The coalition government should resign forthwith if Scotland votes for independence
As of now (6 August 2014) the best guess must be that Scotland will vote to reject independence in the referendum on the 18th of next month. But there are still many undecided voters and most pundits predict a closer result than the opinion polls currently suggest. The possibility of a narrow majority for independence can’t be ruled out, and politicians and media analysts alike should be doing much more contingency planning and discussion against that possibility than seems to be happening. Among the major issues in the event of a majority Yes vote that ought to be actively considered by all the UK parties between now and the referendum is whether the coalition government should resign at once if defeated in the referendum, with fresh elections before the end of this year to elect a new government with a mandate to conduct the independence negotiations with Scotland. In my view it would be a constitutional outrage if Cameron and his coalition government refused to resign in such circumstances, for the reasons (among others) set out in my letter published in today’s Guardian:
A vote for Scottish independence is a vote for a pig in a poke
• The Guardian, Wednesday 6 August 2014
Martin Kettle’s dystopian and all too credible prediction of the disastrous consequences of a majority for independence in the Scottish referendum in September (Remember 2014, the last summer of the old Britain, 31 July) suggests two possible variants of his scenario. First, David Cameron’s coalition government would surely have to resign immediately following such a catastrophic defeat. The incumbent government that had presided over the disintegration of our country as a direct result of its failure to offer Scotland a credible alternative to independence could hardly carry on as if nothing terrible had happened; and anyway there would be a pressing need for a new government with an electoral mandate to open and lead the negotiations with Edinburgh on the detailed terms of Scotland’s secession.
Second, the negotiations between Scotland and the rest of the UK (rUK) on the terms of secession would be quite likely to get bogged down in failure to agree on some key issues. If the best terms that the government at Holyrood was able to extract fell significantly short of the SNP’s demands, there might well be justified pressure from the Scottish people for a fresh referendum to establish whether those who had voted in 2014 for independence still favoured it on the only terms on offer following the negotiations. Come September, Scots will have to decide whether to buy a pig in a poke. They may well find that they don’t like the pig when it eventually emerges. However, it would be risky for Scots considering a yes vote in September to assume that they will have an opportunity later to change their minds if they don’t like whatever may emerge from negotiations with rUK.
On the second point in my Guardian letter, there seems to be some doubt about whether ministers have allowed Whitehall to start planning for the consequences of a possible vote for independence on 18 September. Such an outcome would launch several years of intricate and often deeply divisive negotiations between a Scottish team, led by or perhaps comprising the SNP, on the one hand, and a team representing the rest of the UK (rUK), probably representing all the mainstream UK parties, on the other. Does the main steering brief for the rUK team in the negotiations already exist in Whitehall, setting out the rUK’s main aims in the negotiations, including its red lines on an independent Scotland’s currency; the future of rUK naval and military bases in Scotland (including HM Naval Base Clyde); and the allocation as between Scotland and rUK of North Sea oil revenues, the national debt, the armed forces, and a host of other assets and liabilities? Have the three main UK parties worked out agreed or differing policies on each of these vital issues? If they differ, how are the differences to be reconciled in conducting the negotiations if not by a mandate from the rUK electorate — which would mean publicly disclosing the rUK’s negotiating positions in advance? Perhaps most important of all: what will happen if, after perhaps several years of difficult and stormy negotiations, the two sides simply fail to reach agreement? In the last resort the rUK side can lay down the terms on which the UK parliament will be prepared to grant independence to Scotland, whether or not the Scottish side — almost certainly after fresh elections in Scotland — has agreed to them. What if the majority of Scots who will have voted Yes in 2014 don’t wish to become independent on the terms laid down by rUK following a breakdown or deadlock in the negotiations? In that perfectly plausible situation, is rUK prepared to force independence on Scotland even if a majority of Scots don’t want it on the rUK’s terms?
All these issues urgently need to be publicly aired and debated in the next six weeks if Scottish voters are to have even a hazy understanding of the likely consequences of their votes on 18 September. Have ministers and their officials, and the Labour leadership separately, thought them through and arrived at firm decisions on how to handle them in the negotiations with the Scots if the Yes vote wins? Are any of the three main UK parties ready for an October or November general election fought on the issue of the terms of separation to be offered to Scotland after a Yes vote on 18 September? I rather doubt it.
