David Cameron declared in a speech on September 10 that Scottish independence is absolutely a one-time deal. We won’t get to change our minds like we do every five years in a general election. While he has committed to honouring the wishes of the Scottish people, this vote can’t be about hating him, his party or Westminster.
In a lot of ways this epitomises why I will vote no next week. I fully understand the frustrations of the Scottish people, that we are not represented in ways we feel we should be, that we deserve more than the love-hate relationship we get from London right now. Those are sentiments that resonate with many. But it’s not enough.
There are concrete risks to becoming independent. On the same day as Cameron made that speech, Standard Life – a company that employs thousands in Scotland, has 6 million customers worldwide, and (crucially) is based in Edinburgh – committed to leaving Scotland in the event of a yes vote. This was not the press release issued in February that said they were coming up with a contingency plan; this was a concrete decision to leave. Scottish business haven’t been told what their tax regulations will look like, or what transnational business practices will entail – not to mention the question on everyone’s lips: what about the currency?
It is not enough for Alex Salmond to continue doing the two things he has done until now. Either he has brushed off the opposition and declared its arguments to be ‘nonsense’ or ‘scaremongering’, as he did with Standard Life – or he has simply pulled the political wool over the Scottish people’s eyes. Alex Salmond is without a doubt an excellent politician, but that does not make him honest, and Scotland in all honestly deserves more from its leader.
In every debate, speech and interview Salmond has skirted around the issues that Scots need the answers to. His claims are unsubstantiated. His plan B on currency seems to be that we’ll just use the pound whether it’s good for us or not. A currency union is off the table so what Salmond proposes is a painfully risky system in which we would be subject to the whims of Westminster without any say over currency-related policy. Even if a currency union were an option, it is unclear why Salmond would find it so desirable. After all, it would mean that important things like our inflation rates would still be set by the Bank of England. Wasn’t the point of all this to get away from them?
Sentiment is not enough to shape the political future of a country for generations. Neither are potential risks. However Salmond has not done any more to shed light on the key issues of independence while the risks facing businesses and individuals has become a distinct reality.
Stephanie Ross is a third year studying International Relations.