Why I will be voting no thanks

Scotland, Britain and Europe from space

Some readers may know that I used to be actively involved in politics. I wrote about it all the time. Five years ago I decided to write mainly about other topics instead. So far I have not written much about the independence referendum.

Scotland is facing a big decision, and it has to get it right. This is not like a normal election. We cannot just give independence a shot and see how it goes. We would be stuck with it forever.

If Scotland votes no, the independence movement can return to the issue in future if it wants to. If Scotland votes yes, there will be no going back. So with just a couple of weeks ago until polling day, now is the time to speak up.

I am committed to arguing the positive case for Scotland’s role in the UK. But inevitably with an issue such as this, I must also analyse why I disagree with the yes campaign’s vision and the way they go about their campaign.

I do not seek to tell anyone how to vote. That decision is for each individual alone. But many people have asked me to explain why I will be voting no. Now is the time to speak up.

I hope people find this article an interesting and useful contribution to the debate. Please keep any comments about this civil.

We face challenges for humanity, not just for Scotland

I have a lot of things in common with independence campaigners. We all dream of a better future. All of us do. Constantly striving to improve is what makes people what they are. That is true of any of us, no matter where we live.

Independence campaigners imply that the rest of the UK doesn’t dream of a better future.

The yes leaflet I got through the door promises the following:

Policies that work… More jobs, more childcare, more opportunities. Protecting pensions, education, welfare and public services.

Who wouldn’t want that? These could be the vague manifesto pledges of any mainstream political party in any country in the world.

These are not Scotland’s problems. They are familiar the world over. They are the challenges we face as humanity.

The question is: how do you achieve it?

The yes campaign wants you to believe that voting for independence would automatically make Scotland a better place. That is not true. Here is why.

Scotland is better together

During the BBC’s televised debate, an audience member asked, “if we are better together, why are we not better together already?” What that person missed was the fact that we are better together already.

The yes campaign knows it, and this is where they have to tread a fine line. This advert could not be more correct about the ingenuity of Scotland’s people.

Yes Scotland campaign poster: "Scotland helped invent the modern world."

But there is something that they hoped we would not notice.

Every single one of these inventions and discoveries has been made while Scotland has been part of the UK. There could not be a better illustration of why Scotland is better together with the UK.

Scotland is an extraordinary place. It excels on the world stage in science, business, literature, music, art and sport. It does this all as part of the UK.

The seeds of Scotland’s enterprising spirit were sown by joining the UK. The Scottish enlightenment took place as a direct result of being part of the UK. From that springboard, Scots made a host of intellectual breakthroughs in economics, medicine, philosophy and many other fields. When it joined the UK, Scotland changed the world.

Glasgow has just put on a proud show on the world stage when it hosted the Commonwealth Games. It did that as part of the UK, and it is an event that would not have existed without Britain.

The UK has more chance of being fairer

The UK brought us our welfare state. The National Health Service is the UK’s.

These wonderful UK institutions work because they are based on a system that can share resources among a larger group of people.

A welfare state in a country of 63 million people has a better chance of succeeding. It has a better chance at being fairer than in a country of 5 million people. That is just basic maths. There is more scope to redistribute when you have more people to redistribute among. And the risks that come as part of life are shared among a wider pool.

The UK was set up in order to share the risks and rewards of the economic activities that take place on these islands.

Of course things can always be improved. But I am as concerned about poverty in the rest of the UK as Scotland. We have a better chance of being fairer as part of the UK.

(I am also equally concerned about poverty in the rest of the world. That is why I would like to see our place in international organisations guaranteed, as they are while Scotland is part of the UK.)

Scottish politicians are not inherently better

When the Scottish parliament was set up, we were promised things would be different. We were told it would be the end of yah-boo politics in Scotland.

That promise never came to fruition, sadly. First minister’s questions in Holyrood is just as rowdy and misbehaved as prime minister’s questions in Westminster.

Anyone who watched the televised debates between Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond will be well aware that Scottish politicians are not automatically well behaved. Whether they are in Holyrood or Westminster, politicians are still politicians.

The last three prime ministers each have extremely close connections to Scotland. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were both born in Scotland. David Cameron’s father was Scottish. If you think independence would mean better politicians, you would be disappointed.

Unfortunately bad politicians and bad governments are found the world over, no matter how the boundaries are drawn.

Scotland is not under-represented at Westminster

Independence campaigners often say that Westminster under-represents Scotland. This is a lie.

Scotland makes up 8% of the UK population, but it has 9% of the seats in Westminster.

Before the boundaries were reviewed after devolution, Scotland had 11% of the seats.

On top of that, Scottish MPs have power over devolved matters in England, while English MPs do not have any power over issues such as health and education in Scotland. That is a constitutional oddity, and one that should be addressed. But it is just the opposite of Scotland being under-represented.

On top of that, we have all our MSPs.

If you think that Scotland is lacking in electoral representation, I dread to think just how many politicians you think there should be.

The illegal war was pursued by Scots

I am constantly seeing reference to illegal wars from yes campaigners.

The prime minister who took us into the Iraq war was a Scot. The war was bankrolled by a Scot. The government they led had a higher proportion of votes from Scotland than from the rest of the UK — both before and after the start of the Iraq war.

What on earth makes anyone think that Scottish politicians would be any better than politicians in the UK as a whole? It was Scottish politicians who took us into the Iraq war, with the electoral approval of the Scottish voters.

Moreover, the Scottish parliament voted to back the Iraq war.

I am in favour of independence — for people

Some independence campaigners say that it is about giving Scottish people control over their own destiny.

I firmly believe that people should be given more control over their own destiny. I believe in independence. I strongly value my independence.

But what does it mean to be an independent country? An independent Scotland would not be any more an independent country than the UK is.

What I care about is the amount of control people have over their own lives. That means better, smaller government. It means a government that trusts people to make the decisions that are right for them.

The SNP wants all the power to itself

AlexSalmondScot

The recent record of the SNP government has shown that they have no interest whatsoever in people’s independence. They have removed decision-making from local places. They have stripped away local responsibilities on council tax. They have centralised police, fire services, colleges and more.

The yes campaign’s agenda is not to bring power and public services closer to the people. It is to centralise as much of it as possible. Their plan is to have as much power as possible concentrated among a controlling clique in Holyrood.

Independence is the wrong sort of constitutional reform

I am a passionate supporter of constitutional reform. But the yes campaign’s vision is a dangerous plan.

On top of centralising as much power as possible to Holyrood, an independent Scotland would not have a second chamber.

That means that the power of the government would be all-consuming. There would be no check on this unfettered power.

The first minister in an independent Scotland would only need to seek the approval of his own clique. The “independence” agenda is not about independence at all. It is all about concentrating power among a small political elite in Edinburgh.

With this hunger for power, it is no wonder Alex Salmond let slip that he is such an admirer of Vladimir Putin.

Devolution works

The beauty of devolution is that powers can be distributed among different people in the appropriate places. Local councils, the Scottish parliament, the UK parliament and international organisations all have a role to play in our society.

Distributing power across different levels helps prevent politicians becoming megalomaniacs. It keeps a lid on corruption.

I do not like David Cameron. I do not like Alex Salmond either. And I am extremely thankful that neither of them has the power to impose their full agenda on us.

Independence is an old-fashioned solution to a problem people are beginning to solve themselves

Tim Berners-Lee- Mosaic by Sue Edkins at Sheen Lane Centre

The story of the 21st century so far has been one of people standing up to archaic institutions and taking control of their own lives. With the rise of the world wide web, people are better connected and better organised than ever.

Big businesses and even entire industries have been brought to their knees. Oppressive governments have been overthrown, and our own governments are scrutinised more than ever. The establishment has never been held in more contempt.

Be it the banks, the politicians, the media or big business, the people are getting on top of them.

The world is transforming faster than it ever has done before. More and more elements of our society are being democratised. People are able to self-organise more.

This is what true independence is about.

Meanwhile, the yes campaign seeks to place our future in the hands of politicians. The democratisation of society does not fit its centralising agenda. It seeks to concentrate as much power as possible among politicians.

Scotland is not a “Tory-free zone”

Independence campaigners will often tell you that the only way to keep the Conservatives out is to have independence. This is a lie.

The Conservative party is the only political party to have got  a majority of Scottish votes in a general election since the second world war. In 1955 the Tories got 1.3 million votes in Scotland. That is over half of all votes.

Unlike Scotland, the UK as a whole has never given a majority of its votes to the Conservatives since we fought the Nazis.

An electorate evolves over time. If anyone should know that, it should be the SNP. In 2010 they spectacularly managed to gain a majority in the Scottish parliament with a voting system that was designed specifically to prevent it. It was a turnaround the like of which had never been seen, and was not foreseen.

Voting patterns change. What happened in 2010 demonstrated that voters can be sophisticated in the way they vote so that they can beat the system.

Nor is Scotland a “Ukip-free zone”

Scots vote a certain way today. But they are sure to vote another way in future years. No-one can say that the Conservatives, Ukip or any other undesirable political elements would not be present in an independent Scotland.

Support for Ukip is lower in Scotland than the rest of the UK. But they still gained more than one in ten Scottish votes in this year’s European parliament election.

