Charles Dixon-Spain, one of the three founding energies of For Argyll, the Director whose skills keep it online and whose inventiveness constantly develops its service, recently published an article on For Argyll. He offered – for any still unsure how they will vote on 18th September, a list of 36 questions that he had distilled and which have helped him come to a decision on how he will himself vote in the independence referendum.
While few of the questions would pass the tests of neutrality the Electoral Commission might apply to their wording, their serious value is the self-interrogation that answering them with integrity demands of one. As Charles’ colleague, it seemed a challenge not to be ducked to see what my own honest responses to these questions would be; and what impact this might have on my own perceptions of the scenario.
I have added three questions – on NATO, on federalism and on the monarchy – from some issues that are missing but important to many; and have inserted them at what seemed logical points in my grouping of Charles’s 36 questions into thematic issues. Each of these three additions is noted as ‘My question’ – and make 36 questions in 39 steps.
Some of the questions are three or four questions in one; and some are unanswerable without the gift of a crystal ball or the facility for time travelling. I’ve tried to compress responses to the multiples and have not taken time to attempt to answer the unanswerable.
So – to questions and answers.
The big ones: Trident, NATO, security, border controls, federalism, EU and monarchy
Qs 1&2: ‘Would an Independent Scotland require a nuclear deterrent? How long will the present nuclear weapons remain on Scottish soil in the case of a ‘Yes’ vote?’ ‘Does the UK really need a nuclear deterrent and does it strengthen our ability to respond to crises around the world or weaken it?’
In my view, neither an independent Scotland nor the United Kingdom, as it is or later reduced, needs or should have a nuclear deterrent. The fact of having them means that there is always an option of using them – and the possibility that we might do so. Their use is beyond moral defence. I believe that the impact of a nuclear deterrent on our ability to intervene successfully in crises elsewhere would come into play only in an Armageddon scenario, in which case everyone loses anyway.
My question: How is NATO membership important to an independent Scotland?
I see this as neutral, with NATO’s cold war-mongering as likely to bring risk as its umbrella is to bring shelter. NATO would probably make the retention of the Trident nuclear deterrent at Faslane and Coulport a condition of membership. Alex Salmond could afford to hold to his ‘red line’ and sacrifice membership. The political reality is that a Scotland outside NATO membership would still, de facto, be protected by NATO because it could not afford enhanced security risk to come via Scotland. We could have a free ride.
Q 3: Would a Scottish armed forces in an Independent Scotland increase or diminish Scotland’s security? Or its susceptibility to terrorist attack?
This would depend on the nature of the Scottish Defence Force. If the Scottish government was sensible and abandoned notions of international pomp, making the proposed Scottish Defence Force [whose name suggests that this is indeed their diretion of travel] a service purely concerned with homeland security; and if this was a well and appropriately resourced service of high calibre, I do not see that it need be less effective than the present arrangements; and can see no reason why it could not be better.
Related to this and evoking a question not asked, I believe that if Faslane and Coulport became the headquarters of an efficient and appropriate Scottish Defence Force, there need be no detrimental economic impact upon the Helensburgh and Lomond area. There would still be a supply chain.
Q 6: Will border controls really be imposed in the event of a Yes vote? Or will the border be left to its own devices rather like the present border between the Irelands?
Border controls would not be positioned by the the continuing United Kingdom simply in response to a ‘Yes’ vote.
If Scotland adopted the policies proposed – open borders and substantial immigration; and if the nature, focus, resourcing and competence of its defence force were in doubt, in my view the continuing United Kingdom would have no option but to install its own border posts and border controls to guard against the very real threat of terrorist infiltration via a soft and complex land border with an independent Scotland.
The position with the two Irelands is different from the standpoint of the United Kingdom. Frankly, the United Kingdom does not care how much or to what effect each Ireland impacts upon the other across their land border. They are separated from the island of Great Britain by the Irish Sea, so although there are open borders between the United Kingdom and each of the Irelands, entry from any part of them is possible only by water and air. These access routes are much easier to monitor and to police, with formal points of entry for the vast majority of travellers.
My question: Is a union based on federalism a viable alternative to independence or the continuation of the current union?
