3 reasons a YES vote 
will be bad for Scotland!


Me and the referendum…..take two

I have lived and worked in Scotland for the past 34 years, over half of my life. The majority of my family and friends are in Scotland, as is my business.

It’s a great place to live and work, and though I am English by birth, I would feel honored to be considered a Scot.  Though painfully aware of our many mistakes, I am very proud to be British.

I’ve been following the Referendum debate with increasing interest and have finally been motivated to put digit to keyboard, to share my views.

There are many topics relating to the debate where I know for sure I don’t really have sufficient information - especially the facts and figures - to make informed decisions and I think that this has been an underlying complaint throughout the campaign, from both sides.

I have dipped in and out of the White Paper, which I think is a great sales document, but in my opinion, it lacks the detail which makes it a credible blueprint for the future.

In my opinion much of the Yes campaign has been based on a ‘heart over head’ approach, and to a certain extent, why not?

All is fair in love and war

I’m sure we all want a fairer more secure Scotland with a government that represents the wishes of the majority of its people.

If we do accept that the main driver behind the Independence campaign is the belief that a Scotland which is run by a government representative of its electorates will create a fairer and more secure country, then we need to see how this can happen.

We will all have different definitions of what ‘fairer’ means, but in essence I hope that whichever side you are on we can agree that this includes looking after the less fortunate, taking a ‘greener’ approach to resource usage, providing equal opportunities, maintaining democracy and freedom of speech and deploying an equitable distribution of wealth.


By ‘secure’ I take to mean a society which guarantees employment (and supports this with an appropriate education system), which has equitable employment conditions, ensures that savings (at least) keep pace with inflation, that there are health and social care facilities which are available to everyone, that people who have worked all their lives can look forward to retirement, and that our streets are safe.

We need to take a balanced view on our position in world affairs, cognisant of the fact that we cannot nor should we attempt to be all things to all men and we need a considered approach to the international ‘head-heart’ issues which arise almost daily.   

Better Together

To me, the Better Together campaign has been poorly managed, has lacked imagination and has failed to focus on what I increasingly see as the key issue, that to achieve a fairer and more secure Scotland, we need an economically sound business model on which to run the country, because without this we will not be in any position to address the ‘fairness’ issues.

"BP Group Chief Executive Mr Bob Dudley, said: “As a major investor in Scotland, now and into the future, BP believes that the future prospects for the North Sea are best served by maintaining the existing capacity and integrity of the United Kingdom.”

And I am not convinced that the financial viability has been given sufficient consideration, either by the Yes side for failing to provide any detail, or the No side for failing to explain why the figures presented by No don’t add up!

"Oil expert Sir Ian Wood says the nationalists are misleading the people of Scotland on oil. BP says it would be best to stay in the UK. Why risk your job with a yes vote when real change is coming with a No vote?"

Like many YES and NO voters alike, I am both shocked and disgusted by the late entry into the fray of the Westminster politicians. This arrogant, complacent attitude has probably done more to sway Yes voters than anything else, and by the way, this typifies how Scots feel about the Westminster attitude to Scotland.

During the campaign the Better Together followers have failed to focus on the one issue of which they have been accusing their opposition – of not providing any detail about how things would change if they win!

Why maximum devolution was not a ballot box option eludes me – I am almost certain that this would have been the most popular option.

At the risk of falling out, I have spoken about this issue with as many people as I can, and have had some extremely robust discussions!

YES voters are excited by the Brave New World vision, highly motivated by the idea of a fairer Scotland, in charge of its own destiny, but less focussed with the practicalities of achieving this ideal.

NO voters I have spoken to include many business owners, accountants, bankers and lawyers, and folk approaching retirement age who are concerned about their pensions.  They too are interested in a fairer Scotland, but are equally concerned about the economic consequences.  And many are in positions to know about the potential pitfalls, many having run successful businesses, which underpins the economy.

It's Our Business

So to me, the whole issue revolves around the financial viability of an Independent Scotland.

If we are not financially secure we will be in no position to address the ‘fairness’ issues.

Running a country is like running the ultimate business. 

The main reason that new businesses fail is due inadequate financial planning.  Generally this is either due to cash-flow problems or being over-optimistic about revenue projections, often a combination of the two.

This is not speculation, it is absolutely irrefutable.

The stronger your backing, the deeper your pockets, the more chance you have to make it through the difficulties.

It’s all about producing a credible business plan, and when you think it all makes sense you do a sensitivity analysis to see what happens if not everything goes according to plan – which is almost a given.

Plans don’t fail because of the things that go right…..

And running a country is infinitely harder than running a business.

Why is it that so many people who have proven their ability to run successful businesses are concerned about the financial viability of an Independent Scotland?

"Pensions giant Standard Life threatens transfer to England if Scotland votes for independence

There are so many issues which the White Paper fails to address, and woolly plans for those which are included.

Although we are all fed up with the No side banging on about currency, this is THE vital issue, and underpins all other plans.

"Nomura, Japan’s biggest bank, is urging some clients to pull money out of the UK ahead of the referendum. Credit Suisse, the Swiss bank, also warned that breaking up the UK would throw a newly independent Scotland “into deep recession”.

If we cannot be sure, and by anyone’s analysis, we cannot be sure, this is too big a risk.

There are simply too many unknowns, too much uncertainty, too much risk.

We are emerging from a period of economic downturn; do we really want to be faced with potentially extreme austerity because someone was a bit over-optimistic with the numbers?

Ask the Experts

There really are so many experts, on a daily basis, speaking out about their concerns over issues surrounding financial viability. Yesterday I read of a senior official in the Deutsche Bank warning that Independence would ruin both Scotland’s and England’s economies. Now, the Germans know a thing or two about running successful countries, and as far as I know, have no axe to grind.

"Group of leading banks, including Barclays, Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale, make dire predictions about UK’s finances, warning clients of increased investment risk in event of Yes vote"

Also today, the governor of the Bank of England warned about the huge currency reserves which would be required by an independent Scotland.

Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, has indicated that an independent Scotland would need to build up billions of pounds worth of currency reserves if it did not agree a currency union with the UK.

And the response of the Yes side is ‘scare-mongering’!

These are the views of people who know!

IMHO

I fully understand the concept of a Scotland ruled by a government representative of its electorates but I do not believe that an Independent Scotland is the best way to achieve this.

If the Yes campaign is genuinely driven by what is best for Scotland, surely this is Devo Max with the backing of the UK?


Yes, it’s incredibly frustrating and pretty poor tactics from down South, but if we can be empowered to the extent that it appears we can, then it really is a win win situation – we get increased powers with the backing of the UK, the risks are gone, we get to control our budgets and spend, even borrowing, so why on earth risk it, just for the sake of wanting to give Westminster a good kicking (and because we probably can!)

Let’s push for more and more devolved power, and strive to create a fairer Scotland, as part of Britain.

And does it really matter that we only appear to be getting what we have been asking for at the last moment?

So Much Uncertainty

And finally, if Independence does happen, I will need to think long and hard about where I want to live and work.  I would officially be a foreigner in Scotland, who like many will face huge uncertainty.

Will our company have a greater/lesser chance of prospering under Independence? What will the taxation position be? Who will pay our pensions? What happens with existing credit arrangements or debt? Will savings still have the same value? Will our rights change?


To me, there’s enough uncertainty in this world as it is, so I’m voting Better Together, BUT, I applaud the efforts of the Yes campaigners and their actions have already guaranteed us more autonomy irrespective of the outcome of the vote.

What we ALL should really be worried about, and working together to address, is the real threat of terrorism in our lands.


Phil 

Clydebank, 10th September 2014