(apologies to The Who)
Had to put this one out tonight: Today the Scots vote on the referendum for independence from Great Britain. I have gone into a couple or three chats on the subject and have a pretty good idea about what the Scottish electorate are thinking about this. The question that they and time may answer is this: Is this proposal, and are the people behind it, crazy like a fox, or just plain crazy?
It is definitely a leap into the unknown in many areas. A whole lot of the discussion is on the topic of what currency a sovereign Scottish nation would choose, and whether they would be able to keep using the "British" pound sterling, which they all seem very attached to. I think this is a misdirection, personally; the Scots can always make their own currency, which clearly should be called the "kilt" (somewhat like the New Zealand kiwi) and tie its value to the pound, whether 1:1 or some other ratio. That is, if they can find the reserves in their central bank (there already is a Bank of Scotland) to defend it from the certain challenge that will come in due course (when the speculators think the timing is right). Then there is the question of Europe, and the Euro, and all that, but frankly, it isn't even so certain that Britain, as we know it, is going to stay around in the European Community much longer--that may be particularly true if Scotland splits off. They can take London's seat at the table--and be quiet, or take on the Euro if they can arrange the terms of admission.
Then there is the fact that the proposed terms of the referendum would keep for Scotland the current Queen and monarchy, and that Britain would still provide for their defense (which necessarily means Whitehall would conduct diplomacy with other nations on their behalf). To me, that reduces their proposed sovereignty to something less than that.
There is a lot of talk about liberty and freedom, but not much of a convincing case that theirs is unduly restricted by remaining in the Union. (I wrote United Kingdom but then realized that apparently isn't at stake.) Take away all the fine-sounding talk, and it comes down to money and subsidy: who is subsidizing whom, and who will be better off if they separate?
My answer--and I am surprised it has not come out more clearly in the "no" campaign (also known, not very favorably as the "Better Together" campaign)--is that no one will be better off. Yes, surely there is money going into London, money that never comes out, and compared to the rest of the U.K., Scotland probably has a bit more going for it in terms of natural resources. The Scottish will have to start all over, in a number of ways, and they will have a hostile neighbor close by.
In terms of Britain, the Conservatives will be forever branded by the insensate blunder Cameron made to promise the referendum (what did it get him in the elections? nothing!), while Labour's lack of leadership at this critical moment should exclude them in the future, though losing most of the Parliamentary seats they have if Scotland goes will be a hefty punishment. The British Government's promise to provide substantial, additional autonomy to Scotland if it remains within is the right kind of answer because it is a valid argument to vote against independence, but it is late, and too vague. The Liberal Democrats might be the only ones who come out of this looking less than ridiculous.
The committed Scottish nationalists will vote yes, the conflicted nationalists (ones with British sympathies) will vote no, so who are those few undecided who will decide it? I would say they are those who have no idea what will happen if the referendum succeeds. Common sense should tell them to vote no rather than plunge off the cliff into the unknown, and that is why I think the referendum will fail, narrowly.