THE SCOTTISH REFERENDUM: A comparative analysis

One week ahead of the Scottish independence referendum, the three tenors of Westminster (Prime Minister and Conservative leader David Cameron, Coalition partner and Liberal leader Nick Clegg, Opposition leader Ed Miliband) and former PM Gordon Brown have been to Edinburgh to canvass the Scots to vote against  the separation of their country from the Union (England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland). They are impressing upon the people of that northern part of the United Kingdom that they are better off staying as British subjects rather than opting for Scottish citizenship.
A large proportion of the Scottish people want the independence of their country, which was annexed to Britain just over three centuries ago by an Act of Parliament endorsed by both England and Scotland.
The Scots' quest for independence reminds us of the struggle of other subjugated nations who struggled for their release from the colonial 'joug'. Much blood was spilled in African countries like Kenya and Asian countries like India. Fortunately, the approach of the Scottish people is through the ballot box by way of the referendum taking place on September 18, 2014.
The question that may be asked is should Scotland be independent or not. Much has been said in other parts of the Union, namely in England, that Scotland will not be economically able to stand on its own especially as England needs to feed the Scottish nation with an annual subsidy to the tune of billions of pounds. How will Scotland survive without the subsidy?
This is a view that was shared and expressed by many when the  former British colonies started to move away or were detached from Britain. How will they survive away from the wings of the mother country? Mauritius itself may be taken as an example. How can a country whose economy depended solely on sugar that was subsidised by Britain and sold at preferential tariff, a country with a very high level of unemployment, already overpopulated with one of the highest birth rates in the world, with a people divided on ethnic lines resulting in social unrest, how can such a poor country with a multiple of problems survive as an independent nation? Even Mauritians at home foresaw a bleak future for the motherland.
Independent Mauritius has belied all the fears, moving from a mono-crop economy to become a serious financial centre in the Indian Ocean. Mauritius is considered as a beacon in our part of the world in terms of its respect for the democratic values it inherited, for the freedom its people enjoy, and for its prevalent political stability.
Bright and intelligent people…
If this tiny isolated Indian Ocean island can, so can the giant of a nation like Scotland. Bright and intelligent people with their past deeply rooted in history can even do better. With a weakness for the beverage myself, I can say that the scotch whisky itself can bring a very enormous revenue to an independent Scotland. It is said that the people of China, billions in numbers, have suddenly awakened to the taste of the 'water of life'. Production of the beverage in Scotland has still a very bright future to quench the thirst of at least one big nation.
Scotland has much to offer to visitors from other parts of the world, the expansion of its tourism industry will bring more and more visitors to build up the country's foreign reserves. The manufacturing trade is almost dead in Europe because it is cheaper to import than to produce at home.  If the Scottish people were to accept some sacrifice in terms of wages there is no reason as to why they cannot industrialise as Mauritius did in the wake of its independence in the 1970s to bring down the level of unemployment. Without any local wool production, Mauritius was known in the 1980s as one of the highest source of woollen products in the world. Next to scotch, Scotland is a great producer of wool, and its woollen products are in demand everywhere and very specially in countries with rigorous wintry climate.
University fees in the rest of the Union have reached prohibitive level between £6,000 and £9,000 per annum putting off genuine foreign students. Scotland, on the other hand, abolished tuition fees. If the country should apply a reasonable level of fees to foreign students, this could become a very lucrative source of revenue.  British education (comprising Scotland) was something foreigners looked up to. Why not a purely Scottish education!
But Scotland's great asset, though diminishing, resides in its North Sea Oil which, the Scots say, has been squandered by Britain for which the annual Westminster subsidy is justified. The subsidy will no longer be required once the Scots take over their country's destiny in their own hands.
From a political point of view it is believed that there is an element of hypocrisy on the part of Westminster because having granted Scotland the devolution status, the next move can only be independent. Whitehall politicians must be fully aware of this fact. In this ever changing world, nothing is static and there is no way to innocently believe that Scotland will stay forever as part of the Crown, once it has been given the self-government system, i.e. self-determination in matters affecting the government of the country.
Self-government or devolution indicates that the  next constitutional move is independence. It is impossible to believe that Prime Minister David Cameron, Liberal leader Nick Clegg, Labour leader Ed Miliband and former PM Gordon Brown, scot by birth, do not know this fact.
It may be said that the Scottish independence is inevitable. If Britain did not intend Scotland to be independent it should never have allowed that part of the Union to 'devolve'. Devolution is one rung of the ladder leading up to independence. "The next step for us is independence,"  Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond  has persistently told his people. But Wales also has been granted devolution status. Question has been asked as to whether Wales will one day seek independence of Britain. It has been said that the independence of Scotland marks the beginning of the breaking-up of the Union, just like independence of India (the Jewel in the Crown) marked the beginning of the dismantling of the British Empire.
The exhortations of the three Westminster tenors with Gordon Brown come a bit late in the day. They are now appealing to the better sentiments of the Scots. PM and Conservative leader David Cameron told them that 'the breaking up of the Union will break my heart." Coalition partner and Liberal leader Nick Clegg told them 'Don't go away, reminding us of the french song: Ne Me Quitte Pas … … Ne Nous Quitte pas, Ne Nous Quitte Pas ….! Opposition leader and Labour leader Ed Milliband said " We have done great things together. Together we can do greater things. Alone it will not be possible!" At this late juncture, it is doubtful whether the Scots will relent, once their mind is made up. But nothing is played yet.
Rodrigues
So it may be said that Devolution is a very serious arm in the constitutional development of a country towards nationhood. But then what about our outer island of Rodrigues, formerly known as a dependency of Mauritius? Dependency of Mauritius was an appellation resented by the locals. But having been granted a new designation as an Outer island with an extensive degree of autonomy through the Devolution process, will the islanders be happy for long to be so dependent on Mauritius? Can Rodrigues ever claim independence as the next step to devolution?
However unlikely this may seem, we should not forget the experience of the sugar-bowl island of Mauritius itself with its mono-crop economy, acute unemployment, overpopulation, high birthrate and racial tensions. Rodrigues is a virgin island pregnant with possibilities. If the Maldives can survive practically on tourism alone, there is no reason why Rodrigues cannot be developed to become another Maldives. In Melbourne, Australia, where there is a significant colony of Rodriguan migrants, they positively think it possible. Rodrigues' local administrations and institutions are being strengthened providing better education to develop a very alert nation.Rodrigues est sur sa lancée! And so is Scotland.


