Economics of Independence Scotland's Economy

Why the No campaign REALLY don’t want a Scottish oil fund

North Sea oil platformAlmost every nation that’s discovered oil or great mineral wealth has started a sovereign wealth fund and they’ve all become wealthier societies – except Scotland.

The idea of a sovereign wealth fund is to put some of the wealth being generated to one side, to invest it wisely for the future, to look after future generations and usually to underpin pension schemes and public services especially in the context of economic volatility.  It is just common sense and good economic housekeeping.

No economist worth their salt would claim the UK was wise NOT to start an oil fund in the late 1970s’, 1980’s and even 1990’s.  As a result of a serious failure to act in a way that was prudent and sensible, rather than Scotland’s massive surplus being put aside for pensions and investment it was used to keep successive Westminster governments afloat. Scotland’s surplus covered massive deficits run up in London. In effect, Scotland’s oil revenues paid for Westminster’s de-industrialisation of the UK and still growing dependency on the highly volatile financial markets centred in London.

Darlings mistake

Indeed several former UK Chancellors have admitted it was a mistake not to have an oil fund, not least Alistair Darling, leader of the No campaign, who recently commented “if we had our time over again, perhaps we should have [established a fund]“. This phrase included only a slight hint of contrition for economic mismanagement.

Healey admissionDennis Healy, another former Chancellor, said that oil wealth had been squandered by Westminster rather than invested, while being underplayed by the UK government to subdue calls for Scottish independence.  You could fill a whole article with the views of economists and unionist supporters who will agree that the UK wasted Scotland’s oil billions. Here is a typical article from Larry Elliot at The Guardian: “An entire era can be summed up in three words: discovered, extracted, squandered.”

The industry body “UK Oil and Gas” (bizarrely headquartered in London) has predicted strong economic contribution from the North Sea well into the century. According to industry experts, 16-24 billion barrels of oil remain in the North Sea. This has a wholesale value of £1.5 trillion. Even the UK government expects oil production to continue “well beyond 2055”, and notes that demand for oil is expected to increase by 28%. (pg. 24) The oil companies themselves are investing £100bn in 133 new wells, the single largest tranche of investment ever in the North Sea, which amounts to £13.5 billion in this year alone. We are in the infancy of a new oil boom.

So let’s not make the same mistake again. Let’s start a sovereign oil fund tomorrow. Let’s use Scotland’s oil to underpin our pensions and prosperity for future generations. If it was a good idea then, its got to be an even better idea now!  After all we have a great deal of catching up to do.

The Norwegian example

Take Norway which is as close to an economic mirror image of Scotland as you can get but started a sovereign oil fund in the 1990s. Now it has a fund worth £460bn, some three times the entire GDP of Scotland. Another former Chancellor Norman Lamont said on Newsnight last year that you can’t compare Norway’s pensions system with the UK’s because Norway can afford it as a medium sized oil rich nation.

So why when the Scottish government has suggested the creation of an oil fund are the No Camp instantly up in arms?  Well, it is for one simple reason. Well over 90% of the tax take from oil and gas is generated from Scottish waters. No matter what you call it, people will refer to any fund as the “Scottish Oil Fund”, ipso-facto when it comes to spending that wealth, there will be political pressure to spend it in Scotland, and they DON’T want that because they CAN’T afford that.

iunSvFKQvEhkEvery year for 30 years Scotland has generated more tax per head than the rest of the UK (rUK) but this is not been returned to Scotland in spending. In 2011/12 Scotland generated 9.9% of the UK revenue but only received 9.3% of UK public spending. That amounts to an better fiscal position for Scotland versus the UK of £4.4bn last year alone.  Add to that the fact that an independent Scotland would have been in surplus over the last 30 years had it not had to pay an average of £2bn a year servicing debt that the rUK generated, debt that Scotland didn’t need because we were in surplus.

This is how Scotland’s wealth was hidden and spirited away and how Scotland was denied the chance to be a healthily, prosperous, more equal and productive nation with a fully funded pension fund and a real voice in world affairs. Just like Norway.

Scotland is a wealthy nation but as a result of our political union with Westminster we are not a wealthy or equal society.

