Scottish Independence: Andy Murray, The Proclaimers and the arguments for and against
Who said what, why they said it and whether they are right
There’s just 100 days of campaigning left to go till Scotland is asked to vote either yes or no to the question: Should Scotland be an independent country? Arguments are taught and tempers are beginning to fray with an increasingly ferocious battle being waged on social media as well as in political polls.
Big sporting names like Andy Murray and Chris Hoy have weighed in, as well as comedy heavyweights such as Frankie Boyle and Marcus Brigstocke. Rock legend David Bowie chose to deliver his enigmatic message using Kate Moss as a mouthpiece. Last week President Obama made his feelings clear, despite the US saying it would remain neutral in the debate.
Where do your allegiances lie? Take a look through a few of the arguments for and against independence.
AGAINST: '[The indy ref] is a distraction from what really matters to people – the economy, jobs, schools and hospitals.'
Who says it? Alex Ferguson
Why? The former Man United manager is vehemently against independence, provoking Salmond and giving £501 to the Better Together campaign, one pound over the the Yes campaign’s agreed cap on donations outside Scotland. The argument is that Scotland has enough devolved powers already to improve living conditions for Scots. Like Wales, Scotland runs its own NHS (although a recent poll showed Less than half of people in Wales realise the NHS is the responsibility of the Welsh government).
Ferguson has been winding Salmond up with his pro-union antics
Although the Yes campaign is saying independence would allow them to abolish the hated bedroom tax, Scottish office minister David Mundell says the Scottish Government has the power to deal with it now for remarkably little if it is such a priority, saying “It is the same as the childcare debate. It is a question of choices on where they want to spend their money.” Although Nicola Sturgeon promised lower mortgage rates under independence, Piotr Jaworski at Edinburgh Napier University told the BBC that actually rates won’t be all that affected as they will still have to come in line with EU regulations.
Is he right? The SNP has said it will improve support for carers, try and improve the cost of living (by raising benefits in line with inflation) and abolish the Work Capability Assessment. They say independence will improve quality of life in Scotland and their promises have been welcomed by many charities. Yet Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said the proposed 'changes' were the same ‘effectively the same in all but name’. The UK government argues that as part of the UK, Scotland’s finances are stronger, to the tune of a 'UK dividend' worth £1400 for every Scot. Unfortunately it presented this information in numbers of hot dogs and fish suppers and lego figures and was labelled as patronising.
Oil is greasing the wheels of the Independence campaign
FOR: 'Scotland has huge national resources, with its people, its wave power – all the possibilities that this country has...we need to take charge of our own affairs'
Who says it? The Proclaimers.
Why? Scotland’s national resources, specifically oil and renewable energy, have been put at the heart of the Independence campaign, with Salmond projecting Scotland has the potential to be one of the richest countries in the world (based on GDP per capita and the assumption Scotland will control all the oil and gas in Scottish waters). Scotland's renewable energy production is also astonishing, with two fifths of electricity in Scotland coming from renewables. Scotland exported 26% of electricity to the rest of the UK in 2011.
They would definitely walk 500 miles
Are they right? Salmond’s oil revenue forecasts have been exposed by one of his own advisors as being out by around £2 billion. Relying on oil alone, the argument is that it will eventually run out. Scotland is unlikely to invest its oil money like Norway, so it won’t generate a surplus revenue, making them as rich as that country. There’s a problem with renewables too, with the government telling Salmond if they go independence fund its wind, wave and tidal projects on its own rather than spread the costs between 30m households and businesses UK-wide. That could boost annual household energy bills by up to £189, and add £608,000 on to power bills for medium-sized businesses . Yet if Westminster continued to subsidise production it would be cheaper to buy from Scotland than England and France. The SNP accused Westminster of negativity, but it does appear independence isn't a friend to renewable energy targets.
Osborne doesn't want Independent Scotland keeping the pound
AGAINST: ‘An Independent Scotland wouldn’t be able to keep the pound. Any talk that they would is nonsense and totally wrong’
Who says it? George Osborne, Ed Balls and Danny Alexander.
Why? While Scotland wants to keep the pound, Westminster won’t have it. They say Scotland can’t leave the union and continue to retain the Bank of England as a lender of last resort and force English taxpayers to act as their guarantors for any potential debt. This means all Scotland can do is either adopt the euro, come up with its own currency, or use sterling without monetary union, the way Ecuador and Panama uses the dollar.
Are they right? The Daily Mash summed up the popular view of the debate with the satirical headline ‘Alex Salmond claims he has every right to use gym he’s no longer a member of.’ Yet there’s an English case for keeping in the union, allowing sterling to benefit from Scotland’s oil and gas market. The SNP also points to Belgium and Luxembourg as examples of places with the same currency but different tax policies to another nation. However by keeping sterling, Scotland may lose control over monetary policy, leaving it with ‘quasi independence’ according to some experts.
Rough waters: More docks would be needed to dismantle Trident subs
FOR: 'Scotland could have.. a new, ethical, visionary stance & could take on fresh ideas. That could be really amazing.
Who says it? Annie Lennox
Why? The Aberdeen born star said she wanted to see an environmentally friendly Scotland. There are still Trident-armed submarines waiting for decommissioning in Scottish waters. The SNP's post-independence priorities include getting rid of nuclear deterrents and are furious that areas in Scotland are being shortlisted as places to store radioactive waste.
