Scotland should cede from the union.
Scotland is moving away from the rest of the United Kingdom. Is it now time for them to formally break ties and become an independent entity?
You can also add to the debate by leaving a comment at the end of the page.
Semi-independence is unsatisfactory
Fiscal powers and economic control remain at Westminster. Independence will allow Scotland to cut business taxes (like Ireland) to promote economic growth.
Some of the decisions taken at Westminster are not always in Scotland’s best interests, for example the positioning of Trident submarines at Rosyth which put Scotland under threat from terrorist attacks in reprisals to descisions Westminister made.
The argument against states that the differences between Scotland and England are typical of any nation in the world.
This argument is fundamentally flawed in that Scotland and England are not one nation but two.
Scotland is not a region of England like London or Newcastle but is in fact a seperate country. It seems to be acceptable to call scotland a region but not england i.e." regions in england itself" why is that? It is also assumed that the capital city of the UK is London. There is no basis for this. Indeed, the UK does not have a capital city.
There are numerous reports that show that Scotland would be economically vastly more wealthy than any western european country including England and yet the lies about fiscal black holes continue. See here:
for proof or go look at the mccrone report.
Scotland who also not waste money on big defence projects so beloved of Tory/Labour. So expenditure per capita would drop.
The cretans in Westminster go through the motions of pretending to have different views, when in fact it is merely a mouthpiece for all things English. It, like Rome has seen its day and although they try to potray themselves as some form of superpower, is just a symbol of the fact that they cant accept where they stand in the pecking order. Scotland on the other hand is a country that has a solid reputation of being innovators and leaders in many areas. We do not need England and never will again. We did them the favour of getting them out of the financial mess they were in during the seventies, when the IMF took charge of the basket case economy that forced a three day week, no garbage collections, and RATS ON THE STREETS INSTEAD OF IN WESTMINSTER WHERE THEY LAY.
Scotland's position is not directly analagous to that of Ireland. Despite Alex Salmond's economic 'acumen', a fiscal black hole has already emerged in the financing of Scottish public goods. Without the economic backbone to support a fiscal contraction like that which led Ireland to the forefront of business growth and innovation in the 1990s, there is little hope for anything but tax hikes. These would, and have already been, concealed in income tax and tweaks to council taxation: the SNP needs to maintain its pedagogic pedigree.
Many of the differences between Scotland and England are typical of any nation in the world, with the exception of the smallest, i.e. it is not unusual for parts of countries to have strong regional identities. This is true even for the different regions in England itself (e.g. London, Newcastle, etc.).
Other small nation-states like Norway and the Republic of Ireland are successful
An independent Scotland will have the right tools to match its population, nurturing a smaller and more open relationship between nation and state.
If we accept the argument against, then it also should apply to the rest of the world. Therefore, Denmark should form a union with Norway and Sweden, Mexico should team up with the USA and Canada, France and Belgium with Germany and so on.
Gosh, these nations will be so happy to know that UK Unionists have stumbled on the recipe for Nirvana. All you have to do is form a union with the nations surrounding you!
But wait! They haven't done it! Why not? Are they stupid?
No, it is we Scots who have been stupid for being taken in by the Unionists' schemes!
So, the natural condition for a nation appears to be one of independence. And to that we should aspire.
Yes, we should model ourselves on the Swiss or Singapore. Small, successful nations who eshewed mergers with larger (and less successful) neighbours.
Scotland is far better disposed in safeguarding its economic interests and territorial sovereignty by remaining a part of the UK, which is larger in size and has greater clout.
The UK was created due to similarities in culture and kingship. By pulling resources together the UK became the prominent power of the 20th century.
Consolidation of states is occurring today. What do think the EU and NAFTA are? The main aim of the EU is to consolidate European nations into one economic and military block to compete with the world. Sound familiar? The British did it 200 years ago.
Independence would give Scotland clout where it matters
We would get a seat at the UN and in the EU Council of Ministers.
Scottish interests, eg. fisheries and agriculture, are poorly served in Brussels by UK ministers since the rest of the UK has interests incompatible with Scotland's. For example, the overwhelming majority of fishing is within Scottish waters. Common sense therefore dictates that we should have a seat at the EU table. We don't, the Scottish minister has to sit outside in the corridor while a Westminster minister negociates. Is that fair?
Scotland's coastal waters yeild 90% of the UK's oil yet we pay higher prices at the petrol pumps than do people south of the border. We have no power to haggle about the price our oil is sold for. Is that fair?
Scotland has more influence in Brussels as part of the UK than it could have as an independent state.
The UN is a useless liberal project, much like the League of Nations before it. It has little influence and power, especially considering the emergence of China, India and Brazil as world players, and the increasing role of the EU in world markets. Even so the UK is in the Security council, Scotland if independent will not have that luxury.
