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Old 09-03-2019, 10:06 AM
Dead Cat is offline
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The 2014 Scottish independence referendum showed that Scotland needs England more than vice versa


I have been enjoined to start this thread as a spin-off from page 3 of the pit thread here: https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=881136, to avoid continuing a hijack. I'm not sure it qualifies as a great debate but it's about a referendum, not an election (and one some time ago at that), and I see no need for discussion to get heated to Pit level, so I'm putting it here - mods feel free to move if you wish. I doubt it will generate much attention anyway.

For those who don't care to read the original, in summary I made the claim in the thread title, which was described as a "fallacy". I am prepared to be convinced this could be the case but this hasn't happened yet, indeed I think it more likely that we are just talking past each other a bit.

Here is the bit of the Pit thread I would like to respond to:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Kumquat View Post
How about we go with your original claim that "the 2014 Scottish independence referendum showed that Scotland needs England more than vice versa" and then have a look at some of the arguments made by Westminster politicians in the buildup to the referendum:

Boris Johnson*

Quote:
We are told that if Scotland votes to cut its ties with England, that will be a disaster on a par with the loss of the American colonies in 1776; but it is far worse than that.
David Cameron**

Quote:
It would be the end of a country that launched the Enlightenment, that abolished slavery, that drove the industrial revolution, that defeated fascism. the end of a country that people around the world respect and admire the end of a country that all of us call home.

And we built this home together.

It’s only become Great Britain because of the greatness of Scotland
It takes a rare mind to look at pleading like the above from the Better Together movement, along with some of the claims that have since proven to be absolute fiction (Scotland had to stay in the UK or it would drop out of the EU, etc) and then conclude that by voting to stay in the union the Scots showed they need the English more than vice versa. All the referendum proved was that a slim majority were happier with the status quo of the UK then going it alone. It's funny to think that the lunacy of brexit has now pushed the majority of Scots to think it's time to move on***.

Now, if you really do want to carry this on as a topic, how about you start a thread on it rather than try to continue a hijack?

*https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukn...nion-ever.html
**https://www.independent.co.uk/news/u...h-9735902.html
***https://www.theguardian.com/commenti...rexit-shambles
I don't think we necessarily disagree on much in general, we are just putting it differently. My thesis is that the title of this thread and "All the referendum proved was that a slim majority were happier with the status quo of the UK then going it alone" are basically saying the same thing. After all, had a majority of voters in that referendum been convinced that Scotland did not need to be in a union with England (and Wales and NI, but I don't believe Celtic solidarity, if that is a thing at all except in terms of being anti-English, was a big factor), then presumably the result would have gone the other way. So calling my statement a "fallacy" is a bit strong, especially as you haven't yet offered any evidence for this conclusion. Granted, the referendum result says nothing about how English voters feel about the union, so I assume that is what you are taking issue with. I also grant that many English politicians campaigned heartily in favour of the union, but I find it amusing that you chose to use Johnson and Cameron, two of the most discredited (and discreditable) politicians in living memory, to try and make your point. Like most politicians, they are quite clearly in it for themselves first, party/power second, and country/principles a distant third or fourth. Obviously they were going to back the status quo in that referendum, because the alternative was being called for by their political opponents, the SNP. They were also in government at the time, and wouldn't have wanted to cede ~10% of their power at a stroke. They could hardly have waved it through happily, could they? And whether you accept that or not, I don't think pseudo-Churchillian rhetoric is convincing evidence either way.

I also don't think drawing an equivalence between this thread title and "Scotland benefits more from the UK than it contributes" is moving the goalposts. There are three possibilities to consider: Scotland and rUK are equal partners; rUK needs Scotland more than Scotland needs rUK; Scotland needs rUK more than rUK needs Scotland (there is also the, perhaps most likely, possibility that the UK is greater than the sum of its parts, but that is not relevant to this point - if such is the case, one of the previous three statements is still true). If they are equal partners, they have equal benefits. If not, one benefits more than the other. So if my thesis that Scotland needs rUK more than vice versa is true, it follows that Scotland benefits more from the UK than vice versa. Note that I am not claiming rUK gets no benefit from the union, nor even that they would be better off if Scotland were independent, as I don't believe either of those to be the case. Maybe that's what you think you are arguing against?

