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The Hitchhikers’ Guide To Scottish Independence (Part 4 – Economics)

September 15, 2014

Yes, we have come in this, part four of my ‘Hitchhikers’ Guide’ series, to the bit about economics. For some in this debate it’s all about the economics. For others that is a base consideration which shouldn’t matter. We have been told by the ‘No’ campaign that the economic argument is already won. By them no less! This despite their almost complete lack of serious engagement in the debate, and a very great number of proven falsehoods from UK government sources. So what do we really know? Will we be better or worse off? What kind of economy will an independent Scotland have? And what are the potential economic consequences of a ‘No’ vote?

Now, before your eyes start to glaze over let me assure you that I intend to do this without simply throwing numbers at you, and as far as possible without using economic jargon. Where I do have to use some terms familiar to economists, but not necessarily to most other people, I will try to explain their meaning in plain English first. If you do have questions about the meaning of anything I say, or anything you’ve heard anyone else say for that matter, please do not hesitate to ask. There is no such thing as a stupid question, only stupid answers. And we have heard plenty of those in this debate already. I intend to myth-bust some of those along the way as well. But first…

Executive Summary

We’ll be fine! In fact we’ll be more than fine, we’ll be Switzerland by the sea! I can’t tell you exactly how much better off you’ll be, but I can absolutely guarantee that you will be better off, and not just a little bit. We have the economic fundamentals and opportunities, as I will explain, to be a highly successful, prosperous economy. Do not doubt that for a moment. I have been independently studying the economics of an independent Scotland for around thirty years, and these are the conclusions I have reached:

Currency

Yes, I know, we’re all sick of hearing about it. That was more than clear from the audience’s reaction when Darling brought it up repeatedly in the second debate. However, as I must write this blog for undecided voters (no point just preaching to the converted), and it is still an issue you will hear undecided voters, and of course ‘No’ campaigners and Unionist politicians bring up, I must address it here. Best I think to deal with it first and get it out of the way. For those readers who are happy that they are entirely clear on the matter, I understand completely just how tired of hearing about it you probably are, and I won’t be the least bit offended if you want to skip on to the next section. 🙂

Currency

Now it has been said, quite recently by Iain Macwhirter in the Sunday Herald among others, that people who are living in poverty and struggling daily to make ends meet are not particularly bothered what currency we use, they’d just like a bit of currency to feed their families. Any currency. And of course there’s a lot of truth in that. But for those who are still concerned by it we must address the issue. I need to start by pointing out, once more, that I am not a member of any political party and I’m certainly not an Alex Salmond fanboy. I would have taken a different approach to his on the currency issue from the start. It seemed to me that last year he bowed to pressure from the ‘No’ campaign in declaring a preferred currency option. You may well recall that ‘No’ campaigners at the time were regularly posting lists of questions as long as your arm, under headings like, “Questions Salmond (or the SNP) Must Answer!”

Most of the questions were not really questions for him (or them) to answer at all. They were, as I said long and loud at the time, properly matters for the Scottish people to decide, after the referendum, specifically through the Constitutional Convention or at the ballot box in the 2016 election. But one of those questions, the one that the ‘No’ campaign felt was giving them the most traction, namely currency, he did answer. He said he would prefer for us to use the pound as part of a currency union. What I would have said is that we will use whatever currency is most advantageous to us, not now but in the spring of 2016. I say this for a couple of reasons. The first is that the world economy has yet to fully recover from the shocks of 2008. It should have recovered by now, of course it should, however it hasn’t because many western governments, including unfortunately the one in Westminster, have chosen to implement austerity policies for ideological reasons. Now whilst these policies may work for some members of the elite, for a national economy as a whole we know that they do not work. We found this out in the 1930s when they proved entirely incapable of bringing about a recovery from the Great Depression. A whole new form of economics had to be developed to deal with that crisis, and that came in the form of the ‘General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money’ (1935) by John Maynard Keynes. That’s why you will hear those alternative policies talked about under the term ‘Keynesianism.’