A federal union was the right answer for the United Kingdom, regardless of any move for Scottish independence. I say ‘was’ because I believe that it is now too late for this. Scotland will depart and the current union will decompose. If it were marginally to survive the referendum vote, it would do so in no shape to renew itself. It has already lost belief, trust and operational efficiency. If it hadn’t, its survival would not be in doubt.
What we have all seen happen has been the wreckage caused by the traditional adversarial party politics we have never questioned. The United Kingdom government and opposition has been obsessed exclusively with the political fortunes of their respective parties, insanely looking, even now – only to the 2015 General Election.
Had there been the remotest trace of strategic political intelligence at Westminster, the United Kingdom government in 2011, when the SNP achieved its overall majority in the Scottish Parliament, would, with the support of the opposition, have set up a standing constitutional conference to reform the Union in a federal arrangement. That opportunity has gone.
The offer of more devolved powers and the opening up of a possible federation today cannot be seen as arising from any serious and thought commitment to reform; but as no more than self-interessted panicking responses to having a loaded gun in the ear.
Federalism is a philosophical concept of shared governmental responsibility as much as anything else. It is worth more than being called into play as an improvised tourniquet to stem the loss of blood when a limb is almost severed.
Q 25: Is remaining in the EU a reason to vote for the Union?
In so far as the logic of the advantages of being a member of a union are concerned, there is no logic in wanting to depart from a familiar union into the arms of a highly undemocratic and unaccountable one. Changing the political composition of the europarl in an election makes no difference whatsoever to the working of the EU, which is governed by the unelected and unaccountable European Commission. Conversely, changing the political composition of Westminster and of Holyrood in an election brings a change of government. The reality is that both of these unions are in need of radical reform – and that Scotland has more shelter and a stronger voice as a member of both [reformed] unions.
Q 26: Will Scotland be more or less likely to be part of the EU in ten years time as part of the UK or as an independent state?
The strong probability is that, whatever the result of the referendum, Scotland will be within the EU in ten years time.
My question: How is having a Monarch as Head of State important to an independent Scotland?
It isn’t. It has simply been a reassurance to traditionalists that the Queen would be invited to be Head of State in an independent Scotland. She may not be constitutionally free to accept. This inability might be at the informal level of the risk of prejudicing the popular perception of the monarchy in the continuing United Kingdom – which is now more aware of the damage it would suffer directly with the secession of Scotland.
Currency union and pensions
Qs 4 & 5: ‘In the event of a ‘Yes’ vote, will the rest of the Union really withhold currency union as they have promised, or will currency be one of the major negotiating points?’ ‘And if it is a negotiating point whose interest is it in to cast doubt on a currency union’s viability before the vote?’
The technical arguments against a currency union between two states of asymmetric economic and social policy are genuinely heavyweight; as is the impact on any real independence of compliance with the necessary controls on monetary [full] and fiscal [partial but substantial] policies.
However, the default position for everyone has to be that all politicians are dishonourable in their own interests. I believe that, if it suited them, the United Kingdom is perfectly capable of abandoning financial and economic logic and its own declared ‘principles’ on this; and that, since the Scottish Government is clearly prepared to have independence in little but name, they could come to some compact on a currency union.
BUT I believe that this will not – cannot – happen, for no reason other than the hefty political cost of reneging that would be visited upon parties and politicians in the continuing United Kingdom. They have raised the issue to ‘mission critical’ level. To talk it down and trade it is now inconceivable. The unionist parties have all committed themselves to so absolute position on a currency union – that no one of them could countenance it.
The people of what would be the continuing United Kingdom are now much more engaged with the impact on themselves of the potential loss of Scotland from the Union. They are turning against Scotland because it has been careless of the damage its unilateral secession would inflict upon them. They do not want Scotland in a currency union and they believe the cross-party political declaration that this will not happen. They would inflict a heavy political punishment at the ballot box on any political party reneging on so absolute a given guarantee.
I therefore believe that a currency union will be non-negotiable in the event of a vote for independence.
