(It is likely that…) Independence will bring a bigger dividend than even the Yes campaign predict

Posted by Euan Bennet on 26/08/2014

This is a piece that I’ve had the idea for for a while. Some of the “hidden” benefits of independence have been discussed elsewhere, such as the fact that £billions of defence spending allocated as “in Scotland” actually never comes near Scotland. That’s been quantified in the White Paper as a defence spend of £2.5billion will be £1billion less than is currently allocated, but about £1billion MORE than is actually spent – regardless of the purpose that’s an extra billion quid a year stimulating the economy. On top of that we will actually have proper defences for the first time in years, and kick Trident the fuck out of here.

Speaking of Trident, that’s another £160 million per year saving for Scotland – not including the planned £100billion replacement cost that Westminster is immorally choosing to spend a fortune on when 25% of children live in poverty.

Another “independence dividend” that has been mentioned is not having to pay our £60million share every year towards keeping Westminster MPs and Lords in the manner to which they have become accustomed. There are now 850 unelected Lords, each of whom claims an attendance allowance of £300 per day just for turning up to drink subsidised booze and sleep in the debating chamber – and that’s on top of all of their other public-funded expenses.

Then there is the debt repayments. This gets a bit complicated but it’s explained well here – £4billion a year.

What’s that total then? Over £5.2billion per year in savings already, plus £1billion extra economic stimulus compared to now. Not a bad start, but let’s look deeper.

HS2

A lovely future saving would also be Scotland’s share of HS2 – a joke (in international terms) of a model train set that is not going to come within 400 miles of Scotland, yet if there is a No vote we will pay an estimated £4.8billion towards its construction

But since that’s planned future spending, I won’t include it in the total.

VAT – hidden in plain sight

VAT is, of course, one of the major economic powers that is currently retained by Westminster. It is a major source of revenue for the Treasury (£87.7billion – over 13% of total revenue in 2013/14). Some of this tax is rightly allocated as “Scottish” revenue by the UK Treasury, but a great deal of it isn’t: as explained here, an unknown amount of VAT is allocated according to where the Head Office of the company paying it is located. In a great many cases, that means London.

Export duty

In the UK, export duty is calculated based on which port the exports leave from. To take one example, a lot of the £3.9billion of international whisky exports every year are shipped from ports in England – therefore the export duty is not allocated as Scottish, even though the product is legally protected as made in Scotland!

Pensions

To explain this, all that is really required is an image. I’ll add a few words below, just in case.

Image credit: Business for Scotland. Beware the Bogs of Ireland!

The stark difference in life expectancy means that Scottish pensioners are effectively subsidising South-East England pensioners by dying early. A low life expectancy means many people in Scotland are dying either before retirement or not long after retirement. A high life expectancy means people generally live longer after retirement – 14 years on average in SE England. There is no pension “pot” despite what the No campaign are claiming – pensions are funded out of general taxation. Pensions will be more affordable in Scotland than the UK average. At the moment we are being forced to pay as if we have the UK average life expectancy when in fact we really don’t – in some parts of Glasgow male life expectancy is less than that in Gaza.

Civil Service

Now we’re into uncharted territory. The civil service – the people who actually run the country – has hardly been talked about during the referendum campaign. Under devolution the Scottish Government has its own civil service who work on Devolved matters. The UK civil service is responsible for all Reserved matters. See here for a great graphic showing what these are.

The UK civil service in 2013 employed 448,840 people. 

After independence, the Scottish Civil Service will expand to take on the new responsibilities – all powers, rather than the limited powers that they have under devolution. This will bring a) some savings to the Scottish budget, and b) even more significantly, a large number of jobs instantly created in Scotland, with the associated knock-on economic impact of that.

How do we estimate this?

On wholly reserved matters, let’s assume a population share of 8.6% of the civil service is working on Scotland’s “share” of their department. We can also assume that the same number or fewer jobs will be created in Scotland for the new civil service departments after independence. Let’s consider the “big three” departments for Reserved matters, based on a median civil service salary of £22,850 (http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/news_and_events/facts-about-civil-and-public-services/):

Department

Number of UK jobs

Number for Scotland

Average total cost of salaries

Work and Pensions

104,890

9021

£206 million

HMRC

72,740

6256

£143 million

Ministry of Defence

49,100

4223

£ 96 million

 

By the time the numerous smaller departments are added in, the total cost on salaries alone will be over half a billion pounds. Remember, we are currently paying this already under the Union, for nearly all of these jobs to be supported in London. The independence dividend is the chance to build a streamlined, efficient civil service based in Scotland. Even if no improvements were made in efficiency, we are still talking about nearly 20,000 jobs created instantly in Scotland from the big three departments alone, with more than £400 million extra investment in the local economy.

Conclusion

The most important thing to remember when considering the costs and financial aspects of the debate is that we already pay for everything at the moment, and then some. If on day one of independence, we continue to do things exactly as they are at the moment, then we’ll be starting off with savings of over £6billion per year (as a pessimistic estimate) and beyond that, extra investment in our economy of over £2billion per year. This is even before considering borrowing powers, oil and gas revenue, and Crown estate revenue – the impact of each of these individually will dwarf the total estimates I’ve made here.

The choice we face in the referendum is: do you want this money to stay in Scotland and be spent on our population? Or do you want our vast wealth to continue to be squandered on propping up the mega-wealthy and major London infrastructure projects?

Edit 10:15am on 28/08/2014: replaced “export tax” with “export duty” for clarification.

Edit 14:25pm on 28/08/2014: added some links for Trident running/replacement costs.

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117 thoughts on “(It is likely that…) Independence will bring a bigger dividend than even the Yes campaign predict

  1. Pingback: Euan’s Ramblings: collected for reference | The Science of Independence

    1. juanbonnets Post author

      Hi Finlay, thanks for reading and commenting. The original mission statement for the blog was to try to pull information together to use as canvassing ammo, so I’m glad it’s working 🙂

      Reply
      1. Dunky Hunter

        What a shame, I stopped reading when your first “fuck” appeared. First paragraph as well.

      2. juanbonnets Post author

        Hi Dunky, thanks for taking the time to comment. I’ve used that word precisely twice in over 20,000 words published on the blog, so maybe if you can find it in your heart to forgive my profanity on those isolated occasions, you might find the other >19,998 words of interest if you give them a chance.

        I’m interested in your reasoning for disregarding everything that someone has to say over their choice of one word in particular. I’m also interested in your reasoning whereby you came to the conclusion that your apparently considered response to an evidence-based argument is “I stopped reading when… first paragraph”. Do you think that really gets your point across, whatever it is?

      3. steven miles

        Personally i don’t mind the “f***”, it is in context. And if there was ever a time to shout it is now. The vote is a one time opportunity to influence who determines types, rates, collection and spending of our taxes.The removal of trident for me is the real big thing. No nukes in England, Remember Greenham Common. Why should Scotland be the arsenal and the target? We hear England forever Tory if Scotland leaves the Union, I doubt that has legs. I foreseer a Lib-Lab pact to form the next government and an increase in manufacturing investment from Germany and China.
        Is Scotland better off outside the Union, YES. By whichever metrics you examine there seems to be a glaring omission. The Tories we know have no social awareness they dont really care about the proletariat other than a farmer would consider his aged cattle.They tell us Scotland will fail outside of the Union. We need their money to pay our bills. And here is the omission, if we are so poor as a country and so in need of help and so demanding on their resources, why does Westminster want to keep hold of this lifeless barren milk cow.? Clearly rhetorical, they milk tax on black gold and everyone who uses it.
        Imagine for one moment that Scotland processed the oil and sold the petroleum to the UK and we keep the tax we set on fuel and we can determine the wholesale price.That would build an Oil fund very quickly.

        food for thought

      4. Bobalot

        I have exactly zero fucks to give about that stance.

        “It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what.” ― Stephen Fry

      5. Andy

        Dunky Hunter: what an absolutely pathetic reason to stop reading such a well written article. You’re what I like to call, what’s the word? That’s it: a moron. Euan, great article!

      6. Don

        Hi Euan. I’m finding myself agreeing with Dunky here – although I did keep reading to the end. You say that there are over 20000 other words on this blog and only 2 uses of the “f” word. Question is – Why did you feel the need to use that word at all?

        In my opinion, its a fantastic article spoiled by the use of an unnecessary expletive. You clearly have enough command of the English language to avoid using profanity and there is more than adequate vocabulary in the English language to make a point – and to make it extremely forcefully without resorting to profanity. I see this is a wordpress blog so its not that much of a deal to edit the word out having received a complaint about it.