How do you know Scotland will be admitted to the EU straight way? The UK is one of the main players, along with France and Germany, and they could easily use their influence to block your membership. Due to the protectionism the EU utilizes Scottish markets would suffer.
To add to the above, info from http://calumjc.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/is-scotland-better-off-in-or-out-of-uk.html:
Another topic which has stirred up much debate is whether or not Scotland would remain as a member of the European Union (EU), should it separate from the UK. Nationalists say yes. Unionists say no. Who is right? In short, there is no clear answer.
The important thing to remember here is that in international politics and international law, context is everything. At present there is no act which states categorically that if a devolved part of an EU member state separates and forms a separate entity it must then reapply to join the EU. As a result, this question has sparked debate among many experts and politicians. Let's take a look at the evidence.
In December 2007 the Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon said:
"It is the very clear view of the SNP and of the Government that Scotland would automatically be a member of the European Union upon independence. There is very clear legal opinion that backs up that position. I don't think the legal position, therefore, is in any doubt."
The French advocate Maitre Xavier de Roux explains (page 5):
"Scotland is part of the Common Market territory by virtue of the United Kingdom's accession to the Treaty of Rome and by application of the Treaty of Union 1707. If the Treaty of Union was revoked and if Scotland recovered its international sovereignty, it would be accepted within the Common Market without any formality."
Others do not share this viewpoint. In a 2000 research paper published in the International and Comparative Law Quarterly Jounral, Dr Matthew Happold, then Research Officer at the British Institution of International and Comparative Law argued:
"Were Scotland to gain independence, it would be the rump UK, not Scotland, that would inherit membership of the EU. Scotland's subsequent route to UK membership could well be a tortuous one. The SNP's use of the phrase "independence in Europe" seeks to persuade the Scottish electorate that it can have its cake and eat it; that Scotland can have both the benefits of independence and the security of membership of the European Union. However, like many political slogans, the phrase misleads. The real situation is that Scotland might end up with all the insecurities of independence and none of the benefits of EU membership.
In a 2001 research paper for the Constitution Unit, Jo Merkens, a constitutional law expert at the London School of Economics and Political Science, argued:
"The SNP claims that an independent Scotland would automatically succeed to the United Kingdom's treaty rights and obligations, including membership of the European Union. However, there is no automatic right to membership of the European Union. Continued membership would only be possible with the approval of all Member States."
In October 2006, the historian Michael Fry said:
"The prevailing opinion in Brussels, as I understand it, is that the continuing UK would inherit membership of the EU on the present basis. Scotland would not be treated as a successor country, and so would have to renegotiate its membership. In principle this appears to present no great problem, since the SNP (assuming it formed the first government of an independent Scotland) is committed to membership. But there could well be some thorny problems, such as the Common Fisheries Policy. In any event, the exact position is unclear because no similar case has yet arisen."
In January 2007, Lorand Bartels, a then lecturer in International Economic Law at Edinburgh University, said:
"Both as a matter of international law and as a matter of EU law, Scotland would have to negotiate its accession to the EU as a new member state. This process may be relatively unproblematic, given that Scotland already applies EU law, but it is unlikely to be entirely 'seamless'. At the very least there would be likely to be an obligation to adopt the euro."
In September 2007 the EU Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg said:
"On the issue concerning Scotland's independence, that's not my competence to assess or to evaluate but if, for one moment, we were to assume that Scotland gained independence and therefore is eligible as a new member state for the European Union, I would see that, legally speaking, the continuation of the membership would remain with the rest of the UK - less Scotland. And, therefore, Scotland, as a newly independent state, would have to apply for membership."
In December 2007, the then Minister of State for Europe, Jim Murphy, said:
"But the truth is that if they were to succeed in wrenching Scotland out of the UK, Scotland's position within the EU would certainly not be secure and neither would the 285,000 Scottish jobs that depend on Scotland's EU membership. The UK is the EU member state and would continue to be so......Despite what the SNP claims, the weight of legal opinion suggests that, far from automatic membership, an independent Scotland would find itself outside the EU and needing to apply to regain membership. It means Scotland joining the queue of countries for entry which could cause not just delays, but massive uncertainty."
In July 2008 Robert Hazell, Professor of British Politics and Government & Director of the Constituiton Unit at University College London said:
"Scotland would have to re-apply for membership of the EU. Renewed membership is not guaranteed. The reaction to Kosovo's claim to independence suggests that EU member states like Spain might block Scotland's application, for fear of encouraging similar claims from the Basque country and Catalonia."
