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Scots have nothing to lose going the ‘indy’ route

by Iain Robertson

Special To The Japan Times

Yes. The country is financially stronger than the United Kingdom as a whole and its people desire a government very different from the one sitting at the Westminster Parliament, London.

Under the current devolved settlement, Scotland has a parliament sitting in Holyrood, Edinburgh, which controls a paltry 16 percent of the country’s tax base. The game-changing economic and social policy levers remain in the hands of the U.K. government, leaving Scotland unable to properly tackle some of its social ills or take full advantage of its many natural resources.

Scotland’s union with England and the other parts of the U.K. is not offering Scots the best option. The current political landscape across the nations of the U.K. is one where Westminster is controlled by a Conservative-Liberal coalition government that was roundly rejected by Scottish voters at the last election; just one Conservative member of Parliament hails from a seat north of the border.

London makes the crucial decisions and, unsurprisingly, makes them in the interests of the city and its surrounding area. It places little importance on improving the social and economic well-being of Scotland. Those who say no to independence will be guaranteeing a continuation of this sorry state of affairs.

Scotland should no longer allow a distant parliament governed by political parties it didn’t vote for to dictate the country’s future path. And the idea, promoted by many newspapers and British state television, that Scotland survives on handouts from London and gets far too many “freebies” is not just incorrect, it is divisive.

Recent figures revealed in “The Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland 2011-12 Report” show that, rather than enjoying handouts, Scotland is paying more money in tax than it receives in U.K. public spending, to the tune of around £863 per head of its population.

Newspapers the length and breadth of the U.K. continue to run baseless front-page scare stories about independence. What many of these failing newspapers make clear is that the so-called “union” of countries is viewed by London as being one they control.

As for the wording of the referendum question “Should Scotland be an independent country?,” one Daily Telegraph newspaper columnist wrote: “If the British government ‘allows’ this question to go forward, it deserves to lose.”

Scots are very much the second-class citizens of the union, only independence can change this. Most newspapers in the U.K. are losing their influence though, as readers increasingly turn away from a printed press clearly biased on this subject, and look online for their news.

This is especially true of the younger generation, who are using the Internet to access more balanced articles on Scottish independence. And the possible effects of this were highlighted in a recent opinion poll, where a majority of 18-24 year olds supported independence.

The democratic, economic and social inequalities being experienced in a Scotland tethered to a union designed to work for the benefit of one constituent — England — can end next year if Scots back themselves and say yes to independence. Because energy-rich Scotland has the people, economy and social solidarity to chart its own course, for the benefits of all that choose to call the country home.

There is even more to Scotland’s economic potential as an independent country than its booming oil and renewable energy industries. It has a number of world- class business sectors; including food and drink, life sciences and a first-class education system. Scotland has much to offer — both to itself and the world.

For 40 years, Scotland’s oil and gas wealth has been used to prop up the U.K. economy and bankroll expensive infrastructure projects in London and the south of England.

In return, Scots have witnessed the country’s manufacturing base destroyed and its social ills escalate.

Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, governed at a local level by the same political party — the increasingly rightwing and unionist Labour Party — for much of the last half century, has some of the worst mortality and child poverty rates in the developed world. The notion that the country will face some sort of biblical apocalypse if it becomes independent; as most Scottish and U.K. newspapers seem to imply is unfounded and insulting.

The business and economic case for Scotland being independent is strong. Of course there will be challenges but when things do go wrong, as they have been going for some time now, Edinburgh will have a sovereign parliament that can make decisions in the interests of the people who voted them into power: the Scottish electorate.

As Scots singer Eddie Reader retweeted: “indy (independence) gives us uncertainty with power, U.K. gives uncertainty without power.”

According to most opinion polls, Scots trust Edinburgh’s Parliament a lot more than Westminster when it comes to acting in their best interests.

So Scots should say yes next year to giving their Edinburgh Parliament the natural powers of independence needed to reroute the country onto a positive path and, crucially, bring democracy closer to the people.

Iain Robertson is editor of Enterprising Energy magazine, and partner at Write Word International.

  • http://www.facebook.com/susan.haddow.1 Susan Haddow

    This article says it all. YES YES YES for an Independent
    Scotland!

  • TristanPriceWilliams

    Great article. Why can’t the UK press be like this?

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.moynagh1 David Moynagh

    Scotland will not have to finance the lavish lifestyles of westminster MP’s at the expense of the sick and disabled who are driven to despair and suicide by the westminster regime.