The No Camps fraudulent argument

So what argument are the No Campaign using to suggest we shouldn’t have an oil fund, now that at last someone has had the common sense to suggest setting up one before its too late?  Well they claim we can’t start one because the UK is in deficit!  Lets be clear – Scotland is only operating a deficit because we are part of the UK.

We have reliable independent and official Scottish Government income and expenditure figures for 32 years which show that without having to pay for debt generated elsewhere in the UK Scotland would be in surplus right now even allowing for our share of the banking bailouts and despite the impact of losing two banks as a result of poor regulation at Westminster. Indeed, it is a credible argument that because there may be no recovering from the UK’s present fiscal position, Scotland will always be in deficit for as long as we are part of the UK.

Let’s imagine for a moment that an independent Scotland does accept its population or GDP per capita share of debts run up by the UK. The No Campaign claim that if Scotland runs a deficit then you can’t save as you are borrowing to save. However, there are several problems with this flawed contention.

1) Scotland is likely to have returned to surplus in the year before it officially becomes independent in 2016. The UK Chancellor George Osborne cant argue with that as he is predicting that the UK as whole will return to surplus in before independence is declared in 2016.

2) As explained above, Scotland’s fiscal position is better than the rUK’s last year by £4.4bn (coincidentally equivalent to 60% of the Scotland nominal deficit) and so Scotland can return to surplus far more quickly than the UK by merit of simply having a far higher GDP per head.

3) The debt that Scotland will inherit from the UK could be structured at approximately 3.0% interest and last year the Norwegian oil fund returned a staggering 14% profit. So do you pay your long term structured debt back at 3.0% or invest for the future at up to 14%?

Equating the national finances to those of an individual or household makes it easier to understand so I’ll have a go.  Many people have long term structured debt at low interest in the shape of a mortgage but they also have savings accounts, sometimes an investment account and usually a pension. How secure a financial future will you have if all your money goes into a mortgage, none into your pension and none into a savings plan?

You know the answer. And that’s exactly the No Campaign’s proposition – put all your money into your mortgage and don’t put anything into a pension or savings.

How about actually planning for Scotland future?

So what happens when the oil does run out, perhaps in fifty years or so?  We either have to act now by voting Yes, planning for the future and staring an oil fund or to hope that the rest of the UK will actually start to subsidise us.  And that’s what independence is about. The rest of the UK can’t pay its own bills. It is in a far worse financial position than Scotland, so we can’t rely on London for our children’s futures. If the rest of the UK was in a better financial state there would not be a No Campaign they would be glad to cut us lose if they actually did subsidise Scotland.  They believe that they need us in both the short and longer-term.

The missing stimulus

What all the figures produced by the No camp miss (intentionally) is that with independence comes the ability to control appropriate economic levers of growth.

For example, lowering corporation tax as part of a suite of growth tools to encourage inward investment and actually increase overall tax revenues.  This combined with localised decision making and the use of economic growth levers such as the ability to lower air passenger duties to increase international flights, connectivity and in doing so boost tourism, is vital to growth.

Moreover, we can encourage increased investment from the institutional savings of leaving the political union with Westminster, as much as £1.5bn a year on defence (whilst having a larger more capable conventional defence force) and even the £60m a year we will save on not paying for MP’s wages and expense accounts in the House of Lords.

Conclusion

The leader of the No Campaign, Alistair Darling is one of the key people at fault when it comes to the failure to establish a Scottish oil fund just as he was at fault for failing to regulate the banks in the years and months up to the credit crisis. Scotland has not benefited from North Sea revenues in anything like the way it should have and as London’s economy and population has bloated and overheated, Scotland continues to see generations of unemployment, de-industrialization and poverty as our wealth is invested elsewhere.

The Scottish Government is right to consider an intelligent multi-layered approach to investing Scotland’s wealth for the future. The return from the markets as the world slowly recovers from recession is likely to significantly outweigh the benefits of paying debt down more quickly.