Here I am, up in Scotland and strangely detached from the debate.(For comparison I was very active for the Yes side in the devolution campaign.) This detachment is partly due to personal events over the last 18 months, but also a difficulty in getting a handle on what it all means.
I can’t help feeling that ‘independence’ in the context of modern Europe is almost entirely a nominal phenomenon, with little practical import beyond a bit of rebranding of some institutions which will continue as a matter of self-interest on both sides to have Scottish and rUK input. This will be somewhat costly in the short run but since it involves no great continuing costs not economically very significant. (The same is true in regards to asset/debt splits – within a few years they will pale into insignificance compared to the current health of Scotland’s economy – for which no predictions can be made since it will depend on what we Scots actually do AFTER independence has happened.)
As an economist, with game-theoretical insight I think we can safely say that nothing currently being said about the post-referendum negotiating positions has any value whatsoever as a guide to what they would actually be after a Yes vote! If campaigners and voters in Scotland do not understand that these negotiations will be conducted by the rUK on an entirely self-interested basis they are certainly deluding themselves. On the other hand the interdependence of two neighbouring countries with a common language and many common traditions is such that self-interest will involve a large amount of co-operation! The question then becomes to what extent would the ‘equilibrium’ position be different from the current one? I suspect in reality surprisingly little.
As for preparedness, I always assumed that as soon as Salmond won the last Scottish election he would be on the next plane down to London to get some positions established – particularly on the oil question, which in fact really ought to be the most straightforward of all to resolve given existing international resource right precedents. But maybe I over-estimated him – in fact I know I have in many ways, although I have never voted for him or his party. As an economist he is revoltingly neoclassical in outlook.
As a monetary economist myself, the fascinating question is the currency one. The reality is that in many ways it is the wrong question, or at least is wrongly posed. It isn’t just Scotland that faces a currency problem, but the whole of Europe and probably the world. In many ways, money is a bad answer to the wrong questions about the modern world economy! But we are stuck with it for now, I think, and need to make the best of it! From a theoretical standpoint, Europe’s, the UK’s and Scotland’s welfare would be maximised by a single European currency with proper provision for fiscal transfers. Unfortunately there is little prospect of this when there is such a discrepancy between the power and wealth of rich and poor. The rich in every country wanting to hang on to their immediate wealth (and profit from inter-regime arbitrage) have the power to keep the status quo; the poor in every country have no cushion within which any short-run income reduction for medium or long-run gain is acceptable. So I would argue that the right approach to the currency question is not which sterling rock or Scottish dollar (or whatever!) hard place is less painful, but what constitutional position (if any) would help to reduce Europe-wide inequality and improve Europe-wide co-operation? And I think that could reasonably be argued either way.
Oh, and of course the coalition should resign if there is a Yes vote – but then they should all have resigned out of shame ages ago anyway. At least Warsi had that decency.
Been wanting to get all this off my chest for a while – thanks for the opportunity! Hope your new knees (or did you ever get the second one?) are bearing up better than my middle-aged ones!
Brian writes: Many thanks for this, Diarmid. I agree with much of what you say, although I think it’s much too early to dismiss the concept of national independence as largely irrelevant in an age of interdependence. Tribal nationalism remains, alas, a potent force in international affairs and the nation state will surely remain the basic building-block in international affairs for as far ahead as it’s useful to look. I also have my doubts about the proposition that the argument about a currency union between Scotland and rUK in the event of Scotland becoming independent is less important than an eventual currency union covering the whole of the EU because this would facilitate a reduction of inequality within Europe. Equalisation payments within the EU are not just possible but actually made without an all-EU single currency, which seems to me a very long way off since it would entail something amoiunting to a full political union. Meanwhile the dispute over a £ sterling currency union between rUK and Scotland is a very serious one and will remain so as long as Mr Salmond refuses to recognise the insuperable objections to it — unless he’s prepared to accept extensive control by London of Scotland’s fiscal and monetary policies and London supervision of Scottish banks, all of which would hardly be consistent with Scottish independence.
Thank you very much for your kind enquiry about my new knee. It’s functioning pretty well at long last although that has taken over a year to happen. The whole process has been so awful — see https://barder.com/3942 — that I couldn’t contemplate for a moment going through it again to replace my other knee, despite the other one being even more badly worn than the first. Indeed, I doubt whether I would survive another year like the last one. But I think on balance the one replacement has been worth-while.
