Friday, 29 August 2014

It's Not About The Numbers

Here's the thing: I don't think the independence debate should be about the numbers.

My heart tells me that the Union works, that being part of the United Kingdom makes us stronger, that sharing with our neighbours makes good sense and is - frankly - a morally sound way to behave.

I recognise of course that there are many decent and rational Yes voters who don't share my view.  At the heart of the difference between us is that they see a constitutional problem that needs fixing and I don't.

You see: I have no problem with "us" being the people of the United Kingdom, so I believe that we already get to decide who governs us.

I accept that the party I vote for won't always be the party in power and I know that will still be the case in an independent Scotland because that's how representative democracy works.

I recognise that politicians sometimes disappoint us, sometimes make mistakes - but I don't see that as a problem confined to Westminster; I don't believe that the Scottish political elite are in some way immune from these human failings.

I also recognise that Scotland faces demographic and economic challenges that mean our priorities will sometimes differ from those of the rest of the UK.  I see the devolved parliament as an excellent way to address those differences whilst retaining the benefits of Union (of which having a shared currency is but one powerful example).

I do understand that some Yes voters believe that - as the rest of the UK lurches to the right -  an independent Scotland could cast itself free and become a shining beacon for social justice.  I don't doubt that this is a view held with heartfelt conviction by many; but I wonder if some of these voters forget that for 13 of the last 17 years we had a UK Labour government that Scotland voted for. Disenchantment with New Labour and the Blair years is not a uniquely Scottish phenomenon. Similarly, just because the Tories are in power now doesn't strike me as sufficient reason to discard 307 years of Union.  Some - few in my experience, but some - Yes voters rise above the party political distractions and argue instead that (implicitly) Hadrian's wall defines the optimal trade-off point between economic scale and getting what "we" want all the time. I question whether the Scottish electorate will turn out to be as politically different from the rest of the UK as this view implies, but that is by-the-by.

So from these diametrically opposed starting points (gut feelings that we should either stay together or go it alone) each side views the evidence through our own prisms, refracting away unhelpful truths and drawing focus on the arguments that support our prejudice.  I don't claim to be immune from this tendency but I try very hard to maintain objectivity. I have spent the last three months immersed in the arguments of the Yes camp and consciously avoiding Better Together literature.  I wanted to face the counter-arguments and challenge my intuition rather than seek the reassurance of evidence that reinforces my beliefs.

I have been shocked by what I've found, particularly with respect to how oil & gas revenues are shared.

I expected to have to make the argument that within a Union it's only right and proper that you share resources; I expected to use the tortured analogy that if you were to discover after you'd been married for a few years that you'd had a winning lottery ticket in your back-pocket all along, it would be morally indefensible to argue you shouldn't share it with your partner. Particularly if you'd already been married for 270 years; I mean - do you ever wash those jeans?

I've covered the detail elsewhere on this blog: the numbers are all there, sourced directly from the Scottish Government's own GERS report (and presented in full and using most up-to-date figures) > £8.3bn Better Off?

I offer the following as a fair summary:  Scotland receives "back" from the Treasury as much in additional public spend per head as we contribute in additional tax per head if you attribute all "our" oil & gas income to us on a geographic basis.  It's remarkable how well this balances out; the average annual per capita difference shows Scotland making a £2 per person net contribution over the last 7 years if you assume we should keep all of "our" oil & gas income. Over the last 4 years we were in fact net beneficiaries to the tune of £156 per person and last year  by £512 per person.

Pause for a moment.  Isn't that an incredible observation?  What a wonderfully well balanced Union this is. Despite the fact that the rest of the UK could quite reasonably lay claim to "keeping" their per capita share of oil & gas income, in fact we in Scotland get a higher level of public spending per capita that almost exactly matches "our" higher tax contribution.  Indeed in recent years being part of the UK smooths the volatility of Oil & Gas income; we're able to maintain our level of public spending even when our Oil & Gas tax income (hopefully temporarily) dips.  You'd think even the most hardened Nationalist must look at that and - begrudgingly perhaps - accept that we get a pretty fair deal.