Last edited by Dead Cat; 09-03-2019 at 10:08 AM. Reason: Fixed broken link.
  #2  
Old 09-03-2019, 11:37 AM
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As a dumb American I know next to nothing about the Scottland situation, so I won't really comment on the overall truthfulness of your statement but I do see some problems with your logic.

Starting with your initial statement that since Scotland narrowly decided to stay, therefore Scotland needs Britain more than the reverse. This ignores the possibility of a mutually beneficial relationship. I have a disabled wife who would be in bad shape financially were I to leave her. So it could be said that she needs me more than I need her. But I'm not going to leave her because we both get a lot of joy and emotional support from our marriage.

When it was pointed out that your assertion was flawed, you responded by demanding that others show that Britain got more from Scotland than the reverse. This is shifts the burden of proof. You made the statement that Scotland gets more out of the relationship than England, so you are the one required to back it up. Supposing that it was England gets 51% advantage and Scotland get 49% advantage. Just because Gary Kumquat can't nail down that 1% difference doesn't mean that your assertion that the Scottish share is greater is correct.
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Old 09-03-2019, 01:02 PM
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Just to recap, you want to argue that the statement "Scotland needs England more than vice versa" is the same as "a slim majority were happier with the status quo of the UK then going it alone".
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Old 09-03-2019, 04:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buck Godot View Post
Starting with your initial statement that since Scotland narrowly decided to stay, therefore Scotland needs Britain more than the reverse. This ignores the possibility of a mutually beneficial relationship. I have a disabled wife who would be in bad shape financially were I to leave her. So it could be said that she needs me more than I need her. But I'm not going to leave her because we both get a lot of joy and emotional support from our marriage.
I think yours is an excellent analogy. The two possibilities are not mutually exclusive. I covered this in the OP of this thread. My opinion is that both sides do benefit. But I believe it is also true that Scotland needs rUK more than vice versa.

Now, I will concede it is possible that more people in the referendum were voting "No" because they had a positive view of the benefits of the union, rather than a negative view of Scotland's solo prospects. I don't think that disproves my thesis in its entirety, but perhaps I should have used the word "suggested" rather than "showed". I don't think that makes my statement a "fallacy" or a "lie".

Quote:
When it was pointed out that your assertion was flawed, you responded by demanding that others show that Britain got more from Scotland than the reverse. This is shifts the burden of proof. You made the statement that Scotland gets more out of the relationship than England, so you are the one required to back it up. Supposing that it was England gets 51% advantage and Scotland get 49% advantage. Just because Gary Kumquat can't nail down that 1% difference doesn't mean that your assertion that the Scottish share is greater is correct.
I think it's a little unfair to characterise the phrase "Perhaps you could just provide" as "demanding", but whatever - that's not the point at issue. As I explained in this OP (which you have not addressed) I wasn't moving the goalposts, just rephrasing to what I thought was something broadly equivalent. In my opinion it is manifestly obvious that England contributes more to the union than Scotland, by almost anything you care to measure. That's not to denigrate Scotland's excellent and valuable contribution, it's just sheer weight of numbers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Kumquat View Post
Just to recap, you want to argue that the statement "Scotland needs England more than vice versa" is the same as "a slim majority were happier with the status quo of the UK then going it alone".
Broadly equivalent, yes. I mean, if Scotland was going to be so great by itself, more people would have voted for independence. I think you'll have a hard time arguing that lots of voters thought Scotland contributed more to the union than England, but altruistically voted to keep the status quo (or that the mutual benefits were so much greater than what Scotland could achieve on its own).
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Old 09-03-2019, 07:00 PM
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No. I think the referendum result was more: "better the Devil you know than the Devil you don't". I think you are going to see an increased interest in Scottish independence because English politics is going off the deep end, especially since Boris was selected as PM.
  #6  
Old 09-04-2019, 01:10 AM
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Originally Posted by PastTense View Post
No. I think the referendum result was more: "better the Devil you know than the Devil you don't".
This. People tend to vote for the status quo, unless there is a strong force driving them for change. As such the claim that this result demonstrates "Scotland needs England more than vice versa" is one that will need a serious amount of evidence, showing that the electorate here had gone to great effort to inform themselves of the financial impact both outcomes would have, and made a decision on that basis.
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Old 09-04-2019, 02:24 AM
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Not having a vote on the matter, I didn't pay very close attention to the campaigns at the time, but I seem to remember economics being a key factor. I think one of the reasons the independence movement failed to win was that they could not convince the electorate that there would be financial benefits. So that was the source of my original statement. It was not my intention to be fallacious or misleading. Having reflected on it, as indicated in a previous post I accept that a more accurate statement would be "the 2014 Scottish independence referendum suggested Scotland might need England more than vice versa".
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Old 09-04-2019, 04:05 AM
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Economically, the only regions of the UK that generate more tax than they consume are London and South East of England. The East of England is revenue neutral. Everywhere else needs London and South East more than L/SE needs them. In that sense, it's misleading to say that Scotland needs "England". Scotland, like Wales, Yorkshire, Cornwall etc. needs L/SE. The people of Manchester are not propping up Scotland. (We talked once on these boards about a hypothetical secession of Remainia - London, Scotland, NI, some bits of the SE and a few university towns. Whimsical as hell, but as long as London kept its status as a global wealth haven it would be financially viable for all involved.)

