Trading Places

“GDP is increasingly a poor measure of prosperity. It is not even a reliable gauge of production” – The Economist

There’s a bit of a story happening around Scotland’s oil trade since Wings Over Scotland highlighted an otherwise completely unreported change in the way the UK measures how much oil it trades with the world and where in the UK it comes from.

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The story stems from the way that the UK calculates its balance of trade with the rest of the world and specifically how it then decides which region of the UK is responsible for that trade. To do this, the UK is split into 12 regions based on the Government Office Regions of England plus Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. (These boundaries are also used by Eurostat for their NUTS 1 statistics)

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There’s another “region” of the UK not displayed on the map. Not all trade can be firmly allocated to a single region and not all trade can be allocated to a region at all. This is the “Unknown Regions” of the UK. Most prominent amongst this kind of trade, at least within Scottish political circles, is trade generated by offshore activities.

There are many different ways one could approach this allocation – the methodology – and the way you do it can result in very different results. Now, if you’re the UK and are looking at UK stats these figures don’t really matter so much but they do become very relevant if you’re looking at one part of the UK and what its economy might look like if it decided to, say, discuss holding a vote for independence. Suddenly, even UK government departments start getting very interested in Scottish trade.

The particular story here concerns a change in the trade methodology around offshore oil in Scotland waters. Particularly, oil which is exported out of the UK directly from the rigs without it ever touching the UK land boundaries. Previously, much of this oil has been allocated to the Unknown Region but the change now meant that it would be allocated to Scotland. This has led to an increase in the recorded value of Scottish minerals exports for 2015 from £588 million to £6,825 million. Quite a substantial jump and one which has spread around social media. Time for a wee breakdown of what it means and take the chance to clear up a few misunderstandings I’ve seen along the way.
(This is a complex topic, after all)

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Passing Go

 “Let the children once see clearly the gross injustice of our present land system and when they grow up, if they are allowed to develop naturally, the evil will soon be remedied.” – Elizabeth Magie, inventor of “The Landlord’s Game”, the precursor to Monopoly.

For a game about rampant, exploitative capitalism and a race to deliberately bankrupt your mates, in some ways Monopoly looks remarkably egalitarian compared to modern Britain

Monopoly

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Personalising Pension Politics

“I am deeply concerned that if we do not fund healthcare and social care adequately people will lead much worse lives” – Sir Michael Marmot, commenting on his latest life expectancy report.

Yesterday, the Marmot Life Indicators report was published which showed that there has been a dramatic fall in the rate of increase of life expectancy in England. In fact, it has stalled completely.

For most of the last decade and a half, a baby born in one year could expect to live about 4 months longer than a child born the previous year. This rate had also been increasing through that period though the trend was broken in 2010.

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2010 was also the year that the Tories came to power and started implementing their Austerity program. Now, yes, correlation isn’t causation but this isn’t the first time that a health or wellbeing indicator has been linked to Tory policy. Just a few months ago, a report was published which blamed Austerity for the premature deaths of 30,000 people in England and Wales in 2015 alone.

And whilst these studies are limited to England or England and Wales the causes of the so-called “Glasgow Effect” are now well known and have been linked to similar policies of deprivation and deliberate political attack.

But what was the UK Government’s response to yesterday’s report? Today they accelerated the rate of increase in the state pension age such that if you are currently aged 39-47 you will now need to work till you are 68.

This means that if you live in the most deprived areas of the UK, such as Blackpool or Glasgow you can expect your retirement to last just 6 years, whereas someone from a rich borough of Kensington – where average life expectancy is 84 – could expect almost a decade longer than that.

The Marmot report also highlighted something which isn’t talked about enough within this topic. The issue of healthy life expectancy. Our average person in Blackpool might live to 74 but they can only expect to reach 57 with a fair degree of health.

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(Click either chart to embiggen in a new tab)

Welcome to Tory Britain in the 21st Century. Where you’re not just expected to work till you drop. You’re expected to pick yourself up again and continue working for another decade beyond that. And don’t you dare try to claim disability or we’ll put you through so many hoops and tests and stress and pain that it stands a good chance of actually killing you.

There’s no wonder that the UK has now been called out by the United Nations for its appalling treatment of the most vulnerable amongst us.

Now I’m not amongst the particular cohort of folk affected by this pension change but it’s starting to become very personal to me. It’s very much starting to feel like my parent’s generation will be the last in the UK who will be allowed to meaningfully retire – and given that my mother is a WASPI woman, this is a particularly depressing point.