In September 2008 Lord Kerr, a former British ambassador to the US and former head of the Diplomatic Service said:
"If Scotland was to become independent, it would have to leave the EU and reapply to get back in. People in Scotland love to believe it isn't true, but getting back in would not be easy. I'm not saying it wouldn't happen, but it would not be easy. Scotland would have to overcome the objections of countries like Spain which doesn't want Catalonia to go the same way.In all probability, the Scots would get in but they would be out for quite a time before they got back."
More recently, in October 2011 Simon Johnson, the Scottish Political Editor at the Telegraph, reports:
"Lawyers have told Coalition ministers that Scotland is only an EU member by virtue of being part of the United Kingdom and would lose this status following separation. An independent Scotland would then have to join the EU as a new accession state, a process that could take up to three years, meaning the UK’s derogation from the single currency would not apply. According to the official legal advice, Mr Salmond would then have to obtain his own opt-out from the euro but this “might not be easy to negotiate” with the existing members."
The article later notes:
"Joe Borg, a former European fisheries commissioner, has more recently said new membership would be required."
In November 2011, Arabella Thorp and Gavin Thompson, researchers in the International Affairs and Defence Section and the Economic Policy and Statistics Section of the House of Commons Library Research, pointed out that in 2004 the European Commission commented on the possibility of a region becoming independent in response to a question from Welsh MEP Eluned Morgan. The European Commission's reponse was:
"The European Communities and the European Union have been established by the relevant treaties among the Member States. The treaties apply to the Member States (Article 299 of the EC Treaty). When a part of the territory of a Member State ceases to be a part of the state, e.g. because that territory becomes an independent state, the treaties will no longer apply to that territory. In other words, a newly independent region would, by the fact of its independence, become a third country with respect to the Union and the treaties would, from the day of its independence, not apply anymore on its territory.
Under Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, any European State which respects the principles set out in Article 6(1) of the Treaty on European Union may apply to become a member of the Union. An application of this type requires, if the application is accepted by the Council acting unanimously, a negotiation on an agreement between the Applicant State and the Member States on the conditions of admission and the adjustments to the treaties which such admission entails. This agreement is subject to ratifcation by all Member States and the Applicant State."
In November 2011 Jo Merkens argued on his blog:
"An independent Scotland will not automatically join the European Union, but will have to apply."
In January 2012 he further highlighted his point when he told the New York Times:
"The U.K. minus Scotland would be the continuing state and would continue with its current treaty obligations. Scotland would have to apply as a new applicant state. It is 100 percent clear under EU law, although the Scottish nationalists have never accepted fully this. Changes to arrangements within the EU require a treaty change and the fact of having a new member state requires a treaty amendment. Accession to the EU requires unanimity among the existing member states."
In February 2012, Nicholas Tsagourias, Professor of International Law and Security at Glasgow University wrote in the Scotsman:
"Would an independent Scotland’s membership of the United Nations and European Union be automatic, or require a new application? In my view, Scotland is not entitled to automatic membership."
Finally, in March 2012, Lord Kerr said:
"The Scots would leave the European Union when they left the union of the (British) island and they would need to apply. To some extent, that would be a matter of form. The problem is that when you are applying all the existing member states need to say yes, every one. That gives them an opportunity, if they want, to be obstructive."
So although there is no clear answer to what would happen to Scotland's EU membership post-separation, it is obvious that the weight of legal opinion does indicate that Scotland would indeed have to reapply. That being the case the new agreement must be ratified by each member state, according to its constitutional requirements, as indicated by Lord Kerr and Jo Merkens above. So why is this a problem for the SNP?
Firstly, under new laws, new member states of the EU are expected to join the euro. This would not necessarily happen instantly, but Scotland would by law have to make a commitment. Romania and Bulgaria who joined in 2007, for example, are obliged to adopt the euro once the required criteria has been met. Therefore, should a separate Scotland apply to join the EU, it would also be applying to join the single currency. This is confirmed by Andrew Hughes-Hallet, a professor at St. Andrews University, a member of the First Minister’s Council of Economic Advisers:
"First, all new members of the EU are required to join the euro eventually, and it is not clear there are grounds to argue that Scotland has the right to inherit the UK’s current euro opt-out."
In the same article, Jo Merkens says:
"It would not be Scotland’s choice. They can’t say they want to be a member of the EU and not the euro."
At present, the UK (and Denmark) currently have a special status which allows them to decide when (and if) they wish to adopt the euro as their currency, which was set out in the Maastricht Treaty of 1992. There is no guarantee that this special status would pass to a separate Scotland, which would no longer be part of the UK.