But of course we don't hear the Yes camp admitting that. Instead we hear - from the likes of First Minister Alex Salmond and the risible Business for Scotland - that we would have been "£8bn better off" if only we'd had our "fair share".   That is a frankly ludicrous statement.  They attempt to justify it by saying we should have had an even higher percentage of expenditure than we actually did - the implication being that we should have spent £8.3bn more than we actually did resulting in an even higher per capita deficit (as a result of which of course we would have been responsible for far more than our per capita share of UK debt).  If you're the sort of person who thinks running up a bigger credit card debt makes you "better off" then you may buy that argument; I'm not and I don't. The detail is all here > The £8bn Misdirection

Of course if you're a committed Yes or a committed No then the numbers frankly make no difference to you anyway; but if you've been swayed to vote Yes because you believe we're hard done to by the Treasury you really should think again.

Go back 25 years and the story is broadly the same ... but it's only fair to observe that if you go back even further (to the 1980's when we benefited from the main Oil & Gas boom) then - not surprisingly - you find a decade during which Scotland was a significant net contributor to the UK.  If we were voting to rewind to 1980 - and if you took a purely selfish view - then you could make a case that Independence would have made "us" better off.  But of course we were part of a Union then and - not to put too fine a point on it - we're not voting for a time-machine.

We can only change what's ahead of us and nobody is predicting another 80's style boom. At current public expenditure levels and keeping all "our" oil and gas we in Scotland run a very significant deficit (£2,268 for every Scottish man, woman and child last year).  Its worth noting that before the fabled Oil Fund can be created we need to at least be running a surplus (as per the Scottish Government's own criteria) and that's not forecast to happen in any of the projections I've seen.

So how would an independent Scotland address the deficit? The data show quite clearly that the current run-rate structure of UK tax and spending is in fact beneficial to Scotland (neutral at worst).  Voting Yes doesn't make us wealthier - but of course it facilitates different tax and spending decisions than Westminster might make.

So what tough choices would an independent Scotland make to address the reality of the deficit?  Well if you want to get past glib statements like "by investing our enormous wealth for the benefit of future generations" I'm afraid you're out of luck.

There are some examples given in the White Paper - primarily centered around Trident and defence spending - but famously the figures simply don't stack up. Don't take my word for it; the highly respected and impartial Institute for Fiscal Studies had a very close look and concluded Spending cuts or tax increases would be needed to pay for Independence White Paper giveaways.  Specifically they concluded the specified tax increases & spending cuts would save £500m p.a. but that spending increase and tax cuts would cost around £1.2bn p.a. in the short term and potentially considerably more in the long term. I am not aware that the Yes camp have even challenged this IFS analysis.

So we have to look beyond the White Paper and see what both sides are saying.

The Yes camp suggest that independence will allow us to avoid the austerity measures and spending cuts imposed by "Westminster" - without of course suggesting how an independent Scotland would address the very real deficit problem.  They argue that remaining in the Union and taking our share of the necessary cuts is somehow unfair - whilst simultaneously arguing that we should keep the pound.

As for the Yes camp's argument about the risk to Scotland's NHS caused by creeping privatisation in England ... well that is possibly the most cynical ploy of the lot.  They are relying on successfully obfuscating the difference in voters eyes between privatisation of provision (which is happening North and South of the border but does not imply spending cuts) with a move to a "patient pays" private healthcare model (which would  lead to spending cuts but is not happening and would be electoral suicide for any party to pursue).

At the risk of stating the obvious: if UK spending cuts are required to address the deficit and debt problem (and protect the value of our currency) then of course Scotland should have to take our fair share of the pain. But devolution means we already make our own decisions about where that pain is felt - we can prioritise protecting the NHS for example - but we can't escape the harsh economic realities.  The same would of course be true for an independent Scotland: independence is not a Get Out Of Jail Free card.

We've got this far without discussing currency or EU membership.  I've covered both at length before (Currency Union & Economic Asymmetry  and Independent Scotland and the EU) and nothing from the recent debates has changed my conclusions;

  • Currency Union is arguably the least worst option for Scotland but even if it could be achieved our relative scale means it would mean de-facto sterlingisation - we would inherit monetary policy designed for rUK that would be increasingly inappropriate for an independent Scotland aspiring to pursue a divergent economic path.  Whatever happens with currency it is a clear downside of independence
  • There are significant risks to at least the terms of our membership of the EU and quite possibly to our membership at all  (given the need to achieve unanimous approval from all 28 member states and the very real risk that we won't be able to satisfy the requirement of having a stable currency).
So where does all that leave us?  Well for me - after covering all of this ground - I'd like to leave this debate at the point where I came in.

