Devolution of Scotland – where is the benefit?

Published On January 12, 2012 » 2272 Views» Politics

On many issues I have an opinion.  I like to hear the arguments and make up my mind as I’m sure everyone does.  But I have to admit on listening to the various arguments for and against the devolution of Scotland I really am left with the “so what?” attitude.  Not because I dislike Scotland, but in the grand scheme of things I think a few people in Holyrood will get more power, but will the typical Scottish resident see much difference?  I don’t really much of substance will change, so why bother?

The idea is to enable the Scottish Parliament to have

Debating chamber in Scottish Parliament building

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full control over Scotland, to be able to set tax, generate its own income, buy and maintain its own assets and protect its own borders.  Which in theory sounds all very nice, but would it all be that easy and what would be the real benefit to the Country?  The undercurrent, I think, is North sea Oil income. Some analysts estimate that 80-90% of the North Sea Oil, should devolution occur, would belong to Scotland.  A nice little earner one would say. But what else does Scotland do to generate income?  It has a great reputation for Whisky, and Tourism, coupled with a modest manufacturing basis, it all could add up to a tidy package.

However, so could the costs of devolution.  It would need its own defence force, with Soldiers, Sailors, Aircrew, guns, Jets and Ships, intelligence and hierarchy.  Where would this come from, would the UK gift the Scottish regiments, airbases and submarines that are currently based in Scotland.  could they afford the maintenance bill?  Would they be part of NATO? 

Would they create their own currency?  If they kept the Pound (£) then they are linked to the UK and therefore that’s not devolution so would we see a true Scottish currency? It’s probably not the best time to join the Euro, and would they want that anyway? 

Looking at Health, per head, Scotland has a much higher health bill than the rest of the UK, so that could be a plus from the English side, our NHS bill should reduce.  I know that there are talks about a “Devolution+” option, where everything is devolved except a few items like Defence and Social Care, but surely it should be an all or nothing thing, not like a child leaving home but still getting mum to do all the laundry and cooking the meals.

Finally what about the border, will we need passport control (probably), how will it affect the working economy, cross border jobs and the like.

And a bit of food for thought, the UK Gov bailed a lot of banks out and some of these were Scottish, would the Scottish Government take on this burden and give Westminster its money Back?

Personally I don’t want to see devolution, I like the idea of the UK as it is, but by the same token, I don’t think it would change life dramatically in England if it did, I think the idea that Scotland is some sort of “cash cow” for Westminster is vastly overrated, and I woudl assume that if this happens and in a few years time if it doesn’t work as well as the SNP hopes, then there will not be an option to “kiss and make up”? 

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2 Responses to Devolution of Scotland – where is the benefit?

  1. Richard Bard says:

    Oh, where to start on this one?

    First of all if we are going to do devolution lets do it properly. Some time ago Scotland was given some powers & Wales less. What about England? We rejected regional devolution for good reasons but are now left in limbo. Welsh & Scottish MPs have a full say in what happens in England but the English have no influence on a whole raft of issues the other side of the borders. Let’s sort that anomaly out before moving on. While we’re completing unfinished business can we sort out the House of Lords too please?

    Do the Scottish blame everything bad on London like we blame everything bad on Brussels?

    I’ve no idea how the sums add up but I assume the SNP have. They will lose the direct & indirect financial support from the UK, they will have to set up there own versions of the Bank of England, Customs & Revenue, Border Agency, armed forces, NHS, secret service, DVLA, VOSA, consulates & embassies, NATO & UN representation, etc, the list seems endless. All this will be paid for from North Sea oil? Disregarding the arguments about how much of the oil is actually Scottish, good luck with that.

    Scotland would have the population of Toga at the density of Samoa. I can’t see the relevance of that but if they could organise the weather too……

    This is the United Kingdom, do the Scots think they alone can have a vote & decide to change it, shouldn’t the rest of us be asked too?

    Finally isn’t this all a moot point? At the last count only about 30% of Scots were in favour of independence. Or is it the sort of question they’ll keep asking at regular intervals until they get the right answer, then they’ll stop asking?

  2. Declan Wilson says:

    The Celt in me says go for it however I think Scottish independence is as far away as it ever has been. The SNP know this and I think their real objective is ‘devolution Max’ which is why Cameron is calling their bluff.

    It would however be interesting to see just how evenly spread SNP support is throughout Scotland. There is a very strong Loyalist element in Western Scotland and if a referendum produced a close result it is entirely possible that Loyalists (who have close links to Loyalists in Northern Ireland) would refuse to recognise independence and start agitating for Western Scotland to stay in the UK. We could then have a new Northern Ireland situation on our doorstep.

    I’m not sure how strong the economic argument is but it its worth noting that in 1999 the Blair government slyly moved the maritime boundary northwards which in theory makes a lot of the North Sea oil now English.

    Devolution Max is my preferred option and this is where I think we will end up.

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