        I’m also pretty sure that Dunky is a bit like me and would love to share this article with friends and colleagues but feels unable to given the use of profanity – and that’s the real shame. There’s a lot at stake here with the independence referendum and we need to avoid causing unnecessary offence when it can easily be avoided. I’m perfectly aware of the fact that there are plenty knuckle-dragging neanderthals around who have absolutely no qualms whatsoever about using profanity – indeed I know plenty who are totally unable to string a complete sentence together without every other word being the word in question here. You ought to be above that. Even Gordon Ramsay can manage it when he wants to – you should too.

  2. Pingback: (It is likely that…) Independence will b...

  3. Dougie

    The 15 percent of Oil and Gas that was previously in Scottish waters and acquired *being courteous* by UK when it moved the sea border would also come back in to Scottish hands as boundary change was illegal

    Reply
    1. juanbonnets Post author

      Hi Dougie, thanks for reading and commenting. I agree with you regarding the boundary change and that’s definitely one for the negotiating table. It will be interesting to see what else comes out during the negotiations; it could be that what we can estimate here and elsewhere is only a fraction of the value of Scotland’s share of assets.

      Reply
    2. david abrahams-edley

      That is the 5,000 square nautical miles between the Moray Firth and Berwick that Alister Darling unlawfully annexed in 2007.

      Reply
  4. Hugh Wallace

    Reblogged this on Are We Really Better Together? and commented:
    Beautifully and simply spelled out, why Scotland can more than afford to become independent.

    But on the issue of pensions, it occurs to me that because so many young Scots leave to be replaced by retiring English folk, the life-expectancy figures are probably skewed upwards by the healthy, wealthy southerners coming north and dying later. So not only are the Scots subsidising the English pension pot by dying younger, they are probably dying even younger (on average) than the figures already suggest.

    Reply
    1. juanbonnets Post author

      Hi Hugh, thanks for spreading the word!

      I think you’re absolutely right about retired South-East-English people moving to Scotland and skewing the life expectancy figures (the people are still very welcome here of course!). It would probably be possible to strip it out of the data but there’s definitely a chance of something noticeable.

      Reply
  5. Stuart Clark

    Well reasoned article and supported by figures .

    I dont doubt that Scotland generates a surplus ,

    I am just content for that surplus to be spread about the whole UK , so that those unlucky enough not to live in Scotland , and who perhaps are going through their share of bad fortune at the minut e, may in some way be helped by our massive surplus .

    Whether its goes to help London or Llandudno , its great that them with the broadest backs , help the rest .

    Reply
    1. juanbonnets Post author

      Hi Stuart, thanks for taking the time to comment. I think that if the sharing of surplus with those that need it was on the table, then many people would agree with that. However, it is abundantly clear from the evidence (presented elsewhere on this blog as well as on many other sites around the internet) that the UK is very successful at transferring wealth away from the poorest in society to the richest 10%. As the fourth most unequal country in the developed world, I’m afraid the evidence simply does not support the assertion that wealth in the UK is shared among those who need it.

      For example, do you think the 25% of children in poverty are being helped by Scotland’s surplus? Do you think the hundreds of thousands of people having their benefits cut off or being affected by the bedroom tax are being helped by Scotland’s surplus? The evidence is that these people are not being helped by our taxes: the people who are benefiting from our taxes at the moment are big banks and arms dealers. A Yes vote next month will allow us to make different choices, and begin helping *everyone* in our society. We can provide an example for people in the rest of the UK of what can be achieved when a different path is chosen.

      Reply
      1. Ken

        I wanted to stop reading at the mention of 25% of children in poverty. If you can’t be bothered to differentiate between relative and absolute poverty, then what else have you got wrong. Relative poverty is defined as 60% of the median wage and works out about £300/week in Scotland today, hence why we see these frankly silly quotes of 25% living in poverty. My company pension is a less than that and we are definitely not living in poverty – yet count in this meaningless statistic. Absolute poverty is defined as $2 / day.
        The only way to remove relative poverty is to pay everyone exactly the same. As any country comes out of recession, the lag in the system means that the percentage in relative poverty increases for a while then settles down again. It doesn’t relate directly to the number of people who are short of food or living in squalor, which is a much smaller number. E.g. By the deputy FM’s own comment the other day, it is about 10times higher than the number using food banks.

      2. juanbonnets Post author

        Hi Ken, thanks for persisting until the end and taking the time to comment. The reason that I include links whenever possible is so that people don’t have to take my word for it, they can check for themselves. I’ve written an article about poverty and inequality which goes into much more detail and has the sources linked.

        I do understand the difference between relative and absolute poverty. I wouldn’t suggest for a minute that 25% of children live in absolute poverty in the UK because that would be ridiculous, and I would have thought that was obvious. Relative poverty is an indicator of high inequality in society, and both are a result of choices made by those in power. High inequality, in turn, has some pretty major knock-on effects. Reducing inequality should be the primary objective of any sensible welfare system, and that includes pensions.

    2. Bill Rob

      This oil money HAS been going to the uk and look at the state UK is in,,they have squandered the lot by using it to prop up endless idea free governments,,,how can Norway save 500 billion to an oil fund,and still run the country without touching it,,and we end up with no industry,crap wages in call centre jobs,,and now foodbanks!!,,,,if you want to help the rest of the uk the best way is to show them what can be achieved with independence,,we can lend them cash at cheap rates if you like,but don’t make the mistake of thinking that if England had oil and Scotland didn’t,we wouldn’t see a penny of it,,,,for goodness sake,,we have been oil rich for 40 years and hardly seen any bebifit,,we are the only coubtry to have oil and be poorer!!

      Reply
    1. juanbonnets Post author

      Thanks Steven, that first graph showing the public net debt is quite scary – and it just keeps on rising too. Business for Scotland have written some great articles on this.

      Reply
  6. Dave C

    I think what everyone is really fed up of is capitalism (and I don’t mean London) I reckon independence will just make a different dog rich. Multinational companies will still be pulling the strings behind the scenes!

    It is easy to look at the big figures spent on things like Trident and choke on your Irn Bru but the real issue is where the money ends up if the projects create jobs and the money goes into the UK economy that’s great however if it ends up in a few fat cats pockets here lies the issue.

    I want to, but I don’t believe this will change with an independent Scotland some fat cat (or did I say dog) will make a packet whether we spend that money on hospitals, roads or nuclear bombs!

    I really hope if Scotland does get independence they do become more socialist and wise with public spending but even an independent government can’t please everyone until we all govern ourselves and actually get handed our share (perhaps thats where we will stop)!

    One things for sure either way there are going to be greedy * throwing their toys out the pram whichever way the vote goes and making things difficult.

    Reply
    1. juanbonnets Post author

      Hi Dave, thanks for commenting. You are right that independence is only the beginning of the fight for social justice. But I’ve written a couple of articles on here all about how the better democracy overnight from a Yes vote WILL lead to further gains is social justice. Also the Scottish Parliament can literally never become as corrupt as Westminster – I have over a thousand words about that on the site too, so I’ll keep this comment shorter than that!

      Reply
  7. Nick

    I took the time to read this as I am not particularly well informed as to the facts about independence. I have no vote, I am English and I am not concerned whether the vote goes one way or another. My only hope is that whichever way it goes it will be the end of the issue. Unfortunately I don’t think that this will be the case. If there is a No vote, which would appear likely, then there will be more ‘powers’ or other preferential treatment of the Scots as they have been promised by those on that side of the debate. If it is a yes vote, and I do hope it is, then the costs of the demerger or divorce will be quite staggering. I also think that the economic recovery that we are seeing will be affected as we try and carry out that split.

    My view on the conduct of the debate is that there should have been two professional speakers hired from any other place on the planet so that they could examine the arguments and then put them across in two debates, one where they argue for and one where they argue against. That way we would get a balanced and more considered analysis rather than the manoeuvring of two emotive parties that avoid the real concerns that people have.

    Reply
    1. Craig Fisher

      Nick, I think that that would have been a great idea about having professional speakers. I fear though that would have lead to some serious conspiracy theories depending on the outcome of the debates!

      Reply
      1. Nick

        Unfortunately I think you are right, no one trusts anyone and no amount of reasoning will change this.

    2. juanbonnets Post author

      Hi Nick, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Do you really believe the promises of “more powers”? I certainly don’t. I don’t think you’ll have anything to worry about there: if it’s a No vote, Westminster will breathe a huge sigh of relief and go back to business as usual. Remember: past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour.

      The costs will be what they are, but they are a one-off and minor in the scheme of things. Compared to e.g. the billions in bank bailouts that the UK Government chose to make it’ll be minor.