The rise of Ukip and other nationalist parties — in Scotland, the UK and the EU — needs to be tackled on a more fundamental level. Scottish independence would not eradicate them.

There are geographical differences within Scotland as well

My point is not to say that there is not a difference in the way Scotland votes compared to the rest of the UK. There is a big difference. But there are also differences within Scotland itself.

Labour are more likely to find support in urban areas (just like the rest of the UK). Lib Dems do relatively well in more rural areas. The SNP have historically done better north of the central belt. The Conservatives are strongest in the south of Scotland.

Geographical differences exist in democracies all over the world

The UK and Scotland are not the only places where you find geographical differences. In fact, a study of many electoral maps would find something similar in many countries.

Take US presidential elections for one example.

US presidential election 2000

US presidential election 2000

US presidential election 2004

US presidential election 2004

US presidential election 2008

US presidential election 2008

US presidential election 2012

US presidential election 2012

The map evolves over time, and there are changes from year to year. But there are clear trends. There is the left coast. North eastern states tend to vote Democrat as well. Meanwhile, the central and southern areas are more likely to vote Republican.

Is this a reason to split up the US?

German Bundestag 2013

German Bundestag 2013

Results of Die Linke in German Bundestag election, 2009

Results of Die Linke for German Bundestag 2009

Are these reasons to split up Germany?

Even the lauded Norway has different voting patterns in different parts of the country.

Indeed, they can be found all over Europe.

That’s democracy for you. You are not guaranteed to get the government you want, no matter where you draw the border.

There is no philosophical difference in making an argument that, say, Orkney and Shetland should be independent from Scotland.

The independence movement implies that Scotland is inherently the best demos; that there is something magical about drawing a border in a certain place that makes democratic results more “correct”. Unless you actually believe that Scots are naturally better people, this cannot be true.

A yes vote would cause uncertainty about Scotland’s place in the world

The SNP and the wider yes campaign has always sought to convince us that an independent Scotland’s place in the EU would be secure. That might be correct.

The truth is, no-one knows what would happen to our EU membership if Scotland were to become independent. Such a situation has never happened before. Our destiny will then be in the hands of the diplomats and the bureaucrats.

What do know is that the Scottish government’s line on the EU has changed time and again.

First they told us that EU membership would be “automatic”. That was shown to be untrue.

Then they told us they had received legal advice on the matter. But they wouldn’t tell the Scottish people what that advice was.

It later transpired that was because the advice never existed in the first place. They spent £20,000 of taxpayers’ money trying to cover it up.

An independent Scotland’s membership of the EU is by no means a certainty.

A yes vote would cause uncertainty about our currency

Here is something else the SNP has changed its tune on in recent years. The SNP used to advocate the use of the euro. But that became a toxic idea to voters. So the yes campaign has thrown together a half-baked plan — to attempt to form a currency union with the UK.

That means our monetary policy being set in a foreign country. That means the lender of last resort to Scotland’s large and important financial institutions being based in a foreign country.

It is not clear why this is supposed to be desirable for the people of Scotland. It is not even clear why we would expect the continuing UK to agree to it.

The yes campaign has tied itself in knots over this. They tell us on the one hand that Westminster acts in the worst interests of Scotland. But then they attempt to tell the Scottish people that under independence Westminster would volunteer to expose itself to potentially having to bail out a foreign country’s financial institutions.

The yes campaign’s “plan B” is to ignore all that and just use the pound anyway, without the backing and protection of a central bank. That would leave Scotland horrifically exposed.

As Faisal Islam has outlined, “Something rather large would have to give.”

When Alex Salmond is questioned about it, he goes into meltdown. Here you can see him explain that the reason his plan would work is because “Alistair Darling muffed his chance” in the televised debate.

If an independent Scotland did join the EU, it would probably have to use the euro

Euro coins and banknotesThat might all be academic though. If Scotland was admitted to the EU, it would be forced to use the euro as its currency.

Alex Salmond has batted away that suggestion, citing Sweden as an example. It is downright mendacious of him to do so.

As an existing member state, Sweden has an opt-out of using the euro, just as the UK does. But new EU member states have no such ability.

Lawyers for Yes say so themselves: “The politico-legal reality is that rUK will be accepted as the continuing state by the international community.”

This means that Scotland could only be a member of the EU as a new member state. That means it would have to use the euro.

The yes campaign’s plans for tuition fees would be illegal

The Scottish government’s white paper says that an independent Scotland would seek to continue charging tuition fees to students from the rest of the UK while keeping them free for Scottish students.

Not only is that unjust, it would also be illegal.

An independent Scotland in the EU would either have to stop charging students from the rest of the UK, or it would have to start charging students from Scotland. It would most likely be the latter. But whatever way, the yes campaign is lying about tuition fees.

Scotland cannot be like Norway, and it might not want to be anyway

The yes campaign has also changed its tune on what countries an independent Scotland would be like. They used to tell us it would be like Ireland and Iceland. They are strangely quiet about that idea these days.

Now the yes movement is constantly telling us that an independent Scotland would be like Norway.

They would like voters to believe that drawing a border and crossing our fingers really hard would magically make everything like a utopian Nordic state. The truth is, of course, far more complex.

Norway and Scotland may have oil in common. But they have very little else in common.

For instance, Norway is not a member of the EU; nor does it seek to be. Norway has a different culture — one that is more conducive to a social democratic society.

Moreover, Norway got where it is today through decades of very hard work. There were many compromises along the way.

Ask a Norwegian:

[W]hen pro-independence Scots look to Norway as a role model it’s obvious that they only see what they want to see and largely ignore the facts. It took us a long time to accumulate the wealth we now enjoy, and it wasn’t just a result of oil. Remember also that Norway voted on its independence in 1814, and the financial depression in the years that followed was the worst on record…

[C]onsumer prices in Norway are astronomical. VAT stands at 25 per cent, you pay £9 for a pint in the pub, and the price for a new, five-door Vauxhall Corsa is £20,490 (in the UK the same car is £9,600).

We only have one shot at spending oil money

The independence movement often relies on oil to bolster its economic argument. Whether you view such a heavy reliance on oil as a positive or a negative depends on your point of view. We all know it is a volatile commodity. But if things happen to go well, it might be a bonus.

The problem with the yes campaign’s promises is that it says it would pay for so many of its promises with the oil money. On top of that they say that they would put the money into an oil fund for Scotland’s future.

Here is a basic economic fact. You can only spend the money once. You cannot spend the same money multiple times on different promises. And you cannot spend it while saving it at the same time.

Whose oil is it anyway? Orkney and Shetland’s independence movement

Moreover, that oil is not necessarily Scotland’s oil. The oil does not belong to anyone. It is a natural resource that is found in the North Sea. It is then extracted by multinational organisations who take the lion’s share of the winnings.

It is estimated that two thirds of the oil that would be in Scottish territorial waters would be nearest to Orkney and Shetland. These islands have their own growing independence movement.

An independent Scotland would have to tread carefully to ensure it kept the residents of Orkney and Shetland on side.

Independence would hack away at the BBC

BBC Scotland, Glasgow UK 12281451063 oThe yes campaign seeks to dismantle the BBC, one of the UK’s proudest institutions. The Scottish government’s white paper outlines a plan to set up a separate Scottish Broadcasting Service. It assumes that it would easily be able to form a partnership with what would remain of the BBC.

The BBC’s former director general John Birt has explained that this plan is yet another fantasy:

The BBC is, thankfully, independent of government so whatever is asserted wishfully in the white paper, the BBC will have no alternative but to act in the interests of its licence payers and to seek the best possible commercial terms for the sale of its programmes in Scotland, not least because of the financial impoverishment it will just have suffered…

One way or another, after independence, Scottish viewers would have to pay to receive BBC services.

The BBC is a proud British institution that was built in the vision of a Scot, John Reith. It is a wonderful example of what the UK can achieve when it is better together.

The yes campaign wants to abolish the BBC and replace it with a weak new Scottish broadcaster.

An independent Scotland would open the door for Rupert Murdoch

Meanwhile, Alex Salmond has cultivated an unusually close relationship with Rupert Murdoch.

The Leveson Inquiry found the following:

Mr Salmond’s readiness… to stand ready to assist News Corp is striking…

[I]t is clear that he was prepared to lobby UK Ministers in furtherance of News Corp’s case.

Alex Salmond has since described Rupert Murdoch as a “remarkable man”.

It has also emerged that Alex Salmond has held a secret meeting with Rupert Murdoch. It is not difficult to imagine what their shared agenda might be.

An independent Scotland would seek to dismantle the BBC on Rupert Murdoch’s behalf. It would leave the door open for Rupert Murdoch to invade Scotland with yet more of his unique brand of hackery.

Strange bedfellows

Rupert Murdoch and Vladimir Putin are not the only strange bedfellows of Alex Salmond and the yes campaign.

The arch homophobe Brian Souter has donated £1m to the SNP this year alone. He has also donated £100,000 to a campaign group called Christians for Yes. This is an attempt to get around the official spending limits set for the yes and no campaigns.

Brian Souter has attempted to hold his own private referendum to build up his anti-gay agenda. This person is an affront to democracy.

But independence-supporting organisations are more than happy to receive his vast sums of money.

