This might sound like it is a very political post but believe me it’s not. Should Scotland be an independent country or not? It’s a fierce debate with people having passionate feelings on both sides of the argument. To put it simply, I have a very concise reason to not support Scottish Independence.
To misquote Clinton, “Tis the economy ye eejit!”
The simple reason is that Scotland doesn’t pay its way at the moment and independence would make everyone poorer. It’s a simple question of economics and not identity or nationalism – Scotland is better off within the UK. Of course nothing’s so simple as that but it’s the economics that puts me off.
Why I don’t support Scottish Independence
Whilst I think that Scotland could be an independent country, I don’t think that it should. The simple fact is that Scotland benefits massively from the Union to the tune of almost £2,000 per person per year. This is based on the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) 2019-2020 – link here. That’s how much government spending outstrips tax receipts from Scotland. That’s 8.6% of GDP and about 7% higher than the UK as a whole – a figure that’s been steady over the last few years. If Scotland were to be independent, that level of debt would not be sustainable, so taxes would rise (as they have been) or spending would be cut. The Scottish economy’s numbers are truly frightening – spending per head a massive £1600 higher than the UK average and tax receipts £300 a head lower. Thank goodness for the Barnett Formula eh Nichola?
As a tax payer and someone who isn’t a burden to society, I would expect that I’d be expected to help out by paying more in taxes – direct and indirect – and I’d rather Westminster pay than me. To claw back the gulf between the cost of running Scotland and the tax receipts Holyrood would receipt, there is no clear plan from the SNP how this would really be done – hoping to maybe close the deficit to 3% in 10 years isn’t good enough.
GFF is Irish and living in Scotland. The Irish have a history with the British and it’s still going on in the North. The Scottish too have a history – from the Roman conquests onwards, Scotland’s always been barbarian, remote, hard to govern – even making sense from the locals is hard enough, imagine trying to run the place! The Scotch are great people, just not to each other, as any visitor to an Old Firm game will realise. The country is great and compared to England, it’s a paradise (except for the weather and midges and people). Visitors to Scotland fall in love with the food – deep fried delicacies like the battered mars bar will lead you to slump over with a heart attack in no time at all.
Why I don’t support the SNP
I’ve not voted for the SNP before because I think that their main platform is on independence and everything comes back to that. It’s convenient to be able to blame all ills on Westminster – although the SNP have been in charge for so long now that some of their plans (like on education & schools) are falling flat – haha if you know the story.
I do however support many of the progressive elements of the SNP – like a ban on smoking in public places, shopping bag tax, free childcare, minimum pricing for alcohol and others. I suspect though that a party that collects 45% of votes and 48 out of 59 seats at the last election can maintain such a broad coalition of support. They are not the Tartan Tories anymore. You also get the usual abuse of power by officials, bullying, harassment and corruption – some of which you know about and some you’ll find out later (and lots you’ll never know a thing about).
Independent Scotland and EU Entry?
There’s much debate over whether an independent Scotland would be allowed to re-enter the EU – some say Spain would veto over Catalan separatist concerns. I don’t think that they would and Scotland could enter if they wanted. However, the EU has a membership standard of having a deficit of 3% or below for entry. The way things are it would take a decade to get there. It’s just not realistic is it?
I’m Irish and see Scottish national pride as something quite peculiar. There’s lots of reasons to love Scotland and Scottish people. However, I’m not sure that Scottish people are being hamstrung by a Westminster/evil Tory/English programme of discrimination against Scotland. Scotland has had more than its fair share of politicians, prime minsters (and we’ve all had too much of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster he’s a total dick). To claim that Scotland is being kept as a malnourished and mistreated prisoner by the English and that anyone who disagrees has Stockholm syndrome is just a bit of Scottish moaning. I consider the chip on your shoulder belief that Scotland is being held back by the Union to be a
self fooling fallacy self fulfilling prophecy.
2014 Independence Referendum and 2016 Brexit Referendum
Read here for more info. Basically, 45% voted for independence and 55% voted against. Pragmatism/Project Fear won the day. The economics of Scotland looked better back then than now – oil was actually seen as the cheery on the cake instead of a rusty white elephant that it is now. Many people now want another referendum in response to Brexit – which Scotland didn’t vote for.
IndyRef2 is only a matter of time it would seem. The premise being that Brexit changes things and there’s appetite from the population. Whilst the Scottish government is governed well by the SNP coalition, the UK government lacks the same competence – which Covid has sadly highlighted. IndyRef2 in 2021/22? The polls actually give the 51% in favour, 42% against and 7% undecided. One thing is for sure – the SNP and pro-independence groups are working tirelessly with a long term plan to convince people that independence is something you should get passionate about. It’s a bit like a cult if you ask me. It’s a cause to get behind for many and like a Jacobite wet dream, it gives you notions that you are standing up for the noble traditions of Scotland, taking a romantic stand against the Sassanach. Mention the economic consequences of an independent Scotland and you’ll be accused of being bought and sold for English gold. The GERS report this week was actually described to me by a seemingly sensible person as being something worthy of North Korea propaganda, designed to keep the Scottish doubting their own value and worth.
Consequences of Scottish Independence
Clearly, to avoid heavy borrowing to support the current spending, taxes would rise or spending would be cut. Additionally, I suspect that many people would consider leaving the country to avoid the tax grab. In saying that, at least the SNP actually put together a concrete plan on Scottish Independence which is something that NOBODY DID FOR BREXIT FFS!
I fear that the natural urge for Scottish people to be independent (Freedom and all that Mel Gibson stuff) requires them to ignore the economic consequences – it’s all lies, damn lies and statistics to them. Who knows if they are right – but the only claim the Nationalists make is that they pay more in tax than other regions do – or at least have in the past. The fact that public spending per head is so much higher is ignored – and there’s the trouble. If independent, where does the £1600 per head a year come from – it’s not just from scrapping Trident (and what about all those workers in Faslane?)
Have you Cake and Eat it Too
My own personal view is that Scotland should remain in the UK but moan about it non-stop. It gives people something to do and it pays well. Whoever pays the piper calls the tune, but moaning is free! Scotland is in a perfect position to freeload off the rest of the UK – like a house guest who comes with a half-drunk bottle ofBuckfast to a party, proceeds to drink all your good stuff and then complains about the music but you can’t throw them out because your too polite. Scotland takes with one hand and gives the UK the finger with the other. There’s not much chance that Boris Johnson will give them the independence they crave anyway. By the way, it’s not that Scotland can’t be independent it just that they shouldn’t and we can’t afford it and the cost of this folly would fall on the exact same people who can get up and leave the country.
In summary; I would support Scottish Independence on two conditions though:
- Scotland had a deficit in line with the rest of the UK
- I didn’t live in Scotland
Until either one of those things change, I remain a economic unionist (with a small u).