But this is only a snapshot. Wind back 40 years to the era of North Sea oil and Scotland was a net contributor to the Union. Wind back to the industrial revolution and the North of England is too. The point being that over time, the members of the union are going to bring more and less to the table. The point of a union is precisely to pool and share these benefits over time.

But even this is missing the point. The framing of this debate over who benefits more in purely financial terms is very limited. To go back to the marriage analogy, I currently earn more than my wife but the idea that sums of the benefits and costs of our relationship is mad. If you want to talk about contributions to (and costs of) the union you have to also talk about our politics, culture, sport, business, leisure, media and all other aspects of life. The joke about Andy Murray being Scottish when he loses and British when he wins is hackneyed and inaccurate, but there's an underlying point there about what being a constituent member of the UK means, and how it goes beyond a balance sheet.
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Old 09-04-2019, 04:20 AM
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Scottish indpendance negotiation will make Brexit look like a friendly discussion on the merits of various types of floral arrangements.
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Old 09-04-2019, 04:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanislaus View Post
Economically, the only regions of the UK that generate more tax than they consume are London and South East of England. The East of England is revenue neutral. Everywhere else needs London and South East more than L/SE needs them. In that sense, it's misleading to say that Scotland needs "England". Scotland, like Wales, Yorkshire, Cornwall etc. needs L/SE. The people of Manchester are not propping up Scotland. (We talked once on these boards about a hypothetical secession of Remainia - London, Scotland, NI, some bits of the SE and a few university towns. Whimsical as hell, but as long as London kept its status as a global wealth haven it would be financially viable for all involved.)

But this is only a snapshot. Wind back 40 years to the era of North Sea oil and Scotland was a net contributor to the Union. Wind back to the industrial revolution and the North of England is too. The point being that over time, the members of the union are going to bring more and less to the table. The point of a union is precisely to pool and share these benefits over time.

But even this is missing the point. The framing of this debate over who benefits more in purely financial terms is very limited. To go back to the marriage analogy, I currently earn more than my wife but the idea that sums of the benefits and costs of our relationship is mad. If you want to talk about contributions to (and costs of) the union you have to also talk about our politics, culture, sport, business, leisure, media and all other aspects of life. The joke about Andy Murray being Scottish when he loses and British when he wins is hackneyed and inaccurate, but there's an underlying point there about what being a constituent member of the UK means, and how it goes beyond a balance sheet.
I agree with all of this, which is why it was originally a throwaway comment on a different topic. I apologise for the careless phrasing, but I maintain that describing it as a "fallacy" and a "lie" was rather harsh.

