Mike Vickers' Blog

February 17, 2013

The State of Small Nations

Filed under: economics, Europe, History in the making, Politics, Scotland, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 8:33 am

I attended a Nordic Horizons on Iceland’s recovery following the financial crash.

It was given by Prof Thurvaldur Gylfason based in Iceland and Sigrun Davidsdoffir a journalist based in the UK but working in Iceland

The session was well attended and the two presented a lively case for Iceland as it is now – pulling itself out of the slough of despond but some way to go and not all are pulling quite in the same direction – but what’s new.

Nordic Horizons focuses on how much are the Nordics relevant to Scotland as it moves to the Referendum in 18 months.

And it got me thinking as to how well Iceland experience could be translated to Scotland and I have set down my starter for ten below.  It is only a starter for ten as it is at best ‘high level’ and much may be wrong.  Comments are always welcome!

I have included Southern Cyprus if only because the population is closer to that of Iceland and it’s a country having worked there I know a little about.

  Scotland (towards   Independence) Iceland Ireland (Eire) Cyprus (Southern)
Population 5.2 million 320 thousand 4.5 million 800 thousand
Geopolitics Still part of UK – would   still have connections with UK Loosely with Denmark Loosely with UK Republic but close   connections with Greece – uneasy position wrt  to Northern Cyprus and   Turkey
Constitution Currently as UK none. To be   written on Independence.  Scope unclear In the formative   stage.  To be ratified by new Parliament Written in 1937.  Looks   nice and simple.  Stood the test of time. – see Wiki
Currency Pegged to £ and would like to   remain so.  However if joining EU may be required to switch to euro Iceland Krone – floating euro euro
In the European Union Yes and intends to remain so Has applied but internal   intense debate.  Fish an external problem Staunch supporter Yes
Products / services Tourism, Financial Services,   Whisky Fish, potentially energy Agricultural – offshore   services though decreasing Tourism –   agricultural.  Pivotal in Eastern Med
Banks 2 major semi nationalised   banks + Clydesdale.  Unclear as to status come Independence National Bank – 2 comparatively   large commercial banks let die National Bank – just   liquidated Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (what a name!) Just been bailed out by   European Central Bank
Sources of own Energy Targeting Renewables Geothermal  – could be   an important export None – still hoped for oil   off-shore None
Social Democracy Aspires to Yes – small egalitarian   population – seriously affected by Financial Crash Like the UK but affect by   financial crash Like Greece, rural – popular   with ex-pats from across Europe
Outlook Mediocre WOW!  -and    everyone knows each other Was the Celtic Tiger, now   more like the Kilkenny Cat Small WOW – everyone knows   each other – yet to recover from separation

February 13, 2013

The Devil has all the best stories (tunes).

Filed under: economics, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 2:04 pm

The Devil has all the best stories (tunes).

So it is with the SNP and Scottish Independence – not that I am comparing!

But the SNP does have the splendid opportunity to offer the Scottish Citizens Heaven on Earth (interestingly the Devil has the best stories but only God can provide Heaven on Earth – who is kidding who!) once Scotland is independent.  .

In any voting system parties at election time offer mañana– the SNP’s style of mañana is well publicised: Free Higher Education, Free Bus Passes for the Elderly, no change in the NHS, attractive Tax regimes for business all based on Danish Style Social democracy – Yes may even be Borgen Series 3 (with Nicola Sturgeon in the title role) is planned for Scotland.

We still wait for the No vote offering.  The best that the ‘Better Together’ group can offer so far is that Scotland after a No vote will be no worse than it is now – far from mañana.  Better Together is of course hamstrung by the sheer weight of the rest of the UK – a population ten times the size of the Scottish population.  Promises to Scotland cannot be offered to Scotland without offering them to the rest of the UK and the UK Government is in no position to offer anything that costs money.  But it is surprising that Better Together seem unable even to go on bended knee to ask Scotland to stay in the Union – something which is free.

As Lesley Riddoch in her latest article in the Scotsman wrote – Devo-max cannot be justified without thinking federal UK and even here what’s to be done about the City of London.


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