Sunday, May 24, 2009

Scotland Independent by 1950

What would Scotland be like today if the Home Rule Bill had been passed on its second reading in 1913? It was a very close thing, only prevented by the outbreak of the carnage of the Great War.(1) If Home Rule had happened then - rather than 85 years later in 1998 - it is safe to assume that independence would have followed within forty years, say by 1948, fifty years before devolution was grudgingly granted.

Comparing the history of Scotland to that of independent European states over the past sixty years, what follows is an attempt to construct what an independent Scotland's history would have been, had this happened.

1. Scotland declares independence in 1948, a year after India. The general feeling in both England and Scotland is that with the Empire winding down, the Union has served its purpose. It joins the UN the same year, the Scottish member sitting between the representatives for the 3.9 million people of Saudi Arabia and 13.3 million of South Africa.

2. The Stone of Destiny is returned to Scotland after the independence celebrations. Scottish Police hold back the jubilant crowds as the stone is welcomed at the border. A piper welcomes it home to Arbroath Abbey.

3. Queen Elizabeth's second coronation takes place over the Stone of Destiny in a refurbished Palace of Holyrood in 1953. The Scottish Government celebrates the event with new blue 'E1R' letter boxes. The English press label it a stunt.

4. Scotland re-establishes its east coast burghs’ European trade contacts from the time of the Hanseatic League. On March 30th, 1956, mayors from Flemish towns take part in an emotional ceremony in Berwick to remember the Flemish merchants killed when Edward I of England ordered his men to slaughter all 17,000 men, women and children there 660 years before.

5. Scotland a signatory to the Treaty of Rome in 1957.

6. Edinburgh rapidly expands as the population and services around Scotland’s government grows there.

7. The Scottish government invests in Glasgow to give it a facelift. It loses its grim post-imperial waterfront to be reborn in the architectural style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh (See above). The Highlands complain that too much investment is happening in the south.

8. Reverse emigration begins and children and grandchildren of Scots who emigrated in the last decades of Empire return from around the world. Gaelic speaking grandchildren of Nova Scotian émigrés, speaking English with strange Canadian accents, begin to resettle the Highlands.

9. In a 1960 referendum, Berwick-Upon-Tweed votes to return to Scotland, motivated by the better social services, healthcare and free transport for the elderly to the north. Other English Border towns also threaten to secede for the same reason, much to the annoyance of the British parliament at Westminster.

10. Oil is discovered under Scottish waters in the 1960s. Scotland leaves the oil industry in private hands and the oil begins to flow as the American oil companies apply their open water extraction skills learned in the Gulf of Mexico.

11. Glasgow’s social deprivation from the last years of Union is largely cured by 1970.

12. A cod war with Iceland is averted in the 1970s when Scotland and Iceland come to a peaceful agreement on their sea borders.

13. British PM Ted Heath follows Scotland with what is left of Britain into full membership of the Common Market in 1973.

14. The rump British state is refused an IMF loan in 1975, due to its lack of collateral. It goes cap in hand to Europe for funds.

15. In 1978, Scottish football is made a laughing stock as the team is bundled out of the World Cup in the first round, after boasting they would win it.

16. Scotland has a referendum in 1979 and votes to leave the EEC, even though 51.6% of the electorate choose to remain. Under Scotland’s 1949 Constitution, 40% of the electorate need to vote ‘Yes’ for Scotland remain within external organisations. The 'Yes' vote cries foul.

17. Margaret Thatcher is elected PM of Britain in 1979 and presides over EEC investment – mainly French and German subsidies - to reinvigorate English and Welsh industry, concentrating on mining.

18. In 1981, Scots band Rusty Nail win the Eurovision Song Contest, narrowly beating English band Bucks Fizz. Their gimmick is for the two girls to pull off the two men’s kilts, revealing women’s underwear.

19. Using her new-found oil wealth, Scotland begins building a breathtaking program of infrastructure in the 1980s. Scotland is soon covered in an integrated modern network of roads, rail and ferry links, addressing Highland concerns about excessive centralisation. The A9 becomes the backbone of the road system, a three-lane superhighway from Edinburgh to Inverness, one of the safest roads in Europe.

