Science, Evidence and History

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By A. Anderson

We who have been fortunate enough to have got some education, think in scientific mode when we are considering alternatives, or at least we try to.  We recognise that a rational assessment of the pros and cons is the best way to consider something important, rather than responding to emotion or following tradition, that indeed is part of a modern education.

We in Scotland now are faced with a major decision the like of which has never been available to Scottish people in our entire history, and indeed, except for an exceptional and unexpected result at the last Scottish election, would not have been available to us now.

Next year we will have the opportunity, each one of us, to decide if Scotland should put responsibility for our community’s future in the hands of the Scottish people; or if we should leave that future in the hands of others.  That is the issue clear and simple just stating the facts.

The scientific approach to any question is to develop a theory or theories and then to test each theory in a laboratory to see if it can perform as the theory assumes.  In Chemistry such a laboratory is familiar, in geology we often need to go out of the University to examine rocks and strata or fossils; In the Social Sciences we have learned from people like Adam Smith from Glasgow University that observation of actual social activity, and accurate historical evidence of this is the best laboratory to test social theory.

That being the case the obvious laboratory test for the theory that the people of Scotland’s best option in the above choice is to put their hands in Westminster Parliament is to ask are there any historical examples were the Westminster Parliament had responsibility for other communities, and if so, how successful was it for the communities concerned?

Now we are fortunate here, because there is a great deal of historical data on this, covering three centuries of time, both large and small communities, and from every continent in the world.  The number of communities which had experience of rule under a Westminster Parliament is considerable and widespread, from our closest neighbour Ireland to the USA, Australia, India, Uganda, Singapore and a host of others.

History shows us that all of these communities, with a few tiny exceptions, got away from the “privilege” of having the Westminster Parliament deal with their affairs, and many of them paid a heavy price in blood to do that.  Most of them even to this day celebrate their freedom from rule by the Westminster Parliament, and none of them, not even the smallest or poorest of them have ever asked to come back under the Westminster Parliament.

Now that seems to me pretty positive evidence that the theory that Westminster Government is to the advantage of other communities has failed the laboratory test; But in the true scientific approach one should always keep an open mind.  In spite of this historical evidence, is there a case that Westminster Parliament could be beneficial for the Scottish community, is Scotland different from all these others in some respect?

Is there a valid and reasonable case to be put forward for Scotland bucking the trend and being unique in this regard?  Well may be, but clearly the “No Campaign” don’t appear to think so, because they are not putting forward such a case.  They seem to be relying on the Unionist politicians, many with a vested interest, the £millionaire media, and the State Broadcaster the BBC, in breach of its own charter to keep pushing the negative case and hope that will frighten us into compliance.

There is of course a very good reason for Scotland to have good relationships with its close neighbours in the rest of the UK, there is an equally good reason for Scotland to have good relationships with the USA and China; but that does not mean that we can only do this if we are subjected to their respective Governments.  Any suggestion that we are “separating” from our English and Welsh friends and relations; or that we are moving away from our long standing connections with them is pure emotional blackmail.

When the Scottish people vote for full political power to be restored to the Scottish Parliament, we will not be moving, or going anywhere.  We shall remain where we are the day after the vote and our friends and associates in the rest of the UK will be there just the same.