Photo: Street in Edinburgh. I took this shot with my old Olympustrip 35 mm camera. You can see Balmoral Hotel were I worked shortly in 2009
I lived 6 years in Scotland, both in Edinburgh and Glasgow and I plan to build my future in this country. So while I was not born in Scotland and don’t have British citizenship I still feel that I own the right to have a say in this debate. Thankfully the referendum registration rules allowed EU citizens to register to vote too.
When it comes to discussions about independence people who supports vote YES passionately talk about poverty, unemployment, disability, food banks. I feel a misunderstanding here – people who choice to vote NO have the same compassion for disadvantages and people in poverty. It’s not one side issue. I personally faced my first unemployment and struggles with poverty, long queues in NHS, exactly here in Scotland. So I feel for the rest who struggle and I believe that majority of NO voters want to help people no less than YES supporters.
The main difference between two sides is that NO voters don’t share overoptimistic believe that independent Scotland will be Utopia with perfect trustworthy politicians and will never have to make any cuts in budget because there never will be a shortage of money. In my view, NO voters are united with more realistic views about economic risks . And when the Independent country will start to feel new economic downfall it will be those who struggle the most that will suffer the most, because the country that doesn’t have a prosper economy don’t have with what to fund welfare either.
Independence supporters like to share Joseph Stiglitz’s opinion on this matter (who by the way did not share deep analysis but just a short opinion and his opinion was based on Scotland staying inside European Union), but if we look to overall of all economists comments on this matter then it’s obvious that overwhelmingly majority of them warned about economic risks and uncertainties with independence. And you don’t need to trust experts on this, if you have simple knowledge of macroeconomics, monetary policies you can see yourself all uncertainty and risks.
But what I fail to understand is why YES campaigners don’t want to be engaged in conversation about economics and “debung” all the warnings as “scaremongering” without even discussing them. This is immature and not healthy for overall debate. If someone wants to jump off the cliff and other warns him about gravitation and how he will injure himself then it’s not a scaremongering, but a common sense. The independence is a huge decision involving many factories and a vote about it should be consider not by impulse or protest but with a cold mind, overweighting all benefits and risks.
On top of all this comes the issue that played the major role for me in choosing to vote NO – European Union. It’s astonishing and truly upsets me how European Union is almost not mention in the debate about Independence, considering how much Scotland benefits from membership and how little chances there are that application to re-join EU will be successful. When I asked one of YES voter about it he replied that he simple doesn’t care about EU. Well, I do care and as someone who has European federalist political views I’m frighten that in 2016 March for the first time I can find myself living outside of European Union while still living in Scotland.
In fact as European Federalist I don’t even understand the need to want independence when you are wishing to re-join EU. The union based on countries giving up their national sovereignty for greater good of Europe. I support only bigger integration of Europe and bigger federalisation with bigger powers to EU institutions in Brussels. And that’s what’s slowly all European Union moving towards. That can’t be denied now, after a new treaty that gave fiscal policy powers to EU institutions. So from this point of view the best thing for EU and Scotland would be that Scotland would remain part of UK and keep influencing England and whole UK to accept deeper integration into Europe.
If you don’t share such European Federalists views then at least you should still be concern about European Union case.
Facts and numbers that i considered:
Don’t take European Union for granted
Let’s start with the fact that Scotland won’t be automatically accepted into European Union. Different from the what Yes Scotland website tells EU institutions were quite clear in the letters to Scottish parliament that a new formed nation Scotland will need to reapply to EU. It’s not really debatable since treaties of European Union covers such case clearly and that in such case treaties will no longer apply to that territory that just become part of a state as an independent state. Scotland will have to rewrite many laws us their own and to write new constitution. The whole membership application process will be no different to other countries – starts with candidacy and test period to test how successfully independent Scottish economy, politics and laws works in practise. How long this test period will last and if it will succeed with an entrance to EU is still on question. Belgium and Spain most likely will veto Scotland application.
