Which comes off better Independent Ireland or Home Rule Scotland?

Which small country will come out of the recession better, sovereign Ireland or home rule Scotland? The unionists cite Iceland and scoff at Alex Salmond’s now broken “arc of prosperity” than includes Iceland and Ireland. The SNP point admiringly to oil-rich Norway. The blows dealt to the Scottish independence cause are affecting the balance of the debate, but like those over Gordon Brown’s personal fortunes

“ yesterday a BBC poll showed that the lead Labour had over the Tories on the issue of economic competence had almost doubled, growing from six points to 11”

only the rashest of forecasters would say they’ll be decisive.

In the Herald , Ann MCGuire Lab MP for Stirling attempts a comparison between Scotland and Ireland:

Scotland was the second country in the world to industrialise. We now have a successful, diversified, post-industrial economy after 200 years of being an industrial economy completely integrated into the first industrial nation in the world. Ireland has had substantial growth in recent years, but it was from a far lower and more agrarian base.

Despite substantial growth, investment in public services remains lower than in Scotland. And this week’s emergency budget saw the real costs to Irish families of Ireland’s economic difficulties. Increased taxes. Means testing. Child benefit and child allowance cuts. What a contrast with Scotland, where Alex Salmond has a budget of £30 billion – twice what Donald Dewar had in 1999 – and got an extra £1 billion from Treasury, too, and where one of the main levers for injecting demand into the Scottish economy – capital spending – is under the control of the Scottish Government.”
But a correspondent to the paper slaps this down:

It is a complete fallacy to say that an independent Scotland could not have bailed out RBS and HBOS by £37bn. Norway raised £35bn last week. Small countries respond much quicker to such events but Mr Brown dithered for the past 18 months when it was obvious things were wrong, and Ireland, with a smaller population, guaranteed up to £320bn in order to safeguard its banks.”

But bank guarantees are of only part of the story – look at the Irish budget’s immediate tax increases and its very rough edges.

Money talks loudly in the Scottish debate especially among those, probably the great majority of Scots, who are intrigued by the SNP and badly wanted a change from the old Labour monopoly.

The Financial Times offers another reason against independence but a pretty lofty one that hardly stirs the blood, that a smaller UK would reduce its international influence. But Irish people know in their hearts that independence is not fundamentally about swaggering on the international stage, nor about economics, nor even about justice. It’s a matter of emotional preference.

  • Jack

    Scotland’s famines of the past might be over but all the idiots did not leave for pastures greener.

  • Ann

    Emotive preference doesn’t cut it in harsh economic times, could Scotland really survive without English taxes. A lot of too-ing and fro-ing around those subjects and I’ve yet to read one that is definitive in its answer that Scotland could indeed manage its own affairs financially without the help of its southern neighbour. Ireland of course has a proven record, in that it is already two thirds independent, but would the financial burden of the north burden it too much? Its fate would be that of Berlin after reunification, a population a whole lot less better off, with less wealth being shared among more people.

    I think the status quo will remain, during and after this crisis, and for some time to come, I don’t think independence is really a reality inspite of SnP success with the electorate, they’re just capitalising on labours failure. You’ve banked nothing on the return of those voters to their traditional voting patterns to labour.

  • Greenflag

    BW

    ‘ But Irish people know in their hearts that independence is not fundamentally about swaggering on the international stage, nor about economics, nor even about justice. It’s a matter of emotional preference.’

    And even more of ‘self respect ‘ . It’s too soon to draw any conclusions from the present economic crisis . I suspect that when all is said and done Scotland will probably go down the ‘independence’ road and more speedily if Mr Cameron becomes next PM .

    Unionists of the Scottish/ NI/or English/Welsh varieties should be hoping for a Brown revival .

  • kensei

    The question of who goes into or comes out of a particular recession faster is the wrong question. The last recession affected the US but didn’t really affect Ireland (or Britain too much IRC). Is that thena fair basis of comparison?

    If we discuss purely economic terms, then the questions are – which economy performs better over the long run (I’d guess a minimum of an entire business cycle) and how stable is the economy taht produces that growth — does it swing wildly or has lower peaks and shallower troughs. It may be clear cut, or less so if there is a trade off that is a value judgment.

    But Irish people know in their hearts that independence is not fundamentally about swaggering on the international stage, nor about economics, nor even about justice. It’s a matter of emotional preference.

    No, no and thousand times no. Emotional preference and self respect obviously plays a part: I could live with my parents and be financially much better off, even over the long run, but I chose to have my own house and have the independence. But fundamentally every rebellion in Ireland was in some sense a rebellion against bad rule and the poor economic condition the people were in – and I’d say that is true of the most recent past too. Independence is a powerful case not because it offers any particular good argument — it is powerful because it offers a number, in concert.

  • Greenflag

    Kensei ,

    ‘fundamentally every rebellion in Ireland was in some sense a rebellion against bad rule and the poor economic condition the people were in – and I’d say that is true of the most recent past too.’

    Have to agree. I’d have said misrule rather than ‘bad’ and the ‘vast majority of the people’ instead of the ‘people’.