Abuse and intimidation are hallmarks of the independence movement, from the grassroots all the way to the very top

I have many friends who will be voting yes. Many yes campaigners are good people who mean well for the future of Scotland. Their opinions should be respected.

However, it remains an uncomfortable fact that abuse and intimidation are hallmarks of the yes movement.

We can also think of some incidents when no supporters have behaved badly too. I strongly condemn this. All abuse and intimidation is to be condemned. It should have no place in any campaign no matter what your opinion is.

But whenever you point out yes campaigners being abusive, they will always tell you that it is an isolated incident. Let us be clear. They are not isolated incidents. Is is a consistent feature of the yes campaign.

When Jim Murphy was physically attacked in Kirkcaldy, the yes campaign hit yet another new low. It was just the latest in a long line of verbal and physical attacks from yes campaigners.

This is the “positive” yes campaign exposed for what it really is.

I feel sick at the prospect of people like this being in power.

There are idiots on both sides of the debate. But this kind of behaviour can be found all the way through the yes campaign like a stick of rock. You see it in the grassroots. You find it at the very top, at the centre of Alex Salmond’s office.

Alex Salmond’s adviser Campbell Gunn worked with misogynistic cybernats to launch a smear attack on Clare Lally, an ordinary mother who spoke up for the UK.

The yes campaign cannot get away from the fact that personal attacks and intimidation are part and parcel of the movement. One of Alex Salmond’s closest staff members has been caught red handed in the act.

Nationalism is an inherently intolerant ideology

Nationalism is poisonous, and you can see it in the way many yes campaigners behave. There are many independence supporters who do so for fair and principled reasons. But the fact is that nationalism is the rotten foundation upon which the independence movement is built.

Oh, and before a cybernat says it: no — supporting the UK does not make you a British nationalist.

Many yes supporters are respectful campaigners. I have had some constructive debates with some of them. Their opinion is to be respected, no matter how much I disagree with them. It is a shame that sensible supporters of independence are drowned out by their rowdy fellow campaigners.

Free speech has already taken a blow in this campaign

The independence movement’s record for intimidation and aggression has made many Scottish people fearful to speak up for what they believe in. No posters in public are routinely destroyed. Photographs of this vandalism are gleefully shared on social media by yes supporters — even by some I thought were decent.

Cybernats hound you online. In the street, yes campaigners shout you down. They call you a traitor. They call you a quisling. Sometimes, things get really nasty.

There have been stories of people being chased down the street by yes campaigners, just for saying they are planning on voting no.

I know of people who are scared to wear a no badge because they are frightened of the aggression.

I have been told by one person that he is frightened of putting a “no thanks” poster in his window for fear of getting a brick thrown through it. To be honest, that is the reason I have not put any no posters up either. It is also the reason why I have not really written or said anything about the referendum until the past week.

This is a sorry state for a democratic country to find itself in. When people are frightened to speak up for their own beliefs, freedom of speech has already taken a massive blow.

Deceptive or just in a fantasy world?

Yes campaigners have told so many tall tales during this campaign. It leaves you wondering if they really are that deceptive, or if they genuinely just live in a fantasy world.

There are the fantasy plans for the use of the pound, membership of the EU and tuition fees. They fantasise about being a Nordic state. They cross their fingers and hope for the best on oil. They have invented a partnership with the BBC that is unlikely to happen.

All that is almost understandable. But what is not acceptable is when they tell outright lies.

They have been caught out scaremongering about the NHS. Their claims about an NHS foundation were strongly dismissed as “codswallop” by its boss.

The yes campaign has made up a story that Scottish businesses are charged for using the services of UK embassies. There is not an iota of truth in the story.

And they have the cheek to call the no campaign “project fear”.

Scotland needs to get this decision right

Yes campaigners are always quick to tell you that this referendum is not about Alex Salmond or the SNP (this is despite the fact that they keep on trying to make the referendum about the Conservative party).

But the fact is that in this referendum we will be voting about the SNP government’s white paper. That is the only agenda that would be on the table if Scotland voted for independence. This vote is about delivering Alex Salmond’s plan. Those backing the yes campaign are complicit in supporting it.

A better chance to build our future together

Scotland, Britain and Europe from space

We all want a better future. What we disagree on is how we can achieve it.

As part of the UK, we have a chance to build our future within a stable and certain framework.

We know we will be part of the EU. We know we will be able to use the pound as our currency. We know our financial institutions can stay in Scotland. We know that we can share the risks and rewards of economic life among 63 million people, not 5 million.

This vote is about uncertainty versus stability

The independence white paper makes all sorts of assumptions about what decisions international and then-foreign institutions would make. Alex Salmond cannot tell other countries what to think. Under independence, those decisions would be in the hands of them alone.

If the Scottish people were to vote yes, it would open the door to uncertainty. There is indeed a chance that if Scottish independence takes place and we all cross our fingers really hard and hope for the best, a lot of these issues might be sorted out.

Things might be better in an independent Scotland. But no-one knows for sure. It is a massive gamble.

This vote is all about how much you are willing to take this risk in return for the uncertain chance that things might be better.

If you think it is worth the gamble, then that is fair enough. But remember that this is not an ordinary election. We cannot try it on for size. If Scotland were to become independent, it would be stuck with that decision forever.

This vote is about more centralised control versus devolution

There is no doubt in my view that Scotland — and local areas within Scotland — should have more powers.

A no vote would deliver the constitutional reform we really need. More control for the Scottish parliament over tax and borrowing has already been guaranteed by the Scotland Act 2012. These extra powers emerged as a result of the Calman Commission, which the SNP opposed. All of the UK’s main political parties support plans for more devolution. The SNP do not.

A yes vote would not give local people the power they deserve and need. The yes campaign seeks to centralise all power in Edinburgh. More devolution can only happen with a no vote.

I firmly believe that the best way we can build a better future together is with the UK. That is why I will be voting no thanks.

No thanks


Update: I have updated the article to include reference to the fact that the Scottish parliament voted for the Iraq war. Thanks to Ian Gent for reminding me.

Update: The article now includes a link to the Economist’s piece about the electoral map of Europe, which I discovered since publishing it.

45 comments

  1. Excellent post. I couldn’t agree more about the fear and intimidation of the yes campaign. A couple of my own encounters and observations over the past couple of weeks really have solidified my decision not to broadcast my intention to vote no:

    1. The shopkeeper in Edinburgh who wanted to know how I was voting before he would let me pay for a bottle of water, and who turned downright hostile when I said I was voting no.
    2. The dozens of vandalised No Thanks posters along the length of the A9 in Perth & Kinross, when all the Yes signs were left untouched.
    3. The constant, aggressive shouting down on Facebook of anyone who expresses even a slightly contradictory thought – this by some of my own friends.

    Thanks for stepping up and putting in writing what so many of us are thinking but are reluctant to say publicly for fear of intimidation.

  2. Wow! First paragraph reasonable then descends in to an absurd and increasingly hysterical rant with strange logic, half baked truths and bizarre claims. Starts with an assumption the Scotland produced many great inventors because of the union. The Scottish enlightenment took place ‘as a direct result of being part of the UK’? Really? Nothing to do with us having our own separate education system or engagement with the philosophical and scientific advances that were taking place throughout the western world? What a weak and patronising view you have of Scottish invention.

    Your point about the Commonwealth Games makes no sense. You don’t have to be in a union to host the games. You better tell the Gold Coast. If your point is Britain gave the world The Empire Games I am not sure you want to brag about the way British imperialism imposed itself on peoples all around the world, destroying indigenous populations especially given your rant about nationalism further on.

    Yes The UK brought in the Welfare State. It is also the UK which is now beginning to dismantle the Welfare State. We don’t want to be on this bus.

    It is not under representation that it is the issue it is the fact we as a country (Yes a country, we are not ‘a region’) only get the government we vote for if they decide to vote the same way down south. We are looking for something other democracies take for granted. None of your examples of geographical differences involve countries voting one way and getting governed by another.

    Again bizarre logic over Iraq war. Because there were some Scots in government means an independent Scotland would have gone in to Iraq. Labour MPs voted for the war on the strength of Tony Blair saying trust me and a personal pledge to support Bush. I seriously doubt a separate Labour Party in an Independent Scotland would have slavishly followed the Blair line.

    You then hint at Scotland moving towards a dictatorship and drop Putin in based on I assume the media hysteria that took Alex Salmond’s comments out of context. Here’s a thought to ponder. There will be an election in 2016. The people of Scotland can choose whoever they want. They don’t have to vote for whatever warped view you have of the SNP. In personally believe it will rejuvenate the scottish labour party free from having to toe the London line.

    No one is saying there isn’t tory support in Scotland Mr Straw Man. What is clear it is not the party of choice for most scots but we are frequently governed by them. You do know the party that won the 1955 election was The Unionist Party not the Conservative Party? The Unionist Party didn’t merge until the 1960s by when the tories support was falling. The 1950’s belong to a different era when their was still a religious/ orange vote. Thankfully times have changed as Scotland has become a secular country.

    The EU, Oil, currency issues have been debated round the houses and will continue to do so . No point in rehashing it here.