It’s not a secret that European Union establishment suffers from some countries putting their national priorities above the rest. Belgium and Spain (arguably some other EU countries too) would use veto to send signal to their own nationalists in their own regions who wishes to separate too. For anyone who follows European Union affairs closely such veto will not be a surprise. Current Spain prime minister already made his position quite clear that he won’t give special treatment to Scotland and won’t agree with automatic entrance, which speculative is indication of future veto too. To be automatically accepted in EU, Scotland would need all 28 members to agree, one veto will be enough to stop both cases – automatically joining and a new application.
European Union will also have a serious ground not to accept Scotland membership since first minister Alex Salmond’s feels ok with keeping pound even in a case of Westminster refusing to have monetary union. European Union is not just a club of politics but economic and monetary Union that requires members to have monetary authority. Worth to remember that Former European Union commissioners for monetary union Olli Rehn come up and personally warned that central bank is a criteria for membership (http://s.telegraph.co.uk/graphics/Lightbox/published/410/images/THUMB.jpg ) In his letter he used Montenegro example who was asked to have monetary authority in their membership process. UK government parties already declared that they won’t join currency union with independent Scotland. Which may seem reasonable decision for them cause they would not want that their assets and taxes be the ultimate backing for a foreign country. As we all know Alex Salmon told all voters not worry about it because if Westminster refuses to make monetary union, he will refuse to pay a share of UK debt and with such blackmail a new monetary union will be formed. Very irresponsible and childish strategy, UK can backfire with guarantee veto vote for Scotland EU membership and not give up oil contracts or other even bigger tactics until Scotland will agrees to pay their share of debt. More importantly such reckless act from first minister of Scotland will show low credibility of Scotland and can damage entrance in other unions such as World trade organisation and ect. Not to mention risk of borrowing abilities with having basically worthless government bounds.
However even if monetary union somehow would be formed that still will leave us with question if such union without Scottish national bank gives enough monetary authority to qualify the requirements of EU membership. And those two option seem to be the only ones that Scotland really have, cause to create a new currency and new central bank Scotland may lack foreign exchange currency reserve. The whole process of creating new currency is long and painful, just ask Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Someone can say now, like my mentioned YES supporter before, that EU membership doesn’t matter. That would be foolish – don’t take all EU Benefits for granted. That’s grants for universities, subsidies for farmers, different funds to apply, Erasmus for students, diversity in the country, free access to live and work for any Scottish born citizen anywhere in EU and most importantly economic access to 500 million people market. The last one should be especially concerning for everyone who will vote. Today Scotland is one of the most export-oriented economies in the world, with exports over 70 per cent of gross domestic product. And big portion of those exports are within EU.
Scotland GDP is estimated at around £148 billion in total In perspectives Total North Oil total revenue, that everyone likes to talk so much, last year was only 4 billion pounds. So obviously Scotland economical prospers depends and will depend on exports. In fact forget North oil at all – Scotland’s economy depends on staying inside European Union.
YES campaign’s leaflets tries to persuade people to vote YES if they want to stay in European Union. Based on Cameron promise to hold referendum on EU if Tories win next general election. Such yes tactic is ridiculous, firstly polls shows that Labour will win next elections and majority of seats
Let’s be clear here – vote YES will result in leaving European Union by default with a big uncertainty of ever coming back in EU.
