The Scottish nationalists seek to end the United Kingdom after 300 years of a successful union. Their drive for an independent Scotland is now nearer to success than it has ever been.
Success would mean a diminished Britain and a perilously insecure Scotland. The nationalists have represented the three centuries of union with England as a malign and damaging association for Scotland. The European Union is held out as an alternative and a safeguard for Scotland's future. But the siren call of secession would lure Scotland into a state of radical instability, disrupting ties of work, commerce and kinship and impoverishing the economy. All this with no guarantee of growth in an EU now struggling with a downturn in most of its states and the increasing disaffection of many of its members.
In this incisive and controversial book, journalist John Lloyd cuts through the rhetoric to show that the economic plans of the Scottish National Party are deeply unrealistic; the loss of a subsidy of as much as GBP10 billion a year from the Treasury would mean large-scale cuts, much deeper than those effected by Westminster; the broadly equal provision of health, social services, education and pensions across the UK would cease, leaving Scotland with the need to recreate many of these systems on its own; and the claim that Scotland would join the most successful of the world's small states - as Denmark, New Zealand and Norway - is no more than an aspiration with little prospect of success.
The alternative to independence is clear: a strong devolution settlement and a joint reform of the British union to modernise the UK's age-old structures, reduce the centralisation of power and boost the ability of all Britain's nations and regions to support and unleash their creative and productive potential. Scotland has remained a nation in union with three other nations - England, Northern Ireland and Wales. It will continue as one, more securely in a familiar companionship.
Country of Publication:
03 April 2020
Professional and scholarly
Introduction: Breaking Britain Chapter One: The Other Union Chapter Two: The English Speak Chapter Three: The Cash Nexus Chapter Four: The Crumbling Pillars Chapter Five: The Poisonous Elephant Conclusion: The Re-imagining of the Union
John Lloyd is a Contributing Editor for the Financial Times, where he has been Labour Editor, East Europe Editor and Moscow Bureau Chief. His books include Loss without Limit: the British Miners' Strike (with Martin Adeney), Rebirth of a Nation: An Anatomy of Russia, What the Media are doing to our Politics, and The Power and the Story: The Global Battle for News.
Reviews for Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot: The Great Mistake of Scottish Independence
'John Lloyd has written a personal and moving but also historically informed plea to preserve the Union between England and Scotland. His argument is not just the familiar one that the Scottish National Party understates the economic risks of independence. He also shows how little sense separation makes in the present state of Europe and the world. Best of all, his is not merely a defence of the status quo, but a call to regenerate the Union.' Niall Ferguson, Milbank Family Senior Fellow, the Hoover Institution, Stanford 'John Lloyd is a shrewd, eloquent and reliable purveyor of home truths. His new book on the Scottish Question, which calls out lazy sentimentality and wishful thinking, will cause controversy as well as consternation in many quarters.' Colin Kidd, University of St Andrews