    The bizarre claims are ramped up to 10 with your statement that the SNP would seek to dismantle the BBC on Rupert Murdoch’s behalf. Thanks I will add that to the vault of ridiculous No claims. And you talk about fantasies. I think in psychology this known as projection! I am not sure you want to go down the strange bedfellows route when you look at who the official campaigners for the no side which include neo nazi breakaway parties and holocaust deniers.

    Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised you devote a large section to the unruly fringe while ignoring the unsavoury elements on the no side. When you have a campaign that is so visionless it must be difficult acknowledging how much this referendum has engaged people in political discourse (which can only be positive for the accountability of politicians) and has been healthy for democracy.

    Most people voting Yes would consider themselves internationalists who believe the normal circumstances for a country is to elect its own government. We are more pro europe, we are more pro immigration. Your description of nationalism applies more to British nationalism not the lazy attempt to smear Scotland’s democratic movement which is based not on ethnicity but who lives and works in Scotland.

    After the use of the Better Together buzzwords of ‘uncertainty’ and ‘risk’ as if these don’t exist now in the union (Have you ever spoken to an economist about how far you can forecast in to the future?) you finish on the flimsily line of more powers something even the head of BT struggled with. Some extra tax powers, but not control over oil revenues we may get but no guarantees our budget wont be cut. After all Westminster can argue you can raise your own taxes if you want to spend more. As Blair McDougall of Better Together said “UK ministers are not going to fall into the trap of acting against Scotland until Scotland decides to leave the United Kingdom” For once I genuinely believe he was telling the truth

  3. Regardless of whether you live in Scotland, England, want to be in the EU, out of the EU doesn’t really matter. What’s happening in Eastern Europe is going to shape national and international politics for decades, whatever happens the day of the vote, the following day we will still need each other for economic prosperity and national security.

  4. Hi Read the article and comments, yes the Scottish Parliament is confrontational as that is the model we work with in politics and law which is fine. What happens in Eastern Europe does affect us all but surely to put a blanket over half of Europe when the comment means Ukraine and Russia is like calling all Scots ,English . All in all a good article in this free and democratic country and as a Yes voter it is time that other yes voters buckle down to the fact that independent or not the right to voice an opinion is first most in freedom not Tartan kilts or shortbread. Duncan is right Nationalism is ugly but when the soldiers went off to the first /second /Iraq wars British Nationalism is applauded and used as a tool by all countries to fuel people to believe that they are not independent beings but part of the overall crowd. With independence it will be hard for years , without, it will be hard for years as UK will ensure that Scotland does never again be in any position to become independent until they wish it . All must vote as they feel right and the more civilised debate the better .

  5. Hi – interesting piece, with lots to comment on including – “A welfare state in a country of 63 million people has a better chance of succeeding. It has a better chance at being fairer than in a country of 5 million people.” So this would imply that the UK welfare state has a better chance of succeeding than those of the scandinavian countries – but the opposite seems to be true?

  6. What an absolutely deluded post, desperately trying to cling on to something that doesn’t exist, and just repeating the made up nonsense of a No campaign, with absolutely nothing to offer, no vision for Scotland, no direction, no plan, nothing, no change, nada, just more threats of cuts to our budget, removal of say in Westminster and how Scotland will be punished for daring to want democracy .
    Do you actual walk around with your eyes open ? what better world is this exactly ? foodbanks are new and real, child poverty is real, people committing suicide because of benefit cuts is real, £1.4 Trillion of debt we had absolutely no say over is real, Westminster has mismanaged, abused and created this divide and you support this murderous, corrupt and increasingly fascist system you truely should be ashamed of yourself, I don’t think you’ll post this, you can’t handle the truth..
    http://youtu.be/CIQ8VVn8AJA

  7. An interesting view , but only half truths in a lot of it as most of the no voter , better together camp use , certainly not enough to change my mind . No country that has gained independence from Britain has ever failed to become better off financially , most have risen in world status . And most are financially secure , with or without their own currency . Scotland may have the benifit of oil but it does not need it .
    Ever the majority of no voters know that London is ruining the uk , draining finances from all areas and harming the people who need most help . Disabled , elderly , and most importantly children . Our future . But for the majority of no voters , they cannot see past the media reports , the lies from Westminster and the social history of a once great United Kingdom , face it Britain is going bust , 1.3 trillion in debt and even with oil revenues , not a hope of ever clearing the interest on that debt let alone the debt itself . Scotland has been a cash cow to the Westminster government for hundreds of years with no benifit to Scotland . Only with independence from the uk can Scotland show the way forward , we do not hate England , we do not even hate Westminster and the uk government . In our opinion they are going the wrong way forward and we do not want to go that way . We are not deserting England as a country . We are simply wanting to be governed by our selves to go our own way politically . We will still trade with the remaining uk we are prepared to pay our share of the massive debt , we would still support the remaining uk militeraly and still be part of Britain as an island . We do not want borders between us and do not want hatred either .

  8. Your paragraph about membership of the Euro is factually inaccurate. Sweden does not have an opt-out from the Euro. Only Denmark and the UK have opt-outs from the Euro, which they secured as part of the Maastricht Treaty (in 1992, which was before Sweden even joined the EU).

    Sweden had a referendum on joining the Euro some years ago, but it was rejected by the majority of their voters. Sweden has since retained its own currency by choosing not to join the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM), which is one of the pre-requisites of adopting the Euro.

  9. The claims made about “Scots” inventions are even more ridiculous given that they weren’t just invented during the Union, many of them are better described as inventions of the Union.

    Penicillin? Discovered by a Scot in London.
    The television? Invented by a Scot in England.
    Dolly the Sheep? Invented (if that’s the right word) in Scotland by a team led by an Englishman.
    Radar? Invented by a Scot in, you guessed it, England.

    If the Yes campaign really knew their history they’d realise this is a far better advert for voting no.

  10. “I wrote about it all the time” Great, this guy already sounds more qualified than the Financial Times and the OECD. I simply had to read on…
    It is full of errors, inaccuracies, weasel-words, obfuscation and stupidity. Here are just a few examples and problems with this blog:
    “This is not like a normal election” – This is not an election. If you want elections in this nation, vote yes.
    “We would be stuck with it forever” – Good. “Stuck” with power in the hands of the Scottish people. Don’t like SNP/ConDem? Vote them out. That’s Scottish democracy. That’s liberty, accountability….independence.
    The shite about inventions – ‘Yes’ poster says we can prosper in the modern world. This guy says that Scots were only able to show ingenuity because they were in England at the time, or working with an English person. OMFG. What a fanny. This section is so offensive and absurd, I am not surprised most people stopped reading the blog at that point. Stunningly stupid. This blog already has zero merit. No need to read on. But let’s…
    The Commonwealth Games “an event that would not have existed without the UK” – better not delve too deep there. The UK’s history of Empire is not a very good advert for staying in the UK. What with the slavery / mass religious persecution etc.
    The Welfare State – “A welfare state in a country of 63 million people has a better chance of succeeding. It has a better chance at being fairer than in a country of 5 million people. That is just basic maths. There is more scope to redistribute when you have more people to redistribute among.” No matter how many times you read this, it makes no sense. Try it.
    The NHS – The point on the NHS is not about whether or not someone was asked to pay for treatment with a credit card. It’s about companies Alistair Darling et al are personally invested in being in line to make millions from the selling off of huge parts of the NHS. The guy writing this must know this – which is why this whole article reeks. It’s deliberately dishonest, repeatedly focussing on micro-issue bullshit to shift attention away from the truth of what is happening. Simply google TTIP or ‘controversial Transatlantic Trade Deal’. Here’s a starting point: http://www.unitetheunion.org/news/uk-government-confirms-nhs-is-not-exempt-from-controversial-trade-deal/
    Darling, the fanny: http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-news/7709-alistair-darling-paid-thousands-by-nhs-privatisation-company – BTW, Mr Darling’s register of interests also shows that he earned £12,999 from Pru Health – another private sector healthcare firm.
    And his pals: http://socialinvestigations.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/over-60-mps-connected-to-companies.html
    Representation – “Independence campaigners often say that Westminster under-represents Scotland. This is a lie.
    Scotland makes up 8% of the UK population, but it has 9% of the seats in Westminster.” Seats in Westminster don’t equal representation. People in power, voted for by the people to represent the people who are answerable to the people and make choices on tax and spend based on the wishes of the people – that’s representation. That doesn’t happen. How many of those 9% of seats are in positions of decision-making power and represent Scottish desires? (see Trident, HS2, Olympics)
    An independent Scotland would not be a military power, nor would we seek to be, that would be capable of deliberately manufactured illegal wars to enable us to build oil pipelines. We have our oil. We would be members of Nato. The Scottish parliament voted to back the illegal war in Iraq as part of the UK. We did not have the choice as to whether Scottish forces should go to Iraq completely ignoring international legal frameworks.
    Control – “What I care about is the amount of control people have over their own lives. That means better, smaller government.” Good so far.
    The SNP – “Wants power all to itself.” Now you are just being a bit of a fud. Behave. This is not about the SNP. Yes voters I interact are not SNP supporters.

    The Yes Campaign – “The yes campaign’s agenda is not to bring power and public services closer to the people. It is to centralise as much of it as possible.” Haha, what??