Jobs.

I am a founder, investor, shareholder and Director in businesses that employ over 300 worldwide, 220 of them in West Lothian (I've laid out my bona fides for all to see).

As I have explained elsewhere (Independent Scotland and rUK Trade) the dot.com businesses I run would change overnight  from being domestic businesses to being businesses that export 90% of their turnover to rUK. This exposes us to new costs, risks and uncertainties; it would place us at a competitive disadvantage to our competitors based South of the border.   In addition to the obvious currency and EU membership uncertainty (which includes the risk that we will have different VAT regimes or that one of Scotland or rUK is in the EU while the other is out) we are faced with practical issues such as changing shipping costs: the Royal Mail Universal Service Obligation survives privatisation but won't survive separation and we can expect couriers to vary pricing across national borders.

Of course there is a simple but deeply painful solution to those problems; we would move our warehouse operations South of the border and make people redundant as a direct result.  

We are not unique; we're not even unusual.   Scotland exports 4x as much to rUK as it does to the whole EU.  To put it another way: independence shrinks our domestic market by 90%.  Are my employees just an unlucky few? Let's see what other businesses think;
  • Bibby Financial Services' SME Survey found "Over a quarter (26 per cent) of Scottish small and medium-sized businesses fear they will lose business if there is a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum and some 70 per cent have rejected the idea that independence would be a positive step for the nation"
  • Federation of Small Business Survey of 1,800 small Scottish Businesses observed (note the question was not directly asked): "In the comments section of this question, 134 members volunteered that they would consider or would definitely be relocating their business outside of an independent Scotland, while a further 51 stated that they would look to close, downsize, sell, or retire early. This totals 185 respondents (10%) who would consider withdrawing their business from the Scottish economy"
  • Working for Scotland have assembled testimonials and public statements from a wide range of businesses and Unions voicing their fears and concerns for businesses and jobs in an independent Scotland.  Not suprisingly the defence and financial services sectors feature heavily

  • The Treasury estimate that 270,000 jobs are on the line: that's 10% of all employment in Scotland
It's clear to me that - even if you assume the Treasury is over-stating the case - the impact of a Yes vote on employment in Scotland would be little short of devastating.  I certainly believe over 100,000 jobs would be lost.  Of course that has an impact in terms of GDP, tax income and welfare spending all of which negatvely impact  the deficit.  

But it's not about the numbers.

It's about the people who will lose their jobs, their livelihoods, their families.  Ten's of thousands of people, ten's of thousands of households.

For those who'll react to this blog and accuse me of scare-mongering:  I'm one of those who'll have to look people in the eye and explain why I'm making them redundant - I've had to do it before and I can assure you that focuses the mind; it was the worst day of my professional life.  If I have to do it again I at least want to know that I did what I could to avoid it happening; I don't want anybody to turn round to me and say "I wish you'd told me that before I voted".  I won't hide the truth from my employees simply to protect myself from the abuse I will inevitably receive for speaking out.

Thank you for reading.





30 comments:

Gordon Cobban said...

Well said - agree with every word and the overall sentiment.

Stevie Anderson said...

Very well written and I respect your honesty and commitment here, but I wonder do you understand at all the feelings that so many have about the Labour Party?

I wonder if you understand how ex members like me, who haven't moved to nationalism, who haven't changed their beliefs to tartanism or anti Englishness, really feel in our politics these days. Do you realise what has happened since the 90s when Labour decided to run to the right and chase "Middle England", explicitly taking for granted that traditional working class voters would have nowhere to go. Do you realise that the referendum on independence grew from those beginnings, not separatist ones? Do you realise the hurt, anger and pain that so many feel when they look at what the Labour Party has become?

I didn't change to be all wode faced and "Freedom!!" yelling. Neither did any other of my fellow Scots that I know. You changed. You left us and have been leaving us behind for two decades now. The Labour Party left me standing as you became Tories . Oh I know you'll not agree there but please hear me, I'm not personally attacking you, I'm telling you how I feel. It's not a numbers game for me either, it's all about what the Labour Party have done to get elected and stay elected. You left us so far behind.