Currency and Debt

The first thing to say is that we can of course use the pound, it is a fully tradeable currency and nobody could stop us using it. Even Alistair Darling has conceded that now. Indeed, if North Korea or Outer Mongolia decided tomorrow that they wanted to use the pound there is not a single thing anyone could do to stop them. Now at time of writing we have learnt that the value of the pound sterling has already begun to slide on the international currency markets. Why? Well, this is a direct result of statements by the ‘No’ campaign and the Unionist parties, to the effect that they will refuse to enter into a currency union with an independent Scotland. So don’t be surprised to hear of another ‘cabinet leak’ in the near future, just like the previous one to the Guardian newspaper, to the effect that, ‘we don’t really mean it, of course there would be a currency union.’ Probably, like last time, followed by a plethora of ‘on the record’ statements to the contrary. But if my prediction is borne out you will know that it is the so-called leak that represents the true position. The purpose of doing this is to reassure the markets which are clearly becoming jittery as a result of the Unionist parties’ threats to cut off their nose to spite their face. Because that is what this is, what it has always been, a stupid, empty threat.

Summary – Scotland has a range of viable currency options. England does not. They must have a currency union and must keep Scotland within the ‘Sterling Zone.’ Reason 1 – they have a £1.3-1.4 trillion (and rising) debt. This is offset by an asset, North Sea Oil, worth at least that much. No gold reserves and inadequate foreign currency reserves mean keeping that asset associated with sterling is vital. Otherwise it’s basically not backed by anything. Credit worthiness, as anyone knows, is based on two things – income and assets. Income is reason 2. Ours is big. Really big. Not only from oil, but also from whisky and many other exports. Scotland runs a large trade surplus, offsetting England’s enormous trade deficit. Loss of both our income and our assets from the ‘Sterling Zone’ will cause a collapse in the value of Sterling, and a loss of credit worthiness for England. That can only end one way – hyperinflation and debt default. That’s it in a nutshell.

So there will be a currency union, because there has to be, because Westminster desperately needs there to be, far more than we do if the truth be known. The major advantage to Scotland of such an arrangement is that England will still be able to afford to buy our stuff. The advantage to England will be that their currency won’t collapse, bringing about said hyperinflation and causing them to default on their massive sovereign debt. Scotland doesn’t have any sovereign debt because it has never issued any. That is the situation, plain and simple. The Unionists are arguing that we have some kind of moral obligation to pay a proportional share of UK sovereign debt, but of course, that would be contingent on their being reasonable in the negotiations and agreeing to a fair and reasonable division of the assets of the UK and not just the liabilities. And their conceding our status as a successor state to the UK. Otherwise we would be a new state, and a new state, by definition, has no debt.

No doubt they would point fingers and cry foul, accusing us of defaulting on our debt, only that is a nonsense. It is not our debt. A moral obligation is just that, it is not a legal obligation, and the international markets would simply laugh at the idea of a ‘moral default.’ And why should we be the only ones expected to meet our moral obligations anyway? Negotiations are a two way street and it’s high time everyone recognised that simple truth. In fact it is the KoE* who are in danger of a default if they fail to accept, for reasons of spite or politics, our generous offer of a currency union, which would afford the ‘Sterling zone’ the protection of our healthy balance of payments surplus and the underpinning of our massive reserves of petro-dollars (oil in the ground). We could very easily use the latter as the strategic reserve to create our own central bank and issue our own currency (more of this later). The only issues that we would face would be that of our currency being, as the McCrone Report posited in the 70s, too ‘hard,’ ie. worth too much, which could be easily addressed by pegging its value to that of another currency (the pound or another one such as the US dollar if the pound no longer seems to be stable enough), and that of finding someone else to drink our whisky. Now call me crazy, but I have a feeling the Chinese would lap that up without batting an eyelid! If we had followed my earlier advice, and effectively called their bluff on the issue, then long before now we would have seen them beg for a currency union, and no doubt threaten that we’d never manage without one!