Economic uncertainty for independence
Other economic issue does not look good in YES campaign either. People like to compare Scotland with Scandinavian countries and imagine that after independence Scotland will be the same. But they forget that Scandinavian people pay around 43% income taxes. Who with current salaries and prices will be willing to pay so much taxes in Scotland today? Without the central bank and currency union Scotland will not have monetary policies to set up their own interest rates, to control import/export and inflation. Even in currency union such instrument will be dictated by England economy who’ll have totally different inflation and economic policies than comparing quite small Scottish economy. If you thing England been so cruel and unfriendly to Scotland in the union then why you would be willing to put your monetary policies in their hands and hoping that they will before kind to you as a foreign country. But everything seems not worry people from YES campaign because their delusional believe in huge reserves of oil in north. They seem to forget that reports stated that even if there are such big reserves they are beyond deep waters with difficult geological condition and with current technologies it’s impossible to reach it. Surely if that would be possible to do then profit driven and owned by corporations Westminster (as YES campaigners portray it) would have done it long time ago. Instead of all main economic questions YES campaigners focused everything on cancelling TRIDENT
That would have little impact. Scotland share cost is 163 mln. (such amount comes from YES campaign – http://www.yesscotland.net/news/scotlands-share-trident-cost-could-be-spent-elsehwere ) Also le’ts not forget that Scotland wants to become a member of NATO and want of membership requirement is to spend 1% of your GDP to your defence.
Benefits from UK
It surprises me that people took a lot of benefits of being in UK for granted. You not just leave Cameron, but you are leaving 60 mln people who are not that different from you. Union formed a country that had a better representation of their interest in global world and global organisations as UN, EU institution European council and G8 and ect. Many talented scots used UK strength to quickly transfer to global stage. If that’s not enough then you still have admire UK’s economic impact for Scotland. No-scottish companies currently accounts for 70 % of Scotish GDP. The whole Scotland GDP that brings Scotland among wealthy countries is a result of being part of UK. That includes also jobs in Scotland or opportunities easily to work around UK.
The same NHS that become such a big key of debate recently is nothing but a result of being inside of UK. And any privatization of Scotland’s NHS can be done only by the Scottish government. People who fears of NHS being privatized because of TTTIP should have more faith in European institutions. European parliament has a history of stopping such treaties and most likely this will happen again And no one is robbing Scotland, they receive for public spending more than they make revenue. Scottish Executive figures for 2009-10 showed that spending per capital in Scotland was £11,370, versus £10,320 for the UK
Hate, YES campaign tactics and fanaticism
I have hard times to comprehend how official Yes campaign avoided to face reality of facts with rhetoric and how they feel that their answered serious questions without actually answering them . They still say that after the vote YES Scotland will stay in EU, they take Alistair Darling ’s quote about keeping a pound of context and shares that as evidence that pound question is solved, while in reality what A. Darling meant was that we can keep pound as Morocco had Euro or Zimbabwe US dollar but the real question is monetary authority. When asked about BBC, YES campaign tells everyone not to worry because we will still be able to see Doctor Who because BBC broadcast to all world, while the real question was about national TV service. The majority of official YES campaign on social media was just sharing caricatures of current Westminster politics.
Not only official campaign is so bad, their supporters and campaigners share same attitude. Anything can be labelled as Scaremonger and you will be relief from guilt to worry about it and then anything can be taken out of context or any argument in their favor can be said with no matter how many fallacies and still go viral as long as its favor them. Pure mob mentality. For example someone posted seconds from governor of Bank of England speech, where he says that notes will still be circulated in Scotland and used it as a proof that Scotland will keep pound https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10204890024635543 And 21 000 people shared this video same time making emotional statements – “don’t believe media they all lying” ect. ect.
YES statement and independence naturally have more chances to be popular with sympathies to underdog and would have more chances to make momentum and waves and people in this side will be more active rather than those who just want to keep status quo. But everything in latest days turned to much more brutal campaign with loads of hate. And as Tom Bradby wrote “And whilst I am sure both sides have been guilty, the truth – uncomfortable as it is to say it – is that most of the heckling and abuse does seem to be coming from the Nationalists.”
It turned to such ridiculous point that J.K.Rowling was receiving online abuse on twitter for her support of vote no Just read what people are saying about legend David Bowie because of his pledge for Scotland to stay in union – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezaV5zt8bKs Meantime Rupert Murdock was able to drink freely with people in Glasgow pubs.