    There has always been a minority of people in Ireland throughout the ages at least ever since ‘Viking ‘ times who have benefited from ‘foreign’ rule .

    The English could say the same particularly from approx 950 AD to the end of the 15th century at least .

  • Greenflag

    kensei ,

    ‘it is powerful because it offers a number, in concert. ‘

    Can you decipher the above for me . I’m at a loss as to meaning -can’t catch the drift ?

  • dub

    What a contrast with Scotland, where Alex Salmond has a budget of £30 billion – twice what Donald Dewar had in 1999 – and got an extra £1 billion from Treasury, too, and where one of the main levers for injecting demand into the Scottish economy – capital spending – is under the control of the Scottish Government.”

    Does this woman think that capital spending in Ireland is not under the control of the Irish govt??? That is the only logical implication from her remarks… Would love to know who she does think controls our capital spending!!

    In 2007 Irish govt budgeted €54 billion for annual spending…

    We won’t mention minor details such as who owns the land in Scotland…

  • kensei

    GF

    Can you decipher the above for me . I’m at a loss as to meaning -can’t catch the drift ?

    What I mean is that the argument for indpendence isn’t strong because it gives a strong emtional argument or a strong economic argument or a strong cultural argument or a strong self respect argument, but because it includes all these things and does so ina fashion where they reinforce each other.

  • kensei

    dub

    Quite. Secondly, inflation means that the value of money halves roughly every ten years — has there actually been any real growth in Scotland’s budget in 10 years?

  • ggn

    A eledery relative of mine who was not short of a pound was once asked why he would desire a united independent Ireland when there was every possiblilty that he would be financially worse off, owning his own land he would never have been too badly off but his answer to the question was quite revealing …

    ‘I’a ra’ar live o’er in thon fiel’ unner an oul shate a tin in a free Irelan’ than unner English rule’.

    That, for my at least, is what Irish Nationalism and possible all Nationalism is about.

  • Fishheid McMoonface

    “‘I’a ra’ar live o’er in thon fiel’ unner an oul shate a tin in a free Irelan’ than unner English rule’. That, for my at least, is what Irish Nationalism and possible all Nationalism is about.”

    One big problem that the SNP faces is that it knows it never dare attack or be critical of the English. The vast majority of Scots would never put up with that, so they have to pretend to be all social demoocratic. Sure, they think just like ggn’s elderly relative – they’re nationalists, why wouldn’t they – but they never ever say it, for good reason.

    You will never hear Alex Salmond say – “I don’t care whether Scotland will be poorer or richer, we want free of English rule and that’s all there is about it.” If he did, most of the people who have moved their votes to the SNP would recognise what he was really all about.

  • Kensei

    ggn

    That, for my at least, is what Irish Nationalism and possible all Nationalism is about.

  • dub

    kensei,

    is that not enough… the desire to live under you own govt?

    gandhi said very mcuh the same when asked if indian independence would mean less financial securtiy… we would rather be poor and free than rich and unfree… not exact quote but very close.

    there may be more to it but that is the essence of anti colonial nationalism. i see no need to add anything myself.

  • Kensei

    dub

    is that not enough… the desire to live under you own govt?

    No. Why do people want to be free? It’s not simply that they can exercise their own choices and have greater self dignity. It is that it also offers the chance to do better, even if it implies greater risk. There is two halves for me. Both are important.

  • scots wha hay…

    i love all this imperialist jerk-off ..can those scots service on their own – what patronising guff, we ran the empire….

    the figures stack up objectively…. an objective srcutiny of the UK’s exchequers expenditure would say so, look at the Bn£ invested year after year in SE of england on special projects ….olympics, thames link et al.

    once you start looking at the hidden subsidies e.g. MOD spending in SE etc, etc etc it all become a sham.

    Scotland on Sunday (hardly pro independence) anlayised this way back in the early ninties and nothing has changed since…

    so..yes we can…it will happen and wheer will that leave you unionist losers then….. english per chance, wake up and smell the coffee!!!!!

  • Fishheid McMoonface

    There now. See scots wha hay… has put the nationalist case succinctly. It’s all the English’s fault, they get everything and they’re stealing the shoes off the feet of the people, the sooner we’re shot of them the better, who cares about credit crunches an all that. Aw thae Unionists are pure losers so they are, you lookin at me, pal?

    But you’ll never hear Mr Salmond putting it like that. It would be good if he did, though but.

  • Greenflag

    Kensei ,

    A belated thanks for your clarification . Makes perfect sense to me now. The sum of the whole being greater than just the sum of the parts . Independence as being a requisite to spark off the potential political ‘synergy ‘ in a previously dissolute or vaccuous political entity such as NI or Scotland perhaps ?.

    I can’t see the punters ever voting for the Scottish Synergetic Party when the SNP may fill the bill .

  • John East Belfast

    Kensei & Greenflag

    I dont see Irish rebellion against the Union as being about “bad rule”.

    If all Ireland had taken on board the reformation like Scotland then all Ireland opposition to the Union would have fizzled out by the early 19th century.

    ie Ireland’s historical opposition to all things English and England’s “bad rule” have its origins in it being Catholic and hence siding with England’s enemies throughout the 16th, 17th & 18th centuries.