I'm lucky. I'm Scottish. Not because it makes me different or worse treated or more noble or nonsense like that. I'm lucky because due to our division of political powers I get a vote to decide if I want things to continue as they are.

Now I have those principles, the socialist, social justice ones. You don't represent them, remember you left me, not the other way round. The Liberals don't represent them, heaven knows the Tories don't. So how likely do you think it is that someone like me, given a choice like the one I have on the 18th of September will vote to stick with how things are going?

Can I bring your attention to my experience of the campaign too? Given the feelings so many feel about the Labour Party leaving us, how do you think sharing a cynical and British nationalist platform with the Tories plays with me and people like me? You're asking me to hope and trust in you as part of a pantomime where you exquisitely act out precisely why I am so distant from you and exactly why I should vote Yes.

How did it come to this? How did you get to think Scots and Labour supporters were leaving you when you left us so betrayed and hurt?

I'll vote Yes because while you may be a nice guy, you and your party left me, and as you went you took all hope I could have in reform or progressive politics in the UK. Choose to vote No? How could you think me so stupid?

Ayescotland said...

A well thought-out piece. I agree that the differences between NO and YES are irreconcilable. I'm Scottish and, regardless of £500 here or there or even more, there are millions of Scots yet to be born and for them to be born into a nation that does not take responsibility for itself completely like any other nation to me is a state of affairs that must be changed. I see the benefits of these changes in things that can't be measured such as confidence, vision and attitude. Things that will have an impact economically and socially over time. If you believe, at a gut level, you are British, then we'll never agree.

The only thing I would say about your figures is that the sources are questionable. The Treasury missed the Great Recession, the financial crisis and failed on growth predictions for five years. Also, other sources say that there are Scottish exports that are exported from England that are counted as rUK, not Scottish, to the tune of £4 billion. Again, there'll be an in-built disposition in each of us to believe our own side.

I don't believe that Scotland or rUK are daft enough to cut each other's throats, and businessmen are always pragmatic and realistic, so I think arrangements that allow things to function well will be sought and achieved.

I genuinely think the YES movement, not the SNP, or politicians, and ultimately the Scottish people hold the seeds of a brighter future than the UK for many, many reasons that I'm sure you've heard before.

Also, as a reader if a lot if blogs, thank you for punctuating your work. It helps!

B Lundie said...

This sums it up perfectly.

Thank you for all the research and thought you have put in to this blog. It has been enlightening and inspiring.

Anonymous said...

Great blog - deserving of a much larger audience. I'd be most interested on your thoughts on the practicalities of an alternate reality where a currency union was agreed

1. At the next recession when a no doubt left of centre Scottish government opted to spend their way out of it, as opposed to a probable right of centre ruk who would opt to contract , how could the Scottish government sell the "benefits of independence" when the ruk would be telling them to limit borrowing etc.

2. How would wales and ni allow an independent Scotland to create a direct incentive for fdi via corporation tax cut, whilst in effect being back stopped by Uk. Careen jones has already spoke of this I believe

3. Where would be the incentive for ruk not to offer eye wateringly punitive terms to Scotland such that the Scottish government couldn't possibly agree to it. There would be no semblance of empathy from what would now be a foreign country.

4. Regarding point 3 how do you foresee English reaction to consequent threats not to pay our share of debt. I work extensively in England and think they'd go absolutely crackers.

5. Regarding bank/ financial domicility if standard life etc moved a nominal office to London what proportion of tax revenue would go to each country. Could the uk effectively bleed Scotland of tax revenues?

I've countless other queries and would most appreciate someone of your knowledge enlightening me.

Again great blog!

Anonymous said...

Outstanding

Anonymous said...

This is a masterful piece: lucid, passionate, compelling. All of the leadership of the 'No' campaign should be reading this to see how it's done.

Derrick

Terry Summers said...

Kevin,
Your whole blog so far is an excellent exposition of the arguments for the Union and de-bunking of the fallacious case for Independence. this post caps it off.
Thanks for all your efforts, i will be recommending this to all my friends.
Cheers
Terry Summers

Kevin Hague said...