I no longer expect to receive a state pension from the UK. Even if I do manage to age fast enough to catch up to the state pension I fully expect that by the time I get there the next phase of cuts will have meant that the formerly universal pension will be means-tested. If I happen to own more than £X in savings and assets…tough. No pension for me.

So I’m going to need a new plan to ensure that what retirement I eventually get is endurable. If the current work climate continues, it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to build up anything like the private pension that previous generations were able to claim so I can’t even rely on the private sector to bail me out.

The way things are going I’m going to have to do something a little more drastic. It looks like I need to win myself an independent Scotland, rebuild the entire welfare system from scratch and replace the byzantine labyrinth of means-tested “benefits” with a Universal Basic Income.

So..no pressure then…

This is where the independence campaign is becoming more personal. It’s rapidly getting to the point that folk may support independence not just because it’s desirable nor even just because it would be personally beneficial. It is approaching the stage where independence is becoming essential just to maintain a decent standard of living.

I’ve already heard from people in the campaign who now must win independence for various reasons. One so that they can escape the UK’s appalling immigration system and bring their fiancé to Scotland. Another so that they can ensure that they won’t be treated as a second class settled resident due to them being a non-UK EU citizen.

I think this could be the seed of a hundred stories waiting to be told. If you’re someone who is in a similar situation who now not just wants but actually needs independence for some reason, I’d like you to get in touch. Just email me through my contact page here. I’d like to offer some space to get these stories out there.

(Anonymity will, of course, be maintained unless you specifically tell me to publish your name)

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Democracy Repealed

“I can give an absolute guarantee that after the United Kingdom leaves the EU, the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Ministers will have more powers than they have today” – David Mundell, 1st March, 2017.

The UK Government published the Great Repeal Bill European Union (WIthdrawal) Bill 2017-19 yesterday and I’ll let you guess how long that “absolute guarantee” lasted.

mundell(Poster: Colin Dunn)

I’m going to have a look at the Repeal Bill (as I shall refer to it for the rest of this article) but I would heartily encourage folk to read the reactions of Ian Dunt and Andrew Tickell first. They are wise, know much and I can merely summarise for them.

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Grim Drama Parked

“Tomorrow’s GDP figures will confirm whether or not Scotland entered a second quarter of economic downturn in the first three months of 2017.” – Scottish Conservatives. 4th July 2017.

The quarterly Scottish GDP figures were released today after a long build up in a press anxious to see if Scotland was on, as the Express put it, the “BRINK OF RECESSION” (their emphasis).

The figures themselves rather put a misstep into their charge.

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The headline figures are that in Q1 2017, Scotland’s economy grew by 0.8% which is up substantially on the -0.2% contraction seen in Q4 2016. This positive growth also means that the two successive quarters of negative growth which define a technical recession were not met.

The UK’s GDP growth over Q1 2017 was 0.2% though in my last blog post I put substantial attention onto the point that we should treat such comparisons with a great deal of care given the large regional inequalities within the UK. I’d very much like to see the GDP of the UK broken down across its regions (especially London) before commenting too much on it.

And before we all start patting ourselves on the back at avoiding our “predicted” recession, it’s worth actually diving into the numbers and seeing what they do and do not tell us about the Scottish economy.

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The Return of the Sick Man

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” – Dickens, David Copperfield

The shape of the next UK economic crisis has become apparent. It may have already begun and it’s not at all clear how it can be avoided or mitigated.

On the 23rd June 2016, the United Kingdom, for a variety of reasons, voted to leave the European Union. The immediate impact of this was an almost unprecedented drop in the value of the pound with respect to its major trading partner currencies.

Currency fall

Not much of a problem, the defenders said, as a weakened currency has its merits as well as demerits. Exports should become cheaper, which would boost foreign trade.

This may have been true in times gone by but economies have grown vastly more complex than this. Many products manufactured in the UK consist of sub-components drawn from multiple countries and globalised supply chains have grown STAGGERINGLY complex.

What this has meant is that even the goods that Britain manufactures here have seen their “input prices” increase, which has pushed up the price of goods even despite the fall in currency strength. Add to that, the fact that the UK imports far more than it exports – it has one of the largest trade deficits as %GDP in the OECD –  and it becomes clear why prices have started rising again in Britain. After five years of declining inflation rates and almost a year of zero price increases, inflation has returned with a vengeance.