      I’ve written an entire article on here about the TV debates and how the format is wrong – that is the lazy media though. The real campaign is ordinary people on the streets chapping doors and discussing what kind of country we want to see – the media is either choosing not to portray the real campaign, or are simply unable to.

      Reply
    3. Walter undecided

      What we need to remember is that we need to create a lot of services to be independent. I personally think we need our own sovereign currency and get back to our original coat of arms. In the eyes of the UK, the people of Scotland are the Sovereign of Scotland. I see this as a public monarchy which should be based on complete democracy with full power over our own currency and spending. Not a currency union with 0% power over Bank of England policy. We need our own treasury, not to forget passport office, and DVLA to name a few.

      We need to recreate our own Scottish license bodies for all types of business in Scotland. We must transfer all the business operating licenses from the UK to Scotland in order to keep the companies we already have here. There is literally a black hole over licenses as Scotland would not carry the deals over that the UK has made over the last 300 years. So we must fight for these and to do that we need to have the services in place. A lot of skeptics are saying businesses will leave Scotland after independence. But that will only happen if we don’t have our own services in place to stop them leaving. We have a super competitive economy and if anybody leaves then someone will take their place. People are not going to stop spending money on all the products of the day because we are not in a currency union. We must mimic our English neighbours in a fiscal sense, not be under their command in a currency union. What we can do is create products to compete with imports home and abroad. Create our own stock market. Identify growing markets and support Scottish products, local business and jobs, which is something everyone can do. We will be the competition, not the ones worried about it.

      I strongly believe Scotland must have its own treasury and power to set the price on our own currency. We must be able to print our own money. There is many reasons why currency value drops. But when a country’s treasury is printing more money than it gets back the price can only go down, it’s the same as the banks lending more money out than they receive in deposits. Profit makes the world go round. We may be in profit from inward payments from the UK and abroad. But that will only happen if Alex Salmond gets it right at the negotiation table.

      treasury
      ˈtrɛʒ(ə)ri/
      noun
      1.
      the funds or revenue of a state, institution, or society.
      “the landowners’ estates and assets were seized for the imperial treasury”
      synonyms: exchequer, purse; More
      2.
      a place or building where treasure is stored.
      “Henry VII had kept the peace and filled his treasury”

      What has shocked me is the lack of real numbers for start up costs, ongoing running costs and a turnover forecast. And I don’t mean different sectors turnover I mean Scotland’s total income from tax revenues. Even some bullet points of what we’re going to fight for in the negotiations, all alex salmond talks about are policies that effect minorities. He should be saying Scotland should be aiming at having a profit after the year end including all the government spending allowances that we already have at the moment in the real world. Not a dream plan based on a currency union with no terms and conditions applied. All alex salmonds numbers are based on currency union, nothing else. He should have different outcomes in my eyes. Why not tell us the real price of a real independent Scotland. He should be saying that we will be able to set our own budgets, spending allowances and monetary policy for the real Bank of Scotland. Not Lloyd’s Bank’s “Bank of Scotland”. If we go for sterlingisation there will be ridiculous terms and conditions. They will set them so that the euro will be a better deal, that is their benchmark. With Alex Salmond at the table who knows what powers we will even have over oil, which will also have to be negotiated.

      I have an ongoing concern about what will actually happen, Alex Salmond is not giving me any confidence. He repeats a hundred times we’re better off being part of the UK currency as it is the best deal for Scotland. Why do we want to leave then? How does he know it’s the best deal? I just can’t understand why it would be the best deal if we are so rich in resources and got so many educated people? If we reform our government we must reform our currency. I have no doubt that an independent Scottish currency will increase in value. This is the only real option to bring wealth and prosperity for future generations. The Scottish treasury will be able to set the spending limits and create wealth for Scotland. Which will not be an option if we share the currency. Why would we want a debt of 118 billion that the UK has agreed we would not be liable to yet Alex Salmond wants that debt? We will not default as the bill is still being paid by England? It is vital we have our own sovereign currency and leave sterling to the UK.

      I recently read an article by The Guardian quoting Ed Balls the current Shadow Chancellor.

      “Given the size of the UK relative to Scotland, given that Scotland would be leaving the UK, the size of the Scottish financial sector and given the risk, therefore, to UK taxpayers, a sterling currency area would be off the table. Attempting to use sterling as the currency of an independent nation without any say over the actual operation of that currency and Bank of England policy would put the Scottish economy in an impossible position, and it would accelerate what would happen anyway – the movement of financial services out of Scotland.”

      – True. If Alex Salmond wants to wait on England to do our books he is having a laugh. We need to govern our own financial sector, our own centralized bank, our own inland revenue, and most vital our own monetary policy.

      Ed Balls continues “There is no way you could have banks or insurance companies operating in Scotland when you don’t have a lender of last resort, as monetary policy maker, to back the financial sector if you got into trouble. Scotland could attempt to go it alone with its own currency. That would be very expensive, very risky, and people would pay a big price in terms of higher interest rates for mortgages and loss of trade, because it would make the business environment very unstable and difficult.”

      – I think we could go alone with our own currency. England or Europe could still be our lender of last resort on a fixed or unfixed plan to float our own currency. We must set a target of what our own Scottish Centralized bank must hold in reserve before it can support a floating currency and compete with world markets. We can use many banks for our lending and we should be able to reach agreement on interest rates. I doubt it will cost 118 billion to print our own money and plus we should be in profit. The rates of trade will play in our favor. Combine our exports with a booming services industry it could be astronomical. We could build up our own federal reserve over a reasonable time frame and if it doesn’t happen we will continue to pay interest on the money we get loaned from whoever is our Lender of Last Resort. Their interest quote must be competitive as we should be inviting all Centralized Banks to offer as being lender. I believe being such a prosperous nation our entry into EU could be exceptional with our own currency and our own VIP say, the same as the UK.

      Ed balls continues “I think even Alex Salmond knows now that he has lost this argument and that he is peddling a false prospectus. Going into the debate on Monday he has got to tell people what plan B is. He has got to put up or shut up. Alex Salmond has not got an economic plan for an independent Scotland.”

      – His plan should be we’re keeping the lot and we’re putting our stamp on it. We already have a huge financial services department in Edinburgh, we already have Scottish banks that print our notes. We already have all the water, the whiskey, and the oil. We must create our own stock exchange and compete with London, not wait for a drink from their bottle.

      Another point I’m worried about is Faslane naval base, something I am extremely proud to be here in Scotland. Is it right to give away arguably the most expensive asset Scotland has to its name. Alex salmond said that we would have to pay 8 billion towards the next generation of trident and he will be getting rid of it. I say we own Faslane and the M.O.D have no choice but to rent the land from us, surely that must be worth a few quid year on year. Instant profit as we already own the land. And it won’t be for sale, rent only paid upfront on a rolling contract. Scottish people should still be able to join the British army the same as usual. We have contributed to the security of the UK for centuries and we should still remain part of that security as we also own a share of it. We paid for it.

      There’s also pensions, anyone who has worked and contributed to income tax in Scotland has in fact already contributed to pension payments. Alistair darling confirmed in the first televised debate that there is no pot for pensions and the income tax payments from now, pay pensions now. It’s easy to see that it does not change the fact that we have contributed and we are owed that cash.

      And what about charities registered in the uk. There is literally thousands of UK charities that support a lot of social problems for a lot of less fortunate people in Scotland. Scotland would not be part of the fund pool for the national lottery and I assume this will be the same for other charities. We must work with all the charities to create new Scottish bodies with as little disruption to services as possible.

      Reply
      1. juanbonnets Post author

        Hi Walter, thanks for the detailed comment. I’ll see if I can address each point briefly.

        We already have many of the institutions required – we are almost unique in the world of nations becoming undependent with most of the institutions already existing. It’s not a problem – it’s an opportunity. Thousands of jobs and therefore economic stimulus instantly created. For relatively minor bodies such as the DVLA it has already been spelled out that transition arrangements will be in place until everything can be sorted. Perfectly normal and sensible.

        Ed Balls doesn’t have any power and isn’t likely to have any soon. I’ve paid attention to him in the past and he has convinced me that he doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about, and in any previous comments I’ve seen him make about Scotland have been pure, untrue, scaremongering. Some of your quotes look like more of the same.

        You also mention Alex Salmond a lot, but the negotiations will not be made by him alone. True the present Scottish Government will negotiate the initial transition to Day One of independence, but at the first elections in 2016 we will choose a Government that has the best policies for our independent nation. I’ve written at length on this site about my predictions for the first independent Parliament. Many parties have the policy of a transition to an independent currency, and I predict that they will get a lot of support. But currency on Day One is a transition regardless of what happens. The currency union plan is purely to help smooth the transition, and prevent the pound from crashing overnight when the energy reserves backing it are removed. Patience will be required, and work to achieve our goals – but the point is with independence our goals (whatever they may be) are actually achievable, if we choose. My personal preference is for an independent currency after a transition, for similar reasons to what you have described.

