Northern England Could Provide Critical Mass for the New Independent Scotland: Invite the Geordies to the Party!

A few years ago Henry Etzkowitz mentioned Hadrian’s Wall as an ideal geographical boundary for a northern zone of innovation in Europe. Hadrian’s Wall is the historical boundary between Scotland and England. It was constructed by the Romans to keep the unruly peoples of the north out of Roman-occupied territories of the south. Dr. Etzkowtiz suggested a cross-border zone of cooperation. However, a few years later with the prospect of independence looming, Hadrian’s Wall makes sense as the border between Scotland and England. Northern England should join Scotland is the essential argument, linking with its innovation systems and transportation systems as Dr. Etzkowitz suggested.  In an early blog post I suggested that Northern England should be invited into the new country.

Invite the Geordies to the Party!

(Blurted out by many on a good night out in Scotland)

Well, in a keen political move, it seems that the independence movement led by the Scottish Nationalist Party is doing just that. There is a public and political recognition of the needs of Northern England and a common sense argument on the benefits of working together. Unfortunately, the people are not well represented in Northern England, and don’t have their own representation either.

Hadrian’s Wall

Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland in reference to the people and institutions of Northern England remarked ““Quite often, they feel not just neglected but totally ignored – but with no defence mechanism like we have now with our own parliament”.

This is true and was one of the conclusions of Henry’s study over the years at Newcastle University. What would it take politically for Northern England — that area north of Hadrian’s Wall – to join Scotland in its independence movement?  I would suspect that if the vote was put to the people, this would tip the scales towards independence and make for a larger nation of 8 million people. Newcastle would join the New Scotland as another major City of 300,000 people. In terms of university power, Newcastle has loads of it with two quality institutions. Newcastle University is one of the UK’s best.  A renewed Newcastle would provide additional impetus for innovation and creativity and investment in its universities would add fuel to the momentum these under-resourced institutions already have. Adding these to Scotland’s portfolio brings the total to 16 universities. The population of the new Scotland would be larger than any “Arc of Prosperity” country — Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Finland or Denmark.

While the First Minister’s comments in the article above were meant to address the growing criticism of the issues of a new national border and how it might effect the people of Northern England, he played it quite conservatively and proposed linkages. However, a bolder political move might be to invite the people of Northern England into the new Scotland, open the doors of the new country to them. They would have figure out how to join Scotland politically of course, but if they so wanted, the borders could be redrawn and the Scottish Government would be open to such.  This strategy will communicate some goodwill as Scotland will be a land of inclusiveness, which I believe is one of the core value differentiators in the argument for an independent nation in this case.  However, it is not articulated clearly enough. A policy and culture of inclusiveness is essential for building innovative, creative and entrepreneurial community.  Those who understand this and want to live in or around such community will want to live in Scotland.

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