An independent Scotland will need to do things better

The question of independence for Scotland is not about different values. We all have the same values. It is about the best way of achieving those values.

More on Scottish independence, reasons for and against.

I sat on a panel at an independence conference. In the Q&A bit, an audience member said that she found being patronised by the English very offensive and went on to say that Scotland has different values and different priorities to the rest of the UK. What's more, she said it has a different landscape. These three things meant that it should be independent.

This is a slightly bonkers idea that a good many people appear to share. So let's look at it.

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I think we can do away with the idea that an area with a different landscape to other areas should be independent pretty quickly. On this reckoning, the Fens should be independent from London. Land's End should be independent from Cornwall. Shetland should definitely be independent from Scotland (is there some kind of union it can join for Nations With No Trees perhaps?) and East Lothian will need to break away from the rest of Scotland sharpish perhaps taking the more fertile bits of Fife with it but clearly nothing past the first few miles of the A9.

I think you get the point. Let's hear no more about this. On to values and priorities.

Now, what on earth could be more patronising to everyone else than to suggest that Scotland has different priorities to the rest of the UK? This is a little like the "anti-child poverty" idiocy I mention below. Actually, we all have the same priorities.

We want a happy and prosperous society in which we feel secure and which offers our children education and health such that they too can go on to live a good life.

The question is not about different values. It is at risk of repeating myself about the best way of creating the end game everyone is after. Here everyone differs (it isn't about Scotland and England).

But if Scotland wants to make a case for independence it needs to come up with a better way than everyone else has. So far, so bad.

Merryn Somerset Webb

Merryn Somerset Webb started her career in Tokyo at public broadcaster NHK before becoming a Japanese equity broker at what was then Warburgs. She went on to work at SBC and UBS without moving from her desk in Kamiyacho (it was the age of mergers).

After five years in Japan she returned to work in the UK at Paribas. This soon became BNP Paribas. Again, no desk move was required. On leaving the City, Merryn helped The Week magazine with its City pages before becoming the launch editor of MoneyWeek in 2000 and taking on columns first in the Sunday Times and then in 2009 in the Financial Times

Twenty years on, MoneyWeek is the best-selling financial magazine in the UK. Merryn was its Editor in Chief until 2022. She is now a senior columnist at Bloomberg and host of the Merryn Talks Money podcast -  but still writes for Moneyweek monthly. 

Merryn is also is a non executive director of two investment trusts – BlackRock Throgmorton, and the Murray Income Investment Trust.