Another issue for Scotland is that it would need to negotiate the EU budget. It would have to do this with less voting power than Greece. In the 1980s Margaret Thatcher secured a UK rebate because it was being forced to provide disproportionately high net contributions, despite the fact it was at the time one of the EU's poorest member states. The Commons Library report quoted earlier argues that a separate Scotland would lose out on this rebate and end up paying more per head to the EU than it does at present. It points out that in 2008-09 Scotland contributed £16 per person to the EU budget, but without the rebate it would have been £92.
Being in the EU also offers Scotland many trade benefits, the main one being the free market. Any disruption to EU membership could have a devastating impact on many Scottish industries, such as the financial services sector, which is depedent on free movement of capital and labour for success. Moreover, millions of pounds in subsidies and grants would be lost if Scotland left the EU. Between 2007-2013 the European Fisheries Fund has made £44 million available to assist with capital investment in fishing industries, and the EU has also provided millions in subsidies to Scottish farmers over the last number of years. In 2011 the EU also provided an £18 million grant for renewable energy projects in Orkney, Shetland and Caithness, and in February 2012 the Highlands and Islands received a further £5.3 million from the EU to invest in projects designed to support people who are struggling to find employment. EU funds have also helped redevelop Dalmarnock rail station to enhance transportation links with Glasgow in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
The point here is that there are clear economic benefits to Scotland being in the EU. Should Scotland leave the UK, and hence the EU, it would lose out on these funds until such times as it were allowed back in - but the exact terms of that new membership may not benefit Scotland in the way it does today, and reapplying to the EU could take years of negoitation.
Alex Salmond has actually taken legal advice on Scotland's position with the EU post separation, and yet he is refusing to publish this information. As the Spectator reports:
"Opposition leaders tried again in the chamber today, demanding that Salmond publish the legal advice he had received on the issue. Again he refused."
One can only wonder why this might be.
It is time to take the next step.
Britishness is dying. Scotland has its own parliament, its own laws and legal system. National feeling and self-confidence are high.
If the union had succeeded then scottishness would not still exist only north britain would exist the fact that scottishness and scotland still exists as a country in peoples minds shows that declaring a country out of existance does not work unless the country as a whole has agreed to such a move. This has not happened in scotland. People in scotland do not define themselves as north british they define themselves as scottish.
Britishness is not dying.
The Scots themselves would vote against independence if there was a referendum.
The court of final authority for both Scotland and England is the same, i.e. the House of Lords.
Relations between Scots and English are deteriorating
Independence would free Scotland from dependency and England from resentment. An amicable no-faults divorce is better than a bickering marriage.
Scots should recognise that devolution has put England at a disadvantage, and should press for reforms to the way Westminster works. Satisfying English grievances would put the marriage back on an even keel. Divorce is unnecessary and would be painful
"Relations between Scots and English are deteriorating"
Speak for yourself! It's very sad you don't like someone because they are English. I think that says all you need to know about the nationalist argument.
Scotland needs to lose its dependence culture
Too many Scots are dependent on government for jobs and benefits. The country is addicted to UK subsidies. Enterprising Scots have quit to find jobs elsewhere (Gordon Brown?).
Independence would provide the shock to the system that is required for change. Follow the example of Ireland.
Scottish brains made England what it is. Please don't leave us.
Secession would give the idea of devolution some real substance rather than the token discourse and utterances from London. Increasing local governance, encouraging local politics and therefore making government more accountable and transparent, reducing Scots' geographical and perceived distance from the centre of governance which will nurture greater democratic participation.
Westminster governmental control is undemocratic.
Westminster governmental control is undemocratic because if Scotland votes for a completely different government from england then they are having a government forced on them that they did not elect.
The people of Scotland were never given a choice in a democratically elected parliament on wether they wanted to be governed from london. This means that westminster is acting as a dictator and not a government.
Even if scots reject the government voted in at westminster they have no choice but to accept what westminster imposes in scotland as they are not equally represented as a country in the westminster parliament. Unless, that is, if the majority of Scottish MPs elected to the Westminster parliament call for independence..
In accordance with the Act of the Union the UK is a single entity, and follows the basic tenet of democracy in that each person is allowed 1 vote and that the majority rules. Any attempt to give Scottish votes more weight to compensate for a smaller population would be the very definition of undemocratic.
Nevertheless, Scotland has more MPs per capita than the rest of the UK so a single vote in Scotland has a greater impact. Scotland's MSPs/MPs also gain increased influence by being able to vote on devolved Scottish matters in Scottish parliament, whilst still being able to vote on matters that do not affect Scotland but only the rest of the UK at Westminster.
In spite of its small population, Scotland has also affected election results before - Including the 2010 General Election which would have produced a Conservative majority if Scotland's votes were not considered.