20. Aberdeen and Inverness hit one million people by the year 2000. Oban, a thriving West Highland student city of 500,000, becomes the twin city of Bergen in Norway.

21. In the 1980s, Scotland becomes famous for its effortless transition from heavy engineering to high tech, fuelled by low corporate taxes and government relocation subsidies. Silicon Glen becomes an R&D and export phenomenon, unlike the cheap PC manufacturing facilities in England, which take advantage of its cheap labour.

22. In 1985, the Glasgow’s Mile’s Better campaign celebrates the city as one of the most beautiful in the world.

23. By 1990, oil revenues have given Scotland one of the hardest currencies in the world, and the Scottish pound becomes a safe haven currency, alongside Switzerland and Norway’s. (2)

24. A sovereign oil fund is created in 1990 to prevent successive Scottish Labour governments spending oil revenues on infrastructure Scotland no longer needs, and to keep inflation down. Despite this, Scotland is soon regarded as one of the most expensive places in the world, but not for the locals, who are paid in local currency and find everywhere else in the world ridiculously cheap. Scottish students become known throughout Europe for their annoying leather backpacks and free higher education.

25. Scottish unemployment drops to among the lowest in the western world, while the Scottish welfare state is the envy of Europe, with poverty almost non-existent.

26. By 2000, Scotland’s population reaches 7 million, having grown at the same pace as other similar size European countries since 1950, supplemented by extensive reverse emigration. (3)

27. In late 2008, a consortium of Scottish and Norwegian banks bails out Iceland, after the Welsh Prime Minister of Britain – known popularly as 'Flash' Morgan for his role in the credit crisis there – invokes anti-terrorism laws to seize Icelandic assets to protect British investors.

28. In 2009, Scotland shrugs off the credit crunch and the subsequent depression by dipping into its $326 billion sovereign oil fund, recently hit by the world economic downturn. (4)

I hope this gives at least some Scots an idea of how much their birthright has been stolen from them, and how much is at stake in the coming referendum.

Any resemblance to actual events or to persons living or dead is purely intentional.


(1) Murray G.H. Pittock, Scottish Nationality, Palgrave, New York, 2001, pages 100-102

(2) See

(3) Norway – from 3.2 million to 4.6 million; Denmark – from 4.3 to 5.3 million; Sweden – from 7 million to 9 million; Portugal – from 8.4 million to 10.7 million.

(4) This is the current balance of the Norwegian Sovereign oil fund, which is spread across a mixed portfolio of ethical investments. Twenty nine corporations are barred from receiving any of the funds.


scunnert said...

Quite a vision. It's funny how events have conspired against Scotland time after time. No more - time to realize the vision.

Anonymous said...

It would be great if we could turn the clocks back. For me the biggest( if ) had Scotland been independent from the 70,s onwards is, Would Glasgow's poverty still exist ?

OutLander said...


I think part of the reason it took so long is that we never resorted to violence. We decided to play it by the book, even though London never has. But we'll get there in the end by peaceful means, and be respected all the more for it.

OutLander said...


I think we both know the answer to that.

It breaks your heart to see good men and women tossed aside and wasting their lives. Yet you see the same people in other countries and they have trades, good health and a half-decent education.

And it has nothing whatsoever to do with oil.

Aye We Can ! said...

Very good and intruiging post. Would not dissgree with much. But on point 28 - our banks wouuld still have gone bust, unless Scotland alone had failed to be seduced by the false god of finance capitalism.....but we'd have all that oil fund money to bail them out.

And you missed out St Mirren winning the Champions League, manager Alex Ferguson, refused an exit visa!

OutLander said...


Scotland's banking problems stemmed from Scotland's economy being intertwined with England's self-regulatory fantasy land where the lunatics had taken over the asylum.

And I didn't hear of any Norwegian banks going bust.

Re St Mirren - aye, sorry, don't know how I missed that. It's a good point, though. What about all the good Scots who emigrated to add their efforts to the balance sheets of other countries?