By Tim Morgan
One day this year this Australian was looking for sign language videos and by chance I came across one by sign4scotland YouTube channel – suddenly I was exposed to the Scottish independence debate and I was hooked.

The more I read, the more I realised that the obvious choice was for Scotland to become independent.

The knock-down argument is very simple – on the one hand Scotland is paying more into the UK Treasury than it is getting out, on the other it is derided by the political right as being a welfare-dependant mendicant state with its hand out all the time for extra money and getting all kinds of things for “free”.

Obviously both of these things can’t be true – and that is when I noticed that the “No” case rested on an enormous amount of doublethink.  Scotland’s oil is about to run out, but it has a duty to share its wealth with the whole UK.  The UK public have to accept that the current pension scheme is unsustainable – but the only way for Scots to keep their pensions safe is to vote No.

In an increasingly likely in-out EU referendum, Scottish voters would be outnumbered by more than 10 to 1 – but the only sure way for Scotland to stay in the EU is to vote No.  And so it goes on…

This lead me to reflect on what happened in Australia in 1901.  Six states federated into a Commonwealth covering a vast land mass.  It was done by plebiscite, after nearly 20 years of argument and debate.

The seventh state defined in the Australian Constitution – the small and isolated state of New Zealand – opted not to join.  New Zealanders felt they had a distinct culture and a different historical experience.

Although legally it could opt in any time it chose, New Zealand never has, even during the darkest days of the 70s and early 80s when their economy was nearly ruined.  Right now New Zealand is enjoying a major boom.  Their fortunes are rising as ours are falling.

I wonder how they would feel if they had joined us over 100 years ago?

Perhaps they would resent the way they were half-forgotten by Canberra being so small and so far away.  Perhaps they would want to control their own immigration policy.  Perhaps they would want direct flights to the USA.  Perhaps the indigenous Maori would want more recognition than Australia would ever give them.  Perhaps they would want nuclear armed ships out of their waters.

If they then thought about leaving Australia the arguments would be the same – too small, allegedly too poor and unable to defend themselves against imagined invaders.  This of course is not how Kiwis see themselves today.  A small but proud, peaceful non-nuclear nation who are doing quite nicely, thank you for asking, and we can manage on our own.

Ask them if they would give up independence to be part of the much bigger and stronger country next door and I can predict the answer 100%.

“No Thanks”

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