To add to the above, if you feel that, as you << put it "Westminister government control is undemocratic" then that is an argument for constitutional reform of some sort, not separation. To say that Scotland has no influence in the union, however, is factually incorrect. Much of this "Westminister is undemocratic" argument is based on the fact that Scotland normally votes for left-wing parties but gets right-wing governments. At least, that has been the case in recent years. But consider the following facts:
1) Up until the 2010 general election, there was a Labour government for over a decade. The majority of Scoltand voted Labour and got it.
2) Up until the 2010 general election, the last two Prime Ministers and the last two Chancellors were both Scottish.
3) Britain has not had a majority Conservative government since 1997.
4) Under the Scotland Act 1998 many important matters are devolved to the Scottish parliament*, including health, education, local government, justice, agriculture, tourism, and internal transport. The Scottish parliament can also vary the standard rate of income tax by up to 3p in the pound. More recently, Westminister has also given Scotland more borrowing powers.
5) It is precisely because Scotland does not vote Conservative that the 2010 general election resulted in a coalition government.
6) Due to the fact that the majority of England vote Conservative, but hasn't had a Conservative majority for over a decade, many English voters feel aggrieved.
7) The West Lothian Question has still not been addressed. It asks why it is right that a Scottish MP at Westminister can vote on matters such as education that affect England only - but that the same MP does not vote on the same matter in their local constituency because it is devolved to the Scottish parliament.
It is clear that no matter what the outcome of the referendum, there will be constitutional reform, and both David Cameron and Nick Clegg have said Scotland will get more powers if it remains in the union. And there are good arguments for it. Firstly, because Scotland is more left-wing, if its parliament had more power it could tailor more policies to the Scottish people than Westminister can (assuming a right-wing government). Secondly, Scotland is the second largest economy in the UK after England and so there is an economic case for devolving more financial powers to the country. And thirdly because of the West Lothian Question, English people have a decent argument for some sort of reform.
For some nationalists minimising the chances of ever getting a Conservative government is a good enough reason to justify their cause. But it is a pretty weak argument if the main reason for separation is for political gain when it will make your country worse off.
As the Economist newspaper recently argued, if Scots wish to keep their social model then they are best voting to stay in the UK.
In the end, Independence is about Freedom.
Whilst agreeing with the previous "For" points, and asserting empahtically that Scotland notonly could, but does more than support itself economically, there is a superior argument at stake. Independence is about Freedom to make our own decisions (and yes, mistakes) and to build a new home for our Nation, which is, and always has been distinct, even within the Union. The cause of Freedom is eternal, and fires the imagination and inspires endeavour and effort in every generation. The Union has served its purpose, and its time is over. Advance Caledonia, long live the cause of Freedom
By this << logic, is it not the case that if the Shetlands vote to stay in the UK they should be allowed to do so? Is it not the case that if individual constituencies vote to stay in the UK they should be allowed to do so? Infact why stop there, why not let each individual person decide what country they want to stay in.
The "self determination" argument is deeply flawed. By its own logic it does not stop. Sorry nationalists but you'll have to do much better than that.
The many hidden subsidies to SE England would end.
There are many hidden subsidies to SE England or London, these would end with independence the money remaining in Scotland instead of bleeding out to support London.
One good example is the BBC: it collects about 400 million a year in revenue from Scotland, but has to cook the books in order to disguise how little it spends in Scotland.
With independence that money stays in Scotland and helps builds a media industry, with all its downstream supporting industries.
Right now Scotland is subsidising the SE England media capacity, and the cosy lives of the chaps in Broadcasting House who got their jobs because of their connections to the middle England school and university network.
Another example is the spending on Oxbridge to create top league universities. Spending per student head at Oxford is 3 times that of Edinburgh.
It is a sensible policy to create top league universities: but Oxbridge is in SE England, subsidised by the Scottish taxpayer.
THE BBC Tax (TV licence) is another subsidy to London from Scotland. We know BBC only spends 3% of its budget in sCotland but raises 9% of its revenue here. So lots of (well paid) TV jobs in London.
MOD is also very much run from SE England. That's where all research establishments are, all the HQs all the senior officers and chief civil servants. A huge boost to economy of SE england.
Between 2000-2010 London produced on average a £17bn tax surplus (tax revenue generated minus public spending consumed). By comparison, Scotland typically produces a 1bn surplus.
South East England (excluding London) also has some of the lowest public spending in the whole of the UK, just over £6000, compared to Scotland's £8000+.
The reality is the South East of England subsidises the rest of the UK.
keep out of stupid US wars
Iraq was/is a disaster. Afghanistan will prove to be as well. There is no objective and no exit stategy.
Scotland needs to determine its own foreign policy. We are peace loving people who object to being used as cannon fodder for US big oil adventures.
By remaining in the UK, Scotland has some influence over world events through the reasonable clout of UK foreign policy. An independent Scotland's foreign policy will have little effect due to a weak military and an impoverished economy compared to the main powers of the world.