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But this needn’t be a terrible thing. In fact, inflation can often be quite useful as it erodes the value of debts (which is why creditors and asset holders hate it so much). So long as wages keep up with the rising prices then for those who don’t depend on the rising value of assets or debts it can be manageable. So how are we doing on that point?

Oh…

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We’re not doing so well.

So inflation is rising and wages are declining, so we’re in the situation where meeting our needs and maintain a decent standard of living is becoming more and more difficult. But even this could be mitigated or reversed if the government were to step in and support the economy by investing or by otherwise injecting money into it.

So how’s the UK dealing with things? Well…

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And so this is the root of the coming crisis. Prices are rising, wages are stagnating, savings have been drained, credit cards have been maxed out, and the government is pulling out of the business of providing government and public services so you need to spend even more to replace it. We no longer have enough money to meet our basic needs, never mind the disposable income to buy the widgets we need to consume to keep the wheels of the economy turning.

Up here in Scotland, there are signs that the crisis is already upon us. The Fraser of Allander Institute published a report today warning about the precarious nature of the Scottish economy saying that it was stagnating with relation to the UK economy as a whole. Some will almost certainly be quick to blame this on the Scottish government (the phrase “uncertainty of a divisive second independence referendum” comes to mind). There are certainly some things that the Scottish Government could do to help – a National Investment Bank should be high on the list and a good shake up of the domestic agenda would be welcome – but the ultimate cause of this slow-down does not originate in Scotland nor will its solution come from here (at least until the levers of power are returned to the country upon independence).

The problem, ultimately, is that Britain isn’t Great. Britain is Weird. Britain is a deeply unequal country on a scale which, compared to its neighbours, is utterly baffling.

In many countries, the capital city will be the richest region of the nation. This is normal –  Money wants to be close to power – but the UK’s disparity really needs to be seen to be believed. Here is the GDP/capita for each of the EU28 and EFTA countries broken down by region. Spot the odd one out.

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(Note that the UK has two capital dots. The lower one is London as a whole. The upper one is just Inner London)

Whenever statistics about Scotland are produced, they’re often given with reference to the “UK average” or the “UK as a whole” but the extreme disparity of Britain masks the picture. Detailed analysis by Prof Mike Danson of Heriott-Watt University has shown that Scotland’s GDP per capita is the third highest region of the UK (after London and the South-East) and, if we were an independent state, we’d be the 9th highest in Europe. In fact, we can disaggregate out the Scottish data from the chart above and catch a glimpse what we’d look like as an independent country.

EU28 plus Scotland GDPcapita

(Edinburgh data estimated from 2011 NUTS 3 database)

Taken on this view, Scotland no longer looks like a “below average” region of the UK but a fairly normal Western European country. Far more like Finland or Denmark than, say, Greece.

As Prof Danson says, the obsession with comparing Scotland to misleading “UK average” figures leads to commentators ending up unable to take a step back and ask what is happening across and within the UK and where the problems really are. Until this happens, Scotland will continue to stagnate within the UK as the overinvestment of London continues (and is likely to get worse through the Brexit process in a desperate attempt to prop up the financial sector there).

As said earlier, there is a way out of the coming credit crisis but it’s going to involve not more Austerity but a whole lot less. Economists are increasingly coming around to the realisation that the Government’s debt is your surplus and that governments can take on that debt almost without limit (unlike you who have hard limits on credit and the ability to repay it) and – if they have their own currency – can print money in order to provide services (unlike, again, you who would go to jail if you tried that).

Once again, there is a certain amount that the Scottish government can – and should – do at the moment to help but it will always be stymied by the very tight rules of devolution. There’s little to no hope of the UK changing course any time soon (even Corbyn’s Labour is solidly committed to “balancing the budget“)  and the hard Brexit the Tories and Labour are both pursuing is being increasingly differentiated by the amount of damage the plans will cause rather than any attempt to prevent it. The Sick Man of Europe seems destined to return to the UK. I only hope that Scotland doesn’t catch its cold.

