from England.
It is Scotland’s participation in powerful international institutions like the UK, the EU, Nato and the United Nations that allow us to punch above our weight. That is not to say that Scotland couldn’t survive and even prosper separate from the rest of our country; it could. But in an age of political and financial uncertainty, why take the risk? Why surrender all influence over monetary policy but continue to use the pound? Why take the risk that, having left the UK (and therefore the EU), Scotland would have to renegotiate our re-entry into Europe and be forced to adopt the ailing Euro as our national currency? When business desperately needs stability to create jobs and growth, why plunge our nation into uncertain constitutional and economic waters?
Significantly, the language and arguments used by Alex Salmond and the SNP are almost indistinguishable from those used by anti-EU Conservatives like Bill Cash, Douglas Carswell and Dan Hannan.
The United Kingdom is the oldest, most successful political, social and economic union the world has ever known. Shattering it simply to satisfy a 19th century notion of nationhood that’s no longer relevant, or to address a 1970s grievance about dwindling oil resources, would be an exercise in arrogance and short sightedness; in short, an unpardonable folly.