A view from Helsinki

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by A Reader

I’m a bit of an outsider, not being a Scot.  However, I lived in Scotland for several years and still maintain a keen interest in all things Scottish, hoping to return to my country of choice one day.

From the outside, it seems that the Calman Commission/Scotland Bill and now Osborne’s budget are total rip offs.  I’m baffled why anybody would vote for the Unionist parties.  They don’t want what’s best for Scotland, they want what’s best for the UK, which usually isn’t what’s best for Scotland.  Of course, there are Scottish voters who want what’s best for the UK (read London/SE) and I cannot for the life of me understand why.  But each to their own.

The tragedy for Scotland is that it gets bogged down by UK politics and can’t fully function or realise its potential.  Look at Norway, a small nation with a multitude of potential infrastructure problems including sparse population, hilly terrain and semi Arctic climate.  But they made it.  Because of their oil and wisely spent oil revenues.  Why didn’t Scotland fare as well with the oil? Because England, officially the UK, sapped it up.

No use crying over spilled milk, or oil, now.  But I just cannot understand why so many Scots don’t love their country enough to want it to be independent once more.  I come from a country that was under Swedish rule for several hundreds of years.  Finnish independence is one of the most important things in my life.  I cry tears of gratitude every Independence Day (6 December) that our wee, stupid and poor country has been independent since 1917.  

The first couple of decades were quite a turbulent ride but WWII galvanised us and now, we, a small nation of approximately 5 million, are a united country.  We’ve done well to go from an agrarian backwater to a modern industrialised and then post-industrialised country, and still have a welfare state that looks after the weak and vulnerable and educates the youngest to the highest PISA (Programme for International Student Assessments) standards and beyond – no tuition fees in our universities.  We could not have done it if we hadn’t been independent.  

Of course, the case for Scotland is different.  Finland has fewer natural resources (like oil), fewer opportunities for hydropower.  Finland is a flat an boggy country, imagine Caithness but ten times wetter, no chance of tidal power (the Baltic sea doesn’t have tides), we have Arctic winters (need to sell different kinds of diesel fuel summer/winter by law, two sets of tyres, summer/winter compulsory for every car), houses/blocks of flats required to clear snow from pavements etc.  Living in Finland is a real drag.  All these problems, but we are a rich nation and are mostly happy in our own country.

Maybe Finnish independence wasn’t so “financially viable” in the beginning, but sometimes you just have to think with your heart, not numbers.  As for Scotland, Scotland is richer in natural beauty, natural resources, education, history, just about anything (except land area) than Finland.  So it begs the question, why isn’t Scotland independent again?  You’ve got more going for you than we ever had, and we made a success of it.