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If Brexiteers Did Indy

“For now we see through a glass, darkly” – The Bible, 1 Corr 13:12

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Yesterday was the first meeting between the UK Brexit delegation and the EU delegation and, by many accounts, it has fallen far short of the UK’s expectations. David Davis spent months drumming up the “Strong and Stable” approach which would see both the divorce deal and the subsequent post-Brexit trade deal negotiated simultaneously. He was told on every front that this wouldn’t happen and simply brushed off the warnings. And then, when push came to shove…he finally accepted that he’s have to negotiate the divorce deal first. This is just the latest in a long string of failures and ineptitudes over the course of the UK’s handling of the whole farcical process and it got me thinking. If Scotland had voted Yes in 2014, what would it have looked like if the Scottish Government had handled that vote the way the UK has managed Brexit.

What if the hardcore Brexiteers did Indy?

Somewhere. In Another Scotland.

Spring 2013

The SNP have been ascendant. Under First Minister Alex Salmond, the party is now in the second year of its majority government. Salmond, who had always been known as a gradualist, had been reluctant to offer something as drastic as an independence referendum. He was far more interested in focusing on domestic policy such as his infamous Tunnocks Tax but after a couple of defections of MSPs to the fringe party Siol na h-Alba in 2010 it was inevitable that independence would have to be an option on the table.

TUNNOCK'S ALEX SALMOND

Salmond tried to soften the blow by concocting a plan by which he would take a package of offers to the UK Government and ask for a series of “more powers”. Only then would he present the case to Scotland to either accept his deal or to demand independence. The date of the referendum was set. 18th of September 2014.

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Winter 2013

The talks with the UK Government has not gone as well as hoped. The general impression in Westminster is, at best, one of “this again?” and whilst they eventually agreed to hand over a few concessions – Scotland would gain the ability to adjust income tax by a couple of pence in the pound and some obscure regulatory powers that no-one could really describe well would be shifted – but the overall impact was clearly going to be negligible. Salmond, of course, plays the whole thing as a glorious success. The Scottish Conservatives are no friends of independence but welcome the successful deal with Westminster and pledge to endorse and support it.

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Spring 2014

The Independence Campaign is taking shape. Salmond would head up the Scottish Government’s “official” Remain campaign under the banner “Not Yet”. He’d play up the economic benefits of the close ties with the rest of the UK whilst emphasising the autonomy that Scotland had and would get in the future. In Salmond’s vision Scotland would take the path of Australia. A slow, decades long decoupling from the rest of the UK by which independence would eventually be achieved but…“not yet”.

This, of course, wasn’t going to be soon enough for some. In a shocking move, senior Scottish Government cabinet members Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney break with the “official” position and declare themselves for Leave. They take with them a substantial enough bloc of the SNP to form a rival campaign under the banner “Scotland Now”. The majority of activists from opposition parties such as the Greens, Socialists as well as a minority of members from Labour and the Lib Dems flock to their call for an independent Scotland within Europe.

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Meanwhile, Siol na h-Alba launches their Leave campaign from their constituencies of Brigadoon and Dunroamin pledging “Scotland for the Scots” and the complete severing of all ties with the rest of the UK as soon as possible. Harking back to Scotland’s past as a trading nation and playing up sentiments of traditional “warrior spirit” they are determined to court the most fringe elements of Scottish society to their cause. Though careful to avoid any direct accusations of racism, SnA leaders busily work with their pliant media contacts to insert dog-whistle phrases into their puff pieces. Media attention on the group has never been higher despite them still only having two MSPs (neither of whom were elected under the Siol na h-Alba ticket).

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Both Leave campaigns declare themselves to be the “official” voice of independence and register their interest as such to the Electoral Commission. There is a lot at stake as the official campaign would gain an increased campaign spending limit as well as direct government funding and representation on political broadcasts. After weeks of debate, the Commission eventually rules in favour of Sturgeon and Swinney’s Scotland Now.

Summer 2014

The campaigning is now fierce but cracks are beginning to show. Much of the debate has centred around things like the economy and immigration but the arguments are beginning to sound increasingly vacuous. Few debaters are willing to lay down solid plans or proposals of their own, preferring instead to attack the opposition whenever they mention something, anything. The same soundbites are repeated on the evening pundit shows. Shows like Question Time become dominated by debates about domestic policy and rarely do any clear answers emerge.

Scotland Now comes under increased scrutiny as it emerges that they have little idea about what, precisely, they wish to do with independence. Calls for an Independence White Paper begin to gain traction and the few media interviewers with the nuance to do so begin to ask about procedural questions such as how the Scottish Government would begin negotiations to disengage from the UK. The UK’s constitution, being an “unwritten” document is particularly vague on the subject and the previous examples of disengagement – Ireland and decolonisation – are not altogether helpful in the modern age. Questions, too, about the border, currency and other issues are answered only with platitudes and soundbites.