        The White Paper addresses both armed forces eligibility and pensions, and is a more authoritative source than me.

        Charities are used to operating across borders all the time. The SCVO is pro-independence partly because they have a good relationship with the Scottish Government and get zero support from Westminster.

  8. Koko

    So instead of increasing Scottish life expectancy, and therefore nullifying or reversing what is currently happening with pensions, we should just become independent and keep dying earlier? Seems “fair”…

    Reply
    1. juanbonnets Post author

      Hi Koko, I think you might have misunderstood the point of that part. I was pointing factual figures about the costs of pensions, and directing people to the Business for Scotland article for more information. I wasn’t making a comment about future policy. The point is that at the moment we are paying as if we have average life expectency, but we simply don’t. With independence we will tackle the aging population issue that every Western nation faces in our own way, instead of being forced to adopt the Londoncentric Westminster policy.

      Reply
      1. Koko

        But we arent being forced to adopt it? We have control over our own Health services, as do we have control over the size of the portion of the budget that goes towards it. Perhaps Nicola Sturgeon should be focussing more on her job, and less on campaigning for independence? Or maybe the money being used for the campaign should be put back into Scotland, instead of the campaigning?

  9. Stuart

    I enjoyed the reading and I am pro YES. My worry is that I have been told that Alex Salmond intends to allow 500 asylum seekers/immigrants into the country every week. I am not in any way racist but do we really need other nations coming into the country to feed on our assumed new found wealth. Where do we stand in stopping other nationals coming here with no knowledge of the language and no trade to work. There is a big enough problem with benefit and housing claims as it is.

    Reply
    1. juanbonnets Post author

      Hi Stuart, you might need to check your figures, it’s not 500 per week, and it’s not “asylum seekers/immigrants”. The White Paper points out that a change in the net migration figure (N.B. NOT Immigration alone) of 2000 per year will address the demographic imbalance. Nothing scary. We have plenty of space in our country and immigration is a positive thing adding skills and people to our communities.

      I’m not sure what you mean by “problem with benefits and housing claims”. Do you mean the DWP’s own identified figures that 1.5% of benefit claims are fraudulent? In absolute terms that’s two orders of magnitude below the amount of rich people avoiding or evading the tax that they owe!

      Reply
      1. A Haggart

        Maybe you can answer this point better than Mr Salmond – he says that Independent Scotland will control its own immigration policy, but also that there will be no physical boder between Scotland and the UK. Surely the first requires the second, otherwise there will be nothing to stop immigrants flying in to Glasgow, going through the immigration process then taking a bus to Carlisle.

      2. Laura Vivanco

        there will be nothing to stop immigrants flying in to Glasgow, going through the immigration process then taking a bus to Carlisle.

        An independent Scotland will not have totally uncontrolled immigration. The Yes Scotland websitementions, for instance,

        * that “because of high financial maintenance thesholds, too many families are seeing husbands and wives and mothers and fathers refused entry into this country.” These are people who want to immigrate to join/rejoin their families who are living in Scotland. They’re not likely to have much interest in immediately taking a bus to England which would once again separate them from their families.

        * “incentives to attract new categories of skilled workers here.” The idea is that we have gaps in the skills base that need filled. People who arrive here to fill those jobs would have no particular incentive to go south, where they would not have the necessary paperwork to be employed in these skilled positions.

        If incentives (of various kinds) exist to attract and retain immigrants, why would they want to sneak across the border into England where it would be difficult for them to find work and where they wouldn’t be eligible for benefits?

    2. Alex Zeitler

      I’ve seen better written articles on the topic, but that one should give you a good summary http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/factcheck-immigrants-pay/16332 . TL/DR is: Immigrants in general don’t cost us money (and might actually net us some instead).

      Asylum seekers are a whole different issue. These people come to the UK because they are in desperate need of help, forced out of their home countries and their lives threatened. I think it is our duty as a wealthy western society to help those in need. And if a request for asylum is not justified we can still kick them out.

      Btw, the sentence “I am in no way racist” is usually a good indicator that you’re about to say something racist 😉

      Reply
      1. juanbonnets Post author

        Cheers Alex, all good points and handy to have the article to back it up. Absolutely agree re. asylum seekers, it is our duty just as contributing international aid is a duty, and one that we should gladly perform as basic human decency.

  10. Marc

    Hi all , I hate to say it but it all smacks of the “we are hard done by” and “we are being held back” . You can say it if you want to “we hate the English” I grew up hearing that often in school I never understood it. Have any of you guys actually been to the so called rich London , there’s no fucking Londoners living there. The rich are all Russians Chinese and Arabs…..

    Reply
    1. juanbonnets Post author

      Hi Marc, literally no one on this thread has said anything like that. I’m interested in evidence-based discussions, and that’s what I’m presenting.

      London is an international city just like everywhere else in the world. I have made it very clear that it is Westminster that is the problem for everyone – including the people of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, wherever they originated.

      Reply
  11. Anne McKenzie Kivari

    If the YES vote goes through I would consider living in Scotland in my retirement. I’m not up on the immigration laws of Scotland but my father was born there and owned property in Tain. I did live in Glasgow for a time as a child. I am Canadian.

    Reply
  12. Mike Mitchell

    I have 2 observations;

    1. Scottish Independents want to get rid of nuclear weapons stationed in their locality and call them ‘immoral’ yet they want to join NATO – the largest nuclear armed organisation in existence. NATO only works because it is backed up by the Article 5 threat that if one country is attacked it is ultimately backed up by US, UK and French nukes. This is what has kept major power peace since 1945 and will continue to do so. Indies want to sign up to this protection and don’t feel it is ‘immoral’ when protected by this guarantee. Yet they don’t want it on our doorstep. They want all the benefits without any of the responsibility.
    2. Salmond has said that Scotland after independence can ‘Keep using the pound’. That’s fair enough, as Darling said, Indi Scotland could use any currency it wants (Dollar, Yen, Pound). However, it won’t be able to join a currency union. This is clearly Salmond’s ‘Plan B’. The consequences of this are stark as Scotland will have to build up proportionately massive reserves to protect itself from external shocks (like the reduction in oil revenues in a certain year like 2013) as it won’t have any access to a Central Bank. It is possible that this could be a success (Adam Smith Inst et al) but only if the Indi Scottish Govt was very prudent with finances and Salmond’s gesturing and positioning suggests that he wants to borrow and invest (not a bad plan) but he won’t be able to as other countries and institutions won’t lend a country that has no central bank as much money as he would be able to receive if Indi Scotland has access to a central bank. Salmond has failed to spell out these consequences for his favoured Plan B and they could be a disaster for Scotland.

    Reply
    1. juanbonnets Post author

      1. 25 of 28 NATO member states are nuclear-free. Who are NATO going to use nuclear weapons on? Nuclear weapons benefit precisely no one, they can never be used – for me the immoral part is spending £100billion replacing Trident when hundreds of thousands of people are relying on foodbanks. The choices being made by Westminster are immoral.

      2. “However, it won’t be able to join a currency union.” Evidence please? And don’t say “George Osborne and Ed Balls said so”. Remember: evidence-based arguments please.

      Reply
      1. Mike Mitchell

        The whole point of a nuclear weapon is that it is the ultimate form of assurance and defence. Salmond clearly likes having this deterence otherwise he would not want to join NATO. Can you imagine Salmond asking to joing NATO but then trying to persuade Obama to try and give up the US nukes? So in principle we can agree that Salmond likes to be under the nuclear umbrella then. But he doesn’t want to pay or contribute to any of this defence.

        The quid pro quo of the US support and them being the bedrock of NATO is that other countries (especially rich ones) contribute and the UK does this in many ways but one of the most important is our nuclear deterence. The only part of the argument that is immoral is that Salmond wants to come under the ultimate protection without contributing anything towards this.

        He could easily get out of this argument by saying that he wants to be non aligned or neutral (like Ireland) but he wants us to sit with the big boys in NATO but not pay a thing towards it and this is unrealistic and unreasonable. Why does Salmond love the Weapons of Mass Destruction umbrella in principle yet not want to contribute towards this?

      2. juanbonnets Post author

        Ok, I might have to implement a system of blocking comments that mention “Salmond” more than three times. I’m not going to get drawn into a debate about nuclear weapons beyond repeating my question: defence against whom?