My one possible caveat here would be if the Labour party got back into power in the May 2015 General Election, either alone or leading a coalition. While I believe this to be unlikely in the current performance of that party, it is not impossible. In the event of a vote for independence, a Labour party in government at Westminster would be looking at the departure of Scotland from the union – with its 41 Scottish Labour seats, in March 2016. It is inconceivable that Labour’s performance in May 2015 could reach a level of majority to be able to continue in government, even in coalition, following the withdrawal of 41 of its MPs. Labour would therefore be looking at 10 months of government before a planned Independence Day for Scotland on 24th March 2016. After that they would not regain power in the continuing United Kingdom for a considerable time. They would be a party for which Scotland would be its one possible sphere of government.
I believe that in these circumstances, the Labour party would consider the advantage of reneging on its opposition to a currency union – in pure self interest to protect its future position in an independent Scotland. This would knowingly leave the continuing United Kingdom to take the hit on the risk of security of existing and new debt; and the consequent hike on borrowing rates the market would impose.
In doing this, Labour would sacrifice its future power base in the continuing United Kingdom because the financial dangers to which it had left that country vulnerable would be held implacably against it at elections for some time to come. Because this would also fracture the Labour party, separating its Scottish wing from the rest, I do not, on balance, believe that even a Labour party in the extremity of this situation, would be able to execute such a move. So I cannot see any way that a weakening of the declared position on a currency union is possible.
A Labour Government in Westminster in such a circumstance might consider playing for time, being unnecessarily difficult in negotiations for no reason other than to give its turkeys a longer lag time to Christmas in the postponement of an Independence Day on 24th March 2016. On balance I do not believe that this would finally happen. The people of the continuing United Kingdom will want to be free themselves to move forward and refocus as fast as possible. They will not want to – as they would see it – support Scotland for a single day longer than necessary; and would demand a pragmatic and swift conclusion to negotiations. The likelihood has to be as prompt as possible an overarching comon sense agreement whee each would gain a bit and lose a bit.
Q 10: Are pensions going to be affected by a change in Scotland’s status when, for example, pensions are drawn by UK ex-pats in places like Spain? And in any case, is this a factor when my generation and those younger than me can’t really afford a pension at present?
The issue with pensions centres on the requirement under European law for cross-border pension schemes to be fully funded at all times.
An expert warning has been that an EU decision in March this year to retain this requirement, would mean that, after independence, pensions firms would have to plug a pensions blackhole as deep as £225 billion. Compliance with the full-cover obligation would be very difficult for an independent Scotland.
On the second aspect of this question, the reform of pensions law was the long necessary and liberating feature of George Osborne’s last budget. This put everyone in charge of managing their own pension, with pension providers no longer legally pernitted to tie clients to compulsory conversion to annuities. Everone is to be free to cash in thier entire pension pot and spend it as they wish. This spectrum of United Kingdom pensions reforms may make it easier for younger people to do something to establish a pension pot for later.
Oil, renewables, tax relief, tax revenues and public spending
Qs 7 & 8: ‘Ignoring the historical context, how much should Oil reserves play a part in my calculations? And if they should how critical are they given such factors as climate change and the potential withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Scottish soil.’ ‘If nuclear weapons were withdrawn from Scottish soil, would the restrictions on Oil and Gas exploration on the West Coast remain in force? Or would these reserves come into play?’
The issue of oil revenues centres on the predictability of annual tax revenues from the North Sea oil and gas sector; and the extent to which reliable levels of these revenues would be capable of covering the level of proposed public spending.
From the extensive research I have personally conducted across many aspects of this industry, I believe that there will be revenues continuing to accrue to whatever government applies, but that those revenues will be smaller than the £7 Billion per annum which is the Scottish Government’s baseline budgetary projection. This prediction results from the depth of tax concessions necessary to entice the major companies to produce in what are difficult and expensive circumstances; and to compensate them for the substantial costs of decommissioning. Both governments have agreed these supports with the industry.
In the case of an independent Scotland, significantly lower than projected tax revenues from the oil and gas sector would mean either spending cuts or income tax hikes – both to a hefty degree since proposed spending, much uncosted, on new and extended social costs would be a challenge to pay for in the best of circumstances.
The answer is that production with associated tax reliefs and consequently reduxed tax revenues, must be a part of anyone’s consideration of the prospects for independence.
