Scotland Be Careful What You Wish For on 18th September by Derek Wyatt
The Scottish debate on independence has basically been one about heart.
You might have expected it to be more than that. And such a defining moment In our history should have included an independent analysis of the economic costs of severing the union not just for the Scots but all UK citizens.
How could anyone really vote without a deal having been agreed with Whitehall beforehand? There should have been a joint committee for ten years which would have settled the currency, pensions, capital flight, tax, EU membership, the end of the Barnett formula, NHS funding et al: and then a referendum.
Instead, we have had a Yes vote based on emotion. For sure Alex Salmond (and his rather lame team) have tried to tell the voters that Scotland would be a fairer society with better education and health services. But it simply is not clear how this can be afforded without higher taxation.
Mr. Salmond has spent a life time fighting for independence but should he lose the vote it will be the end of his political career.
Meanwhile, the Better Together campaign has not fully set out the reasons why the Union begun in 1707 is worth preserving. In the second of two debates (one would have sufficed) held on Bank Holiday Monday evening, Alistair Darling, surprisingly failed to make the case in his opening two minute speech.
His problem was that he was selected because David Cameron knew there were no votes for him if he was to go head-to-head with Salmond. So who could front up for the Better Together? Pick any of the following Blair, Brown, Miliband and Clegg and you will see why Darling got the nod. By the by, he was the best Chancellor of the Exchequer we had in the most trying of conditions; he was the safest pair of hands and received very little credit for it.
Darling in the second debate was disappointing. Salmond was infinitely better but then he had been woeful in the first slug-fest. Will these public debates have made any difference as to how the Scots will vote on 18th September? I doubt it.
If the Yes vote wins in the very short term it will cause Welsh and Northern Irish politicians to seek the same powers which will irk the English. I see The Treasury being as tough as tough could be in any deals with a newly independent Scotland. In its first decade the Scottish economy will stumble into recession and struggle to attract new businesses.
If the Better Together side wins as the opinion polls predict - though last time I looked opinion polls don’t vote – then Scotland will receive more powers. The consequence of this will be to usher in federal parliaments (by 2025) with equal powers for the four nations of the United Kingdom (as I outlined in The Guardian letters page last week) with an over-arching Senate replacing the House of Lords.