Why Scots and Catalans should opt for independence
With just 2 weeks to go to the Scottish referendum and one week from the Diada – Catalonia’s national day – the time is ripe to make the case for independence for these two nations trapped in a constitutional set-up neither likes.
Small nations rule
Within a democratic Europe, the example of smaller nations is clear – they are more socially cohesive, more equal, more self-reliant, more innovative and progressive and – paradoxically perhaps in the context of what these referenda represent – less nationalistic. They lack the superiority complex of larger states, especially those with the imperial past of Britain and Spain which appeal to their self-declared past greatness as a reason for maintaining the status quo.
Think of the Scandinavian countries, Ireland or Iceland, the Netherlands, Portugal or Andorra, Luxembourg… countries that are not bellicose but quietly get on with ordering their societies and economies more or less to the satisfaction of their inhabitants. So if two more nations with a distinct cultural identity want to emulate them, should we be surprised?
The economic red herring
The fear factor that is wielded to oppose independence in the debates currently raging is that Scotland or Catalonia would lose out economically in the event of splitting from their parent states. But it is a red herring. It has already been argued widely by analysts – and indisputably to my mind – that both nations would immediately be better off by going it alone because they currently contribute more per capita than they receive. In the longer term, the doom-mongers talk of disinvestment and/or lack of new inward investment. Again, plenty of arguments have been advanced by many who know their subjects well, as to why R&D would continue to thrive in highly educated societies, about Scotland’s shipyards being able to adapt to new circumstances by developing its own naval capability and renewing its substantial ferry services. As for Catalonia, it is ridiculous to suggest that one of the major trade routes between Spain and the rest of Europe – and the Mediterranean – would suddenly be bypassed by some miraculous alternative. And, most importantly of all, as independent countries, they would be able to set their corporation tax rates at a level that would draw in – and retain – corporate investors, just as Ireland has been able to do.
As for the currency arguments against independence, they are only convincing to those who lack understanding of macroeconomics. It isn’t even rational within the existing Spanish and UK states to pretend that a single currency can reflect the economic realities of areas as diverse as Madrid and Albacete, or London and Cornwall and a currency union can only be maintained as things stand now through grants, subsidies and other fiddles (which in turn generate their own fiddles by those who handle the money). Moreover, there is a precedent for an independent nation pegging its currency to the pound and that is the Irish punt which maintained its parity for half a century after the free state was achieved before deciding to go it alone, as Scotland would be able to do at its time of choosing. And if a hotch-potch of countries of all shapes, sizes, levels of competitiveness, economic and industrial development, etc. etc. can operate within the Eurozone, why shouldn’t Catalonia?
It’s a no-brainer!!
So go for it Scots and Catalans – a better future is yours to grasp