        The White Paper proposal is that Scotland will remain a part of NATO during the transition to independence. The entire point of independence is that we will be able to elect parties who may have a different policy regarding NATO, or defence neutrality etc etc. This blog is about getting away from “[politician] said [thing]” and examining the evidence to let people make their own decisions. I can’t stress strongly enough that in that context, harping on about what Salmond wants is not relevant.

      3. Mike Mitchell

        p.s on the currency union – it will take the will of 2 countries to enter into a currency union, not just Scotland. This would be a political decision made by the leaders of rUK. The only evidence that we have of their thoughts is statements made that they won’t, under any circumstances join a currency union with Indi Scotland! There’s the evidence, the only evidence that exists (as it would be their decision), and it all says that it wouldn’t happen. There is no evidence of political figures who may be in charge after the referendum on rUK side saying anything else, hence there is no evidence whatsoever to support the counter view. Can you imagine them Osbourne / Cam / Clegg suddenly U turning on this? Imagine how weak they would look? They’d be a national joke. And as it’s a coalition it would take 2 pol parties to agree to this and they have both said no under any circumstances.

  13. Mike Mitchell

    Just one more thing….Salmond argues that it’s inevitable that he will get his ‘Plan A’ i.e. a currency union and that he will will renage on taking the debt if he doesn’t get this however what do you think the reaction of the rest of the UK will be to this if Scotland becomes Indi? Have you thought how this line of argument will go down with the rest of the UK? There would be 2 instant consequences;
    1. rUK will threaten to veto Indi Scotland becoming part of the EU (the Spanish will do this anyway but rUK won’t help in any way to argue the case for Scotland)
    2. rUK will veto Scotland becoming part of NATO. This will mean that Salmond will have failed in the first duty of a leader which is to protect his/her people from external threats. That’s not to say that Scotland couldn’t become neutral or non aligned, but they certainly would not have the security guarantee that Salmond has promised.

    Reply
      1. Mike Mitchell

        1. Scotland will have to re-apply for EU membership. This is the ruling of the head of the EU council Herman Van Rompuy; ‘An independent Scotland would find itself outside the EU and forced to reapply to join, the head of the European Council has indicated.Herman Van Rompuy made it clear that the creation of a “new independent state” would mean that EU treaties no longer apply to it.’ Please fellow Scots, we are deluding ourselves if we think that we will just automatically continue as EU members or can be fast tracked in some way. If this was true, why would all of senior people in EU positions be telling us otherwise? And if we didn’t take our share of the debt then we would be certainly blocked by rUK when our time came to apply (2025).
        2. It’s almost hilarious to say that NATO needs us more then we need them. Russia’s imminent invasion of Ukraine will not be stopped because of Scottish membership of NATO. Our nukes help to ensure a deterence which is great. I want to be under the nuclear umbrella. So does Salmond. But if Scotland became independent and didn’t share the debt then rUK would not let us join NATO (or the EU).

      2. Laura Vivanco

        Mike, re EU membership, a briefing from the Scottish Centre on Constitutional Change states that:

        In the event that Scotland’s full membership of the European Union is not achieved by the date of Scottish independence (in particular, pending conclusion of the respective Article 48 or 49 treaty amendment/accession processes) it is likely that the EU will put temporary provisions in place to ensure that the rights and obligations arising from the EU treaties will continue to apply to Scotland in the interim period. This could be done by giving provisional effect to the core aspects of the draft accession treaty until this is finally ratified by all Member States.

        In the event of any deadlock in the process of Scotland’s accession to the European Union, the European Union treaties seem to contain an implicit obligation upon the institutions of the EU and the Member States, based upon the principle of European citizenship and the treaties’ fundamental rights provisions, to negotiate towards Scotland’s accession to the EU. There are different grounds of action through which individual citizens could seek to enforce this duty in the Court of Justice of the European Union. There are reasons to believe that the CJEU would intervene to articulate the existence of a duty upon interested parties to negotiate Scotland’s accession to membership in good faith.

        You can read more here.

    1. Mike Mitchell

      Just found this on the Guardian Website. An Indi Scotland will not be able to join NATO anyway…

      “Jamie Hepburn, the MSP for Cumbernauld, was one of at least a dozen MSPs who opposed Nato membership. He said it was immoral to reject nuclear weapons in Scotland but then join an alliance that had a nuclear first strike at the core of its military strategy. “Where’s the morality in asking to rid of the nuclear weapons we abhor but shelter under the umbrella of an alliance which uses them?” Hepburn said.

      The policy will put the SNP into direct conflict with Nato and its senior member states, by trying to request membership while at the same time forcing the UK government to spend billions on relocating the UK’s Trident submarines, currently based on the Clyde.

      The Ministry of Defence suggested this week in evidence to the Commons defence committee that it would prevent an independent Scotland from joining Nato. The alliance’s rules would require Scotland to reapply to join; it would not gain automatic membership.”

      Reply
  14. Not The Huddle Malcontent

    Hi Euan

    Very interesting post and I’ve shared it with many of my friends.

    One point, can you clarify what you mean by EXPORT TAX. I didn’t think we had an export tax regime in the UK. So, are you referring to the point at which duty is applied to items before export – such as the duty levied on whisky.

    That would mean that the duty is realised at an english port rather than in Scotland.

    I don’t want to be guilty of spreading mis/part truths! (but it might be worth it if we get a yes vote!!)

    thanks

    Reply
    1. juanbonnets Post author

      Hi there, thanks for spreading the word! Your interpretation is correct that it is the port at which duty is applied. I take your point that that is not the same as “export tax” and will amend when I get the chance. The main detail for that section can be found in the Business for Scotland article linked, and I’m pretty sure their terminology is correct.

      Reply
  15. craig

    Koko I would think that poor life expectancy has far more to do with living in poverty than it has to do with the health service. Men in Glasgows east end have a life expectancy of 54; I don’t think it has anything to do with the standard of hospital.

    Reply
    1. juanbonnets Post author

      Spot on Craig, it’s a welfare issue, not a health service issue. Cause and effect.

      To address Koko’s other points:
      “But we arent being forced to adopt it?”
      Westminster has retained control over welfare, so yes, in the context of pensions we have no choice but to have policy decided by what is best for the South East of England.

      ” We have control over our own Health services, as do we have control over the size of the portion of the budget that goes towards it.”
      Craig has answered this.

      ” Perhaps Nicola Sturgeon should be focussing more on her job, and less on campaigning for independence?”
      Nicola Sturgeon hasn’t been Health Secretary since 2011. Check your facts.

      ” Or maybe the money being used for the campaign should be put back into Scotland, instead of the campaigning?”
      Are you seriously suggesting that long-term poor health in Scotland leading to low life-expectancy since the 1950s has been caused by the referendum campaign? Good luck finding the evidence for that.

      Reply
      1. juanbonnets Post author

        Laura, thanks for posting that video. I hadn’t seen it, but I was aware of the Glasgow Effect as a result of powerlessness and hopelessness. Seeing it spelled out is pretty shocking. I’m writing an article about it now.

  16. Ryan

    I thought the use of the word F**k was a brilliant addition to the article, I could hear you saying that sentence out loud in my head and it make me smile a little!

    Reply
  17. Mike Mitchell

    Laura – EU membership,

    I guess this is a toss up between whom am I more likely to believe, the Head of the EU Council (i.e. the guy who actually helps to make the decisions) or the Scottish Centre on Constitutional Change?

    Please people, listen to what the people who are actually going to make the decisions as what happens to us outside our boarders are saying!

    We will not gain membership of the EU
    We will not gain membership of NATO
    We will not gain use of the Pound in a Currency Union with rUK.

    This is what everyone external is saying to us. We do not live in a vacuum.

    Reply
    1. juanbonnets Post author

      I’ve already said the purpose of this blog is to get away from “[politican] says [thing]”. Everything you’ve cited has been a politician of one type or another, each with their own political agenda. That is not a reliable source, unless you trust all politicians blindly. There is no legal mechanism to breach the human rights of 5.3million people and strip them of European citizenship. It took Greenland two years to voluntarily leave the EU. NATO does not want a gigantic hole in their defences – look at a map of the North Atlantic. The UK needs Scotland’s energy resources to continue to back the pound, so that the pound does not catastrophically crash overnight.

      After a Yes vote, all of these organisations will accept the political reality and work to negotiate the best solution for everyone. Your Cringe is showing if you think that, uniquely, Scotland will be punished for the crime of making a peaceful, democratic decision. By all means believe the politicians that the No campaign want you to unquestioningly believe. But also at least consider the implications for these organisations if they were to behave so petulantly as you suggest.

      NO ONE has suggested these memberships will happen automatically – the White Paper explicitly says that things will be negotiated between a Yes vote and independence day in March 2016. Non-political experts have said that this is reasonable. People will be able to make an informed decision based on all of this – please don’t patronise them by making absolutist statements which are designed to scare people.

