I was born in England and grew up in Wales, lived in France, recently moved to Scotland, and I am entitled to vote in the Scottish Independence referendum. I should add, I am libertarian in the sense that I believe people have the right to self determination. So following that line of reasoning I should vote for independence but Scotland will be fiscally tied to the remainder of the UK because the Scottish government wants to keep the pound, so if I vote Yes I am not voting for fiscal independence.
So if I vote yes, what am I voting for?
Scotland keeping it’s oil wealth. What to do with that? Spend it on free childcare for all. Personally I disagree with this on two levels. If you can afford to pay for childcare you should pay. Secondly if you are not working you should not receive free childcare. It should be there not facilitate bringing people into the work place not to give parents an afternoon off. Costs of creating Scottish government infrastructure; Foreign Office including embassies and intelligence agency, Ministry of Defence including NATO membership, Home Office, HMRC, DVLA, BBC etc etc. Scotland is a country of 5.3 million people, which benefits directly from the scalability of 63 million people of the UK. Then there is the issue of how much UK debt Scotland would inherit and what rate that would be paid at. All this will have to be negotiated with the UK government, who will, having lost the vote, drive a very hard bargain on the details because they have very little to loose. It is inconceivable that the Faslane Naval base will continue, since it is primarily a nuclear submarine base, and since the Scottish National Party have said an independent Scotland will not hold nuclear weapons, this will be a huge lose of jobs and expertise to Scotland.
The Scottish Government has said to wants European Union membership. This still has to be negotiated. This is not a forgone conclusion. I believe Scotland will become a member of the EU if there is a yes vote, but Scotland will have to make a lot of concessions to make that happen. They will not get the same terms the remainder of the UK enjoys. So what could Scotland loose? The Pound, fishing rights in Scottish waters, right of veto. If Scotland wants EU membership, it will have play a very good game of poker. A better question perhaps, is should Scotland remain in the EU?
So what are my fears? My number one is Scotland needs to start with a balanced budget. I keep hearing a lot of what the individual monetary benefits of an independent Scotland; free childcare, pensions, free University places. What Scotland needs is vibrant low tax economy that encourages investments particularly in new technologies; spending on research and encouraging spin-off companies. The real debate is not what Scotland can do for you, but what you can do for Scotland!
Finally the politicians; I am not a fan of politicians. My main problem with 98% of politicians is they lust for power. I don’t understand what sort of checks and balances will be built into new government institutions; the executive, legislative and judiciary, but you can bet the new Scottish constitution will be loaded in favour of the politicians, who having finally got their hands on power are not going to let go in a hurry!
Basically I have a lot of questions and very few answers, but I suspect it will eventually come down to a simple question of do I vote with my head or my heart?