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British Expat Newsletter: November 2013

Hello, and welcome to those of you who have recently signed up.

In this issue

This month

Here’s our news about the latest additions to the BE website.

Not much to report this month. Unfortunately I was rushed off to hospital in the small hours of 2 November. They let me home again just over a fortnight later, but gave me a suitcase full of pills to take with me. I call it my ‘medical muesli’.

Still, we’ve managed to add a couple of new things to the site.

Ever considered moving to the Algarve, or indeed anywhere in Portugal? In his latest article for BE, Jamie Waddell examines the reasons that took three English-speaking expats there, and the experiences that have made them likely to remain there for the foreseeable future!

Our Pic of the Week is from the Temple of Vittala, perhaps the most famous of the many imposing and historic temples at Hampi in India’s Karnataka State.

And 30 November is, of course, St Andrew’s Day, celebrated by Scots everywhere as their National Day. To mark the occasion, we’ve come up with a Quick Quiz all about St Andrew and some of the places named after him.

Editorial: Scotland’s choice

First Minister Alex Salmond launched the Scottish Government’s ‘Scotland’s Future’ White Paper on on 26 November, just four days ahead of St Andrew’s Day and less than ten months ahead of the referendum on Scottish independence.

So far, most of the debating on the referendum seems to have centred upon the SNP’s confident pronouncements on how Scotland will be able to move seamlessly from its present autonomous status into full independence. The Better Together campaigners have accused the SNP of underestimating or ignoring the legal hurdles Scotland will need to get over on the way. The Yes Scotland camp have accused the unionists of trying to spook the electorate with bogus fears.

The White Paper was supposed to offer a blueprint for Scotland’s independence. As such, its publication should be an opportunity for those interested in the debate to get down to discussing hard facts and the rational case for or against independence. But is it really?

At over 600 pages, you might think that it wasn’t a light read. But the length of a text doesn’t always reflect its density, and a quick glance at the White Paper shows it to be surprisingly readable (if you’re a fan) or else worryingly short on substance (if you’re not). Anyway, judge for yourself—it’s available here:
http://www.scotreferendum.com/

Being published by the Scottish Government—who called the referendum in the first place—it’s full of plausible assertions about what independence would mean for Scotland’s ability to shape its own destiny and its own political, economic and social life. So far, so worthy.

Unfortunately the White Paper muddies the issue by simultaneously acting as the SNP’s manifesto for the May 2016 general election that would be the first election held in an independent Scotland. This may be a tactical error, as non-SNP voters who might otherwise be open to persuasion over independence may be led to think that a vote for independence would be a vote for SNP government in perpetuity.

It wouldn’t be, of course. But it’s not hard to imagine opponents of independence conjuring up that particular bogeyman—just as the SNP points to the reality of Westminster governments that have had few or no MPs from North of the Border. (Even in 1983, when Margaret Thatcher was at the height of her popularity in England, the Tories managed only 21 seats out of 72 in Scotland.)

Nevertheless, there’s still a lot to admire in the White Paper. It paints a picture of a confident, socially inclusive and internationally responsible Scotland that’s better able to look after its own affairs in its own way and to deal with the rest of the world in its own terms rather than being drowned out by the noisy neighbours to the South. And it’s quite effective in pinpointing the weakness in the Better Together camp’s position—the lack of any similarly positive picture of a Scotland that votes against independence.

But overall the debate over independence has been a bit dispiriting so far. This is partly because the accusations each side has made against the other are substantially true. The SNP have consistently played down the possible legal obstacles to Scotland automatically continuing as an EU member, when it certainly isn’t a foregone conclusion—and likewise the prospect of remaining in the sterling area and indeed the Common Travel Area will be matters to be negotiated, not just nodded through. On the other hand, the Better Together people have been just as consistent in talking up those same difficulties—and even creating some where none exist.

Anyway, however interesting or otherwise the debate might be, it’s academic for me. Scots who aren’t habitually resident in Scotland won’t get to vote. This has caused more than a little disgruntlement among Scottish expatriates.

Mind you, so has the fact that Britons elsewhere in the United Kingdom won’t get a say either. Quite a few people have written to the papers to say that it’s wrong to confine the debate to Scotland—the issue affects the whole United Kingdom and should be decided by all Britons.

It’s a point of view, I suppose. But I’d be interested to know how many of these same people would expect any referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU to be conducted across all 28 member states. After all, the principle’s the same, isn’t it?

What do you think about Scottish independence? Would you welcome the chance for Scotland to decide its own affairs? Or do you think that both Scotland and the rest of the UK are indeed better together? why not let us know on our discussion forum?

Write for British Expat

Would you like to write for British Expat? Sorry, we don’t pay for articles but if you have a website we’ll link to it in the author’s blurb below any of your articles we publish. We use all sorts of content as long as it’s useful and/or interesting to our readership.

Besides articles, we also publish quick trivia quizzes—five questions about any subject. So, if you’d like to write for us but don’t feel like producing a literary masterpiece, then why not try writing a quickie quiz about your city, country, or even your hobby? Please use our contact form to get in touch.

British Expat Amazon Shopping

Amazon don’t just do books, you know. We’ve teamed up with them to bring you the ultimate in online shopping—from a micro SD card to a garden shed! A great way to do your shopping online, especially if the shops aren’t up to much in your part of the world.
BE Amazon Shop: UK & EU | BE Amazon Shop: non-EU

And now for something completely different…

With the spread of mass communications leading to an increasingly homogenised world, it’s refreshing to see those parts of the world that haven’t yet succumbed to the blandishments of coca-colonisation. Here’s a brilliant site with loads of photographs of such societies
Before They Pass Away

So there’s a round-up of all that’s been going on. Come on over and see for yourself! Don’t forget…
Visit the BE website and join in with our lively community!

Till next time…

Happy surfing!

Kay & Dave
Editor & Deputy Editor
British Expat—the definitive home for British expats

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