I do not believe that the issue of the removal of Trident will impact on Clyde or west coast exploration. I am told that the accounts of restrictions on exploration in the Clyde are unsound and am presently trying to get a reliable line on this. As for the west coast beyond the Firth of Clyde, there is oil in the Atlantic margins – passive margins which are geologically good sources for oil. The Atlantic margins run from the Porcupine Basin west of Ireland to the Norwegian Seas. There is actually an [oversubscribed] two day course in Aberdeen on 1st and 2nd October covering ‘basin evolution, petroleum and depositional systems along the Atlantic margin between the Porcupine Basin and mid Norway, including the West of Shetland’. This testifies to the industry’s interest in the potential of the Atlantic margins – but I don’t think this fits what the question has in mind in talking about the west coast.
Q 9: 97% of the world’s scientists agree that Climate Change is happening, and that this is due to human activity. Which of our potential governments is more likely to react well to this and provide for significant investment in renewable energy which is relevant to our communities and our environment?
Each government will do what it can. Relevant to this question however, is the fact that both governemnts have acknowledged that the United Kingdom’s renewable energy subsidies will continue to be required to support ongoing development in renewables in an independent Scotland – as Robert Trythall’s recent article for For Argyll lays out’
Q 11: What will happen to income tax or VAT if there is a ‘Yes’ vote? Is it likely that these taxes will remain broadly the same until the populace decide, via a general election, to change things?
Based on the spending proposals in the White Paper on Scotland’s Future – and the many additional uncosted spending promises made during the campaign, it is very hard to see how income tax in an independent Scotland would not have to rise substantially to help to pay for these commitments. There is an respectable argument that the overall need for increased tax revenues to meet high and increasing spending commitments would mean that VAT too would have to rise. And ‘the populace’ never decide fiscal policy, although they may retrospectively make their responses clear at election times.
Q 13: In which case is it more likely that universal health care will remain in place through the NHS?
Neutral. Neither government could politically afford to abandon universal healthcare through the NHS, although each would be advised to revise the menu available on more defensible criteria. In my view and for example, ‘boob jobs’ are completely unacceptable as a ‘healthcare’ burden on the public purse except as part of post-cancer treatment; and IVF is questionable.
Q14: In which case is it more likely that free universal education will remain in place?
Neither. This provision is in protective custody in Scotland for political reasons for the time being; but without major reform to the calibre, function and direction of university education, free universal education for all accepted at tertiary level could not continue indefinitely to be afforded by an independent or a devolved Scotland. The proposal to continue to charge university tuition fees to students from what would then be the continuing United Kingdom is a factored-in earner unlikely to survive legal challenge.
Q 15: While, for example, education and health are devolved matters at the moment, how likely is it that in the case of a ‘No’ vote the UK government will start to claw back powers from the Scottish government given voter sentiment in England?
Such an action would be a political incendiary in Scotland and in my view, a United Kingdom reeling from the scare of a Scotland all but lost, would not – could not – risk this sort of action.
Playing hardball with Scotland in independence negotiations would be a different punitive response and one that would be chered by ‘the populace’ south of the border, since they would be the subject of heavy losses in finance and wider influence, of a Scottish secession.
Q 30: Is Community Asset ownership, development and Social Enterprise likely to be more encouraged in an Independent Scotland or not?
It wuold be likely to continue to be encouraged to the financial ability of the Scottish government of the day. Never mind philosophy, this would be as much because the national budget will require as substantial transfers of responsibility to communities and to individuals as are possible.
Q31: Will the ongoing move to Land Reform continue in Scotland either way? Will the progress already achieved be augmented in an Independent Scotland, and will this result in a more equitable pattern of land ownership in Scotland?
Answer as for Q 30 above to part one of this question. As to ‘a more equitable pattern of land ownership’ – of course continuing land reform would bring this about. Whether it would be sustainable is a different question; as are the economic and amenity costs of the inevitable break up of the big estates.
Political consequences of a ‘Yes’ vote
Q 12: In the event of a ‘Yes’ vote will the SNP remain in power for the foreseeable future or will we have democratic and fair elections representing the decisions of the people who live in Scotland? Will it be possible that new political parties emerge?
