Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Will Scotland be free?

They have all had their say from Paul McCartney to the Pope: Obama to Mick Jagger: and of course these other two fantasists; J. K. Rowling and Australia's Prime minister Tony Abbot . All say No. However I don’t know how much influence celebrities have in what has transpired to be one of the most interesting referendum .

Two telly debates later and there is a declared draw with Alec Salmond winning the last one on points, but is the electorate any better informed? Who knows? Still too close to call the final remains remains speculative at this time. To his credit Salmond is a skilled debater and master of performance but shrill exchange and shouting down the opposition may be normal business in parliament but it seems to have far less appeal to the undecided voter, according to the experts.

Asset wise Scotland does Scotland have enough finite mineral resource and thriving array of light industry to offset fiscal commitment to public spending on social policy, defense, pensions, policing and NHS is yet to be seen. As it stands the Scots make a significant contribution into the UK treasury which would be lost if Scotland went independent. The financial outcome for both Yes or No is rather critical for both countries which makes the result of the Referendum knife edge. No wonder then misinformation and lack of information has prevailed throughout the campaigns where claims and counter claims abound.

If Independence comes with full monetary union then The Bank of England would continue to control money supply and interest rates and thus control the Scottish level of national spending. Neither the Conservatives nor Labour currently would agree to full monetary union. A second option is if an Independent Scotland used sterling with but no monetary union. The fear is many banks and financial services would relocate south of the border and only maintain a small presence in Scotland. Should this happen the employment consequences would be devastating for Scotland. If an Independent Scotland were to introduce a new Scottish currency and float the Scottish Pound to find its exchange value it is unlikely to be the same value as Sterling. Scottish currency would not be able to be used outside the country and anything less than parity with the British pound would have a catastrophic effect on the current standard of living. Banks and companies reliant on trade have indicated they will relocate south of the Border.

What incentives have the UK Government given the Scottish No voters to stay with the UK ?

Remarkably little and either suggests there is nothing to give (which would favour the Yes vote) or Cameron and Co have played down separation and feel in their heart of hearts Scotland will remain in the union. At this time the general feel among the voters is Edinburgh and surrounding border area will be a significant No. Glasgow: a Yes , along with Central Belt and Highlands. Aberdeen appears to prefer No at present. This of course also depends on age with the over 50’ wanting to stay within the UK. Between 20 and 35 then there is very significant support for YES. Interestingly the new voters 16-18 seem to be well in favour of NO.

“ If we are better together , why are we not better off now?”

Since the union Scotland (Wales and Ireland) these territories have been a fief of England with their riches taken into the English treasury. That has not changed in 500 years. The Scots do feel aggrieved not only are they relieved of their resources they also have little say in how these revenues are spent. What adds further fuel to the fire are the people of Old Scotia feel the present voting system means the UK government elect currently does not reflect the choice of the Scottish vote. Ed Miliband has come somewhat late with a whimpish claim that Labor will return to Number 10, but I doubt whether that will sway many now.

Is it feasible for Scotland to go it alone?

Yes, but sadly the history of an independent Scotland quickly reveals the Scots are usually their own worst enemies and time after time powerful barons that should have supporting separation sell out their fellow countrymen for English favour. If history has anything to go by, that is likely to happen again.

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