Separatist Politicians

Voters in the forthcoming Scottish referendum on Thursday should reflect upon the divergence of interests between politicians and the people they serve.  David Cameron might feel that, without Scotland, he would have a substantial democratic majority in the remnants of the UK (RUK); on the basis of current voting patterns, he would no longer have to compromise with Liberals; the Labour Party would have little chance of forming a government; UKIP would be the only remaining threat to his dominance of RUK politics.

This is a depressing picture for anyone in England who believes that government is more likely to act in the interests of the people if there is a chance of replacing it when necessary.  But it should also worry Scots who will continue to be affected by the UK economy and would, if independent, have no influence upon it.

It is easy to see why politicians might want to wield unchallenged power.  That is the impulse which persuades them to argue for separatism.  There are many in the Conservative party who want to be free of any need to defer to the European Court of Human Rights; Nigel Farage would prefer to be completely separate from the EU; Alex Salmond would wield more power in an independent Scotland.

The interests of the people, though, are better served by staying together.  Scottish views currently have to be taken into account in UK Parliamentary arithmetic, so Scots wield real influence over their larger neighbours.  Scots benefit from taxes raised in wealthier parts of the UK and they benefit from the resilience of a larger economy.  Similarly, the British people currently have influence in Europe; if Britain were to leave the EU, it would continue to be much affected by it but would cease to have influence over it.

Politicians like to be independent and unchallenged, and they can make themselves look big by being confrontational.  For the people, though, it is better that politicians are accountable and not too secure.  For businesses it is beneficial to be in cooperative relationships with one’s trading partners.  Life is better if you get on well with your neighbours.

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