Ironically, the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, is the latest leader of an independent country to express concern over the prospect of Scotland becoming independent from the United Kingdom. Barack Obama and Tony Abbott have made similarly ironic interventions in recent months. Their collective view is that an independent Scotland would not serve ‘greater global interests’.
Whilst there are bound to be several reasons for this, we may hazard a guess that the crux would be an independent Scotland’s commitment to removing the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent from Scottish waters. This would force the United Kingdom to unilaterally disarm for an unspecifiable period of time, thereby ‘threatening global security’ and upsetting the existing international order.
There is also the concern that a diminished United Kingdom would not retain the same standing within the European Union, which would have an impact on the United States’ ability to strategically influence defence and economic decision making within a major supranational institution it cannot directly control.
Finally, the loss of softer powers; it has also been suggested that the United Kingdom would lose a degree of credibility in promoting itself as a model of democracy and justifying some of its military interventions in other regions of the world on that basis.
How could it hold onto that platonic ideal when one of the primary reasons cited for becoming an independent country is that the United Kingdom’s constitutional arrangement delivers a permanent democratic deficit for the people of Scotland, with unjust consequences.
An inability to block the imposition of immoral and discriminatory welfare policies, to reject involvement in illegal wars, or simply to have the government you choose, is hardly the sign of a society that considers itself to be a beacon of democracy, personal freedom and social justice.
Scottish independence would be an opportunity to rethink the relationship between the elected Government and the people governed; it would be an opportunity to reconnect economics with morality, and place universal welfare and social justice at the heart of our political and economic decision making. It might sound too fantastical to believe, but only because we have been conditioned into thinking that way.
More than that, it would be an opportunity to usher in a new era of confidence in Scotland, as a country that is perfectly entitled to enjoy the very same rights that Canadians, Americans and Australians have enjoyed since becoming independent countries. Scotland is an innovative, intelligent and resourceful country that is perfectly capable of negotiating its own way in the world. Successfully.
The United Kingdom Government should be berating itself for refusing to respond earlier to the level of frustration and discontent within Scotland, and other parts of the United Kingdom for that matter, with regards to the political weaknesses, and economic failures, of the union. Had it done so, it may have been able to avoid a late surge in favour of a Yes vote in two weeks’ time.
The union does not deliver what it purports to deliver, nor could it without fundamental reform. As some unionist political commentators have repeatedly warned, the biggest threat to the continued existence of the United Kingdom is not Alex Salmond, but the union itself.
The people of Scotland should not be influenced into rejecting independence by self-interested world leaders, when the objective of independence is to achieve what is no longer achievable for Scotland within the United Kingdom.
If the choice is between serving the ‘greater global interests’ of manipulative, corrupt, self-obsessed, power hungry military superpowers – the United Kingdom included – or having the full range of powers to address the economic, social, moral and cultural needs and interests of the people of Scotland, whether Scotland should become an independent country should not even be a doubt in anyone’s mind.