The West Lothian question (I)

On Tuesday (16/1), it’s exactly 300 years since the Act of Union between Scotland and England was ratified (taking effect on 1st May).

This has of course prompted a lot of newspaper columns to be written about the likelihood of Scottish Independence and so on. Another related topic that was discussed in the Sunday Herald today was the West Lothian question. One aspect of this that I’ve never seen discussed but which I nevertheless find important is this:

When the Scottish parliament was created, the number of Scottish members of the British parliament in Westminster was reduced to reflect the fact that many Scottish questions were not to be decided in London any more. However, if the Tory idea of barring Scottish members from voting on questions affecting only England is adopted, this is entirely wrong. If the Scottish members are reduced to voting on very few topics (foreign policy and so on), surely they should be overrepresented on those topics to reflect that it’s a union, not a unitary country.

However, I’m not going to press this topic too much, since I’d prefer Scottish independence anyway. 🙂

Independence

A survey made for The Scotsman now shows support for Scottish independence.

Although I left the SNP and joined the LibDems instead two years ago, I did this because I disagreed with the SNP on some specific policies (in particular, it really upset me how they campaigned against the CFP), and because I felt more and more convinced that I am a liberal first and foremost, not because I disagreed with the goal of Scottish independence within the EU.

England is such a dominant part of the UK, and Scotland is so different in many ways, that independence makes really good sense. Also, coming from an independent country the size of Scotland, it’s clear that Scotland had developed a client mentality – I think independence would be hard, but it would do Scotland good in the longer term.

Wee gardens

One of the things that I find very strange in Scotland is that most houses are placed extremely close to each other and have tiny gardens. Not just in the middle of Glasgow, but everywhere. And these tiny estates are then surrounded by masses of empty space.

My best guess is that this has been caused by applying laws designed for England here. Look at the graph on the left (showing inhabitants per km², based on figures I found on Wikipedia): England is a very densely populated country, like the Netherlands and Belgium, and of course you would expect strict laws to limit the size of space for development and to protect the nature and agricultural areas. But Scotland, on the other hand, is less densely populated than Denmark or France and only has slightly more people per square kilometre than Sweden. In other words: There is plenty of space in Scotland!