    Splitting up Germany? The USA? What the hell are you gibbering about. Scotland is a nation controlled by a separate nation in a ‘union’. We are not a region in the nation of the United Kingdom. There is a difference. You are comparing apples and fish.
    Membership of the EU – no one in the No camp doubts this. No one. Just this blogger. Go figure.
    Uncertainty about currency? Seriously?? The pound. Simples. The debate has been put to bed Calum, FFS. Stop clutching at straws. Plan B – Whatever the will of the SCOTTISH people decides!!
    Bail outs – Westminster might have to bail out Scottish institutions? But also, those banks/institutions might leave Scotland? Well, the “UK” banks are global institutions that received an INTERNATIONAL bailout from multiple nations, such as the USA and China, based on how much business those companies have in those countries. If the bankers in London fuck us over again any bailout would be structured in the same way. Westminster bailing out Scotland is pure mythical bunkum considering, we’d be richer than the rUK (see FT)
    Shetland’s oil? – hahahaha. Shetland is in Scotland anyway. It’s not a nation.
    BBC – This one is funny: We might have to PAY FOR THE BBC!!! :O – Wait, I already pay for the BBC “One of the UK’s proudest institutions”??? Has this guy been under a rock for the last few years. It’s a truly shameful embarrassment.

    I’ve had enough of this – job interview in the morning.
    #blogshite

  11. Excellent post with some very pertinent points.

    Don’t be put off by the fact that Nationalists probably didn’t even read what you had to say, whilst ridiculing it. They’re beyond any chance of conversion and aren’t willing to digest anything that would in any way contradict their fantasies of a socialist utopia.

    I’ll be sure to forward this on to my many undecided friends.

  12. The Scottish Government voted for the Iraq war you say?

    From your link:

    “The Labour Party closed ranks and its MSPs were joined by the Tories in supporting the UK Government’s line that Saddam Hussein must get rid of his weapons of mass destruction or face invasion.”

    In other words Better Together took Us into an illegal war.

    What weapons of mass destruction were these that you speak of?

  13. Everyone has the right to hold an opinion. I would defend Duncan’s right with every fibre in my body. However, that does not detract from the view that he is regurgitating propaganda and half-truths as fact.
    It indeed saddens me that as an obviously educated person, Duncan’s essay increasingly moved from an attempt to intellectualise the argument to a more emotive stance, without his realisation.
    Better if he just came out with “I feel I want to stay British”, and left it at that.

  14. An interesting read and I’m pleased to see the effort put in to reach your decision, even if I disagree.

    For me all of the detailed arguments such as Oil, Currency, EU membership etc etc aren’t the point. I’ve read so many views and predictions and any of them could be right. I can see which you believe. In reaching MY decision, only a fortnight ago, my reasoning was this.

    1. Scotland, as a nation, has throughout my whole life been politically different from rUK. This gap widened in the Thatcher years when the UK shifted further to the right.

    2. Most people recognise the above and, in an effort to hold the Union together, Westminster devolved some powers.

    3. Scotland has used those powers and has provided things like Free Prescriptions, no University Fees and in combatting the “bedroom tax” (this isn’t to say I agree that Scottish Governments have been particularly effective or that all of the quoted policies are right)

    4. These changes add a further layer of “inequality” in the UK. A “Union” which has one of the least equal distribution of wealth now has a region which treats it’s citizens differently.

    5. All Westminster parties are promising more powers in the future. It is likely Scottish governments will use any additional powers in ways which will widen this gap. Even in the unlikely event that a Labour government is elected in 2015 the UK Labour Party remains to the right of where I believe Scotland wants them. The gap will continue to grow.

    6. Inequality drives division so logically, in a Union which is already divided in Wealth distribution, further, and growing, differences in Scotland will widen the divide and, at some point, split this Union.

    7. That being the case I believe there are only 2 reasonable courses of action.
    a) Vote NO on the 18th, scrap the Scottish Parliament, Judiciary and Education systems and try to change the Westminster system from within or
    b) Vote YES on the 18th and leave the Union whilst we remain “friends” and try to turn Scotland into the country we want.

    Neither option is an easy thing but, for me, the latter is more likely to be successful. Westminster has shown itself to be extremely robust at defending its workings. Look at Proprtional Representation and an unelected 2nd Chamber bigger than both the US houses put together.

    One final point. Every single time I hear Better Together say “We can have the best of both worlds” I hear right behind it one of my old teachers voices saying “You can’t have your cake and eat it”

  15. I liked the bit where you used the United States political divide as a reason we should accept political division here. Despite politics being drastically different on the two sides of the Atlantic, I note you failed to mention that this same political system that caused a near complete shut down of the government for a month because neither side could agree on a budget.

    Selective arguments are only affective selectively.

  16. Yes Voters, how does having LESS say in the currency your country will adopt be BETTER for your country? You will give London the power to be able to focus on the BEST INTERESTS OF ENGLAND and Scotland would be a SLAVE to London’s economic policy, with NO SCOTTISH MPS IN WESTMINSTER. Given that Scotland will keep the English pound, PLEASE CONVINCE ME, by coherently explaining how giving up any SCOTTISH VOICE in the ENGLISH POUND benefits Scotland.

  17. Wonderful read. Too often the silent majority are afraid to speak out because of the uneducated, working class, flag-waving idiots (which most of the Yes supporters are – those who are educated are the rich ones who will make more money from their SNP pals).

    Ignore the scummy trolls, these are people beyond hope and reasoning. The kind of people who put down every dissenting voice and wheel out their own made up ‘facts’ to justify their impending mistake. The kind of people who want to distance themselves from the responsibilities and consequences of their decision.

    Until the YESNP campaign started 2 years ago, there was a small bubbling of discontent (mostly from radical socialists who have no place in a western economy anyway). But as a result of the Alex Salmond-led racist bullying and whipping up an anti-English nationalist frenzy, the UK is now the worst place in the world.

    This delusion goes against the fact that we live in the one of the world’s largest, most competitive, growing and stable economies. Despite the fact that more money is spent in Scotland than it gives back. Despite the fact that disposable income is higher in Scotland than other parts of the UK (and the revered Scandinavia).

    And before anyone trolls with the poverty and food bank break-your-heart nonsense – that will not change one iota under Independence. That is a societal issue which runs to the very core of attitudes in western civilisation.

    If you dare vote Yes in 2 weeks because of Braveheart, freeing yourself from an oppressor, or any of that truly braindead bullish*t – then do us all a favour and get into your time machine and go back 700 years where you belong.

    I am a proud Scot who understands basic economics, and looks beyond Hadrian’s Wall. I do not want to be forced into a tiny, isolationist, financially vulnerable state.

  18. It’s great fun to follow this as an outsider. Are there any other scottish polls planned, for example about abstaining from electricity or from hot & cold running water?

  19. They forgot to put ‘the United Kingdom’ in that graphic, it was a Scottish concept after all.

  20. Great article and so true and the comments prove the troll’s are out in force which prove the article has struck a nerve,

    Regardless of facts on anything the yes camp are in denial even when the likes of Mr Barroso , Rompey or Juncker all impartial and either former or current leaders in Europe tell us we will be a new state and will need to reapply, but the yes denial squad gets out and they abuse these guys including Miss sturgeon. Notwithstanding whatever happens on Europe we Scots won’t get a vote on it the SNP will take us straight in, that is, if the Spanish don’t use the veto.

    Let’s look at other comments about food banks etc in this day in age and yet the memories are so short that they forget the early 1980 s and how poverty stricken that era was , today’s problems could not hold a candle to the early Thatcher years, yet they forget how that came about and the SNP’s part in it, when unlike not turning up for the bedroom tax vote last week all the SNP MP’s walked through the lobby with Thatcher and gave her there vote which gave us not only her but 18 years of the Tory and the dreaded Poll Tax.

    We also have all these claims of how we can be rich like Norway and yet the SNP have voted against the minimum wage in Westminster and the living wage in Holyrood so how could we afford those Norwegian prices ?

    Let’s look at the yes poster with all the great inventions by Scots and yet people claim it was not because of the broader spectrum that these items were invented but did Bell not teach in Boston when he said those famous words through a telephone to his assistant Thomas Watson “Watson, come here! I want to see you!” this after a move to London in 1865 all these moves broadened his and others horizons like Baird etc and it was because of a wider and broader spectrum and not the parochial view the yes camp have that gave us all the great Scots and yet they can not see this , it’s sad really.

    I hope Scot’s see through the smoke and mirrors and the downright lies and overcome the intimidation and abuse and Vote NO

  21. Thank you Duncan. This is the best article I have read so far on the referendum.
    Pity it was not a compulsory read for all voters before polling day.
    I currently live in The Philippines so don’t have a vote. Its a pity the Yes voters could not visit here so that they could see real poverty, corrupt government and no NHS and compare it with what they have under better together.
    The Philippines used to be a Colony of Spain then The USA and is now independent. Its quite a good example of what might happen to Scotland in the future.

  22. It’s going to be close, which means just under 50% of the population will be dissapointed with the outcome. That is not healthy.
    Should, heaven help us, the YES camp win, then I implore everyone to vote the SNP back in at the first Scottish election. That way they won’t be able to blame anyone else for mess we are going to find ourselves in.

