Scotland independence bid to be obliterated in 2014
Writing from the Isle of Man -- from where you can physically see England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland -- offers perspective. This Manx writer explains why Scotland just isn't going to vote "yes" to independence in 2014. SNP obliteration beckons
‘It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine’. I love Scotland, but never mind the EU elections; the most entertaining political event of 2014 will be the referendum on Scottish independence. The predictions are a melt-down in the ‘yes’ vote.
The Scottish Nationalists will be obliterated. The opinion polls show a massive lead for ‘no’ with ‘yes’ getting only 27 percent of the vote. A much safer guide is the bookies’ odds. Currently the odds are 10/1 against a ‘yes’, 11 to 2 for a ‘no’. One punter has £200,000 ($330,000) riding on a ‘no’ vote, and another has placed a ‘no’ bet of £50,000 ($82,000).
There is no merit to their case, which entirely rests on sentimentality; the Scotland of Burns Suppers, tartan, and fried Mars Bars.
The economic arguments for ‘no’ are overwhelming. The only real asset is North Sea oil. Not only is this a wasting asset but the price is likely to drop sharply as the US increases production. It accounts for a massive 18 percent of GDP, making Scotland vulnerable to instability and risk for the whole economy.
The British (mainly English) subsidy to Scotland is £25 billion ($41 billion). The revenues from oil would be at best £7.2 billion ($11.9 billion). State subsidised spending per head in Scotland is 28 percent higher than in England, a difference of about £1,500 ($2,500).
Most Scots would reject independence if it left them only £500 ($826) a year worse off. Such is the price of patriotism. Yet they will find it almost impossible to maintain their spending on free university tuition, free elderly care, free universal child care and more generous pensions -- none of which are available in England but are largely paid-for by English taxpayers.
Then there’s the EU membership problem.
Scottish Nationalist (SNP) leader Alex Salmond has repeatedly said, against all the legal advice, that Scotland would automatically continue as a member. It won’t. It will have to go through the whole lengthy rigmarole of the application negotiations. So, good bye to farm subsidies for all those Highland crofters for several years, at least.
And then they will be refused, because membership requires a unanimous vote of all EU members, and the Spanish will vote it down for fear of setting a precedent for Catalonia. (See this devastating report from Spain -- devastating for Scottish independence that is.)
There’s the currency issue. If they stay with the British pound, their fiscal policy will be controlled by the Bank of England, which would create the kind of monetary union without fiscal union that has proved so disastrous in the Eurozone.
If not, they will have to set up their own central banking system. In the unlikely event of joining the Euro, a central bank would be pointless and unnecessary, but Scotland would be then controlled financially from Brussels. Threadneedle Street seems a much safer potion.
Creating a viable economy requires massive expansion of manufacturing, commerce, and financial services. Since the collapse of RBS and HBOS, (and what would have happened there had Scotland been independent?), financial services have performed poorly. Scotland could also be landed with the banks’ £187 billion ($309 billion) of toxic assets.
And Scotland would be in direct competition in all economic categories with the City and England generally. No contest!
Scotland could go the way of Greece. Edinburgh was once dubbed the ‘Athens of the North’. History could repeat itself: not just as tragedy, but also as farce.
Happy Hogmanay. What will be the raison d’etre, of that minority of Scottish voters that actually want independence, after the vote is lost?
Robin Mitchinson is a regular contributor to The Commentator, Britain's fastest growing magazine-format, online, quality-end comment and news outlet with a rapidly growing readership all over the English speaking world
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