Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Model UN: Debating Scotland's Future

In this week's Model United Nations debate, Ross Watkins argued that Scotland should vote YES for independence in Thursday's referendum. Charlie Albuery countered that Scots should vote NO to independence. 

YES: independence
Ross Watkins: Imagine yourself as a serf, under an overlord's control. That is how Scots feel about the last three hundred years of domination by England. It is time to break those chains. England is not an asset but a liability. Indeed, Westminster has cost Scotland £64 billion over the last 30 years - ignore the propaganda about "sponging Scotland" subsidised by England. Scotland has a lower deficit and lower public spending than England - despite stereotypes of unreconstructed socialist Scotland. Furthermore, its independent economic prospects are strong - with impressive exports and control of profitable oil fields.
Charlie Albuery: The Scottish referendum has echoes of the plebiscite by Hitler in Danzig, with an all too familiar rhetoric of fear projected on to those opposing the YES campaign. It has become, in certain cases, little more than an excuse to bash the Tories and an ugly attempt to label those voting NO as being unpatriotic. The YES campaign is too often based on lies - notably that the NHS in Scotland is in danger without independence; on the contrary, it is already exclusively under the Scottish government's control and that government represents the only threat to the NHS.
Will Bates: EU students can go to Scottish universities, receiving a better deal than English and Welsh students. How is this fair?
Ross Watkins: Students can go to university in Scotland for free only if they have lived in Scotland for at least one year. It is not an anti-English policy. 
Charlie Albuery: At the moment, England and Scotland are part of the same country and so it is unfair to England, but the policy will be sensible if Scotland does go independent. 
Philippa Noble: There is only one Tory in Scotland. Most recent British governments have been out of kilter with Scottish political choices. 
Charlie Albuery: Scotland has a small population relative to England, so it has fewer Westminster MPs. Conversely, Holyrood already has lots of powers, including control of the NHS and the power to implement their own policies (e.g. care for the elderly). If they vote YES, there will be no going back.
Question: How will the economy of Scotland remain stable if it leaves the UK?
Ross Watkins: We have strong exports, e.g. a £7 billion annual whisky industry (40 bottles per second). We are the "Saudi Arabia of renewable energy". Scotland has 25% of the wind energy potential in Europe.

NO: Union
Charlie Albuery: The word "potential" is interesting - there is no certainty about Scotland's future, there will be infrastructure built at first because there will be no funds there during the early years. Royal Bank of Scotland have just announced they will move to England in the event of a YES vote. 
William Dry: In 1977, Scotland had a similar decision to make - they voted No, Thanks to independence. They then suffered 18 years of Tory rule. The Scottish mindset is different to that of England - more socialist, more social mobility. Furthermore, small nations like New Zealand and Iceland have shown that they can handle things better than larger, more unequal countries. 
Charlie Albuery:  Scotland have had much more devolution since then - and is much more independent now than it was in 1977. 
Ross Watkins: Devolution has made Scots realise they're different to the English - their own identity is more left-wing. 
William Dry: In 1997, the Holyrood option was taken - using their newfound power to create a fairer society, in contrast to the agenda of the grey suits in Westminster.
Charlie Albuery: This is an argument for the current situation, with perhaps some added devolutionary powers - underpinned by British government funding. 
Will Bates: These are all non-arguments. The North of England is also overwhelmingly Labour, but it is not asking for devolution. Why should Scotland be different? Wales is not getting independence. What's the difference?

Ross Watkins: Scotland was a separate country until 1707 - Wales has been under English rule since the 1200s. Scotland is a larger country with a more defined, and separate, identity - and more oil!
Charlie Albuery: Scotland does have an independent identity - it has not been crushed by English cultural or political rule. It is currently stronger than ever - in a safe environment provided by membership of the UK, with a different system of NHS etc, under the safe economic conditions of the UK. 
Question: What about the currency? What about Mark Carney's view that a currency union is unviable without political union. 
Charlie Albuery: The world is still in a state of economic instability and uncertainty at present, so this is a particularly bad time to leave the UK. 
Ross Watkins: Carney, the banks and other big business figures being wheeled out by the government are proof that the NO campaign is getting desperate in the arguments it is making. Scotland will be a great trading partner for the UK - it will be able to keep the same currency, all of the talk of a currency crisis is just scaremongering. The Tories' friends in Big Business are stirring up fear because they know the tide is turning in favour of YES.
Julia Alsop (Chair): Final speeches, please.
Charlie Albuery: Alec Salmond's rhetoric has been over-defensive because deep down he knows independence is not the right thing for Scotland; it will be good for the wealthy, such as Salmond, who wants power, but the ordinary people of Scotland need the support of the UK economy to enjoy the benefits they have now. Ross has painted Westminster as a mad, sinister king controlling Albion. However, it is of course in England's best interest for an independent Scotland to succeed and we want to keep Scotland safer under the economic system of the UK while giving more devolutionary powers. I therefore urge you to vote NO - the only way. 
Ross Watkins: Charlie goes on about "protection". Scotland survived a long time without England. It is not England's pet and play toy, its little friend up north. England is scared - it doesn't like what it is used to. Renewable energy, whisky, etc. will lead to economic success and stability. As William said, the quality of life will be improved in an independent Scotland, the home of such entrepreneurs as Alexander Fleming and Alexander Graham Bell. Vote YES - for a positive future. 

Julia Alsop called for a final vote on the motion "Should Scotland Become Independent?" voted YES and 12 voted NO, with no abstentions. Prior to the debate, only 1 delegate had shown support for YES, so, despite an overall victory for NO, led by Charlie Albuery, a significant percentage of the delegates were persuade during the course of the debate by the arguments of the YES campaign led by Ross Watkins. 

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