But as a Scot by birth if not by homeland I do have something to say on the subject.
Whatever the outcome it spells the end of Alex Salmond’s political career and probably also that of his chief ally Nicola
Sturgeon. Surely not, I here you cry. To the victor the spoils. But, surprisingly, yes I think it will and here’s why.
Many of those intending to vote YES aren’t SNP voters. They come from a wide range of political affiliations and also from no affiliation at all. Their common goal is Scottish independence and once that is out of the way what happens?
Let’s say 45% of the electorate vote NO. If the vote is in favour of independence then that 45% will hardly reward Alex Salmond with their vote at the first Scottish governmental elections. OK, so what about the 55% that voted YES? Well, if they aren’t normally SNP voters then they will probably return to their normal party allegiances. Let’s say that applies to one 20% the total vote. That leaves the SNP with only 35% of the vote. Maybe it will be enough, but I doubt it. The natural party of government in Scotland is Labour (like it or not). Evidence of this can be seen in the number of Scottish seats
they hold in Whitehall.
Of the 59 Scottish constituencies 41 are held by Labour, 11 by Lib Dems, only 6 by SNP and, as we know, there are more Pandas in Scotland than Tory MPs. There is no reason to believe that the newly independent Scottish parliament will look any different. The one imponderable is what will happen to the dissatisfied Lib Dem voters and I think they will probably go to Labour rather than to the SNP.
Of course if the NO vote prevails then Scottish independence will be off the agenda for a generation or more, so why vote SNP if they can’t deliver on their main political goal?
Either way I think its Bye Bye Alex and Nicola.
Can Scotland survive on its own? Of course it can. There are many small nations in Europe that do. But that doesn’t mean it should. What joy is there in independence if you are worse off than before, as most small countries are when compared to their larger neighbours. Look at the levels of tax that the populations of small nations pay compared to larger ones and you get the idea of how the country is funded. The bigger the country the lower the taxes. More people paying low tax generally raises more money than fewer people paying higher taxes.
But of course Scotland will have the revenue from North Sea Oil, which will make up for the low numbers of tax payers. Well, will it? Not according to the Office of Budget Reform (OBR) as reported in the Scottish Daily Herald . What is also interesting is Alex Salmond’s response to this article, which he dismisses as “stuff and nonsense”. Note, he doesn’t produce figures of his own to counter the OBRs figures, he just dismisses them. I wonder why? And the Herald isn’t the only pessimistic reporter. This is from politics Today . They forecast a £1k spending deficit for every person in Scotland based on oil revenue forecasts. Guess who’s going to have to make up that deficit if the forecasts are even partially correct. Yup, it’ll be Mr and Mrs McScotland. If I were to meet Mr Salmond today I would be asking him to produce the forecasts on which he is basing his promises, but then that’s me. I believe in figures, not politician’s promises.
Some people are saying that this is about where the country should be governed from. It’s not right, they say, that people in The Shetland Isles should be governed from 800 miles away. Now let’s think that one through. In Australia, Canada, USA, Russia, China and Brazil the population seem quite happy to be governed from Canberra, Ottowa, Washington, Moscow, Beijing and Brazilia and those cities are far more than 800 miles from their more far flung populations. Ah, but most of them are federal based systems with state governments to manage local affairs. Er, hello! Devolved government in Edinburgh. Isn’t that pretty much the same thing?
But it’s all about having the Government we vote for, people say. Hey, it’s called democracy. If you vote for the Green Party you never get the government you vote for. At least the majority Labour voters in Scotland do get their choice of government turn-about with the Conservatives. For goodness sake grow up. Meanwhile the Scottish Lib Dems and the Conservatives still won’t get the government they vote for if Scotland goes independent. How’s that for a victory for democracy?
By this time next week the question of Scottish independence will be answered, though of course the mechanics of the break-up, if the vote is YES, will only just be starting to be worked out. I think the saying ‘we live in interesting times’
is most apropos. * I can only hope that the Scots vote with their heads and not their hearts. Independence sounds great, doesn’t it? But it comes with a price tag. Ask any of those countries that have split up over the last few years. When it comes to winners and losers its generally the smaller fragment that loses.
* Supposedly an old Chinese curse, ‘May you live in interesting times’but actually attributable to Frederic R Coudert and made popular by Robert Kennedy in a speech in Cape Town in 1966.
Next week, hopefully a more light hearted blog, but maybe the news agenda will dictate otherwise.