      And one more time, I will repeat that the entire point of independence is that we will get the opportunity to choose our membership, or otherwise, of all of these organisations.

      Reply
      1. Mike Mitchell

        The point about believing politicians (on the Currency point in particular) is that they are the only source of people to believe as it is their decision, not the decision of us Scots or anyone else. You asked for evidence and I have given it to you – it’s the only source of evidence available!!! That’s the point, these are decision that are not in the hands of the Scottish people. If they were it would be easy but they’re not so we have to believe the people that make the decisions i.e. not the Scottish people, but outside external actors who are telling us what the consequences will be.

        Now we can close our ears to these people and put our heads in the sand but the consequences will be a clear and unambiguous. We could survive on not being memebers of the EU, a currency / political union and NATO (we are not about to be bombed by anyone) but I would rather be sitting comfortably in all 3 positions as we are at the moment.

      2. James

        I would have to side with Mike regarding using politicians to discuss independence. To not do so is to rely on yet another layer of “what ifs” i.e. what if we elected another government and what if they decided not to join Nato etc. We have to go on the information available. Salmond is mentioned because it is his government and associates who have looked at the case for independence, therefore the model for how an indy Scotland would look and function will be his model. Hell almost every subject you mention in your article is based on proposals made by the SNP… so why are you claiming independence has nothing to do with politicians?

      3. juanbonnets Post author

        Folks, there is a fundamental and important distinction to be made between “here are the proposals detailed by the current elected Government in the White Paper” and “[politician] says [thing]”. The White Paper explicitly only covers the period until the first independent elections in 2016 – it can’t possibly make binding proposals beyond that. After the first independent elections we will have elected a government (likely a Left/Green coalition, my reasoning is explained here: https://scienceofindependence.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/it-is-likely-that-the-first-independent-parliament-will-be-governed-by-a-leftgreen-coalition/) based on the proposals put forward by each party.

        It would be easy to tear apart any case for independence that was simply “[politician] said [thing]”, which is why my articles try to focus on examining the factual basis and seeking to make conclusions based on that. Indeed that is why I haven’t written articles about currency or the EU: because there is no short certain answer. Clearly there is a demand for some given the extent of this comments section however, and I’ve already linked to others who have covered it. I guess I should be happy that the debate here is a) polite, thanks everyone, and b) not really about the contents of my article!

        If we’re looking for certainty for the future then we’ll be waiting a long time – and that applies to either side. Personally my conclusion is I’d rather have 100% control over policies to adapt to an uncertain future, than 3.6% control over policies like we do at the moment, facing the exact same level of uncertainty.

  18. Pingback: Health – the Glasgow Effect | The Science of Independence

  19. Bob W

    Mr Mitchell, what you have given, is not evidence, it’s the opinions/ statements of some politicians/ others, based on their vested interests.

    Reply
    1. Mike Mitchell

      Mr W, it is the only evidence that is available. It is the word of the exact people who will be making the decision as to whether rUK would join an Indi Scotland in a currency union. Even if everyone in an Indi Scotland wanted a currency union, the decision would only come down to 3 people – Osbourne, Cam and Clegg, as they are the elected leaders of rUK. No one else. Their decision is already made. This is a non argument

      Reply
      1. Bob W

        You assume they will still be in position to decide, post the 2015 general election, as negotiations will still be ongoing, assuming a Yes vote. You must be more trusting than me, if you ascribe evidential status to a politician’s pontificating.

      2. juanbonnets Post author

        I would suggest that “these politicians said this, and I trust politicians as if it were the word of God” is a non-argument. These are the same people who said they would not pre-negotiate, right?

        For the benefit of anyone else reading, the evidence that is not merely the opinion of people with vested interests is as follows:
        1. The EU is an expansionist organisation, and enjoys access to Scotland’s fishing grounds and energy resources. Scotland is peaceful, democratic, and already fully in line with EU law such as human rights. Scotland is also a net contributor to the EU. Scotland becoming independent would be a first for the EU, as it would “internally enlarge” i.e. one member state becomes two. The closest precedent for this is when East and West Germany reunified: on that occasion, a speedy political solution was found and East Germans were granted EU citizenship. The alternative would be a complicated situation that would be in no one’s interests: the exact same applies here. Past behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour: pragmatism trumps threats.

        2. NATO is a cold war relic which is very concerned with the “North East Triangle” (with points at Iceland, Scotland, and Svalbard) with the opening of the North-east passage. For Scotland to leave NATO would leave a massive hole in this area. See also: http://wingsoverscotland.com/the-keepers-of-the-gate/
        and http://wingsoverscotland.com/an-actual-letter-from-america/

        3. http://wingsoverscotland.com/why-there-will-be-a-currency-union/ has already said it better.

        I get why people can become fixated on these issues, because there is no simple short answer, only speculation. But anyone saying “this is the opinion of a politician with a vested interest and it is definitely what will happen (because my crystal ball said so)” is perhaps overstating the speculation. And I include any Yes people in that.

      3. Mike Mitchell

        That’s the interesting thing. Lets think about all the possibilities.

        1. The decision is made before the 2015 GE – in which case the 3 decision makers are all agreed to no Currency Union (CU)
        2. Either the Torries win or win in coalition with Liberals and the same thing happens – no CU
        3. Labour win the GE – it’s going to be in the Labour manifesto (and I’m sure that the other parties will follow suit in their manifesto’s btw) not to enter a CU with Indi Scotland. Result, no CU
        4. Lab enter coalition with Liberals – result, no CU.

        However you look at it, it is impossible that Indi Scotland could possibly enter a CU with rUK under any circumstances as the decision makers have all said no to this and it would be politically untenable for them to change their mind. In the same way that we have the choice to become Independent, the rUK will have a choice whether or not to join a CU and none of the parties at the next GE will have this in their Manifesto’s. This is not even remotely possible as it won’t even be on the table as a choice.

  20. Tarry Breeks

    Great article, looks well researched and cuts through the smokescreen of deceit we’re constantly exposed to by Better Together.

    I feel hesitant at sharing this on Twitter though and the reason, which has been mentioned before, is the f**k in the first paragraph. I understand the depth of feeling and you have expressed exactly how I and many feel about Trident but I can see people being put off, rightly or wrongly, from reading the rest of the article. I think this needs to be read and shared as widely as possible and I can see the first paragraph, irrespective of how silly that is measured against the context of the article, as a barrier to that.

    Reply
    1. Andy

      Do we really live in a society of such prudes, where one word, a vowel and three consonants, could prevent a substantial amount of people from reading a well written, well researched piece like this? I personally think most who would be deterred by such trivia, are probably already set on voting no, and are looking for reasons (no matter how minor) to disregard any opposing opinions and evidence that contradicts their own beliefs. These kind of people would not be swayed regardless in my humblest of opinions.

      Reply
      1. juanbonnets Post author

        I can see both points of view, when expressed sensibly. I genuinely didn’t mean to leave it in when I published the draft, and since all of my previous articles had about 10 views each, I certainly didn’t expect to reach the 30,000-odd people that this one has reached – all the other articles are feeling very ignored by comparison! On the one hand I should consider that it might be genuinely off-putting and that it really doesn’t fit with the passive voice I’ve mostly been using. On the other hand I’m not a fan of censoring something after the fact, and in a high-concept way there is also freedom of expression to consider.

        Since there are over 1100 words in the article it can be spun that over 99.9% of words in it aren’t offensive! The presence of a nuclear arsenal next door to the biggest centre of population is far more offensive than one wee harmless word.

        There is arguably a more offensive “f” word in my response to the #PatronisingBTLady video, though that was deliberate for the purposes of satire, and I don’t feel the need to defend it (especially since less than 10% of people who view this piece have read the other one).

      2. Andy

        Well said, and nor should you have to defend it, or apologise. Every part of the english language has its place, including profanity, and I think it’s perfectly acceptable in the context you used it. Genuinely don’t understand how people can get so upset by four letters.

      3. Tarry Breeks

        I’m certainly not suggesting you defend or justify it, but it’s position at the top of the article does not allow a reader to weigh it up in the context of the article: that only comes after you’ve read the whole piece. Therefore a new reader has no idea if the article will descend into an expletive filled rant or if the word was used selectively and in context (which it was). Anyway, good post thanks for sharing your thoughts and research.

  21. Mike Mitchell

    It’s so funny because it’s not speculation. It’s actually the best evidence that we have available – the words of the only decision makers. You seem to write like there is anyone else who’s opinion matters. There isn’t.

