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Scottish Independence

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So, the Scottish independence debate has been underway for a wee while now, so, with still around 18 months to go until the referendum, I have decided to do some blog posts to keep people updated withe news and views from the campaign. The views in the blog posts themselves wiil, of course, be my own, and I am baised, as you will see. However, anyone can of course take me to task in the comments on any individual post.

There are of course two campaigns for the referendum. The “Yes” campaign want an independent Scotland, completely free of the UK, apart form some crucial aspects however, which I will elaborate on below, and comprises largely the SNP. The “No” campaign is called “Better Together”, headed by the Westminster Labour MP for Edinburgh South West, Alistair Darling.

So, the “Yes” campaigners want independence but even they realise that some ties are still required. For a start, we would keep the Queen, except that she would revert to being the Monarch of Scotland (as well as of the UK), as it was from 1603 until 1707 when the Act of Union took place. Also, it has been realised that we are unable to really start our own currency, as this would be costly and we would lose the benefits of the currency being backed up by the Bank of England (which in reality is the Bank of the UK). So, there are two alternatives: 1) Join the Euro and 2) keep the pound Sterling. Option 1) is not guaranteed, however, as we would have to apply to rejoin the EU after independence, and if we were accepted we would HAVE to have the Euro as our currency, but the “Yes’ campaign know that this would not be a popular idea. So the other idea is that we would maintain the pound and keep parity with the UK pound (Ireland did this after independence as well, until around the 1980s). However, to do that, it would appear that we would have to remain outside the EU, which wouldn’t be a good idea as Scotland would need the EU more than ever if we were independent. However, the “Yes” campaign’s actual intentions as to how all this would work are hazy to say the least. They tell us that this would all be sorted out afterwards if we voted “Yes”, but to my mind we need to know these things before we vote.

The “No” campaign is therefore trying to keep us informed of the true difficulties in setting up an independent Scotland. This is not to say that we should not try to achieve independence, but we should at least be informed of the truth of what we would have to do to achieve it so that we can make properly informed decisions. I have already mentioned a couple of these difficulties above, i.e. what we do about the currency and whether we should or would be part of the EU. And if we do get into the EU, will we have to join the Schengen Agreement? If we did, we could end up with border controls between England and Scotland.

In addition, though, there are other problems. The “Yes” campaign say that we would be better off as an independent country. One of the arguments that they use to support this is that we pay more tax than we get back from the UK. They argue, correctly, that the percentage of UK overall tax that we pay is higher than the percentage of overall UK spending that we receive. But these are percentages of two different amounts. The ACTUAL AMOUNT that we get in spending is greater than that which we pay. Also, the “Yes” campaign’s figures are based on an estimate of future revenue from North Sea oil and gas, estimates which are hard to guarantee at least, and very optimistic at best. Revenue is realtively high just now, but this depends on the oil price remaining high for many years to come, let alone allow for the fact that production is declining, and will do sharply over the next two decades. The deficit left over from from any such miscalculations would have to be filled by much higher taxes or swingeing cuts to things like pensions, healthcare and benefits, all of the things that we are told we would actually benefit from by cutting ourselves off from Westminster. The hard fact is, we are a relatively unhealthy nation, and we have more need of the insurance of being part of a larger entity whereas we would be massively vulnerable to fluctuations in benefits requirements to look after our sick, elderly and unemployed.

So, as you can see I am painting a pretty bleak picture. You could say this is because I am not in favour of complete separation, but the fact is that these problems exist, and more, and to my mind independence would be a very costly luxury. I’d rather have a better pension and better care in my old age than independence any day. So, I sincerely hope that we vote “No” and get on with the task of running the UK in the best manner possible for the future.

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  1. Earl's Avatar
    I'm subscribed to your blog, timey.

    I suggest anyone else who's interested should do the same, to avoid missing any postings.
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