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Posted by on Feb 24, 2014 in Politics | 8 comments

Scottish independence would be a political disaster for the UK, and here’s for why

Soon, the Scottish people will be voting in a referendum as to whether they want an independent Scotland. Let’s put aside all the issues with this, like giving the vote to 16 year olds. I for one didn’t know my posterior from my elbow at that age, let alone the fiscal ramifications of a completely devolved and independent economy, and how this might affect exchange rates and common markets. Essentially, it’s a cheap vote winner for the Scottish National Party (SNP and I resent them for that (I would not allow the vote for under 21s, let alone 18 year olds…). But, that aside… If the Scottish do vote for independence, and if it is given to them, then we have a political crisis in the making for the rest of the United Kingdom.

File:OTL 2010 UK Election Map .png


This map gives an idea of the prevalence of Conservative blue in rural English areas (there are many geographically smaller, dense pockets of population which are red in urban  areas, typified by the inset.

 

As you can see from the map above, England, and to a lesser degree Wales, are inundated with Conservative blue. Only the dense urban areas of the cities give Labour much of a chance. In the coming election, my prediction is that Lib Dems will be trounced. They were unfortunate in many ways in doing so well. As a result, they had to go into coalition (this was their only hope of ever having any power) with people with whom they disagreed vehemently on many issues. Thus they have annoyed (inevitably) many of their supporters who will defect to Labour. Labour will pick up some opposition votes (which is why there was such a big previous swing as they had been in for ages).

election

 

This map and stats gives you an indication of how the 2010 election results went.

election 2

Here’s the rub. If the Scottish became independence, and bearing in mind that this election was the biggest success for the SNP (there would normally be higher Lib Dem and Labour votes, historically speaking), there would be a massive swing toward the Conservatives. Here are the Scottish results:

election 3

So it seems that there are 49 seats in Scotland. Out of 650, that would mean the UK would move to 601 seats, but the Conservatives would have lost only 1 seat moving to 306. Which means they would not be in coalition now. And it means that Labour would have to work much harder to get into power.

What could be an interesting ramification is that Labour would be more likely to get into a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. That said, on these stats, Labour would get 217 seats, and Lib Dem 46, giving a total of 263, some 40 seats off a majority.

Essentially, if we lose Scotland, we lose any chance, perhaps and probably, of Labour or any left-wing party getting into Westminster.

This would be a travesty for equality and fairness in this great nation.

  • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

    I don’t have any dog in this hunt, JP, but it’s unclear to me why the Scots would want to stick around. If I’m correct in assuming that the yellow and red bits up north have better policies in mind, why should they want to be perpetually held back by all that blue?

    • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

      A good point, though I think they have an awful lot more than that to consider.

  • lunaticus

    Wow – I had some idea the UK broke down this way politcaly, but I hadn’t seen the actual data. I remember Iain Banks, (maybe in his last interview?), wishing aloud that he could have seen Scotland break away before he died, for the same reason – unshackling from conservative England.

    Would you vote for independence if you were Scottish, Jonathan?

    • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

      Really good question. I guess I would only make the decision based on a good understanding of the ramifications. And this not particularly evidence right now. My fear, and this is born out by psychology, is people will make gut intuitive decisions based on little more than a modern retelling of Braveheart. Hardly any of the population of Scotland would be qualified enough to make a properly informed decision.

      • Henry Murphy

        did you really just say “Hardly any of the population of Scotland would be qualified enough to make a properly informed decision.” That is the kind of patronising nonsense that is driving people in their droves towards independence

        • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

          I did, from both a psychological and from a knowledge-based decision, since even the greatest experts disagree on the consequences of such a decision.

          It is why I don’t think there should be a referendum on Europe in the UK. Simply put, no one really knows how the UK works within Europe and how Europe works. I have just spent the last few days explaining to people really basic misconceptions on how Europe works, and these were more educated Eurosceptics.

          These are big decisions, with huge ramifications, and if there is general ignorance of the ramifications, and what it would look like, what is the point of asking people. You might as well have a referendum on quantum physics!

          Referenda require education in order to be representative. In danger of being grossly undemocratic without…

          And the decision to include 16 year old in that who barely understand common currency and currency unions. Well…

          My general rule of thumb is to say that if I don’t understand properly the subject of a general referendum, then we shouldn’t have one.

          Or, in this case, for Scotland, if there is to be one, there should be a clear caveat that such a survey is just a survey of opinion. This is what it is, for sure. But people have expectation that the result to the referendum is in some way almost binding. It will be a gut emotional response with, in a large part of the electorate, scant thought or regard for really how it will work, and with little mitigation of the massive confirmation biases which will take place.

          I am not, here, slagging off Scottish people. I am saying that these are really really really complex issues, and asking everyone over the age of 16 whether it should happen is a risky thing, because they are simply not well-informed enough.

          • mavp

            I’m American, and this issue does not impact my life directly, but I am excited about a free Scotland for many indirect reasons.

            But, specifically responding to your rant here. Seems to me that you’ve made the Scots’ argument for them! Scotland’s national vote is meaningless because they’ll never get the Westminster government they want thanks to England’s conservative voters. Independence is the solution to that.

            You also seem to be arguing that the general population is too stupid to determine its future. I think that is a terrible way to view the world. Are you suggesting that we should be ruled by Elites? Should we replace democracy, then? What, exactly, are you saying?

  • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

    I had no idea that England was so conservative. But your conservatives are not like our conservatives.