Stevie Anderson

Thank you for your comments but I fear you think I'm something I'm not. Although I've voted Labour before I'm not "Labour" (not a party member, not an activist, certainly not an unquestioning supporter) so don't feel I should have to defend that party.

I understand and share many of your misgivings about the Labour party but don't share your view on the specific issue of them campaigning alongside Right Wing parties to save the Union.

For me one of he few positives in this campaign is that it's shown a cause important enough can make traditional foes cast aside their political differences for a greater good.

I understand your position but I would ask you this question: who do you think will be in power in iScotland and what makes you think they will pursue progressive, redistributive policies? The SNP do not have a good track-record on this - they blocked the working wage, they give free prescriptions and council tax freezes to the wealthiest in society, they propose corp tax cuts for large corporates ... does that reflect your values?

Kevin Hague said...

Ayescotland

Thanks for your comment.

When you say the figures are questionable you then quote historic failures in forecasting. The figures I use are Scottish Government's own GERS numbers addressing historical reality and as such are less questionable. Similarly on export categorisation I use Scottish Government's own figures. They will not be flawless - indeed Treasury estimates scottish tax take at roughly £1.5bn lower than Scot Gov because of corp tax assumptions (about £0.5bn - and nobody knows where companies will choose to report their profit and pay their taxes as its not geographically reported today) and geographic share assumptions (about £1bn).

These numbers are as good as exist and are used by both sides (with different spins of course). But as the post says (and you I think agree): its not about the numbers.

I carefully avoid making precise assertions about the future (spuriously accurate and of course contrasting future figures from both sides annoy me too) other than in the area of employment where I have direct experience and "insider knowledge". Even there I'm careful to accept the Treasury estimate may well be far too high.

As for the conclusion: we won't agree we both know that - but for me the upside you describe is too ethereal, too intangible to counter the very real, very tangible downside.

Kevin Hague said...

Anonymous

I think most of your questions are rhetorical!

1-4: I agree they are good questions and the YEs camp have no good answers

5: I have stated elsewhere that I think this is a huge and poorly understood issue - a lot of corp tax related GDP will move out of Scotland particularly financial services/banking related as UK Gov insists HQ and tax in rUK in return for central bank support. Presumably that is in part behind the White Paper 3% corp tax cut to try and stem that tide - of course all it does is fuel the "race to the bottom" and favour corporates not the poorest in society

Anonymous said...

A good note to sign off on Kevin. Your blogs have been a shining light amongst the mire of nonsense that is being published on the Internet by so called "experts".

I am not a no campaigner. I am not a member of any political party. My view is the referendum debate has been a tragedy for Scotland.

Scotland is a great place to live. That is acceptable national pride. The national pride being put out by the yes campaign is political national pride. A complete falsehood in my humble opinion.

I am proud to live in Scotland. I am proud to contribute to the creation of wealth and employment in Scotland.

I find myself embarrassed by the behaviour of political nationalists.

The political campaign has failed the people of Scotland. The political campaign has failed the people of the UK.

The referendum campaign had a responsibility to promote Scotland positively. It has failed to do that. Instead it opted to use Scotland as a political football in a pointless battle with the "auld enemy".

For the undecided voter, we were looking for the case to be proven beyond doubt - not just that this would be good for Scotland - but also for the rest of our friends, relatives and business partners throughout the UK.

Instead we have seen political nationalism at its worst. Instead of a positive campaign it has appealed to the worst form of nationalist sentiments.

I was open to the idea of an independent Scotland. However, there has never been a clear explanation of the impact this would have on the UK. JUst wild, unsubstantiated claims about what would be different in Scotland.

The strength of Scotland is in its close working relationships with the rest of the UK and the combined strength of its component nations. I fell that the proposed vehicle towards independence would be damaging not just for Scotland but for the rest of the UK. Even accepting the claims for benefits to Scotland - like it or not we are involved in a close knit economy with the rest of the UK. Separating a key partner from a successful union is perilous not just for us but for the other partners.

The right decision for me would be for a managed increase in devolved powers as and when all parties are ready for them. We clearly are not prepared and an aggressive split of the UK would not be desirable for any of its members.

I am not against independence; however I am very much against this wreckless approach to it. I will be voting no.

Unknown said...

