Wednesday 26 July 2023

Is the Scottish Government run in a criminal way?


Every now and again the Scottish Government produces a document that no one reads about some aspect of Scottish independence. This week the document is to be about citizenship in an independent Scotland.

I sometimes read at least some of what is contained just to see if there is any new thinking and occasionally there is some slight variant, some new way in which the UK is portrayed negatively and Scotland is compared to small neighbouring countries like Norway, but never equally small countries like Slovakia or Moldova.

But usually what we get is pretty much the same as what we have had since the referendum campaign in 2014. There will be lots of wishful thinking, unsubstantiated optimism about any problem being easily solved and indeed not really a problem but instead an advantage. Look at the job opportunities that will come with border controls for example.

So this time we will have a very liberal depiction of Scottish citizenship and the blue and white striped passport with a thistle on the front being given not only to everyone who happens to live in Scotland and even those who are here just on holiday, but also how it will be given to every refugee who arrives here and even those who don’t and in fact will be given to almost anyone in the world who wants one.

But something happened this week in a far away place of which we couldn’t point it out on the map. The south pacific island of Vanuatu has been offering passports to anyone for a small fee. No need to visit Vanuatu, just fill in the form pay the money and you get visa free travel to the UK. Unfortunately, rather too many Chinese agents have been arriving on Vanuatuan passports and so the UK Government has decided to require Vanuatu passport holders to obtain visas prior to arrival.

The possibility of border controls (even if they have job opportunities) will not be mentioned in the Scottish Government paper on citizenship. We may want an international border between Scotland and England, but we don’t want anything that goes with an international border, such as customs, passport control and visas. We would only ever show our thistle bedecked passport where we have to show a British passport now and wherever a British passport allows us to travel freely a Scottish passport would do exactly the same and more, despite it having none of the bilateral agreements agreed by the British Government.

The Scottish Government would also give Scottish citizenship to those with Scottish ancestry (not that Scottish nationalism has anything to do with ancestry of course). Perhaps you would need a Scottish parent, perhaps a Scottish grandparent or perhaps you would only need to believe that you are the reincarnation of Bonnie Prince Charlie. But again, nothing will be said about the potential complications involved.

If people living in other parts of the UK or elsewhere will have the right to Scottish citizenship after independence, why doesn’t the Scottish Government give them a vote in any future referendum? After all it is a matter that will affect them.  It is clearly ridiculous that foreign citizens living in Scotland who do not speak English and who have no intention of living permanently in Scotland would have a vote on secession, while someone whose parents still live in Scotland would not.

But the Scottish Government will simply assume that the Common Travel Area would continue after independence meaning Scots would never have to show their new passport in the former UK. It will also assume that obtaining a Scottish passport will not change anything at all for those living either in the former UK or elsewhere. But this is to suppose that Scexit would have none of the consequences of Brexit.

When the UK left the EU British citizens ceased to have the right to automatically live and work in the EU. People from the EU living in the UK had to apply for the right to live and work here. Now it might be that Scots would be given the right to freely live, travel and work both in the former UK and in the EU. But we cannot assume that this would be the case. After all it wasn’t the case after Brexit.

Whether Scotland was a member of the Common Travel Area would depend on whether it was had to join Schengen after joining the EU.  It would also depend on whatever negotiations occurred between the EU, the former UK and Scotland on how to deal with the EU’s external border between Gretna and Berwick.

So too Scots living in the former UK or abroad would continue doing so on the basis of their being British citizens. British citizens in Scotland would retain all of their rights as British citizens. But we don’t know what if anything would change upon these people obtaining a Scottish passport.

Some countries allow dual nationality, others don’t. It would be up to the former UK to determine whether it wished to allow Scottish citizens to retain their British passports, especially as the right would not be reciprocal. A British citizen not living in Scotland could only obtain a Scottish passport on the basis of ancestry.

So too if you have leave to remain in, for example, Spain, this will be on the basis of having a British passport, to obtain it on the basis of a Scottish passport you would need to apply again.

Scotland would be a third country in relation to the former UK. There would be nothing whatsoever to prevent a future former UK Government from treating Scotland as the UK at present is treated by China, by saying that we don’t allow dual nationality and if you choose to be a Scottish citizen you will require a visa to live, work and travel in the former UK. It would have the unfortunate consequence of certain prominent Scottish nationalists living in England having to choose to retain their British passport or else leave.

But perhaps the most important issue that the Scottish Government will not mention in its paper about citizenship is why it should have one at all. Indeed, why should it have a policy about anything after independence.

Let’s say Scotland became independent. We can assume that there would be an election. At this point the new Scottish Government would have to deal with issues like citizenship. But while it is likely that the SNP would form at least a part of a future Scottish Government after independence, we cannot assume it. But in that case why is the SNP making policies now for a future Government which might be quite unlike the present Scottish Government. It is as if the SNP assumes that it is the Scottish Government, not just now, but permanently.

What the SNP is doing with all of these papers regarding what would happen after independence is the equivalent of a Conservative Government writing papers about what a future Labour Government would do. But no Government not even one ruled by the SNP can bind its successor.

These papers have absolutely nothing to do with what they are supposedly about, i.e., what policies there would be after independence. They are merely an attempt by the Scottish Government to pretend that it is still actively pursuing independence. It’s just the same as Nicola Sturgeon promising each year that next year there would be a referendum of if not a referendum a de facto referendum or if not that a rebellion.

SNP members and former members like Alex Salmond are getting older. It will soon be ten years since the referendum, and we are no closer. What if I don’t live to see it?

But managing the expectations of Scottish nationalists and dealing with their impatience is not the job of the British civil service. If the SNP wants to make policies on how to achieve independence and what to do afterwards, it should spend its own money (if it has any left) rather than employ dozens of people paid for by the UK taxpayer to attempt to destroy the UK.

Finally, the British Government has begun to use the logic of the Supreme Court Decision that parts of western democracies like the UK do not have a right in international law to secession to place limits on the SNP. Moreover, constitutional matters including independence and citizenship are reserved. It is not merely wasting public money for UK civil servants working in Scotland to spend their time on reserved matters it is a form of theft. It is a fraud as if lacking any responsibility for foreign affairs or defence you were plotting to annex Denmark.

The British Government needs to tell those civil servants involved that if they work on non-devolved matters which have as their aim the destruction of the UK, that they will be fired and if possible, personally prosecuted. It needs to tell the Scottish Government that stealing UK taxpayers’ money to keep SNP supporters happy will be investigated by the Police and if you are not careful the present leadership will be in as much trouble as the former leadership.

After all, if I say “Peccavi” [I have sinned] meaning I have gained independence for Sindh I may find that I have committed a crime rather than merely sinned and that this would be the case equally if I had gained independence for South Carolina, Hokkaido or Saxony. None of these places will allow public money for such purposes. It would be theft at best, but more likely something rather worse.