  • Connor

    Incredibly, this piece from The Japan Times is more insightful than most of the pieces that have been published in Scotland on our impending referendum. Good stuff.

  • Brian Clark

    CORRECT !! ,,,,,,” VOTE YES ” !!

  • Dave Smith

    Thank you, Japan, for allowing a truthful, unbiased article about Scotland’s plight to reach wider ears. In the UK, our media is invariably hostile because of the media owners’ links with UK corporate interests and a state with a vested interest in the status quo..

    • http://twitter.com/AwesomeWelles_ Elliot Adams

      unbiased? he ran for the snp.

  • Barontorc

    It must bemuse outsiders looking-in on the impending breaking-up of the UK, that a once world power, economically and diplomatically and revered as being the ‘good-guys’ for world stability and justice, should make such an oppressive impression on one of its own, that now, as a Union, it is almost finished and broke.

    There is no escaping the starkly parlous state of the UK economy and indeed since it is being pilloried for causing the whole casino -banking morass, little sympathy will be shown and deservedly so. It also has to be recognised that the word ‘Scotland’ in the name of both the major banks of the UK, which helped cause this banking canker, bears little association to Scotland, the country.

    Now, Scotland is taking the initiative, some say long overdue, to split from the UK and paddle its own canoe and if that is the result of the upcoming Referendum on 18 September 2014, we will be looking to all other progressive countries of the world to work with us for the common good.

    It was Burns who in 1795 said in his song – ‘A Man’s A Man For A’ That’ :-

    Then let us pray that come it may,
    (As come it will for a’ that,)
    That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
    Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
    For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
    It’s coming yet for a’ that,
    That Man to Man, the world o’er,
    Shall brothers be for a’ that.

    Let’s all say, Amen to that!

    • Gareth Englebert

      It also has to be recognised that the word ‘Scotland’ in the name of both the major banks of the UK, which helped cause this banking canker, bears little association to Scotland, the country.

      Fred goodwin is Scottish. Gordon Brown is Scottish and the headquarters of RBS is………..you guessed it Scottish!

      • Yesfor Scotsindey

        You seem to be forgetting about Northern Rock (the first bank to “cause” the crisis) Adam J. Applegarth CEO at the time from.. You’ve guess it.. SUNDERLAND ENGLAND..

        FYI – The Bank of Scotland merger with Halifax took place in 2001… with James Crosby (from you’ve guessed it LEEDS ENGLAND) at the helm at the time of the collapse.

      • Connor

        Yes, and where does the Royal Bank of Scotland carry out most of its business? South of the border.

      • Steve Crawford

        RBS Casino banking is run in London. Labour’s failure to regulate all banks in the UK is one of many Labour’s reason why the mess we are in, Their Tory pals are continuing to make it worse. Time to get out and vote Yes 2014.

      • http://www.facebook.com/thegordonbell Gordon Bell

        Ah, here we go, break it down to an England v. Scotland thing. It’s nothing to do with that. It’s one of Europe’s oldest nations trying to regain it’s sovereignty. And rightly so.

      • michaelkav

        EXACTLY! The NO campaign is using the very tactics that caused the SNP landslide. Negative campaigning. Something Scots HATE.

        Scotland is one of the oldest existing nations in Europe. It has nothing to do with the English (NOTHING!). it is about the Scots. Why does it have to be IF the Scots choose to govern themselves (as they did for most of their history) that this is somehow anti-English? Nonsense.

        The funny thing is the English people are happy for Scots to govern themselves. It is the political class in England that is so erosive to Scotland not the English people. Rightly the English people vote for their own needs first. But those needs are sadly not working in Scotland.

        This is not England vs Scotland we share an Island and family ties who governs what bit of the Island is simply not going to change this. In fact a more prosperous home-ruled Scotland would boost England! Irony.

      • Brachy8

        …and the decision makers in RBS are all Scottish? I think not!

  • http://www.facebook.com/colin.anderson.355 Colin Anderson

    It’s about time that the scottish people hear the true facts and not the printed biased storylines handed out to them daily from Westminster.

  • Pax

    Fantastic article, insightful,articulate and fact filled. I onbly wish we could get pieces of such a high standard in the media in Scotland however the union bias in the main stream media is appalling! WELL DONE Japan Times!

  • Michael Loftus

    This is great stuff, why can’t our papers report the truth.

  • Andy Ogilvy

    Norway and Scotland share common resources and history; Scotland should share the same independence.