"You see: I have no problem with "us" being the people of the United Kingdom, so I believe that we already get to decide who governs us. I accept that the party I vote for won't always be the party in power and I know that will still be the case in an independent Scotland because that's how representative democracy works."

Then why did most of the Labour Party support devolution?

Kevin Hague said...

Unknown:

a/ I don't speak for the Labour party

b/ As I hoped I'd made clear in this post (but I recognise it's long-winded):

I think a level of devolved power is appropriate to allow "customisation" of policy to our needs.

I think it's appropriate for that power to be limited if we are to share a common currency and pool our assets for the common good (e.g. smoothing volatility, being able to fund bail-outs and sharing windfalls wherever they next appear)

Chris Simpson said...

What a breath of fresh air. I was a guest of Scotland for two years of my working life and loved it.
I'm dual national Irish / UK and have observed the debate with growing unease as some of the obfuscations and exaggerations lurch from tawdry to awful echoes of the sectarian bile I experienced elsewhere in the UK.
Obviously its the people of Scotland'c choice I wish them well with it.

Anonymous said...

Hello Kevin, very interesting post, will check out the rest of your blog shortly. Can I ask you what you think about the idea of Scotland not taking a share of the UK national debt if Salmond doesn't get his way on currency union? Cheers, Chris

Kate Musgrave said...

This is a brilliant post (and blog) Kevin. Just what I needed to read at this point in time and I hope many others catch sight of it.

I will be doing my bit and sending this round...

Terry Summers said...

Kevin,
I hope you don't mind me throwing in my two pen'orth, two anonymous contributors have asked questions about the FM's threat of refusal to pay Scotlands share of the National debt is a currency union is refused. i believe this is an empty threat because:
a) as the White Papers says, iScotland will be reliant on rUK for some considerable time after Independence to provide tax collection. pensions, vehicle licensing, etc.
b) If refusal to pay is in retaliation for not sharing assets, then surely no assets, tangible or financial will be forthcoming. e.g no Ships, Aircraft, tanks, piles of gold, overseas embassies, etc.
c)iScotland will be reliant on rUK support for entry into EU, NATO and other international.
d)Independence cannot be achieved politically without an Act of the UK Parliament.
I also believe it is an unwise threat, as it has sullied the good name of Scotland in the international community, whether or not it is carried out.
Terry Summers

Anonymous said...

Politicians are in the business of getting elected. The electorate base for socialist politicians is made up of those who are not net tax contributors. This is why Scotland will always vote to the left and an independent Scotland will always vote to increase taxes.

In fact it is the tax payers that fund the welfare state so bleeding the tax payers dry will ultimately destroy it.

It is a non linear relationship. Reducing taxes is the only long term way to provide for a stable welfare system.

Anonymous said...

Politicians are in the business of getting elected. The electorate base for socialist politicians is made up of those who are not net tax contributors. This is why Scotland will always vote to the left and an independent Scotland will always vote to increase taxes.

In fact it is the tax payers that fund the welfare state so bleeding the tax payers dry will ultimately destroy it.

It is a non linear relationship. Reducing taxes is the only long term way to provide for a stable welfare system.

Anonymous said...

Great post.

You are right not to get to hung up on the numbers. Figures for public spending are probably pretty near the mark, but tax is a different matter. The tax take an iScotland could expect is highly uncertain. It's not just businesses that can move their tax domicile, individuals can too. Remember nearly 40% of "Scottish" income tax receipts come from 5% of income tax payers.

On the vexed issue of rUK businesses clamouring for a monetary union because of transaction costs those that propose this argument should reflect on how easy it would be for most exporters to Scotland to pass on these costs in the way of higher prices. There is simply not enough competition from domestic Scottish suppliers in many key areas to mean that rUK businesses would have to absorb transaction costs. This means higher prices for Scottish consumers and lower profits / market share for Scottish exporters who use rUK-sourced inputs. Lose-lose in other words.

Ted Seay said...

"I don't think the independence debate should be about the numbers. By the way, here are the numbers."