Anyway, as usual on the Dope, discussing it has been interesting and informative, thank you all.
  #11  
Old 09-04-2019, 04:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead Cat View Post
I apologise for the careless phrasing, but I maintain that describing it as a "fallacy" and a "lie" was rather harsh.
It quite probably was, but a) I'm generally grumpy and b) it was in the pit. I'm quite happy to amend my objection to "I believe this statement is carelessly phrased and inaccurate".
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Old 09-04-2019, 05:05 AM
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Keep in mind that the Scottish referendum of 2014 was very much pre-Brexit. The Britain that either WAS or WAS NOT more important to Scotland than vice versa was a Britain that was part of the European Union.
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Old 09-04-2019, 06:46 AM
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Keep in mind that the Scottish referendum of 2014 was very much pre-Brexit. The Britain that either WAS or WAS NOT more important to Scotland than vice versa was a Britain that was part of the European Union.
Well, quite - but that's another matter entirely,

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Originally Posted by Gary Kumquat View Post
It quite probably was, but a) I'm generally grumpy and b) it was in the pit. I'm quite happy to amend my objection to "I believe this statement is carelessly phrased and inaccurate".
Well, all's well that ends well, then *handshake*. I'm more than ready to forgive a little grumpiness in the current climate.
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Old 09-09-2019, 07:44 PM
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Brexit, if it happens, would arguably make Scottish independence less viable, at least in economic terms. Scotland voted to stay in the UK last time, and a big part of that was the independence campaign's inability to answer questions about what the effect would be on trade and existing financial arrangements with entities in the rest of the UK. And that was under the assumption that Scotland and the rUK would still be in the EU single market, meaning that frictionless cross-border trade would continue more or less as it had done before.

If the UK is no longer in the single market, Scottish independence only gets more difficult, economically. An independent Scotland would have no assurance of unfettered access to what had hitherto been by far its most important external market. Forget the impact of Brexit on the UK -- Scotland leaving the UK "single market" would be, relatively speaking, a much bigger deal.

You only have to look at the SNP's stance. If they thought that Brexit would make Scottish independence more likely, they'd probably be tacitly encouraging it, or keeping their own counsel. In fact, they are strongly against it.
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Old 09-18-2019, 07:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead Cat View Post
Broadly equivalent, yes. I mean, if Scotland was going to be so great by itself, more people would have voted for independence. I think you'll have a hard time arguing that lots of voters thought Scotland contributed more to the union than England, but altruistically voted to keep the status quo (or that the mutual benefits were so much greater than what Scotland could achieve on its own).
This makes an assumption that national loyalty is a question of economics, rather than emotion. I'd argue strongly that it is not.

I have Scottish relatives who voted remain. They did so both for economic AND emotional reasons - they regard themselves as both Scottish and British (much like I feel about my EU citizenship, currently being stolen from me).
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Old 09-18-2019, 09:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Provincial Hoi Polloi View Post
Brexit, if it happens, would arguably make Scottish independence less viable, at least in economic terms. Scotland voted to stay in the UK last time, and a big part of that was the independence campaign's inability to answer questions about what the effect would be on trade and existing financial arrangements with entities in the rest of the UK. And that was under the assumption that Scotland and the rUK would still be in the EU single market, meaning that frictionless cross-border trade would continue more or less as it had done before.

If the UK is no longer in the single market, Scottish independence only gets more difficult, economically. An independent Scotland would have no assurance of unfettered access to what had hitherto been by far its most important external market. Forget the impact of Brexit on the UK -- Scotland leaving the UK "single market" would be, relatively speaking, a much bigger deal.
There’s a curious contradiction here. Given that Scotland doesn’t want to Brexit at all and voted by a decisive margin not to, you’d think that, the harder the Brexit into which they are dragged, the more their wishes and interests are disdained and disregarded, the greater the boost to the Scottish independence movement. But, the harder the Brexit, then the higher will be the barriers to trade between independent Scotland within the EU and rump UK outwith the EU. Therefore, the harder the Brexit, the greater the economic impact of independence.

This is not a healthy dynamic. (Healthy for the British Union, I mean). A hard Brexit gives the Scots more reasons to want independence, but also more pain if they opt for independence. That might (or might not) keep Scotland in the UK, but it’s certainly not conducive to keeping Scotland happily in the UK. For a unionist, this is a lose-lose situation.
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