Suck it and see. This is a ‘crystal ball’ question whose answer is dependent not on discoverable facts or patterns but on ‘Events, dear boy’.
Q 16: Is a vote for Independence a vote for Nationalism or a more direct form of Democracy? And in either case, do you trust the Scottish people to make the right decisions looking forward?
A vote for independence is flatly a vote for nationalism – because that is overtly how it has been sold. I refer to the First Minister’s performance at Arbroath, citing his favourite passage from the Declaration of Arbroath as being: ‘as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule’. I cite too the charge of being ‘anti-Scottish’ levelled in public in the Scottish Parliament at critics of elements of the indy prospectus by, first, the First Minister’s loose canon of a special adviser, Joan McAlpine and, second, the Education Secretary.
Joan McAlpine MSP described as ‘Anti-Scottish’ unionist parties’ interventions in the independence referendum planning. The Education Secretary threw the same jibe at Liz Smith, the Scottish Conservatives’ Education Spokesperson, in a difference of opinion over tuition fees, themselves described, rather surreally, as ‘Anti-Scottish’.
I do not myself trust the Scottish people as a whole to make the right decisions ‘going forward’ – because the level of serious engagement with the detail of important issues like currency and oil, for example, was very thin on the ground; and because for the majority, although not the honourable minority, simple sectarian nationalism was the touchstone.
Q 23: Will sectarianism be more prevalent in an Independent Scotland? Or will Scotland be a more equitable country, intolerant of all types of discrimination?
On the evidence, sectarianism will be more prevalent in an independent Scotland – it already has been during the campaign. And whichever way the vote goes, there will be no majority worthy of the name – and that means trouble. I said that Scotland will enter the whirlwind and I believe this to be the case. Once you operate as brutally as has been the pro-indy modus operandi in this campaign in fostering division for political advantage, that principle of division on the basis of difference finds all sorts of places where there is such division to be riven and exploited. Scotland is no more of a tolerant country than any other. All metropolitan elites are tolerant because they are open to very varied influences and live more easily with diversity and difference. But rural Scotland and the former industrial heartlands in the Central Belt are relatively closed communities and sectarianism has not been distant from either, before the ratcheting up of the nationalist division.
Q 18: How many times in the last 50 years has the vote of the Scottish people actually altered the outome of a general election in the UK? And does this really matter?
Both I and, independently, Robert Trythall, in a substantive comment, investigated this one and the results were not impressive in upholding the rhetorical declaration that ‘Scots never get the governments they vote for.’ Since devolution that has become less relevant anyway; and since 2007, when the SNP came to power, it has become very largely irrelevant as Westminster’s gaze upon Scotland has had all the appearance of a rabbit caught in the headlights. Scotland has got away with much more than either of the other two devolved administrations, mainly because Alex Salmond has led Scotland as a country rather belligerently hostile to the United Kingdom – and the woodentops of both major parties have had no idea what to do about that. This was fun at first but has become tedious in its predictably routine scapegoating.
Q19: Will the remaining UK be more or less likely to elect Tory governments if Scotland goes its own way?
Yes it will – probably in coalition with UKIP in the short term at least – and I have said a couple of days ago that UKIP is likely to replace the Liberal Democrats as the third largest party in next year’s General Election. Ford and Goodwin’s research for Revolt on the Right suggested that in May 2015 UKIP will hit hard the Labour seats on the east coast, the industrial midlands, the north east and the north west, where they have polled relatively well before, where Labour’s majority is not overwhelming and particularly where there is a new or less popular Labour candidate. If Scotland separates from the Union, as it is likely to do, Labour and England will be the major collateral damage.
Q 20: If Scotland gains independence, will Wales and Northern Ireland also wish to remove themselves from the Union?
In respect of the first question here: yes, without a doubt. There are already calls for a border referendum in Northern Ireland. There have been indications from Wales that if Scotland goes it would wish to explore independence itself. I believe that, witnessing the chaos and bitter internal break up in Scotland, Wales – which is wrapped around by England and is therefore less naturally divided from it, will be persuaded to stay with England.