You aren't by any chance an English civil servant, are you? ;)

Seriously, though, the eminent historian, Sir Herbert Butterfield, long ago pointed out the dangers of conducting political and other campaigns as though one has a monopoly on the moral high ground:

"It is one of the weaknesses of public opinion...that sides can quickly be taken in a quarrel on the strength of an apparently unanswerable thesis which covers a convenient selection from the facts of the case. The public shuns the baffling complexities which emerge when one tries to see all around a given problem, and to bring all the various types of consideration into one's survey. Hence the colossal opportunities which governments possess for imposing upon their peoples all the psychology of the 'war for righteousness'. It is not too much to say that the tragedy of the twentieth century is constructed on the basis of this very fact."

So the question soon arises -- is Westminster credible in the current debate? Based on recent history, the answer is clearly no. Various UK governments, Labour and Conservative, have kept the truth about North Sea oil revenues from the Scottish people since 1975 under the guise of protecting national security. Not, mind you, to keep Soviet oil rigs from popping up off of Aberdeen, but solely and admittedly to "take the wind out of the SNP's sails."

Here is a basic truth about human nature: If a person, or an organization, or a government, is caught in a major lie; and if the incentives to lie again increase dramatically; then who can expect that party to do anything other than lie again?

Former Labour Chancellor Denis Healey is clear on the topic: “I think there are a lot of problems connected with [independence] that haven’t been faced up to, either by Salmond or by the British and they are mainly to do with oil and the income it provides and yes, I think they [Westminster politicians] are concerned about Scotland taking the oil, I think they are worried stiff about it."

Lewis said...

"I accept that the party I vote for won't always be the party in power and I know that will still be the case in an independent Scotland because that's how representative democracy works."

This is the problem here. For Yes voters (such as myself - a 20 y/o, non-Braveheart type), this version of 'representative democracy' isn't enough, because this version of 'representative democracy' means a party (Tories) can come 4th in a General Election and still win: 81% of Scotland voted for a party other than the Tories, and they still won - the votes of 81% of Scotland count for nothing.

But thanks for explaining how 'representative democracy' works.

Terry Summers said...

Lewis,
Is that 81% of the electorate or 81% 0f the votes cast?
The SNP won a landslide victory in the Holyrood Parliament with the votes of 22.5 % of the Scottish electorates votes. On that basis 77.5% of the Scottish electorate didn't vote for the SNP, yet the have a majority in the Holyrood Parliament and have dragged us all down this divisive path.
Terry Summers

Steve S said...

Cant believe this is the first time I have come across this blog. A great read. Well Done on such and informative piece of work.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin - once again an excellent piece of work. The hard part is getting this information out there. Everyone voting Yes (for practical reasons) should be reading this before the 18th. I've been sharing links to your blogs in the hope people actually read them. You know what they say about leading a horse to water, though!

Anonymous said...

I'm a yes supporter and what you don't understand is none of us will read your blog because we don't care about what anyone thinks. We love Braveheart and we love annoying the English. That's it. Big Eck has no clue either but that doesn't matter. He talks enough rubbish until people forget what the question was. So please, stop wasting your time with' evidence'. The yes voters like me don't care about that. We make our own stuff up.

Jonathan Young said...

Great blog - the 'No' camp have been sorely lacking in the drive you show to produce this. Keep it up.

Isle of Mull said...

I agree with you Ayescotland, for many of us this has nothing to do with economy etc. (and I have a crippling mortgage to worry about). It's about righting an old wrong. We were tricked into the union by 'The Parcel of Rogues' in 1707 against the will of the people. This precipitated riots and at least two rebellions. Yet in spite of having this awkward business partnership forced on us we managed to maintain our identity, dignity and spirit of independence, that is until recently. Many people, it would appear, now feel they live in a province and consider themselves part of a UK family. There is nothing I can say to these people, except that for many of us, the memory is still strong. A wonderful slur in the whole campaign has been a shift from the traditional 'The Scottish People' to 'The People of Scotland', thereby inviting anyone and everyone, regardless of where you're from to be part of this resurrection. It;s going to happen eventually, why leave it till yet more of our culture and integrity have been eroded and yet more damage has been inflicted by a parliament that people like me see as colonial.

Anonymous said...

I hear your heartfelt convictions but, I fear that there is much personal angst and wound-licking mixed in there. Sadly,you are not alone in adopting this stance. I just think that it amounts to a dangerous posture when personal issues are not subtracted from our perception of the 'big picture'.