    If Scotland chooses yes it will use the Pound in the same way that Panama uses the Dollar. There may not be too much wrong with that, but at least lets be honest with Scottish people that that’s what will happens and that these are the consequences.

    Reply
  22. Mike Mitchell

    Yes very good, I thought you may bring that up (why do you leave no reply option to your posts replying to me?) The difference with this decision is that Clegg was in a coalition with the Torries where he was much the weaker party and that the Torries wanted Tuition fees. After the Sept referendum and also after 2015 every single possible decision maker wants the same thing – no currency union. It won’t even be an option.

    Reply
    1. juanbonnets Post author

      Calm down, I don’t have any control over where WordPress puts the reply buttons on their themes – to reply after a third indented post you can hit reply on the second indented post above and it appears in order.

      As much as I’m aware that the issues we’ve been debating are not directly related to this article and we are way off track from, there’s a chance undecided voters are reading and might be interested, so one more: Is it really, completely inconceivable that ruling out a currency union, when there is actual evidence that doing so would harm their own constituents, is nothing more than a scare tactic and a bluff?

      Some comeback speculation: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/aug/25/opposition-currency-union-socltand-bluff-joseph-stiglitz

      “… but at least lets be honest with Scottish people that that’s what will happens and that these are the consequences.”

      I haven’t written anything on this blog about currency other than when I’ve responded to your comments. I have written three (It is likely that…) articles and since about ten people read the first two and over 30,000 have read the third one, I might need to restate the caveat of the “It is likely…” series: this is personal speculation based on the available evidence. I don’t have a crystal ball that can see into the future, and neither does anyone else. There is a huge difference between me saying something is “likely” and showing my working as to how I arrived at the conclusion, and claiming something is “certain” which I am absolutely not doing here.

      Do you see what I’m getting at here regarding claiming certainties when there are none?

      Reply
  23. Mike Mitchell

    Thanks for clarifying the posting mechanism – I am very calm thank you and my emails have been constant in this approach.

    I am just an interested Scotsman who has never commented before in public over this debate but I am concerned that the ‘Yes’ campaign claims that decisions that they have absoluetly no control over could be ‘this’ way or ‘that’ way or that people will make decisions in their favour ‘once they see the light’.

    This is not the case. The decisions that will affect an Indi Scotland are clear. There is no ‘Chrystal Ball’ needed. We know for certain that a Currency Union will be rejected because this decision has been made by the non Scottish people’s representatives. We also know that if Salmond tries to block an Indi Scotland’s share of the debt then there will be serious consequences from rUK – there couldn’t possibly be anything else given the politics that would surround this and the anger that would be felt in rUK.

    As a nation we need to think very carefully about the consequences of our actions on external actors. That’s all I’m saying. And I don’t work for or represent the Better Toghether campaign btw.

    Reply
  24. Adam B

    Hi All,

    This is one of the best online debates I have read and I thank all who have contributed. A lot of good thinking going on here. The kind we need to engage in more over the coming weeks.

    From an undecided voter keen to listen.

    Reply
    1. juanbonnets Post author

      Cheers Adam, glad you’ve enjoyed it. I have other articles which hardly anyone has read (relative to this one) so there isn’t the same exciting discussion in the comments, but almost everywhere I’ve linked to within the articles is more widely read and discussed. There’s plenty more out on the internet too!

      Reply
  25. Grant Adamson.

    All I can say as a YES voter, is well done to all contributors for really detailing their sides of each argument, with courtesy.Just a shame ‘the Debators’ on telly could not be as lucid and objective in informing their audiences, as that would have been more valuable to everyone, rather than ‘pointy-pointy’ alister trying to act the headmaster to an unruly pupil!

    Reply
    1. juanbonnets Post author

      Cheers Grant, yes it’s been a pleasant surprise given that we know what anywhere on the internet can be like! My main feeling about TV debates is the format is all wrong and it’s the fault of the lazy media – the media cannot conceive of anything other than politicians lecturing us from a pedestal, but the real debate is not about that. As I’ve said elsewhere, vote Yes to get politicians off of their pedestal and back to the real world!

      Reply
  26. mikemackay4

    Brilliant piece. Can I suggest you offer it to Bellacaledonia and Wings for their high-traffic websites. Just to get it seen maximally. It’s tremendously insightful and many of these arguments haven’t been made either on Bella or on Wings.

    Reply
    1. juanbonnets Post author

      Thanks Mike, I will think about sending it for publication elsewhere. I noticed Wings retweeting someone’s random tweet of it the other day, which was a surreal experience!

      Reply
  27. Martin

    Brilliant peice of selective information to add to the pile. Science however requires all factors to be considered, otherwise newton might have deduced, what goes up continues up forever (assuming he elected to ignore the last half of projectile flight). I’m not going to blame you, haven’t read anyone wanting to consider ALL the evidence on this one. Hint looking at pension but not benefits costs for instance.

    Reply
    1. juanbonnets Post author

      Hi Martin, thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m afraid you’ll have to be a bit more specific with what I’ve apparently chosen to ignore. The sentence in my conclusion to the article is not a throwaway comment, it is carefully considered: “The most important thing to remember when considering the costs and financial aspects of the debate is that we already pay for everything at the moment, and then some.”. Is there some factor I have missed that would take up the £6billion in savings and £2billion in extra economic investment that I have identified will be available on Day One?

      I’m afraid that “Hint looking at pension but not benefits costs for instance.” is not a very coherent counter-argument. Social protection, which includes pensions and benefits, is more affordable for Scotland than it is for the UK (see e.g. the report linked here: https://scienceofindependence.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/pensions/). As I said, my conclusion was carefully considered. In neglecting to identify precisely what you think I’ve missed, I’m afraid it is you who appears to be providing “selective information to add to the pile”.

      Reply
  28. Ian G

    Mike Mitchell keeps on about Scotlands access into the EU should we win Independence, and that we wont gain access to it. He obviously hasn’t seen the statement made by David Cameron that he intends to have a referendum in 2017 as to whether the UK stays in the EU. So we vote no, and could still end up outside the EU. Seems very contradicatory to me the Better Together uses access to the EU as a major obstacle, yet they are planning a referendum to temove us from it.

    Reply
    1. Mike Mitchell

      I sincerely hope that the Torries don’t win the next GE and of course I have read that the Torries want to hold a referendum in 2017 (in which they claim they will lead the ‘Stay in’ argument as long as they get a renegoitated offer). However, thankfully it’s unlikely that the Torries will win the next election and every bit of evidence available points to another coalition with the most likely scenario as Lib / Lab.

      Miliband has wisely said that there is no need to offer an in/out referendum on EU membership so what the Torries think will hopefully be irrelevant. As stated in the previous emails, what we do know from the decision makers with whom the power will reside to make the decision over the future membership of an Indi Scotland in the EU is that Scotland will have to re-apply for membership.

      So yes Ian G, I agree that we could still vote no and end up outside the EU (but it’s not that likely). Or we could vote yes and definitely end up outside the EU for several / many years.

      Reply
  29. Adam B

    I have just been reading back over the discussion again and I have to say my main reason for being unable to commit to a yes vote, still an undecided, is alive and well in this discussion.

    “As much as I’m aware that the issues we’ve been debating are not directly related to this article and we are way off track from, there’s a chance undecided voters are reading and might be interested, so one more: Is it really, completely inconceivable that ruling out a currency union, when there is actual evidence that doing so would harm their own constituents, is nothing more than a scare tactic and a bluff?”

    I can not comprehend why the word NO is misunderstood by the yes campaign. As pointed out many times by in this stream we have been told no to a currency union by all connotations of rule in Westminster. Why can this not be accepted and a realistic discussion be had on what the alternatives would mean for our country. Not what they could be as Salmond listed during the second televised debate but the mechanics and consequences of each.

    Reply
  30. juanbonnets Post author

    Hi Adam, thanks for commenting. As I’ve said, the purpose of this article was not to persuade people about the currency one way or another. For me it is a non-issue: whatever happens there will be a transition period, as anyone who visited an early Eurozone country in the late 1990s will remember. On Day One everyone’s money will still exist – it’s not going to disappear overnight. Whether that’s in a formal currency union or otherwise. Don’t take my word for it: have a listen to someone who knows more about it: http://batemanbroadcasting.com/features-chat-crawford-beveridge/

    I’ve already provided links to show why Westminster would be harming their remaining constituents by refusing a currency union, the main issue being the balance of payments for the pound. I understand the Westminster parties perfectly well when they say “no currency union” but I don’t believe them. That’s not just because I don’t believe politicians, but also because my reading around it has led me to the conclusion that if they were to follow through with it, it would be an act of self-harm more than anything. I’m not denying the possibility of Westminster refusing a currency union; I just don’t believe them. It’s a total scare story, trying to take advantage of the fact that people generally don’t know about how currency works and seeking to exploit fear because of that. As a tactic, it disgusts me. But then, I’m disgusted by politicians all the time, when they prefer a quick soundbite to a proper explanation.

