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Thursday, 11 September 2014

One week today!

One week today, an unusually large number of the residents of Scotland will go to the polls to vote in what is popularly known as the "Independence" referendum but that is, in reality, the "Separation" referendum.  By Friday 19th September, the newspaper polls will all have become redundant, and irrelevant, because the people will have spoken, and their voice will have been heard!

The 'Yes' campaign have had a number of planks in their platform that have been, in my opinion, disingenuously deceptive.  Regretfully, a number of people have accepted the word of politicians (a dangerous thing to do, whichever side one supports!), and either plan to vote 'Yes', or have already done so by a postal vote.  What follows is of no interest, or value, to the latter group.  However, I trust that it will cause some of the former group to reconsider their position over the next seven days.

One of the major issues, it seems to me, has been that of the NHS.  The cry has gone up from Mr Salmond, and others, that if the result of the referendum is that we do not separate from our fellow-Britons, then the NHS in Scotland will be gradually privatised (and the 'Yes' campaign have consistently criticised what they have perceived as the 'fear' tactics of the 'No' campaign!).  The pros and cons of NHS privatisation is a totally different topic, but what surely ought to be made clear is that, under the terms of the Scotland Act (1998)  the NHS is a devolved matter.  This means that it is, and has been, the responsibility of the Scottish Executive/Government for many years.  It also means that it will continue to be so.  Sorry, Alex - that one doesn't work!

The currency that would be used in a separate Scotland has also been an issue that has dogged the 'Yes' campaign.  The current Chancellor of the Exchequer has, vehemently and consistently, ruled out any form of currency union with the remainder of the current UK.  The Shadow Chancellor has agreed wholeheartedly with that stance.  Even the wee LibDums (who are no longer the 'third major party', and who may disappear after the next UK General Election!) have said that they would not be a part of any such union.  The Governor of the Bank of England who, according to Mr Salmond, "is in charge", has clearly stated that "a currency union is incompatible with sovereignty."  This, of course, does not effect only the currency with which I pay for my messages in ASDA.  It also effects matters such as international trade; pensions (very important to some of us already, and to all of us eventually!); the banking sector.   We have already seen, on the back of a single poll that indicated that the 'Yes' campaign had overtaken their rivals, a fall in the value of sterling, and a fall in the stock market!  And that was just one poll!  The only person who regularly assures us that, when the 'Yes' vote succeeds, everyone else will fall in with his way of thinking is - Mr Salmond.  I am reminded of the old story (too old for some of my readers to have known!) that ends with the line "They're a' oot o' step, but oor Jock"!  Sorry, Alex - that one doesn't work either!

Just one other issue for now - the European Union.  The declared opinion of a number of high-ranking officials in the EU is that a separated Scotland would cease to be a part of that body, and would be required to apply for membership - a process that could take many years.  The opinion of Mr Salmond and the 'Yes' campaign is that the EU would be so desperate to have a separate Scotland as a member, that it would be little more than a 'rubber-stamping' job!  I seem to recall 'expert legal opinion' to support that notion - but opinion that remained, and remains, anonymous!  The SNP spokesman on BBC Radio 4, yesterday, claimed that no-one in Scotland was interested in leaving the EU.  I suppose that that is why we now have a Scottish MEP - from UKIP!  Of course, if the whole of the UK is allowed its referendum on membership of the EU and, as is expected, comes out of that discredited body, then there is unlikely to be an EU for a separate Scotland to join!  When one domino falls, others have a habit of following suit - and there is no shortage of countries who would gladly be the second to leave!  Is it indicative of the state of the SNP, in particular, that they would even wish - in an 'independent' Utopia - to be a continuing part of an organisation that hasn't even been able to satisfy its own auditors for many, many years?   Sorry, Alex - that's a third strike!

I don't like my posts to be overly long.  However, there is one issue that I have not heard raised at all, but that concerns me greatly.  No, it has nothing to do with the place of the Christian faith in this new. separate, Scotland - although that is something about which many are, indeed (and rightly), concerned.  This issue is much more politically practical.  As those who know me well are aware, I currently spend a lot of my time in France, and also travel, as occasion demands, to Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and other countries.  With me, I always carry a number of important documents.  One of these is my (UK) passport.  Having that passport means that if, for whatever reason, I am in trouble, I have access to the British Embassy, or a local Consulate, to receive assistance.  Will those officials be willing to help a foreigner - as I would officially be if I belonged to a separated Scotland?   I suspect not!  The alternative would be to go to the Scottish Embassy/Consulate.  However, I have heard no-one mention the cost of such the large number of properties that would have to be acquired for those purposes.  Other countries may be willing to act on Scotland's behalf, but the assistance would be minimal - and there would undoubtedly be a cost involved!  The other item is a little card named the EHIC - that assures me state healthcare at a reduced cost or sometimes for free, anywhere in the EU and Switzerland.  This is all, as far as I know, because of a mutual agreement with these countries.  How long would it take a separated Scottish government to put all of that in place - especially in countries like France, Spain, and Italy where a separatist movement is a thorn in the flesh of the respective governments?  

It is my hope - yes, and my prayer - that common sense, and pragmatism, will prevail over an emotional, albeit laudable, desire to "dae oor ain thing"!   The Bible, even if not accepted by all as being of divine origin, is usually recognised as having many wise words.  I close with one reference: "... 'though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken." (Eccl. 4:12).  Let us not break up a country that is, of course, far from perfect, but that is still looked up to by many.  Let us put our energies, not into separating, but into improving.

You know it makes sense!

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