  23. Very well-written and well-researched article. No surprise to see the cybernat trolls doing their best to rubbish your research – their snide comments only prove your point about the Yes camp’s ongoing attempts to shut down any debate (unless it’s in favour of a Yes vote).

  24. When you become independent, maybe you could sink all of the wealth of Scotland (including oil revenues) into a ship laden with absolutely useless stuff, set sail for a place called Darien with a plan to colonise it and bring untold riches back to Scotland.

    I , an Englishman, was recently in your fair country, and asked quite a few Scots about the ill-fated venture you embarked upon the last time your parliament got delusions of grandeur. Not a single one had even heard of the Darien Expedition. Let alone the fact that it was a major contributory factor to the 1707 Act of Union, because the English parliament offered to cancel the horrendous debts that ensued by covering them in exchange for the Scottish parliament’s agreement to the Union.

    I know I’m in no position to tell you what to do, but I really think that many of your countrymen and women are about to commit a grave act of folly, simply out of a desire to stick one up the English and regardless of the unknowable consequences for Scotland. Come on, don’t be “a parcel of rogues”! We working class people in England need you to be voting Labour in the British parliamentary elections. I would not trust Salmond. If ever there was a seeker after personal glory, it’s him.

    Speaking again as an outsider, the Yes campaign does appear to be doing a lot of bullying, shouting down, intimidation and name calling. Calling a potential “No” voter a quisling, traitor, scum etc takes no account of that person’s perfectly valid right to their opinion and their vote. It is NOT very democratic.

  25. Well put together and obviously intelligent but factually wrong on many levels.This is where the Better Together campaign have got it so wrong. An attitude by so many obviously educated people towards the general voting public as if they are thick.
    If they lose this campaign they have no one to blame but themselves.

  26. I’ve given Duncans headlines as you can read his prose above against my response. I hope you read it, it took hours! No wonder no one else has tried to answer it, yet in full.
    1. Duncan: We all want a fairer society, this isn’t specific to Scotland and the Yes campaign has made a bunch of vague promises.
    Susan: This seems self-evident however Scotland constantly votes strongly socialist, with no Tories for over 20 years and even now only one tory MP. England, especially the S.E. vote Tory. We have tried to create a more socialist government but with less than 10% of the vote we haven’t been able to stop the massive social injustice imposed on us by Westminster. We didn’t vote for the Poll tax. Or the destruction of our industries. Scotland definitely did not support the direct attack on our fishing, steel, ship building or our trades unions. These were not inevitable they were Westminster policies. We didn’t support the mass sell-off of our national assets either or the raid on our pensions, or the massive unnecessary cuts still being made without caring about who gets hurt. The reason these things have carried on despite us is that the UK as a whole keeps voting for the Established party’s which are all the same, it’s virtually impossible to tell them apart. There have been calls for reform but they’ve been ignored and the voters in RUK appear to accept this. Scotland doesn’t accept it, that’s why we are having this referendum. We’ve tried to change the system but for the last 30 years, Westminster has progressively chosen to prioritise big business over social equality, over the people they are supposed to be there to serve. That’s the difference between Scotland and the RUK, yes we all want change but Scotland is the only Region doing anything about it. Just look at the lack of action over the secret negotiation over TTIP* http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/09/ttip-biggest-threat-democracy-youve-never-heard
    As for “vague promises” the white paper is not vague. It’s very clearly thought out. I don’t agree with everything in it but I agree with most of it. That’s me, you may feel differently. The point is, it is a white paper to start from, and it’s not set in stone.
    So, there is a difference of opinion between Scotland and the RUK on social justice and the promised are not vague, they are set down in the White Paper which is available online or by post from the Scottish Government website.
    2. Duncan: We are better together. Everything Scotland has invented, discovered and done in the world has happened during the Union (the last 300 years) and wouldn’t have happened without being in the Union. Our enterprising spirit was SOWN by joining the Union.
    Susan: Better Together keep saying it’s the “Nats” (derogatory term) that keep banging on about ancient history while dragging it up themselves but ok, let’s look at this statement in-depth.:
    Duncan suggests that Scotland was a brain dead backwater before the Union of 1707. Not the case. I’m not going to list all our discoveries and inventions pre Union but here’s a few wee ones off the top of my head:
    • The Bank of England – William Patterson 1694
    • Logarithms (computers wouldn’t work without them) John Napier 1550-1617
    • Popularisation on the decimal point and Grand Daddy of the metric system John Napier
    • The Gregorian telescope – James Gregory 1638 – 1675
    • The King James Bible 1601
    • The Scottish Reformation was a social reformation by the people against the monarchy unlike the English reformation which was by the monarchy to allow Henry the VII to divorce and marry Ann Boleyn.
    I could on but that gives an idea of just how innovative we were before the Union. Would we have been at the forefront right up to the present day without the union? I’m not Dr Who so can’t say for sure but can’t see any reason why not. However the referendum isn’t to wipe out 300 years of history it’s about the future not the past.
    More importantly will Scottish inventors and academics get the same level of support and funding after independence? There is a level of uncertainty over funding in some quarters.
    We have our own funding organisations like the hunter foundation. We also have a stake in the UK funding organisations and will keep our steak after independence. Much of the funding comes from big pharma. They don’t care where the institution is that they fund, they care about the quality of the research and ability of the scientists they fund. As we have five world class Universities and world famous institutions we will keep getting funding. We will also be eligible for funding from the EU we don’t get now as part of the larger UK. For every academic who says they are uncertain about funding there is an academic who says they know for certain their funding is safe. No one has said they will lose their funding in the event in independence. Our best brains work together with others all over the planet, this will continue, why on earth wouldn’t it? Here’s the link to academics for Yes, which covers this point much more specifically as I can; http://www.academicsforyes.org/
    3. Duncan: The UK has a chance of being fairer.
    Susan: I’ve covered this above. It’s had 30 years to be fairer but continued to become more and more unfair, despite devolution, which is already making the RUK complain to Westminster that they want what Scotland has. The best way to make the UK fairer is for Scotland to become independent. Then Westminster will have to listen to the regions outside the Home Counties.
    4. Duncan: The Welfare State has a better chance with 63 million than 5.5 million.

    Susan: That’s not happening; the welfare state is being stripped of what little assets it has left. People are being forced into poverty. The majority of people reduced to using food banks are working. The vague promises for devolution include welfare so Westminster definitely doesn’t have any intention of moving away from its plans for further cuts. Labour has promised to carry on the tory cuts if they get in. Goodbye Welfare state if we stay. Small Scandinavian countries have thriving welfare states. I’ll come to Scandinavia later. Of course we won’t turn our back on the rest of the world and will do our bit for foreign aid but we will have control over where the money goes and to which organisations. Maybe funding the Taliban in the 90’s wasn’t such a good idea?

    5. Duncan: Scottish Politicians are not inherently better. The Scottish government hasn’t stopped yaboo politics and the last three Prime ministers have Scottish links.

    Susan: Couldn’t agree more. I’ve often said that anyone who wants to be a politician shouldn’t be allowed to be one. That said, unless we choose a completely different way to govern, that’s how it works (I’m good with jury duty system myself, a panel knock out the numpties and everyone else goes in the hat and those pulled out have to do their 5 years regardless. Remember some of the best politicians we’ve had come from other backgrounds than politics degrees.) That’s not going to happen soon so what do we do about the politicians we’ve got. Well for a start, we won’t have an unelected second house as we do now. We won’t have 26 lords from the Church of England and the rest there by accident of birth (yes there are still hereditary peers sitting) and the chums of the PM of the day who get the job for long service or a big donation to the party of the day. At present we have the second biggest legislature in the world, second only to China. We have twice as many peers as seats in the House! They get paid £300 a day if the bother to turn up for 20 minutes. They all have a job for life regardless of their ability. There are no plans for reform.
    In an Independent Scotland we will have a proportional representation of elected members of the second house, who have to stand for re-election. So that’s fairer for a start and much cheaper!
    In the Scottish parliament we have proportional representation instead of first past the post. This system is designed to avoid a majority, so everyone’s vote counts, the different parties and independents have to work together to legislate. No party should be able to force through legislation. This fell down at the last election because an unprecedented share of the electorate voted SNP, which is why we are having a referendum. That’s unlikely to happen again but you never know.
    More to the point, our Parliament will have a written constitution. Written by the people not the politicians, although let’s face it; they’ll have their mucky paws all over it if we don’t keep them in check. This is the big one, a written constitution (the UK has never had one) and the fact that they’re on our doorstep, where we can see the whites of their beady eyes and keep them in line. It’s much easier for angry voters to get the bus to Edinburgh and make a noise than try to get anywhere near Westminster. Scottish MP’s won’t have ermine robes, centuries of “it’s always been dome this way” and ceremony to hide behind. We will have a much fairer democracy. It’s not going to be perfect. They will be a pain in the arse but when we catch them lying and we will) it’s going to be easier to hold the bustards to account!

