Roy Bainton guest column: What Scottish independence means for Mansfield and Ashfield

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.
Scotland may be a long way from Mansfield, and some of us might well be thinking about their independence referendum on the lines of ‘So what? We live in England, let the Scots get on with it.’

But from Middlesbrough to Mansfield, if Scotland votes ‘yes’ then there are serious implications for all of us, especially the Scots.

If I was a Scotsman, looking at the fraught history we’d had over the centuries with the English, I might well opt for independence.

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But Scotland enjoys many benefits as part of the Union which we have all, the Scots, Welsh and English, fought for over the years. Perhaps Alex Salmond may have overlooked a few points here.

This is, of course, a layman’s view, but with a ‘yes’ vote the political landscape in England could be seriously affected.

The Tory/LibDem coalition, with so little representation north of the border, would be much better off.

The result of a ‘yes’ vote would be Labour losing as many as 40 MPs after May’s general election, ahead of what will be Scotland’s ‘independence day’ in 2016.

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Former Tory Prime Minister John Major said in a speech recently “From a purely partisan political point of view, the Conservative party would be much better placed without Scotland because somewhere down the line we have mislaid our Scottish votes.”

Scottish independence could well lead for a call for Labour leader Ed Miliband’s resignation, because many dissatisfied Scottish Labour voters feel they have been neglected. So David Cameron’s various expeditions north of the border under the cover of ‘persuading’ the Scots to stay with us seem very odd.

If Labour-dominated Scotland is angry with Ed Miliband, having the English Tory leader telling them to vote ‘no’ must seem like a red rag to a bull - so is this some kind of double bluff by Cameron to push Scotland to vote ‘yes’ and thus establish an invincible Tory power base in England for years to come?

Then there are the un-answered questions. Apart from the unresolved puzzle as to what an independent Scotland’s currency might be, there are all sorts of other problems to resolve.

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In an independent Scotland, where would State Benefits - pensions, unemployment, etc., come from? Westminster’s in England - another country. Would there be a separate Scottish NHS?

The NHS is a United Kingdom body, run from England. In southern Ireland, for example, part of the EEC, you pay 55 Euros to visit your GP.

Will the EEC accept Scotland as a member? If so, supposing UKIP finally get their way and England and Northern Ireland eventually pull out of the EEC; with Scotland we’d still have part of the EEC north of the border. What about our Police and Armed Forces? Salmond will have to invent a Scottish Army, Navy and Airforce. That’s going to be quite an expense.

All told, thinking back to Mel Gibson and Braveheart, with William Wallace’s rousing speeches, a patriotic Scot may well think ‘this is our big chance’. Perhaps it is, but if Scotland divorces itself from the UK, then as in all divorces, there’s going to be hardship and heartache, and the alimony bill will be enormous.