Interesting. I am not going to forecast the outcome of the referendum.
The coalition government does not have to resign as a matter of law. However, I think that there is considerable force in your argument that – as a matter of politics – the coalition should be wound up and an autumn election held. Practically speaking, I doubt that there is any intention to do this. The coalition will bumble on to May 2015 and we will be told that the Fixed Term Parliaments Act prevents an election before them. (It does not but the motion of no confidence provisions would have to be applied).
I believe that the same argument may well apply. The coalition will be under pressure to give “devo-max” but will not truly have a mandate to do so and some politicians might well be reluctant to offer this given the No vote.
As for planning, I see little evidence of it. It’s all rather like a runaway train heading downhill.
Brian writes: Thank you for these interesting reflections. I agree of course that it has probably never occurred to the coalition partners that their government might come under pressure to resign if the Scots vote Yes, and have absolutely no intention of doing so as of today. My point is that in such a calamitous situation for the future of the UK and with the responsibility for it clearly resting with the government that will have presided over it, elementary constitutional propriety and precedent would demand the government’s resignation, and Labour should certainly demand it.
I agree that the fixed-term parliament Act (itself of dubious constitutional propriety — if we had a written justiciable federal constitution, the Supreme Court would probably have struck it down) need not be an obstacle to the resignation of Mr Cameron and his government: the government side would simply abstain in a vote of no confidence.
In the event of a majority for the Noes, all three mainstream UK parties are committed to the grant of new devolved powers to Scotland in the area of taxation, but I am sure this trivial offer will be nothing like enough to satisfy continuing Scottish demands for much greater control over their own internal affairs. To regard a vote against independence as the end of The Scottish Question, permitting a minor adjustment on tax but otherwise a comfy return to the status quo, will be a historic blunder on the part of a complacently blind English Establishment. A UK government with any insight and imagination will see the campaign for independence and the extent of support for it in Scotland as a serious warning of the need to review the whole constitutional future of the UK, including the case for full internal self-government for Scotland within the UK — and eventually, probably, for the other three UK ‘nations’ (shorthand for England, Wales and Northern Ireland). No doubt our political class will be terrified by talk of ‘federation’, but that’s plainly where we’re heading — unless Scotland votes in six weeks’ time to secede.
If Scotland bids us farewell won’t New Labour lose a good number of its safe seats?:
So what’s the likely result of an immediate election?
An even bigger proportion of Conservative and LibDem MPs in Parliament?
What do you think?
Brian writes: Thank you for this, John. The next general election will take place well before Scotland becomes independent even if the referendum next month produces a majority for independence. So the relative standings of the parties won’t be affected (except politically) and Scotland will elect its MPs to Westminster in the usual way. The referendum result won’t in itself affect Scotland’s constitutional status within the UK, any change in which would require legislation by the Westminster parliament (and of course corresponding legislation by the Scottish parliament). Westminster legislation will have to await the outcome of negotiations between Scotland and rUK on literally thousands of issues arising from the separation of Scotland. In my view, FWIW, those negotiations are likely to take between three and five years to complete, unless they break down early on — a possibility discussed in my post and in my Guardian letter, quoted in my post.
And why are you still writing about “New” Labour? New Labour is Old Hat!
Would you be kind enough to amplify the thinking behind saying “elementary constitutional propriety and precedent would demand the government’s resignation” please?
Given all the main political parties supported the referendum with the idea that voters in Scotland should make their own decision, does it not follow that there can be no defeat as such of the government? If so, the significance of the consequences notwithstanding, what would an election in the autumn actually be about as the terms of separation would be very far from being formulated? Still, at some point once known, the English, Welsh and Northern Irish might be asked their views on those terms, especially if they are expected to live with them.
Brian writes: Thank you for this. There are three reasons why the present government should resign if the Scots vote next month for independence.
First, one of the principal duties of any government to the nation that it governs is the preservation of the country’s territorial and political integrity. A government that has dramatically failed in that duty should acknowledge that calamitous failure and resign, just as Chamberlain’s government was forced to resign when the scale of the failure of its appeasement policy became clear after Narvik in 1940.
