The timetable to independence

The Scottish Government has published a timetable for independence, under the title Scotland’s future. There have been some rather weak arguments on both sides, such as the daft idea that Scotland should refer to climate change in a new constitution, the claim that Scotland could not receive English television broadcasts (the Belgians do), the idea that Scotland could become independent in the same way that East Germany was unified in the Federal west (it’s hardly the same process) or that England could stop Scotland from using the pound (money is money: look at the countries round the world that use the American dollar).

The objection has been made that there is too many points to be negotiated for independence to be possible in the time frame. The point about independence is not however that all issues have to be decided – Alan Trench has pointed out that Czech Republic and Slovakia are still negotiating agreements, 18 years after separation – but that there has to be a government capable of negotiating them, and carrying the authority and legitimacy to implement new rules. That, not the settlement of all issues, is what the timetable needs to relate to.

There would need to be negotiations about assets, land ownership (who owns the military bases?), preservation of rights (such as licences for oil production), the division of the National Insurance fund and so forth. Where there is a need for negotiation, however, it would not imply that the process of independence needs to be slowed; if anything, it would imply that it needed to be speeded up, to avoid any doubt about the status and authority of the negotiating parties.

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