Scottish independence affect on ecommerce

By Chris Dawson September 18, 2013 - 9:39 am

The press is full of talk of the referendum on Scottish independence today, which will take place exactly a year from today.

There’s plenty of talk about should (if it happens) an independent Scotland keep the pound, join the Euro or get their own currency? Would they get automated or expedited membership of the EU? What would they do about the military. Generally the thought is that Scotland would apply to join the Commonwealth and thus retain ties with the rest of the UK and the monarchy but there are plenty of unanswered questions.

I don’t have any of the answers, and not being Scottish won’t have a choice to vote in the referendum anyway, but what is of interest is how would an independent Scotland affect Ecommerce?

Would we see eBay Scotland and Amazon Scotland be set up eventually, or would it end up like Ireland where most citizens voted with their feet and used the UK sites? What about courier charges – would couriers eventually consider Scotland to be a separate nation and set new rates for anything to be delivered north of the border? The reverse of course would also hold that Scottish sellers would see rates rise even higher for deliveries to the rest of the UK.

Definitely a different currency would open up all kinds of difficulties for Ecommerce retailers with sellers paying cross border fees to the likes of PayPal and having convert their earnings back into Sterling for those living in what remains of the UK and into Scottish pounds or Euros for those living in Scotland.

Are you in favour of an Independent Scotland or would you prefer to see things remain at the status quo? Recent history with the referendum on proportional representation suggests that whilst a few ministers get all excited about change and pollsters predict a landslide, when it comes down to the actual voting the general population don’t care and are happy enough with things as they are.

Will Scottish votors be convinced it’s their patriotic destiny to be an independent country or will they distrust politicians in favour of stability and at least knowing that, whilst the economy might not have been great over the last few years, ties with the UK are on the whole a known and relatively stable future.

  • Lee Pearce
    4 years ago

    Another chance to use my favourite saying:

    “Be careful what you wish for as you might just get it”


  • 4 years ago

    A welcome and commendable new ‘angle’ on the debate around Scottish Independence.So here’s a big piece for starters. Two quick thoughts then more considered.
    First on ecommerce. Amazon has located some of it’s largest facilities within Scotland (don’t think that applies to Ireland?). The nature and scale of this presence suggest that a global operator like Amazon will have an influencial effect within an Independent Scotland with a relatively small (but still wealthy) economy. That in turn might suggest a ‘friendly’ regional base for Amazon and other mega corporate online players. Meantime, we have Dundee home of Grand Theft Auto and of D.C.Thompson (now one of the biggest social media operators in Europe)et al. In it’s influential bi-annual report ‘Future of Business’ the HSBC figured Bristol and Glasgow as one of two new leading UK cities in the emerging high tech, biotech, low carbon economy (Edinburgh meanwhile already, and still, coming along strongly. It all flows together (‘clusters’ etc.)… a vibrant ecommerce sector in amongst all that?

    Second point: You state (on PR), ‘the general population didn’t care and were happy enough with things as they were.’ I advise on PR or any other politics issue in the UK to beware the difference between: ‘didn’t care’; ‘were happy enough’; alienation; apathy (in its proper meaning); and disillusionment. I doubt there are many UK voters who are ‘happy enough’ with anything – and what about the growing numbers who no longer vote (the UK now has consistently low and lower voter turnouts on any elections or even voter registrations). Increasingly IME non-voting is a statement, rather than out of laziness or ‘didn’t care’. The reality is that it can be argued that the UK as exists doesn’t work whether with or without Scotland.

    On a more considered point: There are many in Scotland who see the debate around the Scottish Referendum as a greatly wasted opportunity for an informed and comprehensive discourse on the existence and purpose of the UK and the various possible futures. They will have supported a senior Scottish Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) where she acknowledged:

    ‘But the standard of that debate, and its negative and divisive tone, has clearly been a disappointment to many.’

    ‘… the constitutional debate has become increasingly bad-tempered on both sides. We have also seen assertion replace fact at a time when people need certainty.’

    The latter comment, however, suggests the existence of a ‘two sided’ debate. The reality is a significant proportion of the Scottish electorate have remained undecided – and those are the voters who have been most ill served by the debate. Even among those voters who have a seemingly decided view, I suggest that there is a lack of firm, positive motivation – ether to vote No in response to ‘project fear’ or vote Yes in an anxious seeking of an alternative to the Union they see as patently not working.

