Scotland and the rest of us

Baroness Quin

Today concern about the potential break-up of Britain –  in light of  the planned referendum on independence for Scotland – will be raised in a debate in the House of Lords.  This is a subject about which I care deeply and while I accept that the people of Scotland certainly have a right to vote on it it is equally true that what they decide will affect all of us wherever we live in the UK.   For a start, as a Northumbrian and a Geordie, living close to the border, I might suddenly find that I have an international frontier on my doorstep!  And in England many of us may find that our identity is forced to become increasingly “English” rather than “British”.  After a summer of Britishness – with the success of the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee such a change would be very great.

For my part I do not want to celebrate the battles of the past – whether it be Bannockburn or Flodden.  They were miserable times of war and of fighting and slaying each other.  I would much rather celebrate the achievements for democracy and progress we have made together since the Crowns were united in 1603 and the Act of Union in 1707.  It was people across Britain  campaigning together who achieved shorter working hours, better working conditions, votes for women,  education for all and equal rights.  And, for example, our National Health Service was established during the premiership of an Englishman, Clement Attlee, by a Welsh Health Secretary, Aneurin Bevan, under a party founded by a Scot, Keir Hardie.

Many of us too have mixed heritage with Scottish, Welsh and English forbears.  In our increasingly diverse world let us celebrate our common bonds by arguing persuasively – and yes, passionately –  the case for the Union in the coming months.

Do you feel British?

What future would you like for the UK?

31 comments for “Scotland and the rest of us

  1. Lord Blagger
    11/10/2012 at 1:17 pm

    What future would you like for the UK?

    Ah yes. You would rather not talk about the reality.

    The reality is dire. You’ve run up 6 times GDP of debt. Yep, 6 times. Most of it is pensions, and that’s off the books. It’s a fraud.

    So the future you’ve set up is one where people aren’t going to get their pensions, or only a fraction. They aren’t going to get their Giros either.

    You’ll try raising taxes, but like Facebook, lots of companies will just offshore. You’ll get 50,60..% of nothing.

    Rich will incorporate offshore. That way they will only pay tax on what they spend.

    Welcome to the new world, courtesy of the Fraudsters in Westminster.

    [Presumably the last to be axed will be you from the club]

  2. Lord Blagger
    11/10/2012 at 1:18 pm

    Why can’t England have a vote on devolution.

    The irony of the Scots saying yes, and the rest of the UK saying bugger off.

    So much for democracy. We don’t get to vote.

  3. maude elwes
    11/10/2012 at 1:30 pm

    I feel Englsh and European. I do not like and really resent being referred to as British. Because it is forced on me as a present citizen of England. My Englishness is ignored and when I pplace English on a government form. It is changed for my ignorance not to show to British. British is an absurdity to me. It means nothing any more.

    And as a half Scot, if I was living in the land of my father, I would indeed want a vote on whether to stay as part of a dislocated and impaired UK or not. I would vote to be a citizen of a separate country, the Scotland that can choose its own affinities. And mine would be the affinity with Europe, absolutely.

    I am a European. And if the Scots plan to remain in the Britian you so like, it may find that instead of being part of Europe, it is part of the USA. A 51st State. And I have no desire to be an American. In fact the further away from that superstate we become the more comfortable I will feel.

    I can work to change the edicts of Europe I dislike, which are small in comparison to the rogue superstates. But, I will be simply a no mans lander as a fifty first US state citizen.

    So, Scotland should use their innate sense and intelligence to vote against being part of the UK. That way they are voting for freedom. Their own.

  4. steven
    11/10/2012 at 1:52 pm

    The only thing England gets out of the “UK” is the BILL! it hasn’t been a “United Kingdom” since 1997/1998 when Scots, Welsh and N Irish voted for seperation with the creation of their own Parliament, and all these ‘Nations’ (EU Regions) now have their ‘own’ seperate Parliament/Assembly and ‘own’ seperate Governments, and guess what, they all receive countless perks denied to yet funded by, the English, free tuition fees, free dental checkups, free eye tests, free NHS Parking, free central heating for the elderely, etc etc etc. There is no benefits for England being part of this sham ‘UK’, it’s time for English Independence and the creation of an English Parliament and English Government to put the needs of England and the English first! and with the money saved from bankrolling Scotland when its an ‘Independent’ EU Region, we can introduce many free services in England what thenScots receive thanks to the English tax payer today.

    • maude elwes
      12/10/2012 at 3:44 pm

      Well, now, to me you have put a wonderful case for a separate Scotland. My goodness how very fortunate they are to have a government that is looking after their needs. Unlike ours.

      Well done them. Keep up the good work Scotland.

      This person above wants more austerity and rejects the idea of the insurance he is paying must give him a return and safeguards he has a right to. What a clown.

      He sounds like a clone of Blagger.