The UK is not OK. It is facing financial ruin. This largely happened on the watch of two former Chancellors who now lead the No Campaign. Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling’s economic decision-making has cost not just Scotland but the UK dear and they are asking us to follow their flawed advice again by remaining dependent on a Westminster political system that is ethically, ideologically and financially broken.

Scotland can afford to be independent. We can afford an oil fund. We should set one up as soon as possible. That’s another reason we can’t afford to vote No this September.

Vote Yes and Scotland’s economy will thrive and secure our short and longer-term economic future.

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About the author

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp is the Founder and Chief Executive of Business for Scotland. Before becoming CEO of Business for Scotland he ran a small social media and sales & marketing consultancy.

With a degree in business, marketing and economics, Gordon has worked as an economic development planning professional, and in marketing roles specialising in pricing modelling and promotional evaluation for global companies (including P&G).

Gordon benefits (not suffers) from dyslexia, and is a proponent of the emerging New Economics School. Gordon contributes articles to Business for Scotland, The National and The Huffington Post.

51 Comments

    • Any time anyone tells you that an independent Scotland should apply for membership of the EU call the men in white coats. It would be utter stupidity to escape the shackles of the corrupt incompetents in Westminster and then to embrace the chains of an even more corrupt, incompetent and controlling elite in Brussels. We elect UK politicians to govern, not to take orders from unelected clowns in Brussels.

  • Reading about the Scottish independence controversy and the issue of raising an oil fund, I have a suggestion to make.

    The way the Dutch spend fossil fuel revenues on financing an expensive welfare society became known as the Dutch disease. The Norwegians proved to be more cautious with the billions they make from drilling oil. Investment funds see to it that those billions are spent wisely, more durable.

    There is an even better way: spreading out oil revenues well into the future (the stuff tends to get more costly) by setting up an industry that is based on economizing oil consumption. That sounds like a contradiction. But it isn’t, actually.

    What better way than to start with that “single thing” that is still responsible for the bulk of our oil consumption, the automobile. What if someone invented a new type of ‘personal transportation device’? One that is more energy-efficient, more comfortable as well as safer than any ‘similar-sized’ car. More fun to drive as well.

    Good chance that people in other countries would want one too, because they get to save on petrol, which means exports and jobs. In this uncertain era where more and more people lose their jobs to automation, this may be one of Scotland’s surest bets.* You only have to look to Germany, to realize its potential…

    Sincerely,
    Ralph

  • For every Norway, there is a Ukraine. Resource rich, stuck between Europe and its big brother. What a lovely recipe. You’ll be unsurprised to find out that the Ukrainians broke away purely through the work of their politicians who wanted to get rich and get their names down in history.
    All this talk of setting up a fund is baloney. It has so many assumptions and half baked calculations. Totally not worth gambling our/your (based overseas) future on it.
    Overheads would go up as all that ‘waste’ in London would end up being copied. (Things like the tax office, DVLA, defence, pasport office, border control, even things like the financial backing for the olympic teams.) Wonder how expensive it is to create a new currency and regulate it?
    Oh and the calculations are based on the best possible share of the oil revenue, a high stable oil price, no debt, fair borrowing rates even though the market wouldn’t trust a gvt that threatens to default rather than pay its fair share.

  • Thanks folks.probably the most intelligent and honest debate ive read this year.(outwith W.O.S) as for daves “stupid questions”. Ideal fodder for the reality to be posted in a clear and concise manner.

  • Im a little perplexed, if norway can get 14% for their investment of oil money, and structured debt only has a 3% interest rate, wouldnt it be simple to borrow 100 billion and put it in the same investments as the norwegians, then just pay the interest on the debt at 3% while squirreling away the other 11% raked in. hell borrow a trillion lol.

  • The real problem with establishing a UK wide oil fund early in the era of North Sea production was that it would have served as a very clear indicator of just how much wealth was flowing south from Scotland. There would, without doubt, have been pressure to ring-fence at least a significant proportion of any fund for future investment exclusively for Scotland.

  • Sorry to be negative I don’t deny with the figures and hindsight you can make an impressive case for Scotlands independence.

    If I look at the financial charts from the last year I can tell you how you could have got rich buying and selling shares.

