ADVICE ON SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE FROM TEXAS: THANKS BUT NO THANKS
Bryan Glass, a lecturer in Modern British Imperial History at Texas State University writes (3 September) HERE
“An independent Scotland would have to look to Adam Smith, not socialism”
“We are now barely two weeks away from Scotland’s referendum on independence. According to the latest polling, the No camp’s lead is disappearing fast. A Yes victory is becoming a realistic possibility. Yet the main argument in favour of independence that the Scottish population is threatening to accept is fundamentally flawed. It promises that state intervention can be maintained in an independent Scotland, and even increased through extra borrowing.”
Bryan asks :“how would Scotland survive after independence if the government is promising to continue offering Scots the same level of NHS spending, free prescriptions, free university and state pensions; not to mention a new proposal for free childcare? Where will the money come from to subsidise such high levels of spending? …
Smith holds the key
There’s no doubt that Scotland could be successful as an independent country, but the idea that there will be tons of money lying around to subsidise all of the social-democratic programmes promised by the SNP is pure fantasy. The Scots would be wise to turn to the thinking of one of their greatest minds, Adam Smith, and his magnum opus The Wealth of Nations when trying to build their new state.
If Scotland wants to survive and not come back begging the United Kingdom for a second chance at union, socialist ideology is not the answer. Hard work, enthusiasm and how the Scots embrace the free market will determine whether an independent Scotland succeeds or fails.
There must be a realisation that with statehood come sacrifices in terms of public expenditure. If the Scots are unwilling to budge on their public spending they must be open to creating as innovative and dynamic an economy as possible to feed this need for social welfare.
But if the economy takes a while to adjust as issues such as the currency used and EU membership are worked out, will Scotland spend itself into a level of debt from which it will never recover? That would lead to a flight of both capital and Scotland’s brightest minds, which are needed now more than ever."
One reason for me only commenting on the politics of the country I vote in is neatly illustrated by Bryan Glass above. Unlike in Texas, Scottish voters do not equate welfare state legislation, or state-funded, health provision with “socialism”, which to voters here smacks of ‘tea party’ extremist rhetoric.
Adam Smith supported the Union during his life-time and opposed Jacobite followers of the Stuart claimants to the UK monarchy as opposed to the Hanovarian Monarchy that successfuly took over the united Kingdoms of Scotland and England. From the Union of the separate parliaments in 1707, English foreign policy withdrew its trade restrictions on Scotland, brought it within the terms of the English Navigation Acts that policed trade with the Colonies in North America, and formed a United customs union.
I should think most personages concerned with economic development at the time would have supported the Union. However, that in itself does not mean that Adam Smith should be seen as an implicit advocate of the Union being set in stone for ever more, or for him to also support a UK withdrawal from the EU in an “In-OUT” referendum, which is scheduled to be next on the London Conservative and Unionist Governent’s agenda in 2016.
Being closer to the Scottish Independence debate than Bryan Glass, I know of no significant voices in the ‘Yes’ campaign who equate independence with forming a new socialist state or of irresponsibly financing a bloated welfare state. This latter experience was a feature of the last Labour Government (Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Chancellor Darling - both of whom are prominent leading activists in the ‘No’ campaign).
Conservative Party ‘No’ activists intend that the UK will spend £100 billion on modernising the Trident submarine fleet and its Command and Control systems, for which there are no targets, can never be used, except to end civilisation, and is a waste of scarce resources, plus the other billions it intends to spend on future, even imminent, conventional wars in the Middle-East. Scotland’s 10 per cent share of these UK spending plans could be put to better use in an independent Scotland.
Adam Smith advised that defence against invasion was a government’s ‘first duty’, not that it had a duty to invade other countries by participating in dynastic wars between competing European royal households. The crumbling Royal dynasties are gone, and the war on terror is the direct result of, albeit well-intentioned, interventions in foreign countries and cultures, that have unintended but forseeable consequences, as Adam Smith might have put it.
We are well aware in Scotland of the historical significance of Adam Smith and of the details of his life and of his works. Bryan Glass may not appeciate these facts fully but nothing he writes above on the Scottish Referendum suggests to me that we should do other than vote YES.