Taxation, Spending and the Myth of the Subsidy Junkies

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Now you may have come across a certain story put about by the ‘No’ campaign and the Unionists, in fact if you have been following the campaign you almost certainly will have done, regarding how much Scots pay in tax (about £53 billion, let’s not quibble about the small change) and how much is spent in Scotland (about £63 billion, or so it is claimed). Unionists are very fond of proclaiming that the difference between these two figures represents a subsidy to Scotland. There is, however, a fatal flaw in this hypothesis. Who is doing the subsidising? Where is the money coming from? You see Scotland, which represents about 8.4% of the population of the UK, actually generates 9.4 or 9.6% (depending on which year’s figures you look at) of UK tax revenues. More than our share. So who exactly is subsidising us? Certainly not English taxpayers, who generate considerably less revenue, on average, than we do. Nor is it the good people of Wales or Northern Ireland. No, the ‘subsidy’ in fact represents Scotland’s notional share of the UK’s deficit, the gap between the revenue the UK generates and what it spends, currently running at well over £100 billion a year. So in fact the subsidy is not a subsidy at all, it’s what George Osborne is bunging on the UK credit credit card and saying he spent on us. But it’s really just another example of something I mentioned in an earlier instalment of the Hitchhikers’ Guide series, the Big Lie. Tell it often enough and people eventually just assume it must be true. In this case the English electorate. Although even some Scots seem to believe it.

But wait, that’s not the only problem with these rubbery figures. You see, £63 billion is what Westminster says is spent on Scotland. However, the Scottish Government budget which, unlike ‘Call Me Dave’ and Gideon’s lot, they normally stick to, is only around £46 billion. So where, I hear you ask, does the other £17 billion go to? Well, some of it goes on the things that are currently ‘reserved’ to Westminster, as you might expect, such as foreign affairs and defence. Some of it goes into ‘special projects’ and ‘one-off’ spends, which means that in practice a surprising amount of it is actually spent in London. Or on things which are of little or no use to us. I’m talking about things like the The Channel Tunnel, the Olympics, The Queen’s Golden Jubilee, The Jubilee line extension, the continual M25 upgrades, The London sewerage system, refurbishment of the Westminster parliament, the HS2 high speed railway line that will only ever go as far North as Manchester (Scotland’s share – £4.7 billion), our share of the £100 billion Trident replacement (about £8.4 billion) and many more such projects from which we do not in fact benefit.

Tax-SubsidyMap

The Nuclear ‘Deterrent’

And let me just take a moment to talk about Trident and its replacement. The ‘No’ campaign regularly raises the issue as one of jobs. If we get rid of Trident from our waters we will lose all the jobs that go with it we are told. The Scottish Government usually counters by speaking of its own plans for Faslane as the main headquarters of the Scottish Defence Force which, they say, will create many more jobs than are currently created by Trident. Trident has been described as the most expensive job creation scheme in history, and if we were to remain in the union we would see this played out once more, in the most graphic way imaginable. Here’s how it works – you give £100 billion to the US military industrial complex to build the thing. They deliver it to you, almost certainly late and over budget. You give them several tens of billions more to make up for that. When it eventually arrives you have spent tens of billions more upgrading and re-tooling facilities at Faslane and Coulport to take the new system, which you might think would create jobs, however most of those jobs will be temporary and will go to outside contractors anyway, not to people in the local area. In the end you are left with, for Trident, some 8,000 jobs in total. Of these, three quarters are service personal, most of whom do not in fact live in the local area but are merely on the base when they are on duty. Most of the remainder might actually be local jobs, in the form of civilian contractors providing services to the base such as catering and cleaning. As you can see the maximum number of such jobs would be around 2,000 but some estimates put it as low as a few hundred. So, to sum up, you pay £150 billion+, most of which goes overseas, to secure less than 2,000 jobs. Bargain, eh?

If you just used the taxpayers’ money to pay 2,000 people £10,000 a year each, it would only cost £20 million, but hey, why not spend anything up to 10,000 times that much creating many thousands of highly-skilled, highly-paid jobs in the US and buy ourselves a first strike weapons system (because that’s what it is, make no mistake, designed for a sneak attack) that we can never use. We can never use it because if we used it against another nuclear power we ourselves would be obliterated completely, we would never need to use it against a non-nuclear power, and it would be completely ineffectual, as are all conventional military means, against terrorist threats. So this begs the question, what is it actually for? The only conceivable answer seems to be to allow the UK to feel as if it is still a ‘Great Power’ and to maintain its vanity permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Influence (See Part 3 – Politics). Isn’t it just great to know that we have ‘influence,’ even though we have a quarter of our children growing up in poverty, working families having to rely on foodbanks to feed the kids and pensioners freezing to death within sight of an oil rig? I’m sure knowing that we have all that ‘influence’ makes them feel much better about it.

