Why when there is so much uncertainty, volatility and extremism in the world today, are we in Scotland – a bastion of stability – considering putting up new borders and barriers, when we should be knocking them down? Why not work with what we have rather than take a leap into the unknown and create all the trappings of a new country when none are needed?
Of course, Scotland could survive as an independent country – there are many examples of successful countries of 5.5 million people. In spite of the Nationalists with their slick slogans, proclaiming that all will be better under independence, my contention is that Scotland is better together and stronger in the family of nations that make up the United Kingdom. Nothing will create uncertainty more than a “Yes” vote – and uncertainty will not help Scotland’s most vulnerable people nor make our businesses prosper nor improve our public services.
Why do I believe this so passionately?
Well, first of all, it is unnecessary. We already have a Scottish Parliament that looks after Health, Education, the Environment, Police and so on. Scots rightly decide these matters for themselves, but imagine if Scotland had to build new embassies across the world or a new Army, Navy and Air Force, which is all now done so conveniently by the United Kingdom. My sister recently applied for her driving licence from the DVLA in Swansea. Under independence we would have to pay for a brand new office in Scotland to do what is already being done perfectly well in Wales. For what gain? As for welfare, Scottish pensioners and others benefit from funding that comes from 65 million people rather than 5.5. The Social Union is part of the glue that binds us across our borders.
Secondly is the issue of identity. What is wrong with being Scottish and British? If Mr Salmond gets his way, we will have to choose our nationality. As a Scot, it would make friends and family from Northern Ireland, Wales and England foreigners to me!
Walking down South Street in St Andrews yesterday I was handed a leaflet entitled ‘Women for Independence.’ The Yes campaigners had written that by being part of the United Kingdom ‘we are consigning our children to being small when we should be giving them a much bigger world.’ But is this not exactly what independence would do? Being part of a smaller State could limit Scottish aspirations whereas the United Kingdom’s wealth and size gives us all access to greater opportunities.
Many are pretty disillusioned about politics and economics, yet Scotland already receives more money from the UK Government – about £1,200 per head every year more than England. How would this be made up in the future? Only by increasing taxes or cutting much loved services I expect. At any rate, Scotland has spent more than its tax revenues in 22 of the last 23 years. And there’s no point relying on North Sea oil. Official statistics tell us that oil revenue peaked in 2000 and has been declining ever since. In July the Office for Budget Responsibility cut its estimate of tax income from the North Sea between 2020 and 2041 by a quarter.
We need to galvanize ourselves to remind the people of Scotland, that they are valued as British citizens and that the United Kingdom, without Scotland, is as unimaginable as it is undesirable.
If you’re ambitious for Scotland, as I am, then let’s keep this great nation united. Vote No and let’s waste no more time on splitting up. Strong and United we are unbeatable.