    I don’t trust politicians period. We want a fair just society having wealth does not get you this a fair and just government does and there have been many Scots involved in the one that has left us in the mess we are in!

    It’s a very very easy time to say lets cut and run.

    • Do not make me laugh Dave. You clearly want Scotland to remain in the Chains designed by Westminster. You are trolling.

      Had we been independent we would have been running a surplus and would have now a fairer society. There are many examples of fairer and wealthier countries in Europe. They are far superior to your dog eat dog Britain.

      Simple example – pensions:

      Britain’s current basic state pension is around £5500 (5700 now I think) In Ireland it’s £10,415. Sweden: just over £25,000. Germany – £26,366.

      http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/joan-mcalpine-unionist-parties-think-1944874

      So in this shitty little UK that you feel so safe in, old folk have to choose whether to heat their homes or buy food. They often can’t afford both particularly in Scotland where the houses cost more to heat and many people rely on LPG or heating oil and in a colder climate!

      So you may feel content, you’re probably doing alright, Why should you care? You clearly don’t!

      So you can shove your Palace of Westminster where the sun never shines. We’ll make a better country despite your ridiculous allegiance to a neighbour restricting our economy.

      • I am not trying to deny that the UK has its problems. I am not trying to show an allegiance to Westminster. I am simply trying to have an educated debate.

        “we would have been running a surplus and would have now a fairer society” There is no way to prove that we would have “a fairer society” it is easy to say the same way Labour or the Torries say this every time they try to get into power. “We would have done it differently”

        This statement makes me laugh as well “neighbour restricting our economy” don’t you think if we keep the pound our neighbour will still be able to restrict our economy?

        I am not saying what we have is right far from it I just want a debate to make sure what we would be going into is based on facts using the current finances. Not what we could have or should have done.

        I don’t think questioning things makes me a Troll I think it is common sense. The same way I question things every general election!

        Again it is easy to throw examples of other country’s at me selectively picking the figures that look good how about the fact in Sweden most pay 49-60% tax.

        In all honesty I couldn’t give a rats ass about looking at Norway or Germany or Sweeden as we have no way of knowing that a Scottish government would have made the same choices as those examples.

        All we can do is take the actual figures now and say what we can do with them. If these make sense then I am all for it!!

        Questioning things does not mean I can’t have my undecided vote changed!!

        • Dave said: “All we can do is take the actual figures now and say what we can do with them. If these make sense then I am all for it!!”
          …………………………………………

          Great, welcome aboard:

          On a realistic maritime boundary, which an independent Scotland would undoubtedly win from the International Court of Justice, Scotland would actually have a budget surplus of £1.9 billion. Hurray, boys and girls, we are in the black!
          http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2013/03/propaganda-against-scotland/

          “From the Data
          We have established by looking at the 2011/12 independent Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland report that Scotland generated 9.9% of UK tax revenue but received in return only 9.3% of UK spending. If we had received 9.9% of the spend we would have been £4.4bn better off last year alone.”
          http://www.businessforscotland.co.uk/breaking-news-9-3-is-a-smaller-number-than-9-9-indyref/

          “With 8.4% of the UK population, Scotland has on average been responsible for 9.12% of Britain’s tax revenues. That’s 109% of what would be our fair share per head of population.
          It is, then, clear beyond any reasonable doubt in which direction subsidies flow within the UK. Scots out-produce anyone else and generate wealth significantly out of proportion to Scotland’s size.”
          http://wingsoverscotland.com/the-news-we-knew/

          ……………………………………..
          Dave said: “There is no way to prove that we would have “a fairer society””
          ………………………………………

          To which I say: We have a fundamentally better chance if the people who make the decision about Scotland, live and work here:

          “The reason for being independent is a simple one. It is fundamentally better for all of us if decisions about Scotland’s future are taken by the people who care most about Scotland – that is by the people of Scotland. It is the people who live here who will do the best job of making our nation a fairer, greener and more successful place.”
          http://www.yesscotland.net/why_vote_yes

          “Being an independent country is all about making Scotland a better place to live, with greater prosperity and higher standards of living. That is the purpose and the reason why so many Scots are passionate about an independent Scotland.”
          http://www.yesscotland.net/firm_foundations