Secondly, both coalition partners, the Conservatives and the LibDems, campaigned actively (although possibly not actively enough) against Scottish independence, both having been in a position as members of a governing coalition to offer Scotland an imaginative alternative to independence. If that campaign turns out to have failed, the responsibility for the impending disintegration of the UK will rest squarely on the UK government for its lack of imagination and courage in failing to offer that obviously necessary alternative. Again, a government that has so spectacularly failed to avert the country’s dissolution by its failure to take the necessary preventive action beforehand has a plain duty to resign, if parliamentary democracy is to have any meaning.
Thirdly, a government that has failed so lamentably on both counts can’t possibly be trusted to organise and lead the ensuing negotiations on the terms of Scotland’s separation. There would be a pressing need in those circumstances for the election of a new government with an unimpeachable electoral mandate to pursue defined objectives on the main issues to be settled in the negotiations. It would be up to the parties during the election campaign to set out how they would attempt to settle the most controversial questions that would need to be decided before Scotland could become independent. For example, one party might promise to insist uncompromisingly on certain results from the negotiations in relation to the SNP’s demand for an rUK-Scottish currency union, while another might pledge itself to search for a compromise solution that both sides could accept. Thus the electorate on both sides of the border would have a choice of the kind of approach that would be adopted by whichever party or parties were newly elected to government at Westminster.
To put it in a nutshell: a Scottish vote for secession from the UK would represent the most grievous failure on the part of the UK government in office at the time that it’s possible to imagine, short of losing a war. If that government tried to carry on as if nothing dreadful had happened, the whole idea of responsible parliamentary government would be undermined.
Thanks Brian. An interesting response as expected. Glad the new knee seems to be an eventual net benefit!
Of course what you say about ‘tribal nationalism’ is true, but in a sense the Scottish debate has perhaps uniquely been conducted (on the surface anyway) in terms of ‘civic nationalism’. There has also been a strong voice for simultaneous internal decentralisation of power which would tend to reduce the tribal aspects. See eg: http://www.scotsman.com/news/trevor-davies-power-to-the-people-must-have-meaning-1-2284492
The point about a properly constituted currency union is that fiscal transfers would have to replace differential interest rates and other monetary policies so would inevitably be much greater than current equalisation payments. I’m not sure if my point about inequality came across entirely clearly – I regard inequality as the main barrier to closer European co-operation, including monetary co-operation; the arguments for the latter being mostly on efficiency rather than equity grounds.
You are quite right that the UK currency question would be important, but in fact it is almost certainly moot, because the failure to debate that issue in realistic terms is probably the biggest underlying reason (apart from simple inertia) that independence will be rejected. If it isn’t then there will be a monetary car crash of some description, in the aftermath of which I think the issues I have raised will come into play.
In a reply to another comment you raise the ‘federation’ issue. Well, of course this is what we should have, but it can’t be one solely of the existing countries of the UK – that would be hopelessly unbalanced in England’s favour. So unless the English regions are going to see their way to greater self-determination – inequality here again an issue – it’s not a live option.
My original comment was actually a first formulation in writing of thoughts I have had for a while, so I adapted and put on my own website at http://www.futureeconomics.org/2014/08/independence-is-nominal/ with a link to your post that stimulated it. Would you have any objection to my posting your response to my comment (and any further response should there be one) with my piece?
I’m finding myself spending quite a bit of time in London these days. Perhaps we’ll bump into each other somewhere – hopefully not on the knees!
Best wishes, Diarmid
Brian writes: Thank you for these further comments. I don’t have much to add, except that whatever the objectives of reducing inequality within the EU, whether for efficiency or for equity, it will be a generation before the possibility of the UK joining a single EU-wide currency comes within the bounds of possibility, given the traumatic experience of the near-collapse of the Euro and the cost to Eurozone members of rescuing it in terms of transferring control of their fiscal and borrowing and bank regulatory powers to Berlin. There’s no sign of any waning of current antipathy to closer integration of the UK in Europe and if anything it’s getting stronger, partly out of a craven fear of UKIP, partly out of old-fashioned nationalism, and partly because of the gruesome spectacle of the crippled €.