The Union has served both countries well for 300 years
Devolution is a young experiment, and it is too soon to judge it.
Niche nationalist sentiment does not equate to universal rejection.
300 years is a small amount of time, historically speaking. The Union was forced upon the Scots and now they are rejecting it. Their views should be taken seriously.
The empire served Scotland quite well through the 19th Century. The advantages ran out in 1914 when the First War dealt Scotland a huge blow. From there on the Union disadvantaged Scotland. We lost all our locally run companies, Britain fell down international league tables and we have little influence in UK/EU. UK governments only really care about the City of London.
Scotland can't afford to be independent
"Scotland can't afford to be independent".
The above statement is simply incorrect. Scotland can 100% go it alone. The point, however, is that Scotland is 100% better off within the UK - politically, economically, and socially.
The following information is taken from: http://calumjc.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/is-scotland-better-off-in-or-out-of-uk.html
There are many common misconceptions surrounding the debate on Scottish independence. Nationalists claim that Scotland has been subsidising the rest of the UK for years. Some unionists (although not the majority) claim that Scotland needs the UK to survive. Both of these claims are absolute nonsense.
Firstly, the Scottish budget has a ran a £41 billion deficit over the last 30 years, even including ALL oil and gas revenues from the entire UK; and a paper by Oxford Economics describes Scotland as a "net drain on the exchequer." This is based on the fact that Scotland spends around £11 billion more than it provides to the Exchequer, in addition to having a relatively lower tax base. The vast majority of spending in Scotland (87%) is financed by Westminister's bloc grant, while the remaining is raised through local taxes. Moreover, both the Barnett formula (the official basis upon which public funds are allocated to the devolved UK territories) and the data show (here and here) that Scotland receives a much higher level of public spending per person than in both England and Wales, while Northern Ireland receives the most. Thus, Scotland is NOT 'subsidising' the rest of the UK.
However, to suggest that Scotland could not survive as a separate nation is equally incorrect. Scottish GDP in 2010 was £118 billion, and the average wage for the country is £20,200. Scotland has a range of resources at its disposal should it become a separate country - a financial sector, world-class universities, whisky exports, and of course North Sea oil. Scotland is also an attractive tourist destination, bringing in around £4 billion per year.
If Scotland did break away from the UK it would obviously lose its bloc grant from the UK Treasury (20% of Scottish GDP), but it would receive in full its geographical share of oil revenues (between 12% and 18% of GDP, depending on oil prices in a given year). In the short run, that is the choice that Scotland would be making - and recently there does not appear to be much of a difference. Over the last few years then, Scotland has had a similar fiscal deficit to the UK as a whole.
There any benefits to the union for Scotland:
1) A central bank that works for Scotland.
2) Membership of the EU under the terms and conditions that the UK has.
3) An economy less dependent on North Sea oil revenues.
4) Greater renewable energy potential.
5) AAA credit rating.
Are there any more? Yes plenty. The major one is that Scotland can share risks and assets. The classic example of course is the banking crisis. In 2008 the Scottish parliament's budget was just over £31 billion. The bailouts of the Scottish banks, RBS and HBOS, cost £20 billion and £11.5 billion, respectively. RBS alone had a balance sheet 15 times Scottish GDP. It is not unreasonable to assume that an independent Scotland could at time have survived the financial crisis without external support from either rUK, the EU, or the IMF. It has cost each UK taxpayer £2,000 to rescue the Scottish banks. The figure would have been closer to £13,000 in an independent Scotland.
Scottish universities also benefit enormously from the union, receiving substantial research grants from the UK Research Council. Moreover, the top Scottish universities benefit from membership of the UK Russel Group, which encourages cross-university research and drives up research standards.
Scottish industry also benefits enormously from the union. Unsurprisingly, rUK is Scotland's largest export partner. During the last year fiscal year, for example, £45 billion of Scottish goods were sold to rUK (some 40% of Scottish GDP). Separation could damage this trade. Loss of the free market if Scotland had to reapply to the EU (see above) would increase the cost of trading for business; differential tax systems could be problematic for businesses (desrcibed earlier); and SNP plans for an independent Scotland to adopt the euro increases business exposure to exchange rate fluctuations and its associatated risks.
Furthermore, Scoltand benefits enormously from the UK's international influence in the world. For instance, in terms of voting shares the UK has the (joint) 4th largest influence on the IMF. The Bank of England's senior officials also meet with other central bankers regularly at the Bank for International Settlements, further highlighting the economic stability and global voice that is enjoyed as part of the UK.