    See the McCrone report for what would the UK Government expected to happen to a Scottish currency (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/how-black-gold-was-hijacked-north-sea-oil-and-the-betrayal-of-scotland-518697.html and the original here: http://www.oilofscotland.org/MccronereportScottishOffice.pdf)

    I often make the distinction between what we can plan for on Day One of independence, and what we can achieve after the first elections. That’s because there is an important distinction to be made. In the event of the Westminster parties following through on their threats to refuse a formal currency union, then on Day One the ‘Scots pound’ will initially simply be pegged at a 1:1 exchange rate with the ‘fUK pound’ until the transition period is completed and the first independent government enacts their policy on currency. That’s essentially Plan B, but who in their right mind would go into a negotiation saying “this is what I want, but I’m willing to accept this instead”? It’s playing politics on both sides, and while I don’t agree with it I can understand it.

    Regarding the perceived lack of control that fixing the exchange rate brings in, there are plenty of examples where it is not a problem. Panama was taking some flak the other night which was uncalled for, but an example closer to home and much more comparable is Denmark, which has a fixed exchange rate between the Kroner and the Euro. So even in a long-term situation, it’s not a problem. However, I’m not aware of anyone trying to suggest that fixing the exchange rate should be a long-term plan for Scotland. All that anyone is proposing is for what is in place on Day One.

    Most of the parties likely to form the Left/Green coalition government that I have predicted (working shown here: https://scienceofindependence.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/it-is-likely-that-the-first-independent-parliament-will-be-governed-by-a-leftgreen-coalition/) have already expressed a preference for an independent currency in the medium term. Everything in the McCrone report still applies regarding currency hardness (energy resources would be backing our currency: therefore its value is secure).

    My own preference would be to return to an independent currency in the medium term, and in particular make it so that our central bank is the only body capable of creating money, such as described here: http://www.positivemoney.org/2014/08/plan-b-limit-creation-scottish-currency-scottish-central-bank/. That would be a radical change but is not essential for Scotland to thrive.

    I’m going to stop there because this is turning into another article. I hope this serves as an example of a realistic discussion of the alternatives. I’ve tried to provide links where I can so don’t just take my word for anything!

    Reply
  31. Ian G

    Mike problem is people keep saying that Tories wont get in at next election. Thats not exactly reassuring, and they have shown they are willing to get into bed with other people. Ukip are becoming stronger and whilst may not become a major player they could have major influence with who they work with. If thats the Tories we should all be worried not just in Scotland.

    Reply
  32. Candy

    What a great article, from someone genuinely trying to make an argument based on facts rather than what-ifs and hearsay! Some brilliant responses too! It’s hard to come up with anything substantial in response to some posts as the post author seems to have done enough in that respect, however, I would like to comment on the ridiculous assumption by some that everything we read in the media and everything a politician says is the truth. ‘He said this’ only pertains to the fact that someone told someone who probably changed it into their own words and possibly made it sound a certain way so as to create the maximum of whichever effect is desired. I knew we lived in a fickle society but I hoped that sensible arguments for independence being viable might actually have people reading up on the facts for themselves…unfortunately for this post and some of the comments, it’s clear that’s not the case!! I, for one, will be forever grateful to those who tried!!

    Reply
  33. Pingback: (It is likely that…) Independence will bring a bigger dividend than even the Yes campaign predict – Awakened State

    1. juanbonnets Post author

      Hi Jim, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I’m curious, could you be more specific about which part of it you are disputing? I’m afraid your comment isn’t very helpful in identifying which part of my article could be improved. If you can point me in the direction of a correction for what you think I’ve done wrong, I’d be grateful and happy to correct the article. I’ve provided sources and shown my working for everything that I’ve written, and I’d appreciate it if criticism could be delivered constructively with the same rigour.

      Reply
  34. Debbie Miller

    Thanks so much for this post. Fantastic comprehensive information. Refreshing to read an article that is not based on propaganda or political spin. This is exactly what I need to convince me to vote YES!! When I first considered the referendum I thought “Oh no we can’t leave UK!” That was before I looked at the facts and the figures. I am now retired from full time work and running my own business as a Health Coach having previously worked in the NHS a Registered Nurse. From what I can see in the current media small business’s in Scotland will thrive with independence. As a grandmother I see a better future for my grandchildren here in Scotland away from the financial drains of Westminster. There will never be enough money to support the NHS but independence will bring about improvements. Free prescriptions have already proved that. I can see that as a retired individual I will be better off. Not only financially but also that there will be more people to look after us as we get older and frailer (as long as immigrants are vetoed) YES. I’m convinced.

    Reply
    1. juanbonnets Post author

      Hi Tommy, I’ve already covered this in the article and the comments: the answer is yes. We already more than pay for everything we have at the moment, and the savings I’ve identified in the article are surplus to that. Also, the ‘social protection’ (pensions and benefits) spending in Scotland is already more affordable than the UK average.

      The key thing to remember is that we already pay more in than there is identified spending in Scotland. The answer to “can we afford [X]?” is always “Yes, with extra to spare”.

      Reply
  35. Pol Sorok

    I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned it (there are a lot of comments to trawl through) but the bit about civil servants seems a tad disingenuous. There are already thousands of civil servants based in Scotland, central government not Scottish government. Revenue in East Kilbride (i think), Immigration and Border Force all over the place, MOD also all over the place and DFID. Unless I misunderstood you there would be no net gain. Does that call the figures in the rest of your article into question?

    Reply
    1. juanbonnets Post author

      Hi Pol, “disingenuous” is quite a serious accusation to level at an explicitly back-of-the-envelope calculation. I’d be interested to see your justification that there would “no net gain”. Of the 72,000 people employed by HMRC, 2,000 of them (less than 3%) are in East Kilbride. By all means I’ll accept that my numbers are out by a few percent, but please don’t assume the whole article is in question because of it, especially since most of it isn’t actually my numbers so you don’t have to take my word for it.

      You are correct in that there are UK Civil servants based in Scotland, but still some way short of what our population share would be. I did think about breaking it down region-by-region but unfortunately don’t have time for it. What I have presented is an illustrative calculation based on the three largest departments which make up the three biggest Reserved matters: that’s 226,000 out of 449,000 total people.

      East Kilbride has 490 people at the DFID, out of over 1,800 total – 27% so a higher percentage than population share, but in absolute terms compared to the total UK Civil service, it’s less than an eighth of one percent.

      To consider it another way, if we assume as you are suggesting that every UK civil servant based in Scotland is only working on Scotland’s ‘share’ of work (which is obviously not true, but let’s go with it for now): In 2013 there were 28,000 UK civil servants in Scotland (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/12/4484/6). A proper population share of UK civil servants would be more like 39,000. Even in that extreme case there is no net loss of jobs, and in breaking it down by region like we would need to consider the ‘London weighting’ of salaries for a proper picture of the economic shift.

      If it helps, consider that the number of jobs created instantly in Scotland will be somewhere between 11,000 and >20,000 on Day One: even in the extreme pessimistic estimate that’s a lot of jobs and economic stimulus, and that’s before any changes are made using the powers that independence will bring.

      Reply
  36. Eck Hodgson

    Pol Sorok right about your figures, your arguements are considerably diminished by using as your sources ebntities that support a yes vote

    Reply
  37. Anne Kivari

    This is an excerpt from a NY Times article written by Paul Krugman, a US economist and professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University. ” Having laid out the Spain example, Krugman thus leaves Scottish voters with one final warning:
    [E]verything that has happened in Europe since 2009 or so has demonstrated that sharing a currency without sharing a government is very dangerous. In economics jargon, fiscal and banking integration are essential elements of an optimum currency area. And an independent Scotland using Britain’s pound would be in even worse shape than euro countries, which at least have some say in how the European Central Bank is run.
    I find it mind-boggling that Scotland would consider going down this path after all that has happened in the last few years. If Scottish voters really believe that it’s safe to become a country without a currency, they have been badly misled.”

    Can you please comment on this.

    Reply
    1. Laura Vivanco

      Anne, you might like to take a look at a response by James Meadway over at Bella Caledonia (who links to one of his earlier pieces at the New Economics Foundation blog and to a very interesting article by Robert Peston at the BBC). Medway looks at the situation in some detail and ends by suggesting that ” It isn’t Scotland that’s like Spain. With its gaping trade deficit and its housing bubble, it’s the UK.”

      Reply

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