Interest and Interest Rates

We also need to touch on the matter of interest, specifically the interest payable on that massive UK national debt. Given the sort of things which that debt has been used to fund, which we have already discussed, many have suggested that Scotland has had rather a bad deal out of it. That £63 billion public spending figure for Scotland also includes a proportional share (proportional to our population, so around 8.4%) of interest payable on the UK national debt. It always has. Now since that debt has funded projects which in the main have not benefited us some have suggested that in any apportioning of that national debt Scotland should receive a discount for interest already paid on debt we did not accumulate, and have tried to calculate just how much that might be. The first attempt to calculate it, looking at just the last 35 years, was made by Business for Scotland. They put the figure at £64 billion. To put that in perspective, Scotland’s share  of the debt, based on our population, comes to around £100 billion. However there was another, more detailed attempt to calculate it by two distinguished independent economists commissioned by the Jimmy Reid Foundation. They took into account some factors not considered in the earlier estimate. In their conclusion they described the Business for Scotland figure as ‘conservative,’ putting the true figure at about £150 billion.

Remember, this is about interest that has already been paid. In any calculation of Scotland’s share of UK national debt an amount would be agreed, then a schedule of repayments (although if we accept the Jimmy Reid Foundation’s figure Scotland’s share would be a negative figure and the KoE would end up owing us money). This is because, as I mentioned before, the debt was not issued by Scotland in the first place. Accordingly the UK Treasury and the Bank of England have already guaranteed that debt, earlier this year. So once that amount is agreed no further interest would be payable on it by Scotland, and of course we would not be liable for the interest on any future debt the KoE might take out. Remember, the deficit is currently running at over £100 billion each year, so our paying out our share would only account for one year, after which that debt would be run up again! And despite what has been said by the ‘No’ campaign, it would not be necessary for Scotland to issue any new debt of its own. This is because even taking into account the true cost of, for instance, a Scottish Defence Force and other costs currently attributed to us as part of UK-wide spending, over and above the Scottish Government budget, we would in all likelihood be in a position of fiscal surplus. This is the real reason that the Scottish Government has had the confidence to make additional spending commitments such as their childcare plans. Once we control all of our own revenues we will be able to afford them, without incurring any new debt. That is the truth of our budgetary position. We are actually in a far healthier state than the UK currently is. And you were wondering why they are so desperate to hang onto us!

As for interest rates, nobody can reliably predict what they will be in the future, that will depend on economic circumstances, but what has happened in the last six years must be examined. At 0.5% it has to be said official interest rates are presently too low. That is not a neutral setting. Australia, which due to its better regime of prudential regulation, its classically Keynsian stimulus response to the international banking crisis and the strength of its resource markets, particularly China, avoided going into recession in 2008/09, has interest rates at a neutral setting now at about 5%. However we have seen an uncoupling of mortgage rates, credit card rates, etc. from official rates. Take a look at your next statement. I guarantee you are not paying 0.5%, or anything like it, on any borrowings you may have. However, if you are a pensioner say, with a savings account, you will probably be receiving a derisory amount of interest at the moment. Official rates remain so low because, as I’ve already pointed out, austerity policies do not work. That’s not how you bring about a recovery. Such low rates  are a symptom of the weakness of the economy, not of its strength. They have to remain so low because the UK didn’t stimulate its economy in 2008/09, it simply bailed out the gamblers in the banking casino. Nice for them, not much use to everyone else. The so-called quantitative easing (QE), or as we used to call it, printing money, which has been pursued since then would, in better times, have led to inflation. Once more, the fact that it has not is a sign of the underlying weakness of the economy.

Looking at Australia again, they didn’t do that. What they did do was to start writing cheques to taxpayers, pensioners, etc. This stimulated the economy in the short term, and public works programs kept this stimulus going in the medium term. By contrast, QE also allows individuals to spend more, but by taking out more debt. The Australian model simply gave them the money without making them pay it back with interest. It’s actually a far more efficient form of stimulus, and of course it’s far better for the individuals concerned. What happened in the UK has made a lot of people very angry, because what it has done is to transfer vast amounts of taxpayers’ money to bankers, the very people responsible for the crisis in the first place. This has been the case in many western countries, with the notable exception of Iceland, which allowed banks to fail and even jailed the bankers who were responsible for the situation. You won’t hear it mentioned very much in our mainstream media of course, but Iceland has since recovered strongly, far more so than the UK, which has prioritised the protection of vested interests above all else.