    Embracing a “republic” in Ireland was only ever about opposition to a Protestant King – I have no doubt Ireland would have had an affinity to an catholic king or queen.
    Indeed I would say protestants are more “republican” minded – especially the Scottish and Ulster Scots variety.
    A lot of Northern Irish unionist “loyalty” is about opposition to a Catholic Ireland as opposed to them all being “royalists”.

    In essence the origins of our differences is largely religious but those old differences have been ingrained in our mindsets and cause us to view the past, present and futire through particular coloured glasses.

    However true Unionism is about recognising that the things that unites the people of these Isles is far greater than that which divides us. In addition during times of hardship- financial or otherwise we are all better off hanging together than apart.

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    Indeed John, and probably had James won the Battle of the Boyne, Ireland would be still a part of an Anglocentric Catholic British Union today with the Protestants of Ulster (and maybe Scotland too) in an independant republican statelet called NI.

    But after Cromwell’s successful campaigns against the royalists and papists why was the whole of Ireland was not forcibly converted to Protestantism?

    Was it because it was a way of maintaining the distiguishment between master and servant, landowners and the landless. The subsequent years after Cromwell saw an increased influx of British Protestant Planters partake in the landgrab of Ireland. As you know, papist rights diminished (the Irish and Old English), as well as their welfare and whatever material possesions, leaving them with only their Catholic faith and bad resentful vengeful memories!

    Just to add, it was after the 1801 Act of Union that saw the economic decline of Ireland, particularly the south which was reduced to farming status producing the grub to feed Britain whilst the predominant Protestant north was somewhat industrialized! Remember too, when the British Union and Empire was at it’s height, Ireland was on it’s kness with famines and all that…leaving the people with only their Catholic faith and bad resentful vengeful memories!
    Of course the welfare of papist peasants (and Presbyterians at one time) didn’t really matter to the Great British establishment!

    (And of course there were those of the Reformed Churches in Ireland here who had a very sympathetic view of paddy the peasant and the disappearing Irish culture and language!)

  • runciter

    In essence the origins of our differences is largely religious

    Religious differences are only important when they translate into material issues of power and wealth.

    Very few people care about theology. Almost everyone cares about money.

    but those old differences have been ingrained in our mindsets and cause us to view the past, present and futire through particular coloured glasses.

    Because the expectation was created under British Rule that wealth and power were linked to religious affiliation. This sectarian model was perpetuated in the North by partition.

    However true Unionism is about recognising that the things that unites the people of these Isles is far greater than that which divides us.

    Unionism is about ensuring that political power resides in London.

  • kensei

    I dont see Irish rebellion against the Union as being about “bad rule”.

    If all Ireland had taken on board the reformation like Scotland then all Ireland opposition to the Union would have fizzled out by the early 19th century.

    Ah, if only we had “taken on board” the need to become good Prods. You’re still wrong. Ireland got the short end of the stick in C18, 19 and 20. In part, each rebellion was fueled by it, and on the minds of Republicans.

    Catholicism, Nationalism and Republicanism mix and intersect, but there as pointed out another thread, to pin them as one is to miss the tension that often exists between them.

  • Greenflag

    John East Belfast ,

    ‘I have no doubt Ireland would have had an affinity to an catholic king or queen.’

    Perhaps. But I suspect that they would have had more ‘affinity’ had such a King /Queen been Irish . There was always opposition to rule from ‘London’ in one form or another going back to the 12th/13th and 14th centuries and this was at a time when the ‘English’ were still Catholic.

    Look at England under Norman rule post 1066 . The Anglo Saxon Harold was just as much a Catholic as William the Conqueror – this did’nt stop William the Conqueror from dispossessing the 4,000 native anglo saxon chieftains of their titles and lands post 1066 and giving them over to his Norman followers and other European liege men from all over Europe who joined up with him for the ‘booty/land grab’ . There were probably a few of course who believed that because William was allowed to fly the Papal banner -that God was on his side etc .

    Republican ideas began to permeate Ireland after the American revolution and around the time of the French Revolution just as they did in other parts of Europe . These ideas penetrated more quickly the eastern and more english speaking parts of Ireland simply because the political tracts , manifestos , news letters etc were all printed in English .

  • Greenflag

    John East Belfast ,

    ‘However true Unionism is about recognising that the things that unites the people of these Isles is far greater than that which divides us.’

    That may be your opinion of true unionism but it’s not one that would be shared by most republicans and nationalists in NI nor by people in the Republic or indeed of many British people across the pond .

    ‘In addition during times of hardship- financial or otherwise we are all better off hanging together than apart. ‘

    The Irish experience of so called ‘hanging together ‘ under Mother England’s caring rule was such a positive experience, that a million people did’nt survive it, and millions more would have thought that being actually ‘hanged’ might have been a more charitable action on behalf of Westminster 🙁

    Of course nowadays we live in more enlightened times ? Or do we ? I read there are people in Antrim who believe that the Earth is only 6,000 years old 🙁