And from my own research, I understand that the most recent imports figures are the 2007 Input-Output tables. This data shows:
rUK imports £44 billion
International imports £22 billion
In other words, two-thirds of Scotland’s imports came from the rest of the UK. Of these imports, banking was the biggest single import, worth £5.4 billion, of which imports from the rest of the UK accounted for 82%. The eighth largest import industry, air transport, worth £1.4 billion, is the largest industry where the majority of imports come from outside the UK (51%).
Separation could greatly harm the trade between Scotland and the UK, particularly if Scotland adopts a different currency (eg the Euro) in the future. The SNP have stated they want a referendum on Scotland adopting the Euro in the future, if separation is achieved. By adopting a different currency, import and export decisions would be based partly on exchange rate fluctuations (a real appreciation of the euro against sterling means that rUK goods would be cheaper relative to Scottish goods. As a result, rUK businesses would be put off importing goods from Scotland). Moreover, using a different currency means that foreign exchange risk is further introduced for businesses, which can be costly and difficult to manage.
Scotland is quite capable of standing on its own two feet. Economic dependence on England is bad for England and bad for Scotland. The change would not come easily, but it would be for the best.
In fact, if Scotland gained independence, it would become the full beneficiary of the royalties from North Sea Oil and, with a much smaller population than Britain, would be able to heavily invest in its future, far from London's interference.
Scotland most certainly can afford to be independent. In fact, Scotland would be one of the the richest countries in Europe.
A recent study showed that scotland, if independent, would have a budget surplus of, at the very least, 2 billion pounds. Evidence can be traced at
the tiny url for this is http://tinyurl.com/6dha2o
This recent study backs up the McCrone report written over 30 years ago for the Westminster government and classified as top secret until released under the freedom of informantion act that said exactly the same thing. The only difference being that inflation over the years has now increased the surplus figure to 2 billion.
The fact that the argument against Scotland ceding from the union says that there has been investment in infastructure in some of the inner cities that are the poorest areas of the UK, shows that the union has not benfited Scotland. If it had these areas would not be the poorest areas in the UK.
The 'against' brigade ask, Who owns the oil rights? Well, Scotland does. And International companies can not bypass Scottish pipelines and refineries to avoid higher taxes. To attempt to do so would amount to theft on a grand scale, similar to...but I won't go there...yet.
Scotland will be unable to survive economically without England
Please see above. But in reply to the nationalist North Sea oil argument. Again info is taken from:
The first thing to understand is that Scotland’s oil-generated GDP does not necessarily stay in the country as income. A lot of it is in the form of profits of overseas oil firms. As a result, the statistics can be misleading. But there are a couple of additional points worth mentioning.
I draw your attention back to the "Some Common Misconceptions" section, where I used the phrase "geographical share" of oil revenues. Exactly how North Sea oil is split up (if separation ever happened) would not be as simple as the SNP like to think. Salmond argues that under international law Scotland is entitled to at least 95% of the North Sea oil and gas revenues. But the SNP base their calculations on the total revenue from oil and gas, and do not account for the large number of gas fields in English waters.
In a further twist, Robin Tilbrook, Chairman of the English Democrats, argues that up to half of North Sea oil revenues are infact in English waters:
"So far Scotland and the Scottish National Party have had it all their own way claiming that North Sea oil is Scottish. As a lawyer I can tell Alex Salmond that the normal International Conventions for determining the National Territorial Boundaries of the coastal Seabeds between Nations would suggest that up to half of North Sea oil is within English territorial waters, if you apply the geological test, and a quarter if you apply the average of the national land boundary test."*
And this article from the Financial Times argues:
"The SNP likes to draw an east-west line through Berwick on Tweed, which puts about 90 per cent of the reserves in Scotland. However, the line of the existing boundary follows the Tweed in a north-easterly direction. Project it into the North Sea, and Scotland’s share drops below 60 per cent."
At present the line of jurisdiction for civil jurisdiction purposes between Scotland and England around the North Sea are is latitude 55°50'N, under the Continental Shelf (Jurisdiction) Order 1968. However, the Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999, which determines the Scottish-English border for fisheries purposes, defines the boundaries slightly differently. Dr Stephen Neff, from Edinburgh University's School of Law, says that if England insisted the boundary is set at 45° from the border, but Scotland did not agree, then the matter would go to an international court:
"It would be very easy for the English to argue their case and then the matter would go to the World Court of Jurisdiction in The Hague."
However, I recently discovered a couple of articles from The Economist dating back to 1999 on this exact issue. Their arguments are still very relevant to today's debate.