Oil and ‘Uncertainty’

We have heard a very great deal about the ‘Uncertainty’ brought about by the fact that Scotland is ‘cursed’ with a very substantial amount of oil and gas reserves. These are resources which any country would be glad of, but apparently for us they are somehow a bad thing. We don’t know how much there is. Well no, we don’t, because recent exploration has uncovered potential new fields that could massively increase reserves compared to known, existing deposits. One new prospect alone, Clair Ridge, West of Shetland, has been estimated at up to 8 billion barrels, which would represent a 50% increase over the extremely conservative estimate of Sir Ian Wood which has been much bandied about recently. All of the warnings that ‘the oil is running out’ ignore these prospects and only look at fields already in production. Not only that, but a glance through the small print reveals that what they’re really saying is, The Oil Is Running Out (by 2050, a whole 36 years in the future, but only if you assume no new fields are discovered before then, which is so extremely unlikely it’s next to impossible).” All of this explains why so many Scots believe they are being lied to about the extent and value of oil in Scottish waters. This and the aforementioned McCrone Report which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were lied to about it in the 1970s. The report, classified secret at the time, was quietly released under the 30 year rule, and only came to light as a result of a freedom of information request.

But what about the fact that as things stand oil would constitute 15% of our economy? Well, it constitutes 30% of Norway’s economy and that doesn’t seem to cause the Norwegians to lose much sleep. Also it’s worth noting that if oil and gas revenue was zero Scotland’s per capita GDP would still be 99% of the equivalent figure for the UK. That suggests that far from our being ‘dependent’ on oil revenues, they are in fact entirely a bonus for Scotland. So what does that mean? What should we do with that ‘bonus’ revenue? Well, there have been many ideas about this. Perhaps the best known is the idea that we should set up a sovereign wealth fund, along similar lines to the Norwegian one set up in 1990 and now worth over £500 billion and estimated to own around 2% of all stocks in the world. This makes every man, woman and child in Norway technically a millionaire. And even while they were doing all this, Norway’s economy produced in that time real wage growth twice that of the UK in the same period. Now, the parallels are obvious, given that Norway has a similar population to that of Scotland. This is where we could be today had we chosen to become independent prior to 1990. Arguably we could be even better off, as we have a more diverse economy with other strengths lacked by Norway. However, shared as it was by an economy ten times our size, which chose to use oil revenues to help to disguise a chronic structural deficit, that opportunity was wasted. The UK could have chosen to set up a sovereign wealth fund with at least some of those revenues, but did not. They could have allocated some of them to alleviate economic deprivation in Scotland, but did not. In fact some would argue that they were used to fund the de-industrialisation of Scotland and other parts of the UK in the 80s and 90s. They could have used the windfall as an opportunity to restructure the UK economy, to put it on a more sustainable footing, but did not.

Norway-vs-UK

You might think that all of this sounds remarkably short-sighted, and I’d have to agree. The phrase ‘pissed it up the wall’ comes to mind in fact. However this is not the history section, and these events are in the past. So much for what might have been, let us look at what still might be. The more optimistic estimates of North Sea oil reserves say that there may still be as much oil left as has already been produced. This, once more, does not take account of any new finds. So there is clearly still the opportunity, through better management of the resource, to set up a sovereign wealth fund and although we’ll never catch up with Norway that could still be extremely beneficial to Scotland’s economy. So don’t believe the hype. The possession of such a resource cannot possibly be considered a ‘burden’ as Unionists have tried to persuade us. It’s an asset, and a very substantial one at that. And yet as things stand the UK still has no plans to improve their management of that asset. The silence on this issue has been deafening. In all of the eleventh hour promises of ‘more powers’ for the Scottish parliament there has been absolutely no mention of it whatsoever. It appears they intend to continue to waste this golden opportunity to put something away for a rainy day. But is there a better way? Something that hasn’t been thought of yet? Some way to manage the resource both sustainably and profitably to the benefit of our people? I believe there is.

