Scottish independence – why so complicated?

At a dinner last night to publicise the campaign to raise money for the new V&A in Dundee, I sat next to one of Scotland’s best-known businessmen. We talked (inevitably) about independence.

He had an interesting take. He can’t understand, he says, why the SNP insists on making the argument so very complicated.

At the moment Scotland is effectively a member of five unions. First, a union of the crown; second, a currency union; third a parliamentary union; fourth, a European union; and fifth, a defence union. Deconstruct the ‘independence’ plans and you will see that the SNP really only wants to fiddle with the third. So why not just say so?

This is really about very little other than controls over taxation and – if you think of each union as a line with total separation at one end and togetherness at the other – just how far you move your marker up and down the parliamentary line. It’s already shifted significantly with devolution and the Scottish Parliament. All that needs to be argued about now is how much further it can be moved while keeping the other unions intact (as most people and the SNP appears to want).

If the SNP would make this clear, said my companion, it would make it a great deal easier for the people of Scotland to figure out want was going on, and to make rational choices.