Is she right? An Independent Scotland against Trident would be a major problem for the Ministry of Defence. it could result in in years of delays to the decommissioning of Britain' nuclear-powered submarines, including four armed with Trident missiles. The MoD aren’t developing contingency plans for the submarine dismantling project either because they “are confident that the Scottish people will vote to remain part of the UK.“
FOR: ‘It’s about equality.. trying to get back to egalitarian principles.’
Who says it? Actor Brian Cox
Why? He argues that the pound has nothing to do with it, but rather banishing the “sense of inferiority” Scottish people have grown up with, thanks to our feudalist history. He also claims independence will be ‘good for the UK’ by helping to rebalance an economy totally dominated by the city of London.' Responding to Eddie Izzard’s Better Together plea, he said “The fact is we can't be better together when one in five scots kids are in poverty. Thanks to UK austerity the Red Cross is providing food relief for the first time across the UK since WWII.
Is he right? Well, there’s certainly a north south divide, and London’s economy alone is roughly the same size of the whole of Sweden. It’s not just Scotland suffering either. 100,000 Londoners are using foodbanks and wage inequality is much greater in London than the rest of the UK. Worth noting Cox wouldn’t be handing back his CBE in the event of independence saying “we’re not losing the Queen we’ve got the Queen still, so in a sense, you know, it’s the package.” He also doesn’t own a property in Scotland so he can’t vote, referendum rules he accepts is right.
Uni in Scotland is free for Scottish students. This could change
AGAINST: ‘It would damage higher education and research’
Who says it? Westminster’s Scottish affairs committee
Why? Independent Scotland couldn't make students from the rest of the UK pay tuition fees while keeping uni free for Scots, like it does currently. At the moment it can ignore the EU rule which forces every state to give citizens of any other member state equal access to its universities. But it would be illegal if they continued this whilst an independent country. If they wanted to keep it free for Scottish students they would have to foot the bill for foreign students too. There are other funding issues too: Scottish university receive 50% more funding now than they would do if it was based on population share.
Are the critics right? Well, the Yes vote claims that this is biased research and the real threat to education comes from Westminster. However it does appear that further education is a real thorn in the Yes campaign’s side.
No one ever said no to Bond.. but Connery?
FOR: 'It will revitalise culture and heritage'
Who says it? Sean Connery
Why? He says it will bring investment in the film industry because a yes vote will ‘capture the worlds attention’. This will in turn create jobs.
Is he right? In one sense, although opponents of independence also suggest that the flow of ideas and funding from London also create opportunities.
AGAINST: Independence would threaten the stability of the whole world
Who says it? the former secretary general of Nato, Lord Robertson.
Why? A “yes” vote would leave the United Kingdom a “diminished country whose global position would be open to question.” While not suggesting Independence may cause conflict, Obama seemed to tacitly confirm that a United Kingdom would be stronger internationally when he told Scots that the United States wanted to see its partner remain “robust, united and effective.”
Is he right? Robertson’s line seems a bit dramatic. It’s worth noting that this is from the man who once claimed having a Scottish Parliament would kill demand for independence stone dead. The US said it would remain neutral and so Obama’s intervention was a surprise. Nationalists joked that as far as US interventions go, they got off lightly.
FOR: A rise in the minimum wage
Who says it? An expert group hired by the Scottish government recommended a rise of minimum wage by a pound, creating a living wage which recommends paying for by reducing employers' National Insurance. This would be an increase of £6.31 to £7.65 per hour.
Why? They say this will improve quality of life in Scotland and improve earnings of the lowest paid Scots by the equivalent of £675.
Are they right? Who is going to pay for this, really? In the first year of independence Scotland's finances are forecast to be worse than the UK's. Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the welfare recommendations in this same report, but failed to acknowledge the minimum wage recommendation. These are also just recommendations to the Scottish government, rather than promises.
Would an Independent Scotland wave goodbye to Brussels?
AGAINST: An independent Scotland would have to leave the EU
Who says it? President Jose Manuel Barroso, previously said it would be “extremely difficult, if not impossible” for an independent Scotland to join the EU. Business For New Europe (BNE) which has the chairmen of BAE Systems, RBS, ScottishPower and Shell on its advisory board also claimed it would be “next to impossible” for Scotland to rejoin the EU on the UK's current terms.
Why? Because the other countries will not approve the country joining, said Mr Barroso, using Kosovo as an example.
Is he right? Scotland's Deputy First Minister doesn’t think so. She says the comparison with Kosovo is ‘preposterous’ as unlike Kosovo, Scotland has already been in the EU for 40 years. A different think tank backed an independent Scotland, saying it wasnt in anyone’s interests for Scotland to leave the EU. It’s all to be decided in the 18 months following the vote. No one really knows what will happen.
'Let it go'
FOR: ‘It’s about self-determination’
Who says it? Scottish actor and comedian Greg Hemphill said "Imagine on the 18th of September.. ticking the box that says “I want another country to make my decisions".
Why? Scotland is not a Tory country and yet it’s facing government under a Conservative coaltion. A lot of Scots are still reeling from the changes Thatcher made during her leadership, another Conservative PM they didn't vote for. Before he died Iain Banks argued along similar lines, asserting: “A Scotland still shackled to a rightwing England, especially with the rise of Ukip- I wont be sorry to be missing that’. Brian Limond (Limmy) tweeted: "If Scotland chooses to make less decisions for itself, if it's happy to let Tories & lords decide, then you have to respect that." Scottish human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar tweeted "the most worrying prospect for the people of Scotland is possibility of a UKIP/Tory coalition. Better Together? Definitely not"
Are they right? Difficult to argue with this one. Probably best to leave it to a vote. Roll on 18 September!
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