The Scottish Independence Referendum takes place on September 18th 2014.
Let me start by nailing my colours to the wall. I am proud to be Scottish and British. When filling in an official form, I write British as my nationality. I believe that Scotland could survive as an independent country but would be far better off remaining part of the Union. I am not a politician; I am a humble member of the general public. However, I do voluntary work with the Better Together Campaign, helping with ordinary administrative tasks and sometimes work the phones to activists.
The economic case has not been proved despite North Sea oil – a depleting natural resource. There has been little convincing evidence offered in support of going it alone; rather the main thrust of the independence argument so far has been emotional. We are running out of time to get down to brass tacks. People need to know what will happen with currency, defence, the economy, the NHS, the BBC.
The Scottish Government states categorically that an independent Scotland will use the pound, maintaining that this is an asset to be shared. I cannot see how GBP can be described as an asset; but it most certainly would put the Bank of England & Westminster in charge of Scottish interest rates and its economy – just like now. However, even if this was a good idea it still requires negotiation with the rest of the UK (rUK). Why would they want to be the lender of last resort to a foreign country?
The UK has a population of 66 million and has significant global influence. Scotland’s population is around 5 million people – a minnow in the world and unlikely to be listened to; more likely Scotland would have to bow to the will and influence of others.
There is a danger that over 300 years of being part of Great Britain will end if there is a majority YES vote. The polls currently suggest Yes is about 30% and the No’s around 54%; that leaves 16% still to decide. This would be a irrevocable step; there would be no going back if we found we did not like it.
The nature of the debate to date has been characterised by very negative, sometimes offensive language – the favourite response to a challenge to any pro-independence statement seems to be either “you are not a patriotic Scot” or “if you don’t like it, get out of the country”.
This divisive behaviour is worrying as it could cause a serious division leading up to and beyond the referendum, whatever the result, and would be a disaster for Scotland and the UK.
Whatever political persuasion, everyone has the right to their own opinion and the right to express it. People must be treated with respect regardless of belief. Honest discussion and debate is essential.
I’ll add further observations and commentary as time goes on.