In the first article I draw your attention to the following:
"Until now, the SNP calculations about oil revenue seemed reasonable. Since 1977, more than 90% of North Sea oil has flowed from wells off the Scottish coast. But a study commissioned by The Economist from Alex Kemp, professor of economics at Aberdeen University, shows a serious flaw in the SNP’s claim. Somewhat startlingly, the share of North Sea tax revenues to which Scotland could lay claim has fluctuated wildly, from as high as 98% in 1981 to as low as 66% in 1998. Moreover, it seems that the bonanza days are all in the past and that, in the near future, Scotland’s share could dip as low as 45% of a declining total.
Third, and crucially, Mr Kemp says that the tax revenues from offshore oil and gas production vary sharply depending on the price of crude oil, and the investment the companies put into exploiting oilfields. Both factors affect the profits that companies make, and hence the corporation and petroleum revenue taxes that they pay.The reasons for this are complex. First, one has to draw a boundary in the sea between Scotland and England to decide who gets which oil and gas fields. This is likely to prove mighty difficult. Nevertheless, our study chose the most plausible line. Second, the tax revenues also come from gas fields and, on average, less than 40% of gas production is in Scottish waters."
In the second article I draw your attention to the following:
"Helen Pickering of Portsmouth University says that other boundary disputes have thrown up lots of reasons for deviating from an equidistant line. They include such things as claims of long usage, resource conservation, and economic and political factors.
So, for example, an English government might argue that, since the resources of the whole of Britain were used to develop existing North Sea oilfields, the rest of Britain should continue to receive the lion’s share of the tax revenues from these fields; while the Scots might claim that they had been deprived of their rightful share of the revenues in the past.
Even that might not be all that Scotland had to worry about. Norway and Denmark could try to renegotiate their dividing lines with Scotland. They might claim that existing lines were void because their agreement was with a country—the United Kingdom—that had ceased to exist. There are also movements within the Orkney and Shetland Islands, which have not always been part of Scotland, to declare independence and grab some oil themselves. Whatever disputes emerged, one thing is sure: it would be years before a decision was made. The International Court took four years to decide on a row over boundaries between the Danish, Dutch and German parts of the North Sea."
Let's just be absolutely clear on one thing. If Scotland did separate from the UK, the division of North Sea oil revenues is in no way, shape or form, as easy as the nationalists would like to argue. The legal case would be one of a series of highly complicated and messy issues. The divorce of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1992 required 30 treaties and 12,000 legal agreements. I sincerely hope that the United Kingdom never has to go through such an experience.
Scotland has 70% of Europe’s energy reserves, primarily in the form of oil that is found in the North Sea. Profits from the extraction of such oil, for e.g., are channelled to England
The mcrone report written for westminster 30 years ago and hidden becuase it would prove the fact that the oil is in scottish waters and scotland would be not just a viable but wealthy country disagrees with the view that scotland receives more from the Uk government that it gives to it.
The person claiming that 'The North Sea is international water, etc' displays an abysmal lack of knowledge on international law. Go, read some books, come back and try again when you know what you are talking about.
The Scots themselves would vote against independence if there was a referendum.
The Progressive Scottish Opinion poll in the Daily Mail showed that while almost half of those questioned backed the Nationalists, the survey suggested 31% were in favour of independence.
Effectively there are only 2 major parties in Scotland, the SNP and Labour. The Tories and the Lib-Dems are fairly irrelevant. The Labour party is unravelling by the minute. The SNP are winning their political arguements hands down.
Labour have commited to letting the Scottish people have their say in a referendum. If they go back on that they will further lose credibility..
Current opinion polls are irrelevant, as in the absence of a Nationalist majority in the Scottish Parliament, and due to other parties' bilateral agreement to prevent a referendum, there will be no vote under this government.
If, in the future, a majority of MSPs are in favour of a national referendum on independence, then a national opinion poll would be worth looking at. Were the Scottish populace to elect an SNP majority parliament, then they would also likely vote in favour of independence.
Consequently independence is not a current option, but a future proposition. Therefore such contemporaneous statistics are irrelevant.
We are probably very close to a tipping point. There is a large number of people who do not care very much about the constitution. They can be very easily swayed by scare stories or a biased question often asked by pollsters.
Essentially, the Union is being defended in Scotland by Labour who now look like a party in serious decline who have lost any sense of their original values and a huge number of footsoldiers. The SNP is getting stronger by the day.
Less segregation equals less hostility
As one nation Scotland and England will be less likely to be hostile to each other. We are all humans and therefore all the same.....why seperate us?
Scotland and england are not in fact one nation but two. The union was an attempt to make scotland and england one nation. It has therefore failed as the argument against ceding form the union shows.
Why would england or scotland choose to be hostile to one another just because they are different nations. This argument that independence for scotland would create hostility is false. Is England or Scotland hostile to France or America or Australia just because they are separate nations? No, of course they aren't. What we do as responsible humans is agree to disagree and each follows his own democratic path.
What do you think?