After the horrors of the Second World War, Japan's economy rose like a phoenix from the flames and, by the 1980s, had become the second largest in the world. The underlying reasons for this are many and complex but it does demonstrate the unbelievable power of starting afresh. Where nothing is off the table for change and you can redesign everything from first principles, there lie extraordinary opportunities. Scotland has just such an opportunity now.
Dr W Edwards Deming, heralded as the inspiration that led to the Japanese post-war economic miracle and Demi-God of the Japanese automotive industry, famously conducted a simple experiment for the executives attending his education programmes known as “The Red Bead Experiment”.
Delegates played the role of workers targeted at getting a number of red beads onto a plate from a tub full of mixed red and white beads. They were given a process. The angle to hold the tub. The speed to pour the beads and so on. Some succeeded and were “promoted”.
Others failed and were “sacked”. Some who had previously been successful often failed and were “demoted”. Of course, success was random. The system of obtaining red beads was fundamentally flawed and did not allow any possibility for consistency of success. The conclusion? 94 per cent of failures are due to the system. Cracking a whip with employees will serve no purpose when the system isn’t set up to deliver what you want. He taught this to the Japanese and they embraced it with great effect.
The problems faced by the UK government are similarly systemic in nature. With an electorate addicted to the fallacy that we still have an empire, every opportunity is taken to prove that it is still a “high-roller” on the world stage. In an attempt to win their favour, the two political monopolies are driven towards the centre ground by market research and opinion polls instead of the political ideologies that they purport to represent.
Voting has become an undemocratic decision on a change of management than anything remotely to do with policy. Little wonder voter turnout continues to decline.
Scottish independence: What will happen to key British institutions?
Scottish independence: What will happen to key British institutions?
1/7 The 2015 General Election
If it votes for independence, Scotland won’t leave the union until 2016 meaning, under current arrangements, that if Scots decide to go it alone they will still vote in the 2015 general election. The possibility of Scotland swinging the vote in favour of the government with which it will negotiate their independence has led some to call for the elections to be delayed. Downing Street has said, however, that it has no plans to postpone the election despite claims a yes vote could lead to a constitutional crisis.
2/7 The NHS
Alex Salmond has said a Yes vote in the referendum is the only way to save Scotland’s National Health Service. This claim was undermined, however, yesterday when research published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies determined that Scotland’s devolved government spent less in real terms on its health service than England. Despite this, the splitting up of the NHS would be more straightforward than other institutions, as it is already managed from Holyrood.
3/7 The BBC
The Licence fee in Scotland currently raises around £230m which the Yes campaign says it would use, along with the assets of BBC Scotland, to create a Scottish Broadcasting Service or SBS. It says the SBS would continue to provide original content to the BBC and Scotland would receive access to all current programming, including BBC1, BBC2 and national radio stations. The government has said since February that an independent Scotland would lose any automatic rights to BBC programming.
4/7 The Pound
The No Campaign is hoping that doubts over whether or not Scotland will be able to keep the pound will sway the referendum in its favour. George Osborne has said that the UK will not let Scotland keep the pound if it votes to leave the union and the leader of the Better Together coalition, former Chancellor Alistair Darling, has called the Yes campaign’s suggestion that it keep the currency “mad”. Alex Salmond has claimed repeatedly that Scotland will be able to retain the pound and has said speculation to the contrary is little more than fear mongering.
5/7 The Army
Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war and the stationing of the Trident Nuclear fleet north of the border are unpopular in Scotland. The Scottish Nationalists have railed against the war saying they would scrap Trident and create a new Scottish defence force based on existing Scottish regiments.
6/7 The Royal Family
Scotland would keep the Queen as a head of state under current plans proposed by the Yes campaign, as Elizabeth Queen of Scots. It would also remain part of the Commonwealth. However a second referendum could be held to determine what form a new Scottish state would take.
Scotland’s Rugby and Football teams would remain as they are if Scotland voted to leave the UK but the British and Irish Lions could be forced into a name change. What would happen to the British Olympic Association also remains up for debate. Scotland’s most successful Olympian Sir Chris Hoy has said he is wary of independence because of the number of Scottish athletes living and training in England and what their status would be.
The only opportunity that remains anywhere in the UK for systemic change in the foreseeable future is the Scottish Independence Referendum. Indeed, it is the biggest opportunity anywhere in the world since the global economic crisis of 2007/8 to start afresh like post-WWII Japan. We in Scotland are in an escape-pod on a doomed craft and are being given the opportunity to use it.
It is understandable that UK coming into the discussion this late in the day would lead the uninitiated to badge it as rampant patriotism, Braveheart, the Scots hating the English or whatever shallow agenda springs to mind. Such assumptions often lead to badge pro-independence as some ill thought through, parochial cause or simply a protest vote of the present party in power.
In fact, the reverse is true. You will find in most cases Yes voters having taken a far more cerebral approach than their No counterparts. They are people who have looked in detail at what both options really mean. Because getting to Yes involves a journey. Everyone is a No to begin with. No is a default position. It represents the status-quo.
This group of voters seldom have considered that the bigger risk is changing nothing. That the direction of travel of the status-quo is towards catastrophe. Of course, there are risks on both sides. But one conclusion to this referendum brings risks with control and the other without.
For most Yes voters this is a well thought through choice not just based on the implications of the referendum itself, but is also a choice of the type of person they want to be and, by virtue of which, the type of culture they want to perpetuate that will become the environment for their children’s future.
Like post-WWII Japan, Scotland now faces a huge opportunity to be the world’s most fit-for-purpose country. But we are not just leaving UK behind. It is the firm belief of many of us that the only hope for systemic reform in the rest of the UK is that we make a huge success of this separation. After Friday that is our responsibility. We won’t waste it, and we promise to deliver in the interests of everyone on these islands.
The Independent has disabled comments on all Scottish Independence Referendum articles while polls are open. The Scottish Referendum Act seeks to ensure the vote is unaffected by reports of how people are voting.Reuse content