A Big Idea

Now some have said that pursuing a future as an oil producer sits somewhat uneasily with Scotland’s ambitions as an exporter of renewable energy and ambitions to re-industrialise our country as a forward-looking manufacturing economy. Should we not be pursuing technologies of the future, rather than those of the past? Green tech for example? We are, as everyone knows, the people who brought the world the industrial revolution through our many technological innovations. Now that it is clear that the industrial revolution has had, and continues to have, a profound environmental cost, should we not be looking to harness that innovative spirit once again to bring the world the antidote? The next step forward? We do have, by current estimates, which have hardly begun to touch the potential of tidal power generation yet (The Pentland Firth, where the Atlantic/North Sea interchange is, has been described as the Saudi Arabia of tidal generation), 25% of Europe’s renewable energy resource and that presents an exciting opportunity – with many European nations struggling to meet their commitments under international agreements on renewable energy targets, and with Scotland on course to be able to meet 100% of domestic power generation requirements by 2020, we could simply lay cables across the North Sea and sell clean energy directly into Europe. The Scottish Green Party, an enthusiastic supporter of independence, is particularly uneasy with those who want to forge ahead with the exploitation of new oilfields West of Shetland, in the Firth of Clyde and further out into the Atlantic. Older left wing politicians in Scotland seem particularly keen on this idea. They want to return to what they see as a golden age, rebuild the shipyards and drill baby, drill. I have a better idea. Such a good idea that the Greens will be kicking themselves that they didn’t think of it. Such a good idea in fact that I probably should precede it with this, to protect the intellectual property rights:

© Derek Stewart Macpherson, 2010, All Rights Reserved.

What we do is to reserve future oil discoveries to the Scottish Government. We explore, but we do not exploit. For now. The oil isn’t going anywhere. Look at the Firth of Clyde. Development was ruled out in the 80s by the MoD, because it was felt this could interfere with the operations of Trident submarines. So it’s still there. Let’s conduct further exploration in order to quantify these resources. Then we sell them. While they’re still in the ground! We do this by creating a new financial instrument, the Scottish Oil Bond. This would operate in some ways like a bond, and in some ways like oil futures. Each bond would be worth 49% of a barrel of oil (we retain the other 51% for the future, also giving us the controlling interest so we can decide when it should be drilled). We could sell these bonds instead of issuing sovereign debt. They would be non-interest bearing, so they wouldn’t work like debt, they’d work like other asset sales. The profit for investors would come from the rising price of oil. A market could be established where they could be traded.  The issue price would be somewhat higher than the current oil price on world markets, exactly how much higher would have to be worked out but I think two to three times is not an unreasonable starting point. Because they would be issued with a guarantee not to drill the oil, thus bringing the bond to maturity, until the oil price was double the issue price. So that’s a guaranteed minimum return of 100% if you just wait long enough, but they can also be sold in the market at any time. Sales of these bonds can be used to balance our budget so that we are never in deficit and to establish and grow a sovereign wealth fund. And, in due course, to establish our own central bank.

This is all realistic because, despite what the unionists would have us believe, the long term trend for oil prices is only heading one way – up. A lot. The longer we leave it in the ground the more it will be worth. We know this because oil has more than one use. It has many. A barrel of oil is distilled to produce many different products and very little of it is wasted. When we think about oil we generally think about petrol, and it is true that the world simply cannot go on burning fossil fuels as we are at the moment. We just can’t. If you doubt that or don’t understand why, this article by Bill McKibben explains exactly why, but comes with a ‘do not read before bedtime’ warning. It’s scary stuff. But even if we stop using petrol and diesel and Jet A1 to run our cars, trucks, buses, trains and planes, that will only reduce the demand for oil a little bit, because the other constituent parts in a barrel of crude will still be required for the petrochemical and plastics industries. These uses do not contribute to global warming/climate change. Remember, these demands are not currently met by using more oil, but by using other bits of the same oil. And this will mean a continual and substantial rise in the value of oil, because it is a finite resource. In fact, due to a phenomenon that has come to be known as Peak Oil, world production will soon start to decline, whereas demand for petrochemicals and plastics will not. That can only mean one thing for the price of oil. It’s going up and, apart from relatively minor short term fluctuations, it’s never going down!

Conclusion

Two things have, I believe, become abundantly clear in the course of this campaign, and the above explains exactly why. These are:

1. Scotland has the economic fundamentals, resources and opportunities to be a highly successful economy, nation and society. You may have heard it said that we would be the 14th wealthiest country in the OECD. But that is on paper, now. That’s where we would sit on day one of independence. That is before we take the economic levers into our own hands and begin to manage our economy in our own interests. When we do that, as I believe I have explained, we have the potential to do a great deal better than that. For that reason we can confidently predict that we will indeed be able to safeguard pensions, the NHS, etc, and begin to make inroads into poverty levels. In time we will be able to significantly increase living standards for all of our people. We should not be worrying about whether we can survive, we should be considering just how much we need to raise our expectations of what is normal, what is achievable, what is desirable. The Westminster establishment has, deliberately, made the UK one of the most unequal developed countries in the world. We have the opportunity to make different choices, and the security to do so without ‘risk.’