Not that the other Leave campaign is any better. Asked on what currency Scotland would use, Siol na h-Alba’s leader Niall McFergus simply said “No the Inglis yin!” and refused further questions.

With the date of the referendum fast approaching, public opinion begins to crystalise into two camps. Folk who are leaning towards Remain tend to say that they are concerned about the economy and are either supportive of more immigration to Scotland or are, at least, not bothered either way about it. Folk who are leaning towards Leave tend to say that they are worried about the levels of immigration to Scotland but are either less concerned about the economy or are convinced that it will thrive once the “shackles of Westminster regulation” are cut. The solid majority for Remain has begun to ebb slightly in the polls but little momentum is gained in either direction.

Autumn 2014

Scotland Now finally releases its Independence White Paper. A dismally short piece containing no real information whatsoever, it is ignored entirely by the now rabidly pro-Leave media and is noticed at all only by a few bloggers on social media.

The Not Yet campaign still appears to be on track for a solid victory, albeit not quite as large as once they hoped. Salmond remains as confident as ever behind the podium but, privately, whispers have emerged of apathy within his campaign. Activists are thin on the ground even in potentially target areas. There is little enthusiasm even among political wonks for his message of “the same but a little better”.

Siol na h-Alba releases an extremely divisive political attack advert showing expies of Sturgeon and Salmond personally welcoming crowds of people coming across the border at Gretna. Police Scotland warns of increased tension in communities but McFergus denies any racial connotations in the advert saying that no particular group was represented. They withdraw the ad later that day under the intense negative pressure but the message is sent and lands home with its intended target.

September 2014 – The Week of the Referendum

Siol na h-Alba kick the referendum off with a week of political stunts by organising a “Fête of Scottish Naval Might” by inviting “all patriotic trading vessels” to journey up the Clyde. The reception is…rather less than anticipated.

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McFergus blames media bias for only running photos of “empty stretches of river between gaps in the flotilla”. No photos of more crowded sections are forthcoming officially or otherwise.

Salmond is near invisible on the political scene although his press corps still doggedly assures a solid victory for Remain. The polls have been a statistical tie for weeks and Leave is still nudging upwards…

Brexiteer Indy Poll

Sturgeon and Swinney are seemingly never off the television at this point but a disastrous interview by Swinney on the final Sunday before the polls in which he struggles to outline any solid numbers about immigration figures is widely ridiculed although he does promise that in the event of a victory for Leave, his team will be ready to start negotiations “the following Monday”.

The Results

With a 65% turnout and margin of 51.89% for Leave versus a 48.11% for Remain, Scotland votes to Leave the United Kingdom. It is a result which sends shockwaves throughout the islands. Early in the morning of the 19th of September Alex Salmond resigns with immediate effect saying “The Scottish people have voted and their will must be respected“.

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It is widely expected that the victorious Scotland Now team will take control of the Scottish Government and begin to implement their (still unpublished) plan to remove Scotland from the United Kingdom. In a shock move, however, the press conference which follows the First Minister’s shows the downcast figures of Sturgeon and Swinney apologising, equivocating and, ultimately, also both resigning their positions in the cabinet. The Scottish Government is now in turmoil with fragmented factions of Not Yet and Scotland Now both accusing each other of failing to come up with a proper plan for leaving. The SNP  hastily organise a leadership contest to replace Salmond whilst assuring that they still have the confidence of the Parliament thus can remain in government.

To cap an already historic day, Niall McFergus also resigns as leader of Siol na h-Alba saying “The job’s done. I’m away tae Nova Scotia”.

Obviously, the Scottish Government is in no condition to start talks on Monday 22nd September. The UK Government says that it will wait till everyone is ready…but that its patience is not unlimited.

October 2014

The SNP leadership contest is marked more by who rules themselves out than by who rules themselves in. All of the prominent pro-Leave faces either beat a hasty retreat for the back door out spend their time outright poisoning the attempts of their colleagues to push themselves forward. In the end, the only person left standing is former Justice minister Kenny MacAskill, who had been a prominent activist for Not Yet. Immediately, his tenure is under question both for his role in the former campaign, the fact that he was “not elected” to the position and also due to questions raised during his time as minister. Nonetheless, a government is formed and the SNP’s majority sees it pass its first vote of confidence. The new government vows to take charge of the “mandate given to the by the people” to leave the UK but says that time will be required to formulate a plan. A deal is struck with the UK Government. Once the Scottish Government is ready to begin negotiations it will notify Westminster via the Scotland Office which will then trigger a process by which Scotland will leave the Union two years later.