    6. Duncan: Scotland is not under represented at Westminster:

    Susan: This is debateable but not a major point, we’re pretty much represented proportionally; sadly it’s not a proportional system so with 57 MP’s only one of which is Tory (telling me that represents Scotland?) we still vote labour and get tory. That’s the point. As a country we are not represented, we are only a region with no sovereignty. The power in Westminster is held in the hands of the public school elite. As a country, we don’t get our voices heard, if we did we would still have industry and the NHS wouldn’t be being dismantled in England, so much for the West Lothian question! The Scots MP’s who sit in Westminster making decisions on purely English matters do so because everything that happens in much bigger England affects us. We can say goodbye to that with further devolution along with a huge chunk of our block grant.
    So they can change boundaries to let the Tories get even more votes, the do it all the time. At present we’ve got as few MP’s as they can get away with (I dispute Duncan’s figures) but the point is we don’t get a proportional say. The outcome of every general election for the last 50 years apart from two would have been exactly the same if Scotland hadn’t had a vote at all. In an Independent Scotland, we get proportional representation, every vote does count.

    7. Duncan: Illegal War was pursued by Scots:

    Susan: Duncan’s reasoning for this statement is it was a Scottish PM who took us into the Iraq war and the Scottish Government backed it. Tony Blair is only scots when it suits him, doesn’t make it a Scottish war, nor does the very close decision made by the Scottish government who very narrowly voted for it under the pretext that there were definitely WMD’s and pressure from Jack McConnell (now Lord McConnell) coming directly from Westminster. The Scottish Government were lied to! Plain and simple and it weren’t an easy vote to get through. More to the point, that was then, this is now and we’ve learned that lesson http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/politics/angry-scenes-as-scottish-parliament-debates-iraq-war-10-years-on-1.78224.
    In an independent Scotland we will be much more careful! We don’t need to throw our weight about on the world stage. We will be building trade relationships not bombing civilians for oil and gas.

    8. Duncan: I am in favour of independence – for people.

    Susan: Duncan answers for independence with his last paragraph in this section. “What I care about is the amount of control people have over their own lives. That means better, smaller government. It means a government that trusts people to make the decisions that are right for them.” Couldn’t agree more, that’s called independence. More over the Scottish Government plan to devolve more power to the councils.

    9. Duncan: The SNP want the power all for themselves:

    Susan: Duncan is mixing up the SNP with the Yes Campaign. The referendum isn’t about voting for a person or party, it’s about voting for a political system and home rule. As I’ve said before, the chances of another SNP majority are non-existent. There will be a general election in 2016. Think we’ll all be looking for a change at that point. We’ll get the government we vote for, not the SNP. This is plain disingenuous.

    10. Duncan: Independence is the wrong sort of constitutional reform:

    Susan: This is where Duncan makes stuff up to suit his agenda without even trying to make a reasoned argument. There will be a second house and there will be a Rural parliament and there will be devolution to all the regional councils. It’s not an SNP land grab; it can’t be because the SNP aren’t writing the constitution and the Scottish government have already outlined all of the above. He doesn’t give any suggestions for what kind of constitutional reform is the “right” one. This is the one we have a chance of implementing.

    11. Duncan: Devolution works.

    Susan: devolution is a retained power. That means that it can be dissolved at any time. It’s no real power at all. We had energy devolved but Westminster didn’t like where the Scottish government was going with it so dissolved that power. Hence we’re getting fracking despite the Scottish government voting against it. Also as long as we are part of the UK the Westminster Party’s hold the strings of the Scottish Labour, Conservative and Lib Dems partys. In an independent Scotland those party’s would find their own characters, closer to the scots they serve. Further devolution means further cuts to our block grant but not necessarily further cuts to our Westminster income tax payments. We could easily end up paying for everything twice. As for devolution working as members of the EU, it doesn’t. As a devolved region we get 6 EMP’s, even Malta has 12. So all the decisions are made behind closed doors by Dave and his chums. Hence the TTIP (see the link abouve0 and thus the threat to the NHS not just in England but devolved Scotland. With a referendum to leave the EU coming up, even if Scotland, Wales and NI vote to stay in England can and quite possibly will vote to take us out anyway. Devolution isn’t working.
    12. Duncan: Independence is an old-fashioned solution to a problem people are beginning to solve themselves.
    Susan: Again Duncan talks about centralisation, which I have clearly refuted above. The Web is great and has galvanised the Yes campaign, however countries need someone to govern them, otherwise we wouldn’t have any services or infrastructure. Westminster has done its best to put those services and infrastructure into the hands of big business and works for the interests of big business; it’s time to take it back now1 not in some utopian civilisation run by who knows on the net.
    13. Duncan: Scotland is not a Tory free zone:

    Susan: we know, I covered this above but will repeat it quickly. At present we have one Conservative MP at Westminster out of 59. That’s not fair! But it’s the Westminster, first past the post system that suits both Labour and especially the Tories over all because it gives them a massive advantage over the smaller parties. In Scotland we have and will continue to have proportional representation which is why the Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Labour, along with the Greens and socialist democrats etc. are able to make up a very effective opposition and all the parties have to work together to get a consensus. So that’s better isn’t it? In an independent Scotland the Scottish conservatives will be free from the Westminster party yoke and will be able to represent their conservative voters. Much fairer and a much better balance. Duncan’s assertion that it was some sort of magic on Alex Salmonds part to get a majority is rubbish, it’s a simple fact that everyone voted with their consciences and finally gave up the tactical voting the scots have done for years to keep the Tories out, not that it did us much good.
    14. Duncan: Nor are Ukip voters. Independence won’t keep undesirables out.

    Susan. Agree absolutely, it won’t but it won’t particularly let them in either and our parties are less likely to be swayed by fear of UKIP or any other right wing elements as the Scots aren’t as easily swayed. This isn’t an argument either way. It goes back to; we will get what we vote for, which will make a nice change.

    15. Duncan: There are geographical differences in Scotland too:

    Susan: Again yes, again don’t see the issue about independence here either. As I said earlier, there will be a rural parliament and devolution to the councils so those areas that have specific issues should be better looked after. I know how important this is having lived on an island off the west coast. That island is in the wrong region, it got moved by Westminster to increase the majority in north Ayrshire, backfired but there you go. Since devolution the Scottish Government has brought in the RET, making travel to the islands much cheaper and opening up the economies. Arran is one of the last to get it but can’t wait! The Scottish Government has done a lot for the rural economies but can do more with control of our own budget.

    16. Duncan: Geographical differences happen in democracies all over the world.

    Susan. Yes, see above. Is this a reason to split up the US or Germany? That’s a decision for the US and Germany. Some people would say that the disproportionate centralised power bases of these countries are detrimental to the stability of the entire planet but I couldn’t possibly comment.. The breakup of the USSR ended the cold war but hey, that’s just history. If Shetland wants to go on their own way, they should, that’s democracy. Do I think Scotland is a nation and a country, yes I do. Do I think we’re better? We’re different and yes, I do think we’re better but I would say that, I’m Scots. Do I think this is an argument to stay in the UK, nope.

    17. Duncan: “They” told us we needed legal advice but it never transpired because it didn’t exist. An independent Scotland’s membership of the EU is by no means a certainty.

    Susan: Yes there was and is legal advice and we took it, hence the white paper. It’s been through international law. We’ve been through EU membership until we’re blue in the face. Scotland is already a member of the EU. The EU has never had an area that is already a member become a sovereign state therefor there is no precedent so there is a small level of uncertainty of when we would join. We aren’t going to be independent on 19th sept so we can finalise that between then and Independence Day. The EU would be treading on a legal minefield to throw every Scot who is already a member out of the EU. I’ve got a European passport as does everyone else so that’s going to be tricky! The chances of us staying in the EU if we stay in the UK, with the coming referendum are much more uncertain.

    18. Duncan: A Yes vote would cause uncertainty with our currency.
    Susan: Again, this has been well covered. There’s plans a through to F however, Westminster is driven by the markets so fiscal union is the most obvious and best option for both countries, at least until Scotland chooses differently, which we could in the future. Say that doesn’t happen because Westminster, who love us so much, won’t let us join a fiscal union then yes we will continue to use the pound. Ireland did it for 50 years and they did more than fine with it. Moreover, not being tied to a central bank would mean the Scottish banks would have to hold their own gold reserves, thus making our economy more stable than one at the mercy of a central bank. We wouldn’t be able to borrow beyond our means. We have a 17 billion steak in the UK gold reserve not to mention our share of gilts etc. There’s nothing to stop us setting up our own central bank, that’ll take time but as I said, there’s a lot to be said for not having a central bank. Iceland has an excellent model now; yes they had a hellish time at the crash but learned their lessons. Why on earth would we make the same mistakes? Not having a central bank would also mean we are not at the mercy of the housing bubble in the SE of England that is about to blow again. This is my preferred model.

    19. Duncan: If Scotland did join the EU, it would probably have to use the Euro.

    Susan: Probably being the operative word. As Westminster is blocking all negotiations we don’t know! So yes this is uncertain. That’s a decision we will have to make post-independence, depending on the negotiations. We can use the Scandinavian model of trading with the EU without being full members, this would put our farmers under pressure but hey, we might not be in the EU if we stay in the UK that’s uncertain too. Again we are in a unique position but it’s true, the EU might insist on the euro, not a choice I’d go for.