2. Unionist politicians have been desperate to talk about ‘risk,’ but the risks they are really worried about are to themselves. They are afraid of what will become of them without our revenues, without the effective subsidies with which we have been propping up their bankrupt system for many, many years. They are afraid of the positive example we will set for their working class when we do make those different choices and demonstrate that change is not only possible, it’s vital. You may have also heard it said that the UK ranks 18th on the same OECD list of the world’s wealthiest countries. Alex Salmond is quite fond of quoting that statistic. But he is being polite. He is being non-threatening. That’s where the UK sits today, including Scotland. Without us they will drop right out of the top 20. It’s hardly surprising that they are so scared, and that they are prepared to fight so hard to hang onto us. Does anyone seriously believe they are campaigning as they are out of pure altruism? The Tories? Come on, don’t make me laugh! No, they are afraid for their own positions, their own privilege. We, on the other hand, have nothing to fear but fear itself!

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*I have decided to use the abbreviation ‘KoE’ as shorthand for the other entity, apart from Scotland, which will remain when Scotland reclaims her independence. I intend to use it again, so I’d better explain exactly what I mean by it. I use it to stand for the Kingdom of England (incorporating the Principality of Wales and the Province of Northern Ireland). Why? Because that is the closest analogue to the entity which existed prior to the Union, although at the time it included not only Wales but also the whole of Ireland, both of which nations had been previously conquered and annexed by England, something they never succeeded in doing to Scotland. There were, and are, only two signatories to the Treaty of Union of 1707, the Kingdoms of England and Scotland, and in light of that it is important to recognise that by voting ‘Yes’ Scotland will not be leaving the Union, we will be dissolving it. It will cease to exist. To suggest anything else would be like a man saying, “I am married. Yes, my wife divorced me last year, but I’m still married. Just not to anyone.” This is why I absolutely refuse to countenance the use of the term ‘rUK’ or any other such formulation. That would be to concede to the KoE a status which I absolutely do not concede.

Absolutely no insult or offence is implied or intended to our Welsh and Irish brothers and sisters, I cannot stress that strongly enough. It is simply a statement of fact. Furthermore, when we in Scotland speak of being unable to influence the result of Westminster elections, of being effectively outvoted by the English electorate, it’s not Welsh or Irish voters who are contributing to that democratic deficit. For one thing the Welsh in particular tend to exhibit similar voting patterns to our own. And even together the voters of Wales and Northern Ireland do not outnumber us. The problem lies with the large block of voters in the atypically prosperous South East of England, some 17 million of them, who tend to be the ‘floating voters’ in Westminster elections. As a result the policies of all the major parties tend to be aimed at appeasing them, and as such they are very often not policies that the voters of Scotland, or Wales, or Northern Ireland, or even the North of England would wish to be associated with.

Nor is use of this term intended to convey any anti-English sentiment whatsoever. As I have written before, I myself am a great admirer of English culture. The very name I chose for this blog, and that which I chose for this series of articles are ‘un homage’ to one of my favourite English writers, Douglas Adams. I am not an admirer of their political system or their ruling elite, but then neither are most English people I know. It is my fervent hope that our example will be a positive inspiration to the ordinary, decent people of England, showing by demonstration that there can be another, better way. I would very much like to see those people act to liberate themselves from the yolk of that parasitic ruling elite which impoverishes them as well as us, and which has turned the UK into a kleptocracy (government by thieves). It is my firm view that the Union is beyond reform or redemption. England is not, and I wish our English friends nothing but the best as they strive to achieve the reform they seek.

 

Also in this series:

The Hitchhikers’ Guide To Scottish Independence (Part 1)

The Hitchhikers’ Guide To Scottish Independence (Part 2 – History)

The Hitchhikers’ Guide To Scottish Independence (Part 3 – Politics)

Why Scotland? – The Hitchhikers’ Guide To Scottish Independence (Part 5)

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3 Comments
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