  • orkers

    Mr Robertson isn’t employed by the MSM in the UK , unlike the ‘good time girl’ journalists who ply their trade here.

  • http://twitter.com/drewmcadam Drew McAdam

    A concise, accurate piece of writing. Thank you. Keep it coming!

  • Tommy Cunningham

    the truth, at last, superb piece of non biased writing, keep it coming and we will spread the word. cheers Tom

  • A Scottish Patriot.

    That it fails to point out the highly illuminating fact that it will be
    the same bunch of CHANCERS who have done NOTHING to remove the blight of
    social deprivation since the opening of their [remind me the cost of
    the Scottish parliament building] revered “debating” chamber 8 years
    ago.

    Highly illuminating indeed.

    • Dink

      Scottish Patriot – using your faraway voice in the format of capitilising your letters does not strengthen your argument. It is usually the sign of a simpleton. Alasdair you stated ‘ the average Scot’s circumstances actually improved quite rapidly when the union was joined’ I agree. But that was when we joined. Not now. The Union dividend has become a Union drain.

    • Brachy8

      A parliament building which came from Donald Dewar and his Labour ex-Westminster cohorts. Designed by a Spanish architect and built by a consortium, formed for the express purpose of building the monstrosity, of Spanish and ‘Scottish’ companies. The Spanish side belonging to said architect. Something smells to high heaven there in my opinion.

    • Reddan85

      The British Labour party controlled the Scottish government for the first decade of its existence, and even with the deprivation you are talking about handed back to Westminster hundreds of millions of pounds from the grant they received to look after the country, considering it surplus to requirements. That is how much the unionist politicians in Scotland care about the communities they are supposed to serve.
      We even have Ian Davidson, a one eyed Westminster labour MP taking part in a march against the bedroom tax in Glasgow and claiming he had voted against it. For some reason the BBC failed to pick up on this blatant lie as the voting records show that he FAILED to vote. This is the mob you should be speaking out against if you were truly a Scottish Patriot, but I dare say you are probably just a Westminster loving unionist, with a weird sense of humour.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.rodger.10 Robert Rodger

    both the parties in uk that make up the coalition govt. have no mandate. No single party got enough votes to form an administration. So why are they doing all the nast things they do?

  • http://www.facebook.com/alasdair.s.fraser Alasdair Stewart Fraser

    It just somebody getting thier own opinion printed in an official publication, it was presented to me as being a researched official article.
    It doesn’t appear to offer any facts as why we should become independant or not, it appears just to be the authors sentiments.
    One strange thing I do see is people reporting that somehow Scots suffered as a result of joining the union whereas the historical evidence shows the average Scot’s circumstances actually improved quite rapidly when the union was joined.
    Whether we go independant or not we’re still Scottish, at the moment we’re part of one the worlds richest and most liberal societies, people need to not be emotive and look at the facts.

  • Andy McHaggis Douglas

    Agree with some other posters here. Not many facts at all and sentiment driven. The UK as a whole and that includes Scotland, has a major deficit of payments problem. We have to borrow money to pay for our out of control social benefits and public sector that Labour once again created and screwed the normal “hard-working” man on the street. Except, this time it is far worse that the debacle left behind by Callahan’s Labour government.

    Give the public sweeties and they’re bound to vote for you…

    I want to remain a part of the Union. I think it’s good for business. What I do think the question should be is for DevoMax. (Remember, the SNP are only being allowed one question) Tax-raising powers is what you want. Control of the money is what you want. Reduce corporation in tax in Scotland like Ireland and you’ll see a huge influx of companies willing to set-up and do business which will benefit us economically.

    I want to see an independent study of how much it costs to run Scotland, how much can we currently generate in tax revenues. Allegedly the one that was released about a month ago was not very favourable to the SNP’s case for going solo. I for one want to see some hard facts and figures, not this sentimental tartan & short-bread, Burn’s & Braveheart bullshit.

    Keep the £, keep the UK, I don’t want to be part of the Euro and it’s beaurocracy. At least as the UK we can control our currency, which with its devaluation will in part help get us out of the hole we’re in.

    Innovation, hard-work, entrepreneurism, self-reliance, a change in attitude is chiefly what Scotland needs. We rely heavily on tourism and with our weather, we should be doing it far better as a whole than we currently are. Raise our game and take responsibility. Don’t blame the English for our ills…

    • Starviking

      Good points. The SNP refuses to engage in any detailed analysis of Independence, and touts its benefits in a most basic manner – and when critics ask searching questions they get accused of negativity. Look for example to “Energy Rich Scotland” – how much oil remains? Why should the remaining UK buy expensive renewable energy from Scotland? How much of the renewable energy infrastructure in Scotland is going to be owned by the remaining UK?