      • Lord Blagger
        12/10/2012 at 7:15 pm

        1. Will Scotland take a Barnett formula share of the debt with them?

        2. So on the question of insurance or pensions.

        If you pay in, should the insurer be able to unilaterally cut the payouts, for example by 80,000 to someone who was on 26,000 a year?

        I presume you think that’s a great idea Maude.

  5. JoolsB
    11/10/2012 at 2:29 pm

    It’s a little late for Labour politicians to worry about the break up of Britain. She should have thought of that when her party brought out their lopsided devolution act which deliberately and cynically excluded England for reasons of pure partisan self interest.

    As someone who lives on the border with Scotland, she will be aware that youngsters in her neighbourhood have enormous tuition fees whilst those living a few miles away have none, all thanks to her Scottish and Welsh colleagues voting for them for England’s youngsters but not their own. She will be aware that her sick and elderly neighbours have to pay prescription charges and sell their homes should they need care. Not so a few miles away across the border.

    She should’t worry about the Scots voting for indepence. They won’t. What she should worry about is her English neighours saying they’ve had enough of being shafted by UK Governments especially the last Labour one.

  6. Old Albion
    11/10/2012 at 6:16 pm

    Baroness. I stopped being British the day Tony Blair granted Devolution to Scotland.
    I’m English, i’m proud of that and i want all politicians in both houses to recognise my country. Something you have all avoided for about fourteen years.
    It’s time for a Parliament for England, whether Scotland secedes or not.

  7. Senex
    11/10/2012 at 6:21 pm

    Insiders are saying the Scottish government’s welfare models are not affordable in the long term. In this respect the Scottish Parliament is no different from the English one – there is no external political accountability for use of the money supply.

    Also one must look at this from a rating agencies perspective. At the moment the UK AAA rating is on negative watch. It seems that a number of things must happen if the Scots secede.

    England and its provinces will see a fall in GDP per Capita; this is important because GDP is the ‘gold standard’ that underpins our currency? The loss of GDP may increase the costs of borrowing to England.

    With a failing post secession Scottish economy (it would be unwise to rely entirely on oil and gas revenues) it will need to borrow money from the markets but Scotland alone has no track record so what rating will be given? Plus its GDP per Capita will be substantially lower than England. Just how the very nervous rating agencies will react is something Scottish voters must take into account.

    The government can only loan 10 billion to Scotland without the matter being debated in the Commons. With the loss of Scottish MPs English nationalist sentiment will prevail to block further assistance to the Scots. They will be forced to turn to Europe at a time of great uncertainty.

    Scots may be barred from entering England as economic migrants because most EU countries already have plans at an advanced stage to prevent their economies from being swamped by internal migration. Not a good time for nationalist sentiment?

    • maude elwes
      12/10/2012 at 4:12 pm


      I beg to differ. It is a great time to seek independence. In fact the best time.

      If the UK government felt that Scotland was indeed such a carbuncle it would be glad to see the back of it. But, they are hanging on like grim death in the deep hope it will not have the sense to cut loose. Now why do you think that is?

      Oh, and the gold standard. You are joking of course.

      And this one has to be seen in tandem.

      And what is Fiat money?

      • Lord Blagger
        12/10/2012 at 5:07 pm

        How does a gold standard solve a 7,000 billion government debt?

    • 13/10/2012 at 3:00 pm

      Senex, putting aside whether or not I agree with the sentiment of your post, how could the GDP of the remainder of the UK fall on Scottish independence, and Scotland’s GDP also be lower? Are you saying that fallout from the secession would damage the UK economy in general, or is it just bad arithmetic?

  8. Twm O'r Nant
    12/10/2012 at 9:06 am

    What future would you like for the UK?

    Dear Baroness Quin,

    As one geriatric baroness, of whom noble Lord norton is such a big fan, would say,


    It would be known instantly throughout the world, by all English language students everywhere; the first word they learn.

    FUK! Everybody knows that; Federation of the United Kingdom.

    I don’t know what it would be in the new Scottish language.

    They could even print bank notes with the acronym boldly emblazoned on it.

  9. Old Albion
    12/10/2012 at 10:23 am

    There is no such thing as the English parliament.
    We English have the unfortunate handicap of being governed by the (dis)United Kingdom government. Try and keep up!

    • Twm O'r Nant
      12/10/2012 at 5:07 pm

      the English parliament.

      But there could be several regional ones, with only vestigial United Kingdom powers, in Westminster, including the vestigial ones of Scotland/Wales and Ireland North.

      The Counties would be no more!

  10. Lord Blagger
    12/10/2012 at 12:13 pm

    Democracy? What democracy?

    We have no say in any issues.

    Peers and MPs dictate to us, what we have to do, whilst making sure they don’t have to obey the same laws.

    e.g. Exemptions from Money Laundering. Perhaps that will be Vaz’s defence.