The Irelands are a very different story. What we will inflict there is beyond contemplation. As with Scotland, only much worse, since it would carry a serious prospect of renewed acts of terrorism and retaliation from both sides, this would be a bitterly divisive issue, with separation and reunification co-terminous. I have come to understand through the nature of this campaign in Scotland, that nationalism anywhere takes power on the size of its ugly, irrational and intolerant underside. The Irelands have been trying to move away from that – an interminable and unsteady process. Scotland’s gig, whichever way it goes, will see the Irelands propelled back into it while Scotland itself enters the whirlwind.
Q 21: Will Berwick-upon-Tweed migrate to an Independent Scotland? Is that a good thing? Will other English regions ‘migrate north’?
This is just a tease.
Q 22: Does an independent Scotland change residents’ identity? Will they remain Scottish, English, Welsh and/or Irish? Can they still call themselves British, and hold allegiance to the British Isles?
I am personally so sickened by the distortion of ‘identity’ in this campaign that I don’t fundamentally care a whit about this. One’s true identity is oneself, not a badge of membership of any exclusive and excluding club. But people need formal identity of the kind mentioned in the question – both as ‘tribal’ refuge in the tough times we are now looking at where ‘us’ and ‘them’ is internal; and to travel freely. Inner allegiances in an independent Scotland will be a matter for each individual and cannot usefully be discussed in large. At a practical level, those resident in Scotland at the time of any independence would be entitled to dual nationality for their lifetime, with their children being Scottish alone.
Q 24: Is a constitution written in consultation with the general populace a worthwhile endeavour and provide a sound basis for Scotland’s future?
Since we had no serious inclusive national conversation before or during this campaign on what sort of Scotland we mght shape, the process of ‘consultation with the populace’ will be similarly stuttering and exclusive. Such a constitution would simply will be whatever it was – but it would bear no relation to the desperately divided population that has been forced on a previously cohesive country in order to propel it over the threshold to independence. The bald reality is that after this campaign, there is no sound basis for Scotland’s immediate future – within or outwith independence – either in the prospectus that may be mandated at the referendum or in any collective will of the population as a whole.
Livelihood, opportunity and funding
Q 27: How will a ‘Yes’ vote affect my livelihood?
This is a big one. Independence would affect everyone’s livelihood negatively in the short to medium term. The painful post-vote and post-independence period of fracture, with loss experienced by half of the population whatever the outcome and disorientation by everone, will act against the cohesive collective will to drive Scotland to growth.
Even a narrow ‘No’ will probably see the flight of capital; and a restructuring of major companies with subsidiary service operations staying registered in Scotland but the core development elements headquartered outside it – as a hedge against next time. Pension companies and other financial sector companies began implementing their contingency plans recently – moving money and operations across the border following the poll showing only a six point gap between the then leading ‘No’ and the ‘Yes’ campaigns.
A ‘Yes’ will see a substantial flight of capital between that vote and Independence Day, possibly even from supporters of independence on understandable ‘insurance’ grounds; alongside a substantial corporate restructuring and relocation of the HQs of strategic growth divisions. Neither of these actions could fairly be characterised as ‘anti-Scottish’. They would take place simply as necessarily protective: individuals of their own financial survival in entering the unknown; and businesses for the same reason and because they answer to shareholders whose interests they are legally obliged to protect.
A ‘Yes’ vote with the White Paper as the operational mandate for a newly independent Scotland can only see a hike in income tax and other taxes to pay for the promised and major increases in public spending – much of it uncosted and not factored into any projected budget. The alternative – of a failure to deliver on those promises or even to cut public spending – would not be politically acceptable, which is why Finance Secretary, John Swinney, has commiteed to heavy borrowing in the first three years of an independent Scotland.
For those in need of welfare support, the delivery of the promises made would see an improvement in their livelihoods. For those who are income tax payers, their livelihoods would feel the strain of the hit in paying for the increased spending promises in the prospectus that will be voted on in the referendum – and the additional and extravagant promises made additionally in the campaign, if these are taken forwrd, as, in honour, they should.