Every time I walked down in city center in Glasgow and saw No campaigners I would see someone from YES campaigners harassing them and shouting down. And that’s come from people who claims that they vote YES because they don’t have enough democracy now. How can they claim to be advocates for democracy when they can’t accept the main characteristic of democracy – different opinions and open debate?
I felt that hostility too, been told shut up and eat my cereals, that Im brainwashed by the media, too young to know real austerity and ect. When I mention that Im not born in Scotland and will vote NO as citizen of European Union that’s really annoys them (probably because they don’t know that as EU citizen themselves they have the would have the right to vote in council elections around EU if they are residents there) If I would have vote YES obviously they would not be annoyed that European citizens are allowed to vote too. That’s shows the true level of diversity of many left wings of YES campaigners. They want to claim that they support diversity but in reality they accept only foreigners who share the same views with them.
In terms of democracy, and voting YES because you Westminster now is govern by party that you didn’t vote for, it’s not that simple. More likely that’s a given in any democracy. To quote some internet comments:
Since borders are essentially arbitrary, anyone could claim that the people of their region can make decisions over that region better than those outside it. It shows that in any democracy, the parliament will always exist some distance away, partly disconnected from areas it governs. I’m not saying it completely debunks the independence argument – in fact there are plenty of possible arguments for why Scotland would not be such an arbitrary region for independence, but I think these points are still not well enough understood
Currently Scottish people have 8.4% say in Westminster and 100% say in Holyrood.
Currently Dumfriesshire has 0.15% say in Westminster and 1.4% of the say in Holyrood and has a SNP government it didn’t vote for. Should it be independent
Yes campaign demonized Westminster in a way that you could think there was no devolution. Devolution gave a lot powers for Scottish people to decide in: agriculture, forestry and fisheries, education and training, environment, health and social services, housing, law and order (including the licensing of air weapons), local government, sport and the arts, tourism and economic development, many aspects of transport Yes campaigners who likes to ridiculed the promise for even bigger devolution powers forget that promise come from Labour party too, who already delivered devolution, establishment of national parliament to Scotland. But it’s safe and good strategy for SNP. When people forget that devolution already exists they also don’t take SNP accounted for many problems in Scotland. If people would do that they would realise many of SNPs wrong decisions or laziness in Scottish affairs. Same party who did not even turn out to vote against bedroom taxes 12 days ago.
It’s really healthy too look and analyse current Scottish parliament, because you would see the good example of what will happen with Scottish politics after independence. And the picture is not so glamorous – same broken promises, policies that you may not agree with and no quick solution.
Independence movement accumulated all of anger and dissatisfaction that exist now in Scotland. As Ewan Morrison wrote in his blog post “Why I joined Yes and why I changed to no”: “The answer is that the factions within the Yes camp are all dreaming that they will have more power in the new Scotland ‘after the referendum.’ Bigger fish in the smaller pond. [..}Clearly these groups can’t all have more power and the banner they share is a fantasy of a unity that is not actually there“ Look in current Scottish parliament is a look to a future after independence where many Yes campaigners groups will face disappointment.
Overall this referendum experience wasn’t so pleasant for me. I didn’t feel comfortable to see rising nationalism. And while it may be civil nationalism, it was nationalism none the less. Same nationalism, that George Orwell tried to warn us about. I formed my European Federalist views and started to understand how important is to lose national ego, exactly here In Scotland. Scotland seemed liberal and progressive country that valued progress over national ego. Maybe it’s been that way mostly because of being in union country. But everything changed so quickly. I never felt more as a foreigner and unwelcome than In the last month when I was surrounded by national flags and nationalism everywhere. Nationalism try to appeal to emotions by saying: Be Brave. Well I can make another suggestion: Be smart. If history and European Union formation taught us anything then it is that we are not so different form west to east, from north to south. And the best way to reach prosperity is not by separations but by working together.