  • Alan Hunter
    4 years ago

    From a purely selfish point of view I would like a “no” because even if Scotland keep the £UKP I suspect couriers and any number of other middleman will exploit the change and it will end up costing me money.

  • Stuart
    4 years ago

    It’s a crackers idea, talk about wasting money to achieve nothing if the go independent.

    I don’t think people realise just how much money is wasted on these sort of things by governments. With the Welsh, Scottish and NI assembles alone waste millions and millions on stuff we just don’t need. Each needs its own posh building, it’s own staff, it’s own logos the list goes on.

    It should be one country, one set of rules….simple.

    I bet if it was that way we wouldn’t have massive hole in our budgets.

    I also think that English people should have the right to vote to make Scotland independent, it would effect us as much as it effects them.

    As for ecommerce I doubt anyone in Scotland would be stupid enough to change anything that would increase costs…but then you never know!

    Oh an with regards to Amazon warehouses in Scotland, the Scottish Government paid for those warehouses, so what would stop Amazon walking away from them?

  • paddy
    4 years ago

    I’m based in Scotland but the majority of my trade is done with customers south of the border. Depending on the currency I would hope that there would not be any significant changes to courier charges as the distances involved won’t be changing. (probably over simplistic thinking!)
    FWIW I am voting Yes but I expect a NO vote to pass with a narrow majority.

  • Jo
    4 years ago

    I find it hard to believe that the Scots would keep the British pound when they would have no influence over it, inc. interest rates etc – I’m not even certain if the EU would allow them to, longer-term.

    I’m not interested in the politics, but the sooner Ireland, UK, Scotland – have the same currency the better.

    • 4 years ago

      If we are talking about currency surely there is only two options possible. These are:-

      a) the Scots continue with the Pound Sterling although as they already have their own Scottish Banknotes denominated in Pounds Sterling they just continue with that. It is possible indeed likely that the EU will want the Scots to change to the Euro which the Scots may reject.

      b) the EU gets its way and tells the Scots that they can only be a part of the EU if they accept the Euro with all its faults.

      There really is no chance at all of the Scots ‘inventing’ their own currency and remaining in Europe.

      So if the Scots end up with a) then trade between Scotland and the rest of the current UK should not be affected. If b) then it will be no different to trading with Ireland or France and the rest of the EU.

      International Borders withing the EU are for all intents and purposes a thing of the past. So it is very unlikely that there will be any Border Posts between England and Scotland. Brussels would just not accept them unless Scotland found itself outside of the EU. Then a whole new set of problems comes into existence.

      Could Scotland find itself outside the EU? I would think that this is possible. Especially if the EU were to decide to treat Scotland as a New Applicant rather than just a bit of an existing Member State. After all New Applicants have to negotiate, sometimes for years, to get in. If the EU said that Scotland was not a Member until it had negotiated its way in and that these negotiations would not start until the results of the Referendum were known could leave Scotland in limbo for several years.

      Obviously if the Scots were to vote No to full independence then nothing changes from the current situation.

      In regard to the Political Debate. It is a year before the Referendum. I first worked in the 1964 General Election and I have taken part in most and observed closely every General Election since. We know the date of the next General Election in 2015. Nothing really starts to happen until the last few weeks and then it all goes bonkers. I would expect the Scottish Referendum to be very similar. Politicians and their Advisers will no doubt want it to be warming up now but from my experience over many years people have far more important things to worry about that are far more immediate. So they are just not getting involved.

    • northumbrian
      4 years ago

      Salmond was blithering on about Royal mail privatisation before the referendum being unfair to the Scottish people, yet seems quite happy for the Scottish people to avoid their share of the national dept after independence,

      Scotland with only a total population of 5 million people (many of those are English) will always depend on the rest of the UK to survive,
      plus many Scots are resident in the rest of the UK ,so Scotland being truely independant is never going to happen

    • 4 years ago

      In reality every bit of the UK is reliant on all the other bits of the UK. Some such as Cambridge_blue might argue that the Urban areas could survive without the Rural Areas but it is total garbage.

      Scotland without the rest of the UK would be in serious trouble and indeed the rest of the UK without Scotland would be seriously weakened.

      I know that there are many in Cornwall who would argue for Cornish Independence. Indeed in some ways they are correct. Why for example does a minor decision only really affecting Cornwall have to be passed up the chain to Bristol or London to get a final decision?