This is not the place to resume the debate on federalism for the UK. But I can’t let you get away with the idea that federalism is ruled out by the disparity in size between England and the other three nations (you say that a federation “would be hopelessly unbalanced in England’s favour”). The point is rather that the current constitutional relationship between the four constituent nations of the UK is “hopelessly unbalanced in England’s favour” and that is why a federal system is urgently needed, with its many safeguards against English domination, preventing English meddling in the internal affairs of the smaller nations. Such English meddling in Scotland’s affairs in the current “hopelessly unbalanced” constitutional framework is precisely the kind of insensitive abuse of England’s size and power that has driven Scotland to the verge of secession. The size disparity factor is the main reason for needing federalism, not an obstacle to it. Please see (for example) https://barder.com/4106, https://barder.com/723, https://barder.com/647, https://barder.com/2702, https://barder.com/2066, https://barder.com/4088, http://labourlist.org/2012/07/the-house-of-lords-reform-bill-scottish-referendum-and-the-federal-factor/, http://labourlist.org/2011/05/the-scottish-independence-issue-theres-a-better-way/, and many more, including my responses to many of the comments on them. Hence my reluctance to go over all that ground again here or in reply to similar comments on my corresponding blog post over at LabourList (http://labourlist.org/2014/08/labour-should-demand-the-coalitions-resignation-if-scotland-votes-for-independence/) when it’s only peripherally relevant to the principal question under debate, namely whether the coalition government should resign at once if Scotland votes for independence, and what will happen if negotiations on the terms of Scottish separation break down in failure to agree.
By all means reproduce this and my response to your earlier comment on your own blog. I’m flattered by your wish to do so!
Many thanks for your illuminating response. I appreciate your kindness in framing it.
I have some difficulty with the view that the government should resign for allowing the people to choose what they want, particularly when all the main political parties thought it right to allow them the chance to choose.
As for the present government’s efforts to entice Scotland’s voters to remain in the Union, I have been dismayed by the offers of variations on devo-max (in fact from all the main UK political parties) for they have no mandate to make such offers and a probable outcome of them is that at a repeat future referendum the SNP would be able to point out that hardly any matters other than foreign affairs, defence and the machinations of the Bank of England remain with the UK so independence is but a comparatively modest step that simply completes a trend towards full self-government.
As for the conduct of negotiations by rUK to set the precise terms on which Scotland leaves the Union, I would have thought the matter is so important that it would need some all-party negotiating commission that as needs be should consult the people of rUK, certainly including by way of referendum on the final terms. Whilst a general election post Scottish referendum vote might allow contrasting broad principles to be articulated to the rUK, electorate, the non-binding nature of election promises made at a remove from the negotiating chambers would seem something of an indulgence perhaps. Given that the adroit Alex Salmond would be negotiating for Scotland, and rUK’s negotiators would likely be incapable of regarding his country as a foreign power, I fear the reality whatever promises are made will be outrageous, needless concessions that materially disadvantage rUK.
Brian writes: Thank you for this. Contrary to what you seem to be saying, I have never suggested that the holding of the referendum constituted a failure for which the government should resign. What would constitute a resigning matter would be the government’s failure to avert the disintegration of the UK by satisfying the clear desire of most Scots for much greater control over their own internal affairs (but short of independence). An offer of full internal self-government for Scotland within the UK would not require a ‘mandate’: governments must always be free to take initiatives for which they have had no previous approval in an election manifesto but for which they will be held to account at the next general election. (In fact the coalition government can’t claim a mandate for anything at all that it has done and is doing, since its policies were all adopted in Tory-LibDem horse-trading after the polls had closed in 2010.)
I agree that some sort of all-party negotiating commission would need to be set up to conduct the negotiations with Scotland on the detailed terms for separation if the Yes vote wins in September, but it will be for an all-UK government to set that up and to lay down the broad guidelines and objectives for the negotiations, and it seems to me beyond dispute that this should be the responsibility of a newly elected government untainted by the failure of the present incumbents to safeguard the integrity and survival of the United Kingdom by agreeing to give the Scots most of what they perfectly legitimately want, whether it’s called full internal self-government, full devolution or devo max. I see nothing to be ‘dismayed’ about in any of that, except for the niggardly, mean-spirited, inadequate and trivial character of the offers that have belatedly made by all three mainstream UK parties.
It occurs to me that you might be interested to read some of the comments (and my responses to them) on a parallel but not identical post over at LabourList: see http://labourlist.org/2014/08/labour-should-demand-the-coalitions-resignation-if-scotland-votes-for-independence/.
“New Labour is Old Hat!”
What about Harman, Balls, Darliing, Murphy, Alexander, Cooper, Burnham, Flint, Benn and Co?
Have they all changed their spots?