      • Reddan85

        I think starviking you have been living in a bubble. Either that or you are like the three little monkeys.

        How much oil remains? enough to panic Westminster at the thought of losing this major asset. There are also a large number of jobs in England dependent on refining and processing the oil when it comes ashore.

        So, we’re not merely talking oil revenue from taxation here even though it is a large sum of money, I’m no politician or a member of a political party but I’m pretty sure of one thing, come independence all those oil industry jobs will in time move to Scotland when the pipelines heading south to the refineries are closed down and the oil is completely refined at home. We’re talking tens of thousands of high paying, highly skilled jobs here. As for the support industries, well also see a massive flow on effect to Scottish based businesses doing the maintenance and sundry engineering requirements instead of English based ones.

        All the wheeling and dealing, bullying and demands from the Westminster government after the independence vote will not be able to stop this shifting of industry, sadly it will be a massive hit to the English economy, but something Scotland has experienced many times when the British government favoured the home counties.

        As for the cost of renewable energy, the English are in for a massive price hike in their power bills when the Westminster government agrees to the pricing scheme being forwarded by the Nuclear industry, and in their haste to keep the nuclear option the wealthy leaders in Westminster will not give a damn as to how it will hurt the lower paid.

        My advice is to accept the inevitable. Scotland WILL vote for independence, a clue as to how things are moving is in the increase in promises being made to the people of Scotland, that, if they vote against independence, the Scottish government will be given more, as yet undetermined powers.

        The old Jam tomorrow routine.

        Alasdair Stewart Fraser, take note, there are people who dress up in the kilt, dance the highland fling, and claim to be Scottish, but, no matter how poorly Scotland would be ruled from Westminster, they could not be convinced to vote for any alternative. Sadly they are a lost cause, but come independence they will be living in a real nation state. Scotland.

      • Starviking

        The fact that Westminster would like to have access to North Sea Oil does not mean that the Oil is enough to support an Independent Scotland for a considerable length of time.

        As for the jobs created when the pipelines south close, and the oil is refined in Scotland – that is partially the case at present – the Forties pipeline carries the crude to Aberdeenshire, and then on to Grangemouth in Falkirk for refining. Other refineries in the rest of the UK do use shipped North Sea Crude, but will a Scottish government be able to whistle up new Scottish refineries and qualified workers? I doubt it.

        As for Renewables, Scotland provided the rest of the UK with 40% of its renewable energy in 2011. The Rest of the UK is not obliged to take it from an Independent Scotland, and an Independant Scotland will not have the interconnectors to transmit the electricity elsewhere, nor the grid capacity to absorb the variable output of renewables.
        Sadly your reply is typical SNP-style fare, high in bluster but low on facts.

    • Dink

      The only people mentioning Braveheart, tartan & short-bread, Burn’s
      & Braveheart etc are Unionists. Please find me one person on here in
      support of independence basing their argument upon on the above waffle.
      Unionists use the Braveheart line to dismiss the independence argument
      to cover the paucity of the argument in favour of the union. Merely another a
      fig leaf to disguise the lack of a cogent argument to keep the Union in
      place. As for wanting to see tax revenues etc. The is all online and
      published. I assume you have heard of google. As for raising our game
      and taking responsibilty – I agree. Both would be achieved with
      independence.

      • Andy McHaggis Douglas

        Well Dink, there appears to be some Burn’s poetry in the above article, and if you think the article is based on facts, then please point them out. Are all the figures on-line for Scotland? The figures online in
        “Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland 2011-12″
        are all estimates. It worryingly shows we have a deficit per year of £17.2 billion in Scotland if proportional Oil revenue is considered or £7.6 billion if geographically Oil revenue is considered. What is actually reflective as a whole, looking at both sets of figures and stripping out any oil revenues, we’re spending far more than we take in and have a larger proportional deficit to the UK as a whole. Government spending is a massive £18.2 billion more than we take in from tax. We have a large percentage working for the government in Scotland in one form or another. What I fear is, costs could go up substantially not being part of the Union. Do we need another DVLA?, legally the English could come up and start using our NHS facilities, costing us more. Defense spending, etc. Strategically, I think Alex Salmond would be better going down the DevoMax route first, as he is allowed only one question. If he succeeds and DevoMax is a success, then perhaps progress onwards from there, but I’d want to see progress first. We need to get our spending majorly under control, and more so than the English. I attribute these problems to spending by previous Labour administrations and councils. The SNP gets my vote anyday to keep Labour the hell out of Scotland’s affairs. At least there’s some ex-economists in the SNP party who understand how a balance-sheet works. London generates huge revenues for the UK as a hole and Oil revenues are a drop in the ocean in comparison. And what are you referring to as waffle?