      In Cornwall we have the total insanity of Holiday or Second Homes. We have towns and Villages with more than 50% of houses only occupied for about 60 days a year or less. I wonder how those living in London, Manchester or indeed Cambridge would feel about whole areas of the city being locked and barred for 10 months or so a year. With shops, schools, pubs and bus routes closing down because there is nobody living there while there are hundreds or even thousands existing in bed and breakfasts or damp caravans because there are no homes for them to live in.

      A Cornish Parliament could pass Laws requiring Second Homes to pay Double Council Tax and having to apply for Change of Use Planning Permission before they can become a Second Home.

      The trouble is that for decades all decisions large and small have had to be referred up to London. Crazy. Localism has not helped because the Politicians who dreamed it up were not committed to it. So it is the fault of generations of mainly Tory Politicians that Scotland is calling for Independence and such as Cornwall has its own Independence Party.

    • northumbrian
      4 years ago

      politicians of all flavours are the problem
      not just tories,

    • Cambridge_Blue
      4 years ago

      Talking garbage is something you specialise in my dear Cornish Muppett.
      My issue is that you expect the rest of us to subsidise your rural lifestyle and that you do not even acknowledge my charity and that of others in keeping you hamlet alive.
      The cruel reality that you and other fantasists can’t accept is that England can & will survive perfectly well without Scotland let alone a bunch of whingeing Cornishmen.
      If your local yokels can’t afford houses then you either have to build a lot more affordable housing, get better paid employment down there or move elsewhere – simple.
      Of course your solution to everything is another daft beaurocratic policy taken from from the failure bin as ever.
      More local taxes, more restrictions, rent control, rent caps etc just so the deserving Cornish can live it large and the undeserving non Cornish can get stuffed – get real.
      Whats really crazy is the idea that people with your views should ever be in charge of anything even in Cornwall.
      As a failed politcial hack you should know better.
      God Bless ‘second home owners’
      pip pip

    • 4 years ago

      Why is it that every time we see the name Cambridge_blue on a listing we know that we are going to read the rantings of somebody with the mind of a infant. And as usual we are not disappointed.

    • Cambridge_Blue
      4 years ago

      For those of you who are really interested in the the currency issues related to Scottish independence here are three links to get you started that may be of interest:
      Whilst this stuff is clearly deeply boring to most of us it actually matters a lot more than the usual emotional guff about independence.
      And for the record there actually three serious options on the table and all will involve heavy duty negotiation with Scotland clearly in the weaker position assuming the Eton & Oxbridge boys don’t lose their bottle as usual.

  • northumbrian
    4 years ago

    the pound ,the police, the military, the mail, the health service, the phone service, the rail links, the roads,the benefit system, etc etc Scotland will never be truely independant from England,
    its a political career for Alex Salmond rather than a realistic possibility, we wonder how on one hand they insist on independance fron the UK ,yet also insist Scotland will be in Europe, how can this be independance. being ruled from Brussels?

  • northumbriam
    4 years ago

    we live in Scotland and truth be told the SNP were voted in Because the were the Best option Availble not because the Scots really want Independance

  • Darren
    4 years ago

    The SNP and their leader are not representative of the Scottish people, and I am sure our friends in Scotland will vote to stay in the Union. I think the main issue is that the other parties run from Westminster just pay lip service to Scotland, and dont really offer credible policies.

    From a personal view we have a lot of sales from Scotland, so any change in postage etc will not be welcome.

  • 4 years ago

    Disappointed at the nature of some of the comments here. I had hoped that, given the unusual ‘technology’ angle, it may have produced something more substantial. Instead there is a degree of rhetoric and statements of opinion-as-fact without any supporting evidence; matters could be helped with a better knowledge of the actual economic and political facts in the Scottish context by some commentators.

  • Cambridge_Blue
    4 years ago

    What is both funny and sad is that most of the English simply don’t give a damm about Scotland or this referendum.
    England will remain the economic and political powerhouse on the British Isles regardless of what a few million Scots would like to think or dream about.
    England will continue to dominate and will manage very well thank you irrespective of whether Scotland votes yes or no.
    And that really does get up Scottish noses because this vote means little or nothing to most Englishmen and they just can’t take the almost complete indifference we feel about it.

  • 4 years ago

    Thank you for that post, this is one more interesting aspect to be considered. If you don’t mind, I will share this through my own blog, which is related to all matters associated with independence, and discussing the various problems and questions it poses.

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