Monday, 19 August 2013

Q 1: Would not an Independent Scotland find it extremely difficult to balance its budgets due to the fluctuations in the price of oil?

This is one of the many scare stories produced by the Better Together Campaign. The truth, as given by the top "Oil Men" (Radio Scotland 20 April 2013) is that the most we can ever expect to find that will affect us is a few pence difference at the pumps, and that the future oil price will always be upwards due to the ever increasing demands from China, India, Brazil etc plus future exploration costs in inhospitable environments.  As Scotland has only around 5 million of a population, as against over 50 million for the rest of the UK, the oil revenues for an Independent Scotland will be almost ten times as valuable. This will make us the 8th richest country in the world (Revenue Scotland (GERS) figures March 2013).  The UK languishes at 17th place where it was recently overtaken by Iceland. [1] 

Q 2:  Is it not true as Opinion Polls tells us, that as support for Independence remains in the mid 30s, there is too big an amount to climb to achieve Independence?

The poll in April 2013 did show 36% in favour of Independence but with so many still undecided only 5% swing is needed for Independence to take the lead. The Better Together  Campaign still pronounce that just over half the people who voted for the SNP in 2011 will vote for Independence, ignoring the "YOU GOV" poll of July 2012, showing that 74% of SNP voters back Independence.  What the media dares not tell us is that 20% of Labour and 22% of Liberal voters back Independence, and believe it or not, 7% of Tories.  Don't forget that before the 2011 Scottish Elections, polls showed Labour to have a 15% lead, only for it to be so dramatically overturned. As more and more people realise that unless they grasp this once only opportunity they will get nothing more from a Tory Government in London.   

Q 3: How can we defend ourselves when we become Independent?

Scotland has about 10% of the population of the UK, so an Independent Scotland will own 10% of every plane, gun, tank etc.  The UK despite being such a small country, is the 4th largest spender in the world on armaments, so every time you pay tax, be it Income Tax, VAT, etc etc you are paying the highest proportion of this for arms, in any modern Western Democracy.  Put simply, the UK is spending far beyond its means to try and convince itself that it is still a World Power;  and this is a main part of the reason why nationally our financial position is so precarious.

An Independent Scotland will not need to spend a fraction of this to defend ourselves, for example, it will not be spending £100 billion of taxpayers' money on a new generation of weapons of mass destruction (Trident II) which both the Tories and Labour at Westminster plan to do.

Q 4:  If Scotland votes "No", will it change anything as far as I am concerned?

One thing we can be certain about is that should Scotland vote "NO", the Tory Government at Westminster will care even less about Scotland and no further devolution of powers to Holyrood will occur, despite anything which they might now promise.   They will do everything to extend their powers over Scotland, and the allocation of monies required to run Scotland in accordance with the Barnett Formula is sure to be interfered with.  This will affect everything from health to pensions to local services.   The advance of UKIP south of the Border will result in more and more right wing policies being foisted upon us, which ever Westminster Party comes to power.

Should Labour come to power following the 2016 Westminster elections, we will see little difference, as Labour have said that they will not reverse any of the cuts made to our welfare services already made by the Tories.  Should Labour also win the election for Holyrood, then there will be moves to bring Scotland into line with Westminster and much of what we have gained by having an SNP Government in Scotland will be lost. First to end will be the freeze of the Council Tax, followed by an end to free health prescriptions – we will have to pay around £8 per prescription as in England & Wales. Anyone in the family going to university will have to pay £9,000 per year tuition fees.  What is now being talked freely about in Labour circles is the ending of free travel for the elderly. Back door privatisation of the Health Service now occurring in England and Wales is sure to spread to Scotland.

We have much to lose if we vote "No" to Independence.

Q 5:  Is it the case if Scotland became independent it would be forced to join the "Euro"?

There is no truth in this.  Denmark and the UK have negotiated opt-outs from adopting the Euro.  When Sweden in a referendum voted against adopting the Euro in 2003, European Economics Affairs commissioner Olli Rehn said that Sweden could simply make up its own mind whether it does so or not.

Q 6:  Would an independent Scotland be financially sound?

Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) figures show that in 2011/12 Scotland contributed 9.9% to the UK public sector revenue but only received 9.3% back. [1] 

On 29 May 2008 the then Labour Chancellor, Alistair Darling, admitted that Scotland's oil revenues had for decades been underwriting the UK’s failure to balance its books.

Tory Prime Minister, David Cameron, has clearly said that Scotland is totally capable of standing on its own two feet, but claims we are better together.

Why do you think that both the Tories and Labour are so desperate to hold on to us?  If otherwise, they would have made sure that we were Independent long ago.

See also:  Can an Independent Scotland stand on its own two feet?

Q 7:  Tory Chancellor George Osborne said in April 2013, that Westminster might not "allow" an independent Scotland to join in a currency union.  Is there any truth in this?

This is blatant scaremongering.  Let me explain. With the Act of Union in 1707, Scotland and England ceased to be separate countries;  we are all one country, the United Kingdom.  So as we are already in a currency union, we have equal rights with the rest of the UK in being there.  In a News Night Scotland interview on 10 January 2013, Alistair Darling said "If you have Independence or separation, of course a currency union is logical".

Q 8: The "Better Together" campaign claim that an Independent Scotland would not be able to maintain current levels of social protection. What is the truth?

Scotland is better able to afford the current levels of social protection than the rest of the UK.  The current "social protection bill" for Scotland accounts for 38% of taxes raised here, as against 42% for the UK as a whole (figures GERS 2011-2012) [1] 

Q 9:  If Scotland votes to become Independent, will Scotland have to apply to become a new EU member state?

Certainly not!   It is a fact that Scotland is already a member of the EU and has been for four decades, so by definition meets all the criteria.  Let's hear what the experts say –

Emile Noel, the first and longest serving Secretary-General of the European Commission said:

"Scottish Independence would create two new member states out of one. They would have equal status with each other and the other states".

Eamonn Gallagher, former Director-General of the European Commission and EC Ambassador to the UN in New York said:

"Scotland and the rest of the UK would be equally entitled to continue their existing full membership of the EU".

Lord Mackenzie-Stuart, a Judge on the European Court of Justice between 1973 and 1988 and President from 1984-88 said:

"Independence would leave Scotland and something called "the rest" in the same legal boat.  If Scotland had to reapply, so would the rest".

Emannuel Sigalas, Political Scientist, Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna on BBC Newsweek Scotland, 5th November 2011 said:  

"If Scotland becomes an independent state, it's clearly the United Kingdom or the rest of the United Kingdom;  it's not the state as it used to be when it entered the EU in 1973.  I'm sure the EU would love to still have the British state and the Scottish state if there's ever one…it's an inclusive EU that we're talking about".

A final thought.  If Scotland becomes independent, this might tip the balance for England and the rest to vote themselves out of Europe in Cameron's referendum (after the 2016 election), so that the position could yet be that Scotland is in the EU, and England and the rest out.

[1] Please see my subsequent blog "GERS Report 2012-13" for an update on the GERS figures.

See also:  More blogs by John Jappy