  • Welsh not British

    ” Scotland has a parliament sitting in Holyrood, Edinburgh, which controls a paltry 16 percent of the country’s tax base.”

    Still 16% more than Wales. Saor Alba!

  • http://twitter.com/AwesomeWelles_ Elliot Adams

    Iain Robertson is a failed snp candidate, why is it worth publishing that he can bleat back the party line?

    • http://twitter.com/Surob11 Susan Robertson

      Please note: you are incorrect, the writer of this article has never stood as a candidate for any political party. Just in case you were going to suggest next that it was Iain Robertson of Plunkett & Macleane fame that penned the piece, that would be another error on your part.

  • disqus_Cv3hNOW0jl

    We Scots need to take a look st what we truly have and the benefits of a YES vote. Our vote is the future of our children. Scotland is plentiful in its natural resources and it’s exports are renowned world wide. We also have Scottish tourism, be it for its history, its scenery or activity – we can barrel and sell our water, our oil, our whisky. We have coal (thanks to Maggie’s premature closure of pits and coal faces). We can sell our Scottish salmon, our venison. We can be proud of our historic buildings and heritage. We have the valleys and the glens. We have fantastic ski slopes. Our unemployment rate is lower than that of England. We have a world renowned education system. Why would England be so hell bent in keeping a union. Well done Japan. And it’s a yes from me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Middleton/556204194 Joe Middleton

    Excellent article, well said.

  • Dr. Iain Campbell

    This article is dangerously misleading. Scotland is not economically strong enough to go it alone and gets huge financial benefits from being part of the UK. Much more money is spent on Scotland than is paid in taxes due to the ‘barnett formula’ – which uses populated land – thus a country with a population about equal to the City of London receives a LOT more money. Furthermore the economy of Scotland is heavily reliant on north sea oil – which is a finite resource and will dwindle – and fishing (which is limited by international agreements and is not scalable). Scotland is very well served by the Union. The author attempts to make it seem as though the (very true) fact that us Scots are not fans of the conservative make it seem like we have nothing to do with the libdem coalition – Scotland was a lib dem stronghold….It just happens that their recent turncoat antics aren’t going to win them any friends next election. I note that the author cites degree of pro-independence opinion in younger age groups – it is interesting to note that he gives the lower cut off of 18, something I would suspect is a deliberate attempt to draw attention away from the fact that the Scottish Nationalist Party are actually lowering the voting age to 16 because of the disproportionate support for independence that is seen in less mature age groups. Which is a shocking tactic of exploiting a demographic less interested in politics in order to get people who are less aware of the financial ramifications of such a decision (the so called ‘Braveheart Vote’). Lastly I suspect the author is not declaring a conflict of interests and may well be a member of the SNP. This article is dangerously misleading. Scotland is not economically strong enough to go it alone and gets huge financial benefits from being part of the UK. Much more money is spent on Scotland than is paid in taxes due to the ‘barnett formula’ – which uses populated land – thus a country with a population about equal to the City of London receives a LOT more money. Furthermore the economy of Scotland is heavily reliant on north sea oil – which is a finite resource and will dwindle – and fishing (which is limited by international agreements and is not scalable). Scotland is very well served by the Union. The author attempts to make it seem as though the (very true) fact that us Scots are not fans of the conservative make it seem like we have nothing to do with the libdem coalition – Scotland was a lib dem stronghold….It just happens that their recent turncoat antics aren’t going to win them any friends next election. I note that the author cites degree of pro-independence opinion in younger age groups – it is interesting to note that he gives the lower cut off of 18, something I would suspect is a deliberate attempt to draw attention away from the fact that the Scottish Nationalist Party are actually lowering the voting age to 16 because of the disproportionate support for independence that is seen in less mature age groups. Which is a shocking tactic of exploiting a demographic less interested in politics in order to get people who are less aware of the financial ramifications of such a decision (the so called ‘Braveheart Vote’). Lastly I suspect the author is not declaring a conflict of interests and may well be a member of the SNP. (https://twitter.com/IRobertsonSNP )