October 13, 2011 by Nash Riggins
As poll numbers finally begin to surface in his favour, the time has never been better for Alex Salmond to bring his referendum vote for Scottish Independence to the table. Yet whilst the time may seem right, do Scottish voters really know what the outcome would mean for them financially should the SNP finally get their way?
Culturally, Scotland has held independence from England since the first complex organism crawled from its Primordial ooze; even financially, Scottish lords successfully made ends meet up to 1707. Yet at this point in time, critics of Salmond’s never-ending call for complete independence justly argue that the United Kingdom’s financial interests are far too intertwined for any one region to claim fiscal independence – and to be fair, a government can hardly serve its people with an empty treasury.
A number of questions come into play regarding what would happen should Scotland be granted its status as an independent state; however, nearly every question ends up retuning to a matter of money. An inevitable induction into the European Union for an independent Scotland would mean a choice of whether to adopt the Euro – which would be the choice of whether or not the government would jump onto a sinking ship. Yet as a smaller and less influential nation applying to join the EU, Scotland would most likely be bullied by larger member-states – such as France and Germany – into jumping onto that sinking ship in order to gain favour within the organisation.
If this were, by some miracle, not the case, Salmond has vowed a continuation of the circulation of pounds sterling should the SNP secure Scottish independence. However, this continuation would only create a nightmare for Scottish citizens with regards to managing their money. After all, should a separate and independent state have any say whatsoever regarding matters of monetary policy within the Bank of England? Due to inflation, Jamaica’s primary currency is the US Dollar – yet to imply the Jamaican government has any sway over the Department of the Treasury in America is, thankfully, nothing but the punch line of a bad joke for already wary investors. And while Nationalists may argue that Scottish banks already have their own forms of currency, it just so happens that English and other foreign investors are the primary backers for sed institutions and their money; that is to say, just because a tenner has an image of Robert Burns on it rather than the Queen does not make that bill entirely Scottish.
Furthermore, Scotland has a far greater number of public services available to its citizens than any other region of the UK, at little-to-no cost for its people. This massive level of public spending would be near impossible to maintain given independence, as UK taxes would no longer supplement Scottish public services. From an outsider’s point of view, the typical Scottish voter already appears to be taxed to Hell – but should Scottish Parliament be forced to independently fund these public services that its people have become so accustomed to, a drastic rise in tax revenues from voters would be the only way to prevent economic collapse within the first few months of an independent Scotland.
That being said, the economic growth in Scotland has, beyond expectations, outperformed the majority of the UK in recent years. For a country of its size, Scotland has been able to place its name respectfully on the world’s economic leaderboards – Edinburgh even holds the position as Europe’s fifth largest financial centre. Yet this success is not merely due to Scottish legislature allowing business to grow; in fact, Scottish industries’ successes could be primarily attributed to the influence attained from being part of a large, heavily influential state in a struggling globalised economy – and the low corporate taxrates floating north from Westminster probably don’t hurt, either.
Meanwhile, Scottish petroleum continues to create copious amounts of profit in the North Sea – and nationalists argue that this profit alone stands to secure a frail Scottish economy in the initial years of financial independence. Yet in recent years, oil profits in the North Sea have shrunk to only a third of what they were in the early 2000s. In addition, the UK’s military-industrial complex has become such a thick web of interlinking businesses and legislature that to dismantle it could mean a detrimentally weakened presence in every UK military operation to the point of financial and strategical collapse – which hardly takes into account who may seek to claim ownership of the nuclear warheads stockpiled on the Clyde.
For Scotland, independence from the UK is simply not in the cards. Deep down, Alex Salmond and the higher-ups in Edinburgh all know this to be true – which is why the SNP has yet to hold the referendum it has promised voters dozens of times. Salmond is sailing sky-high on his Nationlists’ success in Parliament, and holding off talks of independence for one simple reason: it just doesn’t make sense, and in general, the majority of Scottish voters should not care less. Whilst the Scottish Conservatives scheme on changing their name in order to secure votes, and Liberal Democrats face the fury of voters for breaking virtually every campaign promise they made in 2010, the SNP has never been stronger – and they’re stronger because they have wholesome, realistic policies and ideas for the Scottish people. It would give these hard-working MPs far too little credit to assume they were only voted into power because their party’s manifesto claims Scotland will one day be free, because in truth, most Scottish voters really aren’t bothered.
The SNP has its heart in the right place, in that the party places the welfare of its people and their distinctive culture far above the rest of the United Kingdom. In fact, Salmond should definitely utilise his newly-gained influence to actively seek further devolution and more powers for Scottish Parliament, which would greatly benefit Scottish citizens – but it seems crystal clear that not a single one of these voters would benefit financially from a successful independence referendum.