  11. Nazma FOURRE
    13/10/2012 at 1:32 am

    Dear Baroness Quin
    I am against the independence of Scotland for i am sure that her independency will bring up unemployment rate. England, wales, Northern and scotland form part of the United Kingdom and I feel that UK will be an orphan without scotland.
    Independancy for a country is a solution so far if the country itself is having a good economical heritage. I don’t want scotland to be indebted like Greece so I think that she should stick to the United kingdom.
    I wish that the lords oppose for the independance of scotland for the sake of protecting this country from losing her traditional et economical heritage.
    God save the Queen and the Lords. God bless the United Kingdom.
    Nazma FOURRE

  12. 13/10/2012 at 3:22 pm

    I’m British and hope Scotland chooses to remain in the UK, and which seems likely given that every opinion poll shows this will be the outcome, and that even Salmond was so keen to have a second question on “devo-max” as his fall-back position.

    It’s right that only Scotland should vote on its future. The rest of the UK’s turn to vote should come if Scotland chose independence, in which case we should have referendums on whether people taking Scottish citizenship could keep British passports, under what terms a shared sterling would operate, etc.

    Also, Salmond has conceded that Orkney and Shetland have the right to self determination, and they have indicated they would want to remain in the UK. That would make the amount of revenue Scotland would receive from oil even more questionable.

    A recent study showed that even with the present financial arrangements, Scotland can’t afford all the freebies they offer at the moment, and that the policy is damaging the NHS and universities in Scotland. Of course, these policies were never meant to last forever. They are a cynical attempt to make the Scots think they would be better off independent – and to make the English resent them. (The Scots seem intelligent enough to see through this, although from some of the comments I’ve read, it seems the English are not.) If Scotland were independent, they certainly couldn’t afford to continue these freebies indefinitely, but even if they remain in the UK it looks unlikely too.

    Once the referendum is out of the way, I predict the UK will become more equal again. Free tuition at Scottish universities won’t last. Once the uncertainty is removed, we can also look at constitutional changes to solve the West Lothian question, including the role of the House of Lords (now that Clegg’s ridiculous Bill has been scrapped).

    It’s just a pity we can’t get this out of the way sooner than autumn 2014, which is Salmond’s attempt to boost support, presumably by holding the election close to the end of the UK parliament when the government will be unpopular, or some other reason his statisticians have given him. Votes normally take place a few months after they are called at most, so there is clearly some sharp practice at work here.

    • Old Albion
      14/10/2012 at 8:42 am

      The (dis)United Kingdom will never be ‘equal’ until England gets it’s own Parliament or Devolution is scrapped.

    • maude elwes
      15/10/2012 at 2:42 pm


      You seem to be missing the fact that Scotland has all but rid itself of the Conservative party completely. How can you, therefore, imagine the people of that country would want to be ruled by those whose politics they reject outright?

      To insist the Scots remain part of the UK and remain within a union they have little or no affinity to is insane. Not to mention undemocratic.

      The Scots are a pro Europe and anti Westminster people. They are Labour and SNP voters. So how do you combine the idea that they don’t want to live under a right wing radical ethic, yet, insist they remain tied to it? This creates a situation where they have no voice at all. For, when they vote Labour, they are then ruled by a Tory part mandate like we have presently. And should it be a full Tory mandate, even worse. The English vote rules and they are left out in the cold.

      • Lord Blagger
        15/10/2012 at 4:53 pm

        Why can’t the English have a say in the matter? It affects the UK.

        For example, we could vote to kick the Scots out, and they could vote to stay in?

        Ah, we don’t get a vote do we. It’s dictate.

  13. Twm O'r Nant
    13/10/2012 at 4:49 pm

    MPs dictate to us, what we have to do, whilst making sure they don’t have to obey the same laws.

    As one woman MP wisely remarked while examining a Bill in parliament, after some years of membership,
    “The trouble is that the laws we make apply to everybody”.

  14. Senex
    15/10/2012 at 1:22 pm

    Jonathan: Linked below are some wiki articles on the UK. What is notable is that the authors seem unable to express economies in terms of GDP or GDP per Capita. One assumes that it is very difficult to separate these out from the UK as a whole. The rating agencies too would have similar difficulties?

    Scottish voters are not slow when it comes to money matters. The UK comprises of four parts and one of them wants to go it alone. The sum of three parts is always going to be bigger than the one.

    The role of the SNP as nationalists is to make Scots feel ultra proud of being Scottish but this drives a wedge between them feeling proud to be British or proud to be Scottish.

    Scots can have the best of both worlds by remaining British.

    The GDP of Scotland has of necessity to be lower than the other three combined. So on paper the SNP are making Scots poorer. Scotland has no credit history as a separate country and one supposes that the SNP are relying on receiving favourable loans from England in the manner of the Irish Republic.