Any attempt to deliver on the overall prospectus of higher social costs outside the short term – which, as John Swinney has said, will be sheltered by heavy borrowing for three years – would properly require the negotiation with ‘the populace’ of a social contract. Income tax payers would have to be willing to pay substantially more to support those in need of such support; and those in need of it would have to be willing to work at anything, where it was possible, as soon as it was possible – to accept that social responsibility and to be pro-active in looking for and disciplined in retaining employment. It remains revelatory that, with Scotland’s unemployment figures, it has always been possible for Europeans to come here and find work with no apparent difficulty. There would be no room for this in an independent Scotland. Long established social tectonic plates would have to move. Would they do so?
Q 28: Is a ‘Yes’ vote an opportunity for myself, my family, my community? Will permanent, advantageous change be possible?
Anyone with skills and enterprise will find opportunity anywhere. Ironically, the greatest opportunity in an independent Scotland will be open to the already well off. Property prices will fall and this is always an opportunity for investment for immediate income and future capital profit by those who can find the means to buy.
The staling in the property market will see ‘economic hostages’ – some who do not wish to stay in the independent Scotland that will result for this campaignm but will not be free to leave becuase they will be unable to sell their houses. For those in this category, which does not include myself, the notion of ‘opportunity’ will be a wry one.
For others there will be no serious ‘opportunity’- not in the short to medium term in which pain, disorientation, confusion and sharp realities will be to the fore. But a well organised, cohesive independent Scotland would do whatever it took to bring about such a position in the longer term. It might not be ‘advantageous’ in terms of triumphant competitive success, but it would be satisfactory and rewarding. It would, though, take a considerable time simply to get back to where we are today.
Q29: What will the effect of a vote for Independence be on Grant Funding, particularly for UK-wide funds, like the Big Lottery, and EU funds, like SRDP and LEADER?
Access to EU funds would depend on EU membership. UK-wide funds would be closed to residents of an independent Scotland. They would have to be. There would be no defensible justification for anything else. We’re in or we’re out. The injured population of the continuing United Kingdom would be outraged by any other situation.
Scotland would undoubtedly establish its own lottery – as a pacifier and largely to fund public spending deficits, probably in health, education and the arts. The jackpots would be smaller of course, with a smaller population base but punters would be likely to scale down their ambitions.
I have no idea of the legal constitution of ‘Euromillions’ and so have no indication of whether that game would continue or not. If it is as its name suggests, Europe-wide, it will not constitutionally be able at it is to contribute to the various United Kingdom-wide common good funds of the lottery – BIG Lottery, Awards for All, Heritage etc. This would at least mean that in the event of Scottish independence, there would be a clean break in playing these games and in benefiting from these funds.
The problem for an independent Scotland of the likely continuing availability of ‘Euromillions’, with its massive jackpots, would be the question of the seepage of the Scottish pound or whatever, into ‘Euromillions’ from which there is and would be no social return on investment; and which would leave leaving a new and more modest Scottish lottery underfunded.
Political life in an independent Scotland
Q 17: Is the quality of political debate in Scotland robust enough to ensure that decisions made are free from the self-interest of the decision-makers?
Nothing in a small and parochial country like Scotland is – can be – ‘robust enough to ensure that decisions made are free from the self-interest of the decision-makers.’ The pork barrell and the ‘coterie of friends’ rule today, virtually without exception. This situation would intensify were the powerbrokers free to do as they liked – and they would have campaign debts and scores to settle.
Q 32: What will happen to the present Scottish MPs in Westminster in the event of a vote for Independence? Will they come north and seek to represent the views of the Scottish people in a Scottish Government, or will they want to remain as MPs in the Union? And will an independent Scotland benefit from their talents more directly?
They would have to depart from their Westminster seats on Independence Day, as an independent Scotland would no longer have representation there. What they then did would be an individual and party matter. Some would retire from political life. Some might choose to move south and stand for their party in a constituency in the continuing United Kingdom. Being Scottish at a time when this would not be well regarded in a wounded England and Wales, might not improve their chances of election, though. Some would seek Holyrood seats in competition with the second division now in place – which is when the internal feathers would fly. Some might stand for Holyrood as independents, where their personal standing and profile justified that.