Brian writes: Some have. Some (not listed) will presumably hide under the bedclothes when Chilcot is published. I trust that the rest will soon be history. None would now describe him- or herself as ‘New’ Labour.
Thank you for your further remarks and for the link to your post and comments on Labour List: I did indeed find those interesting.
” None would now describe him- or herself as ‘New’ Labour.”
You bet they wouldn’t.
Perhaps it’s time to start from a new base, given the changes which have occurred since these postings, in particular the polls which seem to show that independence will probably be the choice. Just three personal observations:
Brian, I do not find your arguments about the government resigning after a yes vote convincing. I know you would like them to resign, and I think the wish is father to the thought. There is a counterargument to yours, which I would expect David Cameron to depend on: a major constitutional crisis is not the right moment for a government to give up – and those who think it should give up have only to mobilise a majority in the House of Commons.
Your blog has thrown up a number of difficult questions which would follow from a yes vote. I think there will be a great many more. For an example close to home for you and me, what will happen to the civil service? And to the diplomatic service? Having worked for a time on Anglo/Irish relations I am very much aware of some of the botched arrangements which flowed from partition. I doubt if lessons have been learned.
I am not very proud of my third observation, which is this. As an Englishman whose whole professional life was in the service of the “Crown”, meaning my country, Britain for short, I do not feel (I use the word advisedly, I am not talking about anything intellectual) generous towards the Scottish nationalists, much as I enjoy Alex Salmond. If the vote is yes I hope our negotiators will be tough. If the Scots want something (on currency, on defence, on anything) they should pay for it.
Brian writes: Thank you for this, Oliver. I’m surprised that you dispute the arguments for Cameron (and of course his whole government) to resign if the Scots vote for independence, either going with the remains of his self-respect intact and of his own accord, or ejected by a vote of no confidence in the house of commons (far from inconceivable in the circumstances envisaged). He will have presided over the biggest catastrophe for his and our country since 1776 and will bear personal responsibility for the disaster, having vetoed devo max (or home rule or internal self-government) as a third choice in the referendum (which would have won), insisted on holding it before the SNP wished, agreed to giving the vote in it to teen-aged children, accepted a wording that made retaining the Union the negative option, and stubbornly refused until a few days before the referendum to offer Scotland a better alternative to independence than the status quo. It’s difficult to conceive of a policy and personal failure that would require resignation if this one didn’t. A further clinching argument is that a Cameron government totally discredited by the humiliating defeat of its constitutional policies (or exposed by its lack of any), and likely to lose office within a few months anyway, would be completely disqualified from leading the opening stages of the negotiations with Scotland on the separation arrangements, which would cry out for a new leadership, newly elected and with a new mandate. The fact that I would like to see the end of this reactionary, harsh, blundering, unelected government sooner rather than later inevitably lays me open to your charge of wishful thinking but that can’t invalidate the objective case. Every minister who has blundered and failed invariably pleads to be allowed to stay in office in order to clear up his or her own mess, and no doubt Cameron will make such a plea if the Yes campaign wins (“this crisis is not the moment for the distractions of a premature general election”). But if accepted, that self-interested appeal makes a nonsense of the whole principle that a minister or government that has manifestly failed, on a gigantic scale and a fundamental issue, in circumstances that were largely under his, her or its control, has a plain duty to resign, giving way either to someone else who enjoys the confidence of the house of commons in his or her new government, or who has been newly elected with a fresh mandate from the people.
As for generosity towards the Scots in any separation settlement, I’m again surprised at your argument for (in effect) vindictiveness, which I’m sure will be vigorously propounded by our lovable and warm-hearted tabloids and the rest of the right-wing media, although as Murdoch is championing Scottish independence it will take a heroic dose of hypocrisy even by his standards for his gruesome organs then to demand the extraction of a heavy price from the Scots for getting it. We surely ought to keep in mind, if the worst happens, that nearly half of the Scottish voters will probably have voted to stay with the UK; that whatever happens in the separation negotiations, Scotland will still be our closest neighbour, with a long land border and the rights that will flow from sharing our island with us; that tens of thousands of UK citizens have close bonds of friendship, family ties and shared economic and financial interests with the Scots, and that those bonds deserve to be preserved and protected; and, even more simply, that vindictiveness and the urge to punish are inherently discreditable motivations, while generosity — especially when felt to be somewhat undeserved — is a virtue under pretty well any moral or ethical code. End of sermon!