Commentaires

Mr. Chellen is disingenuous as he is using bad examples to make his case. The process of decolonization for much of Africa (including Mauritius) and Asia several decades ago is very different from what is going on in Scotland right now. As far as I know, the Scottish people live in a democracy and are not oppressed. The real question, which the author fails to address however, is whether they are willing to bear the costs of "economic" independence when there is so much uncertainty (for example, what currency to use and whether they are willing to give up on monetary policy? will they be allowed to join the EU? how long will their oil reserves last?).

What's happening in Scotland to the YES campaign is reminiscent of our own struggle in the days of the colonial wars of liberation. Many of us who lived through them are still here today.

The only difference is that, while the opposition (planned and spontaneous) here rages on an intellectual level, we were faced with the brutality and subversion that must for ever remain as part of the history of crimes against humanity.

Enough sacrifices had already been made in the colonial territories for Mauritius to have escaped with less of it than would otherwise have been necessary.

But other countries, unfortunately, had been so traumatized by the interruption in their natural evolution that the wounds still cannot heal.

Any newly-independent countries can be expected to have teething troubles at an early stage, especially after such vicious propaganda to hold them back. And just pause to think who it's all coming from - the same old stakeholders, still grabbing from them what they can.

But, in the final analysis, co-operation among them (even including the likes of Rodrigues)is infinitely better, more productive, than the so-called closer ties rooted in old military conquests still reeking of your ancestors' blood, or other forms of coercion.