    20. Duncan; The Yes campaigns plans for tuition fees would be illegal.

    Susan: There is nothing to back this assertion up, show me the proof. Again it is reliant on both Scotland and the RUK staying in the EU. If RUK leaves the EU in 2016 then yes we can!

    21. Duncan: Scotland can’t be like Norway and it might not want to be anyway.

    Susan: Ok, Norway and Scotland have very different histories, we aren’t becoming independent in 1814 we’re doing it now with vast natural reserves of clean /sustainable energy as well as the oil, which is a bonus. Duncan is right, we’re not like Norway, and we have a much more temperate climate and longer daylight hours. Also we don’t have the same level of alcoholism, which is why their alcohol is so expensive. We don’t want to be carbon copies of Norway but I don’t see why our culture is less conducive to a social democratic society. Norway isn’t a blue print, it’s an example of a successful country that has used its resources wisely, we can learn from that model and many others, and we don’t have to start easting dried fish. We are in a much stronger position than Norway was 200 years ago so to compare both countries becoming independent as if it’s the same time is ridiculous. No one is saying it’s going to be easy but it’s not going to be penury either.

    22. Duncan: we have only one shot at spending money oil.
    Susan: That’s right! But we don’t spend it all! We spend some of it on infrastructure and services and we save some into a long term fund. There is at least 50 years of oil left, probably much, much more. However we want to be careful with our reserves. A lot more careful than Westminster has been. You and I won’t benefit massively from the oil fund but your children will. This isn’t about the next five years; this is about all our futures. Yes the oil is a bonus, time we started treating it as something we have to make work now for the long term rather than spending it like a banker spends his bonus.

    23. Duncan: whose oil is it anyway? Orkney and Shetland’s Independence movement.

    Susan: Good question. There’s nothing to stop Orkney and Shetland becoming Independent. A very good reason for Holyrood to care for all the Islands much better than Westminster has treated Scotland. While we’re at it, why has Westminster redrawn the sea border with Scotland and pinched 6000 sq. miles of our waters, we’ll be wanting those back. So Orkney and Shetland become independent at some time in the future (hypothetical but fair). Duncan says two thirds of the oil is in their waters, I beg to differ, especially considering the new fields to the west and the Clyde, which will open up when we get rid of Trident. As I said, oil is a bonus, we can do without it but it definitely helps. There are still untapped reserves that have been kept very quiet. Plus the oil revenue shared between 5.5 million goes a lot further than shared between 61 million. Selfish? We’ve tried sharing with the UK; we get back less than we put in and have done for centuries so, too late for that argument.

    24. Duncan: independence would hack away at the BBC. We would have to pay for programmes.

    Susan: Have you been to Ireland? They get the BBC there and don’t pay for it, it’s on Freeview. We pay in much more through the license fee than we get out in programming so we subsidise all UK programming. Duncan has quoted another friend of Better together, a former DG. There’s no plan to dismantle the BBC, that’s another myth. We will still get Dr Who and Match of the Day wither we like it or not.

    25. Duncan: An independent Scotland would open the door for Rupert Murdoch.

    Susan: Accusing Salmond of having an “unusually close relationship” with Murdoch. David Cameron, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are in it up to their necks with Murdoch, why do you think Rebecca Brooks, Dave’s riding partner got off? We’re not voting for Alex Salmond, we’re voting for a political system. The white paper is a starting point and doesn’t say anything about dismantling the BBC which Duncan has pointed out is an Independent worldwide organisation, I think the Scottish Government will have better things to do and the electorate would string up anyone who stopped us getting Strictly.

    26. Duncan: Strange bedfellows.

    Susan: I could go on about the very nasty people who have donated to the No campaign but I won’t, it’s all public knowledge. The Scottish government stood strongly against the whole section 28 debacle. I don’t have the details of every donation to Yes and donations to the SNP are irrelevant, this isn’t about party politics. The Vladimir references are very funny as David Cameron specifically asked Vlad to speak out against Scottish independence. I’ve no idea what he said.

    27. Duncan: Abuse and intimidation are hallmarks of the independence movement, from grassroots all the way up to the very top.

    Susan: Really? The Yes campaign hasn’t made threats against the people of England or anyone else. They haven’t made up a bunch of myths to scare people into voting Yes, that’s Better Together tactics. Nor have we patronised anyone or suggested that a no vote means they hate their family, friends and country, that’s all been the No Campaign. There has been some bad behaviour by individuals on both dies, including a pregnant Yes campaigner being kicked in the stomach by a No campaigner (BNP thug), an attempt to run Salmond off the road by a man waving a no placard from his car and a Yes shop being fire bombed. A wee bit more serious than an egg. But the Yes Camp has taken these sporadic attacks as the acts of individuals not the entire no campaign. At least half the Scots electorate are polling at Yes just now but Duncan is “sick” at the thought of “them” being in power and goes on to denigrate the thousands of ordinary scots, like me as vicious nationalists, just like the BNP. It’s not us that have the BNP supporting us; it’s not us that have the Orange order marching in our name. It’s not my 76 year old friend, who is suffering from a brain tumour and holding on until the 19th, who simply flies her saltire and keeps up with the campaign on Facebook who are dissimilating and being told to use incendiary language by the police.

    28. Duncan: Free speech has already taken a blow in this campaign.

    Susan I agree, the media have done their best to show Yes in a bad light s has Duncan and it’s a good try. He’s really taken a lot of time to put his point over, I wonder if he did it on his own or had the better together spin doctors helping, I don’t know. I do know how long this took to reply to, by myself, started at 7pm this afternoon, it’s now midnight and I still haven’t spell checked so please forgive any typos.

    It’s up to everyone to make their own mind up. Please read up as much as you can, never stop asking questions and make the decision best for you. These answers are my personal opinion and are no way coming from the Yes Campaign. I’m not a member of the SNP and never have been, nor do I work for any Yes Campaigns, I just want a better future for everyone. It’s up to you, it’s our future. xxx

  27. Susan your article is the best by far I have seen from the Yes campaign just as Duncan’s was the best I have seen from the No campaign.
    Both articles I am sure will persuade many people on how to vote as both make articulate and strong cases in support of their beliefs.
    If I had a vote (I don’t as I currently live in The Philippines) it would be No as all my life I have considered myself both British and Scottish and I would rather see all the people of the UK working together to make the wrongs right as against one region of the UK saying enough is enough we are on our way.
    Surely that is possible ? Surely the lessons of the referendum have been learned by both sides?
    As it is a Yes vote will not as many think immediately bring milk and honey and austerity will not go away overnight or even in the medium term. That is quite clear and the damage to the RUK will also be greatly harmful to them.
    A No vote will at least will keep the UK together and if all the promises are kept as they must will bring significant additional powers to Scotland as well as being of benefit to all.
    There is no going back, both sides must know that compromise and change is the best option.
    That can only happen now with a No vote.
    There will be no winners. If the vote is as close as the polls suggest neither side regardless of the result has a real mandate.
    Do you want to live in a country that is split down the middle ?
    God bless us all.

  28. Duncan – thank you so much for a well-balanced and informative post … I’m an ex-pat Scot living in Brittany (we left Scotland because we could not afford to buy our ideal retirement home there) but I am a Scot to my core, and like you, I fear for my homeland if the Yes vote succeeds next Thursday. I’ve experienced lots of online abuse, name-calling etc because of my views but the more that happens and the more I see and hear in the media, the more I pray that Scotland remains in the UK … for my family and friends who live and work in Scotland, the thought of being governed by the SNP/Salmond is unthinkable and scares them. Thanks again for such a clear and calm article!

  29. yes/no I am a dont know. Will more than likely make my mind up on the day. These articals help towards MY decision and it will be down to who do I trust with my future and my childrens, Duncans arguement has move me more to yes.

  30. You have managed to articulate much of my thinking although I have not experienced intimidation. I think the YES campaigners have really gone out hard where the NO side has been slower in their campaigning. Because of this it can be difficult to be the first in a circle to come out comprehensively with reasons for voting No. I love your piece and continue to believe we will be better together.

  31. Hi, very interesting arguments from both sides. Intelligent comments from both sides even where some errors here & there (no one’s infallible). I am a very proud Welshman, but also a proud Brit (like many in UK, I do have Scots, Irish & English heritage). I would strongly encourage our Scots compatriots to vote NO. It would break my heart, truely, like most other Brits outside Scotland, I suspect, to break us all up. For me, besides the emotional reasons, I would also say, weigh up risks v benefits…Yes = massive risks & yes a few potential rewards; No = far fewer risks in today’s volatile World & definite rewards continuing stability within UK & some benefits from more Devo. Balance sheet for me clearly favours NO vote for Scotland. Also Let’s stay together & Scotland can work with rest of us Welsh, N Irish & even a lot of English (yes, many are still liberal & left leaning, not all Tories). Together we can make UK even better for each Nation and overall.

  32. absolutely spot on. I’m surprised AS hasn’t been asked why there are virtually nil NO posters in people’s homes; this one fact gives a very clear indication of how a No vote is perceived on both sides. Hopefully democracy will pull us through, although I do worry for our country either way..

  33. I have lived in Orkney my whole life and never have I once heard of an Orkney independence movement. Me and my friends have joked about it but nobody will go to the lengths of organising a referendum on It when we only account for 0.4% of the Scottish population

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