Scottish Independence

As I’m sure most people have noticed, there’s a wee referendum going on in Scotland on September. BikeBiz magazine, the trade paper for the UK bike trade, published an article about the issue with quotes from some Scottish bike businesses which I thought was a bit one-sided so I wrote this piece, and BikeBiz have kindly amended the article.

What I wrote:

The business arguments against independence I’ve seen so far are quite short-term – worries about which currency an independent Scotland will use, concerns about how quickly an independent Scotland will have EU membership, things like that. I think we need to be thinking longer term. Most people are agreed that the increasing inequality in the UK isn’t good for most people, and neither is the increasing concentration of wealth in the City of London.

With independence, something can be done about that – there are plans to try to reindustrialise Scotland, which are perhaps over-ambitious, but it’s a good aim. It would not only help Scotland, it would act as a new focus of trade for the North of England too. We will have a currency to use, we will have EU membership, and we will have a strong economy – some temporary teething troubles need to be planned for, but should not influence the decision.

There is a lot of talk about unknowns – the worry is that there are too many unknowns with independence, but there are unknowns if Scotland stays in the UK too. As a business, I import from across Europe, and also sell to Europe as well – the biggest political concern I have at the moment is that the UK is moving away from Europe, and may well leave the EU. This would have a serious effect on my business, making it more expensive to both import and export.

This is too big to view it on purely business terms, however. The Westminster system of government is broken, with a lower house full of millionaires and an unelected upper house, and political parties all trying to outdo themselves to appeal to the narrow right-wing demographic that they think will give them power – meanwhile everyone else is turned off politics, and election turnout falls further and further. Something needs to be done about it, and the only option on the table is independence – I would have preferred a federal system of government for the whole UK, but that’s not been offered. Will my daughter grow up as I did, feeling that there was little point voting as our votes had no influence? I hope not. Will she grow up with huge sums being spent on nuclear weapons based less than 30 miles from our house, instead of on schools and hospitals? I hope that won’t happen either.