Sunday, December 03, 2006

England and Scotland: Together No More?

Matthew Lynn of Bloomberg reports:
The English and the Scots appear to be fed up with each other. And a split would be the best outcome for both countries. Scotland might take the chance to emulate the miraculous success of Ireland. England would be able to cut its taxes at a stroke. It might even get the Conservative government it voted for, rather than the Labour one the Scots wanted.

There is no doubt that there is now real momentum behind independence. `Although Scottish independence in the foreseeable future is still unlikely, the chances that it might happen have risen from below 1 percent to perhaps 10 to 15 percent,'' Douglas McWilliams, chief executive of the Centre for Economic and Business Research in London, said in a recent report.

I'm all for countries breaking up into their constituent parts if that's what the people want. Seems to me that it makes for a healthier democracy for each. I should note that this statement by Lynn surprised me:

In reality, the political cultures of the two countries have drifted so far apart, they are no longer compatible. The Scots want a Scandinavian-style social democracy with high taxes, generous welfare and big government. In Scottish politics, there are virtually no right-of-center voters left. The Conservative Party won less than 16 percent of the vote in Scotland last year.

The English want a U.S.-style free market with lower taxes, and a smaller state. The only reason they can't have it is because of the Scots. That is hardly healthy.

Are the differences really that stark? I wouldn't have thought England was that close to the U.S. And are the Scots that far to the left? Lynn earlier stated the following, which seems to contradict this notion:

There are few more entrepreneurial people in the world than the Scots. Just take a look at the numbers of companies around the world with names starting with ``Mc'' or ``Mac.'' And if the birthplace of Adam Smith can't create a thriving free-market economy, then who can?

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