Below is a response to my blog explaining why I am a yes and why I want to persuade others. I am so so pleased to get this from someone that I have huge respect for and to finally read a “no” argument that talks to me, as up until now there hasn’t been a single argument for keeping the status quo that has appealed to me or convinced me that “no” is the way to go.
I am putting this up here as I consider there is so much that is valid too and the reason I felt compelled yesterday to write at all about this is because this has been for me very much a journey from no to yes but along the journey I came across NOTHING that would sway me that staying within the UK is the best decision, now I think I have! AAAARGH decisions decisions!
“Well here is our feedback!
I doubt if we will change your mind but here are some things to think about.
I suppose the first thing to say is that this campaign carries a great deal of ‘historical and emotional baggage’ that is not really very helpful in thinking about the future . Second, the campaign deals with many short term parochial issues without setting them in the long term context of affordability or recognising that with a devolved parliament many of them could be resolved within that context. The devolved parliament already has in its powers an ability to protect and develop a first class educational system from primary school through to tertiary education; similarly it could do the same for the health system and its social services, and in many ways is already ahead of the rest of the UK. Third, there is a degree of uncertainty about an independent Scotland that is untenable at a time when above all there is a need for stability in the economy, a sense of union in political and national relationships, and a recognition that internationally we have rarely, since the second world war required to be united in our endeavour to protect ourselves and others from the ravages of violence, racial and religious hatred and terrorism. While an independent Scotland could contribute to all of that, a much more significant contribution can be mounted by being an integral part of the United Kingdom. While we may disagree with some aspects of Westminster foreign policy these need to judged against the significant advantage of being able to negotiate internationally and within Europe with much greater force. I would like to be rid of our nuclear weapons but I am not prepared to trade the future of Scotland for the sake of a base in Scotland which over time we have the ability to negotiate out of Scotland. There are many in the rest of the UK who would help us do that
Economic stability and the size of the economy are important in thinking about the future. We risk underestimating the ‘underwriting’ capability that exists within the UK economy which would be impossible to deliver in an independent Scotland even with access to the revenue from oil and assuming we can use the £ within a UK dimension (which at present seems unlikely). The UK economy as a whole protects pensions and superannuations, (in which I have some interest), the ability to deliver wide ranging public services, and to mount a defence system appropriate to meet UK needs. A defence system that includes Scots loyal to their own country certainly but see their role in a UK context – rightly in my view. Our research in Scotland is also interdependent upon the resources that we are able to tap into within the UK. We currently get out of it far more than we put into it because we are good at research across many ‘fields’ of endeavour. Would Scotland be able to provide the same resource? Only if it redistributed significant amounts from elsewhere – health, tertiary education, social services!!??
While we may despise London City and the financial gurus, we nevertheless benefit significantly from their activity. Some of this is currently shared with Scotland, in Edinburgh in particular, from which it benefits directly – not at all sure that will be the case post independence without monetary union. Yes London may be a place for the rich who have little regard for the less advantaged, but the same exists and will continue to exist in Scotland – come to Aberdeen and see for yourself! My belief is that we have a much greater opportunity to develop our interests within a UK dimension than otherwise. The market is bigger and the potential for growth greater because of existing joint ventures and interests.
Westminster can be blamed for a great many things: it is a useful butt to kick when one’s own political failures are in question. I voted for devolution believing (probably naively) that Scotland has the capacity and an understandable desire to make decisions for its own particular purposes. In many respects it has been able to do that without using all the powers it was given, for example the ability to raise taxes to meet some of its specific needs. An independent Scotland will raise taxes: it will have to if it wishes to deliver on its post independent promises. That may not be necessary if we remain within the UK.
Yes of course the rest of the UK has an interest in the resources of Scotland and how they might benefit the UK as a whole but is that not reasonable after three hundred years during which Scotland has had the benefit of resources throughout the UK such as industrial investment and preferential investment in social services and welfare and a range of other public services. Now we apparently want to forget all that an harness those kinds of resources and others entirely for ourselves. That is not the kind of sharing society of which I want to be a part.
If Scotland votes YES there will be a prolonged period of negotiation that will go well beyond 2016 I am sure. This will be a period when much will be in limbo; a period of great uncertainty and a period when relationships between nations of the UK and within Scotland will be tested to their limit – for what? A reconstituted mess that will take years to get right if at all!
Overall I would put my greater faith in a UK than a parochial self centred, independent Scotland. Within the UK, Scotland has the opportunity to develop as a great nation of influence if it can raise its game and think beyond its own self interest and contribute to the social, educational, research and innovative requirements of the world, in terms of philosophy, ideas and people – something that it is good at and for which it has international respect!
To ensure a vibrant, and more certain future and wider opportunities for our grandchildren we will be voting NO!
If Scotland votes for independence I will despair and feel a great sense of sadness but live in the hope that we can raise ourselves above the inevitable turmoil and reach for greater things in life no matter the constitution within which we will have to live but it really is all rather unnecessary.”