    This may not be politically possible and no Westminster government can honestly give this assurance. Parliament would improve its degrees of freedom by seeing an independent Scotland fail.

    The SNP have agreed to retain the English King as the King of Scotland. To do otherwise would allow Scotland to become a republic. But there are questions surrounding a Scottish constitution. How and what form would it take?

    If a separate Scotland were to fail it could not plead to rejoin the UK because it would have gone. They might find instead the price of English support being Scotland becoming a province of England just like Wales and Northern Ireland freeing Parliament to choose a new Royal line from Europe should the need arise.

    Ref: Economy of Scotland
    Economy of England
    Economy of Wales
    Economy of Northern Ireland

    • maude elwes
      15/10/2012 at 6:17 pm


      As always your post is indeed pertinent. But, they signed and so it’s on for the Scots to decide their own future. I think that’s really great news. Well done Salmond. Whatever the outcome.

      • maude elwes
        19/10/2012 at 3:49 pm


        And now we learn, Salmond, has already bowed to the US pressure over NATO. They will remain within it, not free themseves as promised. Although, he says, they will rid themselves of Trident.

        Anyone want to take a bet he will make a turnaround on that within no time.

        Poor Salmond. Independence means just what the word says. You cannot be independent when you reamain a pawn in the game of protection by another state. That is the Mafia system. Keep them under the threat of demise if they stray from our defence cover.

  15. Baroness Quin
    Baroness Quin
    16/10/2012 at 6:21 pm

    There have been a number of interesting comments – thank you. Some have mentioned having an English Parliament. However given that England has a population of over 50 million, (whereas Scotland and Wales are about 5 million and 3 million respectively) England needs to look at ways of devolving power within the country if an English Parliament is not to be end up with the problems of being over-centralised. Furthermore Maud makes the point that in Scotland the Conservatives have practically disappeared and there they don’t want to be governed by a party they haven’t voted for, but the same is true within areas of England such as the North-East ever since the 1980s. While the North-East Assembly was heavily defeated in the form it was proposed the issues of how to strengthen democracy within England will I believe resurface in the future. I remember John Smith, the former Labour Leader, while a strong supporter of devolution to Scotland, saying that he believed in devolution “all-round” and that is something that despite some of the current difficulties I personally would still like to see, in a continuing United Kingdom.

  16. Old Albion
    17/10/2012 at 8:55 am

    Size is irrelevent Baroness.
    We want our country recognised. Just as Labour recognised Scotland, Wales and N.Ireland.
    Any decentralisation in England should be the responsibility of the English Parliament
    The argument that parts of England want a different ruling party to other parts is a feeble lever to use for the dismantling of England.
    Parts of Scotland want something different to the SNP. They just don’t want Tories.
    I don’t want Tories, Lefties or centralists who would Balkanise my country. I want democratic equality within a Federal UK. Or out of it all together.

  17. Lord Blagger
    17/10/2012 at 7:57 pm

    Scots get to vote on the Union, a matter that affects all in the Union.

    However, other members of the union don’t get a vote.

    Scots get to dictate to the English on English matters, we don’t get the reverse, but we have to be taxed so they can enjoy perks.

    That’s why politicians need to be removed from the final say, plus its saves half a billion. We don’t need peers if we get the vote.

  18. Nazma FOURRE
    18/10/2012 at 12:10 pm

    Dear Baroness,
    This interesting debate needs a referendum may be from the British citizens to seal for the destiny of Scotland.” United we stand and divided we fall”as said this frequent and well known saying . So let all the British citizens stand together and decide for the destiny of Scotland. Politics are ruled by citizens and for such an important matter, citizens of the United Kingdom should decide for the future of her member. So stick to a referendum for instance “For or against the independency of scotland”?, and make the British citizens from all the United Kingdom decide. Accordingly, a decision can be taken. I am sure that part of Scotland does not want to be dispatched. So let the British decide.
    God bless the United Kingdom. God save the Queen and her Lords.
    Nazma FOURRE

  19. Old Albion
    18/10/2012 at 5:50 pm

    I hate to disolution you Nazma. But if you asked the English to vote ‘for or against the independance of Scotland’ They’d be gone.

  20. Nazma FOURRE
    20/10/2012 at 1:18 am

    Old Albion
    No one can anticipate the future, and the thoughts of British Citizens.I am sure that her Majesty if ever she is following the trend of this conversation on this blog, and I wish she is around, will applaud my idea of keeping scotland in the British family. Scottish are British and will always be so let British citizens decide for the future of their destiny.Hope one devoted lord approves too this idea.Pity he does not talk much these days.
    God Bless the United Kingdom . God save the Queen and the lords.
    Nazma FOURRE

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