March 2015

There is still no plan. The Article SO trigger (as it has become known in the press) has still not been pulled. Patience is wearing thin on all sides. The economy is starting to feel the strain of the uncertainty and many are starting to wonder if independence will happen at all. PM MacAskill announces that he has put together his negotiating team but is immediately criticised for it consisting solely of SNP members from the Central Belt. Parties which supported Leave feel betrayed and locked out. Parties which voted Remain demand that the negotiations take into account the whole of the country and not just the SNP’s fiefdoms. Places like Orkney and Shetland, which voted strongly Remain, demand a distinct “place at the table” to ensure their specific interests. They even produce a detailed and extensive White Paper (at least, extensive in comparison to the still non-existent paper from the Scottish Government) detailing their concerns and offering various compromise solutions. The demand for a place at the table is denied and the White Paper is simply dismissed by MacAskill and the Scottish Government. Even a bill demanding such representation which passed jointly by the councils of the islands goes without formal response.

By the middle of the month there is, at last, some movement. MacAskill announces the publication of a Leave White Paper and announces that Article SO will be triggered by the end of the month. Scotland will leave the UK by the 29th of March 2017.

April 2015

MacAskill sends further shockwaves through an already the Scottish political world by announcing a snap election. Claiming that he had an epiphany whilst hillwalking, he claims that it would increase the Government’s mandate to carry through independence and, he hopes, would neutralise the still lingering claims about the means by which he became First Minister. The election is widely regarded as a rubber-stamp exercise given the still-vast lead the SNP enjoy in the polls. The election is set for June 8th but some warn that the Article SO timer is still ticking…

 

June 2015

The results of the general election come in and it is not to the Scottish Government’s liking. An unexpectedly blistering campaign by Labour’s Jim Murphy – who had been widely derided as “completely unelectable” even by members of his own party – utterly smashed through all that was placed before it. From the day of the announcement of the snap election to the day of the poll there was a rapid rise in support for Labour right across the country.

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From hopes of a crushing majority, the SNP fell to one seat short of being able to form a government at all. Scotland was, by now, the laughing stock of the British Isles but MacAskill vows to cling on and see independence through. He turns to Siol na h-Alba – who lost their new leader Tam McGlashan in Dunroamin but scraped a victory (by two votes) in Brigadoon – to prop up his administration. Soon, the media is full of tales of the worst of Siol na h-Alba’s misdeeds. McGlashan resigns and a new leadership contest is run but by this point, no-one particularly cares about the party which started this whole sorry story.

MacAskill remains determined to progress with Independence talks with the UK Government and sets the date of 19th June to hold the first talk. However, coalition talks with Siol na h-Alba are not going well and the first vote of confidence on the new government is delayed amid bizarre excuses such as “the ink needs time to dry on the paper“. A new date for the vote of confidence is set for June 21st – two days after the first of those discussions with Westminster. The Scottish Government seems as if it will progress without a mandate and without even having a secure and stable government.

The First Meeting

Team Scotland arrives in London to meet the UK delegation. The six man (and it is six men, the lack of other genders is noted) team consists solely of SNP members with all other parties locked out completely. It will be the test by which the rest of the negotiations are measured. MacAskill steps into the room. Full of bluster. Empty of any actual documents. Across the table, David Cameron is waiting…

Back to (our) Reality

From the outset, the UK’s handling of Brexit has been one of the most appalling adventures in modern UK politics. It cannot be ignored that for all the weaknesses of the last independence campaign and for all we can argue about where it could have done better, the old accusation that Scotland would have been walked over by Westminster in negotiations simply no longer stands. The UK really has become a joke in the world and this should not be forgotten when the time comes to plan our own negotiations. Although, at the same time, we should not assume that they won’t learn the lessons of the Brexit disaster. I’m just saying that we should learn them first and make sure that our case is absolutely the best it possibly can be.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little bit of allegorical fiction. Maybe, if the UK continues as it has been, there’ll be another chapter someday.

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