Tag Archives: Scotland

Upsetting the applecart

Why Scots and Catalans should opt for independence

22836789With 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

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From Caledonia to Catalonia

Leaving Scotland

After enjoying my final night of spectacle, cabaret and partying at the Famous Spiegeltent on the closing night of what is a mecca for any

The Famous Spiegeltent

The Famous Spiegeltent

self-respecting festival goer, the Edinburgh Festival,  I was about to pack up my bags to head back to Barcelona when a buyer turned up for what has been my home in Scotland for the last seven years.

So I rescheduled my return flight and began the Sisyphean task of organising the move in just three weeks: burning stuff, binning stuff, selling stuff, taking stuff to charity shops and recycling points, giving stuff away, preparing stuff to put into storage (including furniture I’d brought over from Spain two decades earlier), cancelling insurances and utilities… the list was daunting but I rose to the challenge and I completed it, with varying degrees of stress and effort, to schedule.

A fond farewell

I went through the process of discarding my past with mixed emotions. On the one hand I felt lighter as I said goodbye to so many

Dollar Glen

Dollar Glen

accumulated possessions and responsibilities, but, on the other, I felt a sadness at leaving what has been my lovely physical home and garden – enjoyed to the max in one of those rare glorious Scottish summers that we were graced with this year – but what has also been my spiritual home for the best part of a quarter-century, the ancient land of Caledonia.

Sadness not just at parting with the gems I had on the doorstep of my house in Dollar, in the “Wee County,” such as the glen, the Ochil Hills, the Devon where I had taken the occasional skinny-dip on a hot day, but, just as much, my lovely neighbours Robin and Julie, the friends I’ve laughed and loved and hugged with, those with whom I’ve shared Hogmanays and celebrated the old Celtic pagan festivals of Beltane and Samhuinn (the origin of Hallowe’en) – which I’ll be missing this year for the first time in many  – and the lovely group of souls I’ve danced 5 rhythms with or journeyed with through sound baths, inipis, pipe ceremonies and meditations.

I could go on for ever: the changing seasons, snow, ice, sun, gleaming lochs, the riot of colour from blossoming vegetation and the blazing sunsets seen from the Forth Road Bridge or with the looming Edinburgh Castle silhouetted against them, trips to Skye and the islands, Findhorn, the picturesque coastal fishing villages of Culross, or Pittenweem with its August Art Festival where dozens of homes open their doors to the public … Loch Lomond and Loch Tay, the Aurora Borealis and endless summer days, the Cairngorms and the Borders…

So now back in Catalonia, as I blog from a very different coastal fishing village, Calella de Palafrugell in the Empordà, overlooking the Mediterranean and resting from my recent mental and emotional ordeal, I know that my relationship with Scotland will persist and I’ll heed the invitation seen as you leave many places in Scotland: “Haste ye back!”

But in the meantime, whenever I feel a bit nostalgic, I’ll check in on this video, a nostalgic homage to Caledonia sung by Dougie McLean, with stunning pictures taken by a fabulous photographer and lovely friend, Ross Hutton.

¡Hasta Pronto, Caledonia!

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