The Union has damaged Scotland's Development and Prosperity

What was the purpose of the Union in the first place? It would be nice if the achievement of some well-meaning objective that was beneficial to both nations had been the purpose. However, history suggests that this was just not the case. For England, the primary purpose of the Union was quite straightforward; it was to achieve a long sought after objective of subduing and controlling Scotland. This purpose eclipsed all others for England. It had been the desire of English ministers for many years to “keep Scotland quiet and subservient” (Ferguson, 1987) and the Union treaty provided the perfect opportunity to achieve this. A secondary purpose for England was to secure the Hanoverian succession, which in the early 18th century was a very contentious issue between England and Scotland. The Scottish Parliament had repeatedly refused to agree to this succession, insisting that Scotland was free to choose its own monarch following the death of Queen Anne. England finally overcame this challenge by insisting that an Article should be inserted into the Union treaty that would bind both nations to the Hanoverian succession.

For Scotland the purpose of the Union was less clear cut. For some its purpose was to re-gain financial stability following the financial disaster of Darien (Fry, 2006; Ferguson, 1987), and there were hopes of funding being obtained from the English treasury. For many of the Scottish political elite who supported the Union, some of whom Ferguson (1989) suggests “were frankly on the make”, the only purpose appears to have been to enhance their personal wealth and power. These were the people Robert Burns (1791) described as being “a parcel of rogues”. For the Scottish Presbyterians, the Union offered security and stability for the Church of Scotland which was under the constant threat of Catholicism in the shape of a Stewart restoration. Above all of these reasons, however, the key purpose appears to have been that the Union would provide Scotland with access to English trade and the trade routes that England was opening up to America and the East. The topic of gaining access to this trade was debated regularly in the Scottish Parliament in relation to the Hanoverian succession as well as to the Union treaty. The need to develop the Scottish economy was an urgent and pressing matter and the Union offered a solution to the problem, but at a high price. As Herman (2001) described the situation, “Union was indeed a Devils bargain … Scots were being asked to exchange their political autonomy for economic growth, or to put it more crudely, for money”.