It would be hard for MPs used to a bigger scale of operation, a wider stage and a sharper, more polished, high octane game in the House of Commons to get used to the down-home parochial folksiness, the bawlfest and the P6 desk banging that is Holyrood.The parliament of an independent Scotland would certainly need to be of far higher calibre and with a deeper talent pool than the current torqued up local authority version.
Fore and aft
Q 33: Could a successful ‘Yes’ vote be another example of a “disruptive technology” entering the established “marketplace” and have the potential to change everything?
A ‘Yes’ vote – and the means by which it would have been achieved – at a level of skilled, persistent, universal, unprincipled and successful manipulation never seen before, would unquestionably change everything in political life in these islands and beyond. Even if it does not win, it has been an object lesson in campaigning to win at all costs that will be taken up everywhere but will probably never equalled in the control with which it has been orchestrated.
Q 34: How many people will benefit from a Yes vote in Scotland? How many will benefit from remaining in the Union? Discounting political allegiance, voting intention, nationality, race and gender how many lives will be positively affected either way?
How long is a piece of string?
Q 35: Which campaign has been run in a more imaginative, positive and constructive way?
Neither campaign has been constructive. Neither campaign has been positive, Neither campaign has been imaginative. But the ‘Yes’ campaign – a layered and complex operation that has reached into every part of Scotland and its islands has been unparallelled in its tactical intelligence and in the faultless capability of its management. This has been no less than genuinely, enviably, awesome – and terrifyingly amoral.
Q 36:Is the ‘No’ campaign disadvantaged because it has the negative choice? Or is the ‘Yes’ campaign fighting against a majority who avoid change and are therefore predisposed to vote ‘No’?
This has been a contest between a supremely well organised but repressive, thuggish and profoundly dishonest campaign which has betrayed the idealism many have invested in it – and an utterly incoherent, disorganised, two-bit, moribund shambles hashed up by inept, small minded, warring factions who never managed to lift their eyes to the bigger picture it was their responsibility to promote. Will that do?
Answering Charles’s questions honestly has been a very useful exercise because it has removed several issues which, in my considered view, would be of no real moment to an independent Scotland. It also pulled together a concerted picture of the problems an independent Scotland would face and for a substantial time.
I will vote ‘No’ – because that is where the preponderance of evidence lies;and I do not believe that any country should ever be taken into irrevocable independence on a ‘heart’ rather than a ‘head’ decision. I have also been shocked by the blithe willingness of the Scottish government to default punitively on a debt of honour; and I am offended by the nature and dreading the consequences of the essentially racist ‘Yes’ campaign and the strengthening of what is already a totalitarian Scottish government.
I despise those who have led a campaign that has chosen to make people thugs instead of elevating them to reason; that has churned out romantic myths of historical retribution for perceived past wrongs and a golden age to come, in place of a liberating philosophy and a national spiritual generosity.
I do though, admire the way the ‘Yes’ campaigners, from the leadership to the shock troops, have maintained a relentless public confidence that they will win, in spite of what will have been some private moments of despair.
I have nothing but contempt for the pro-union campaign and for those who have [not] fought it. I believe in the value of union in today’s world. Scotland will, of course, survive and be survivable as an independent country but it will have a very minor voice in European and word affairs and no serious influence in or beyond the EU.
I am no apologist for the Union we have today and have long believed it to be in need of radical reform. I believe, however, that it has inherent and important residual value, not the least of which is that it subverts nationalism which I have now seen to be an ugly, deeply divisive, intolerant and dangerous business; while the Union embraces national identities and supports, in collegiality, the pride of its constituent nations.
In my view, this is now already lost – by default, thrown away. Even if it scrapes through in the referendum, it has no authority left, no perceived vitality. Where it was a serviceable ship of state that needed to go into dry dock for an overdue refit, it is now on its way to the recycling that is today’s word for scrapping. One side never scheduled the refit and the other flooded the dry dock for the voyage to the scrapyard.
If we separate, at some tine in the future the need and value of union will be perceived and another union of some kind will be formed. What an expensive waste it will all have been, when an internally powerful Scotland had the opportunity to fight the right battle in the first place – for a federal union.
Lynda Henderson, News Director