          “As an independent country, we can speak with our own voice, choose our own direction and contribute in our own distinct way. With independence we remain part of the wider family of nations on these Isles.”
          http://www.yesscotland.net/being_independent

          • Thanks for the response. I have a couple of further questions based on this.

            http://www.businessforscotland.co.uk/breaking-news-9-3-is-a-smaller-number-than-9-9-indyref/
            “We have established by looking at the 2011/12 independent Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland report that Scotland generated 9.9% of UK tax revenue but received in return only 9.3% of UK spending.”

            Is UK spending a 1 to 1 relationship with tax?

            Using some arbitrary figures say the UK raises £100 in tax of which Scotland contributes 10% or £10 but the UK also borrows £100 and then give Scotland 9% of this total budget £18 Scotland actually get more back than the tax raised.

            This is not designed to flame I just don’t know if tax and spend are a 1:1 relationship.

            If you tell me Scotland put £10 into the pot and got £9 back we are clearly being shafted!

            “Scotland would actually have a budget surplus of £1.9 billion. Hurray, boys and girls, we are in the black!”

            This seems to contradict the data linked to here http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Economy/GERS which suggests even with oil money we would have been in deficit all be it a good one! This is my other issue there seems to be so many contradictory figures about!

          • Dave

            You should read my blog http://www.businessforscotland.co.uk/breaking-news-9-3-is-a-smaller-number-than-9-9-indyref/ which explains that borrowing is not subsidy.

            “What the Treasury does is borrow from the international money markets on behalf of the whole of the UK (which needs relatively more borrowing than Scotland) and then guess what – Scotland gets 9.3% of that borrowing to spend but has to contribute 9.9% of the tax revenues to pay the debt back which now has roughly 3% compound interest! Scotland as part of the UK has to pay more to borrow, than the rest of the UK. So once again Scotland gets a raw deal”.

            Given that on average over the last 32 years Scotland has paid £2bn in servicing UK debt when Scotland WAS in surplus for the whole period once your remover that £2bn your analysis is correct we were truly shafted.

          • Hi Gordon,

            Thanks again. I just can’t get my head around the 9.9% and 9.3% figures without seeing numbers.

            Is there data somewhere that just shows

            Here is the figure we sent to Westminster and here is the figure we spent? Perhaps with and without the predicted oil money.

            Has Scotland been in actual surplus for the last 32 years i.e. we spend less than we bring in in tax or is this taking into account the oil revenue that we would have had?

            I am not sure things will get any better in terms of the cost borrowing money if we are still borrowing via the bank of England as our central bank?

            It is just getting really unclear what makes up these % figures for me anyway!

            Actually let me try and work it though using arbitrary figures again! Typing aloud here

            So the UK makes £100 in tax of which £10 (10%) comes from Scotland

            The UK borrows £100 then gives 9% of the £200 total to Scotland £18 so Scotland is then paying interest on borrowing £9 rather than the £8 it needed is this correct?!?

            Cheers

            Dave

  • I would like to see this evidence rather than just alluding to it:

    “We have reliable independent and official Scottish Government income and expenditure figures for 32 years which show that without having to pay for debt generated elsewhere in the UK Scotland would be in surplus right now even allowing for our share of the banking bailouts and despite the impact of losing two banks as a result of poor regulation at Westminster.”

    Also, I would like to see proof of the proportion of the oil revenue an independent Scotland will be entitled to if it goes independent. Please stop throwing these figures around as if Scotland will get all of the revenue as that is simply not true.

    • Dave you can find the annual national accounts of Scotland here http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Economy/GERS

      You can also find the last 32 years figures here http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Economy/GERS/RelatedAreas/LRfiscalbalances2013

      You will need to look up the annual debt of the UK for the equivalent years and deduct the average population % of the UK population that Scotland represents (varies between 9.7ish to 8.4% at its lowest) population share of UK debt but you will find i am right and the No campaign can’t dispute the figures.

      The division of oil and debt will be done by negotiation but in international law all landlocked assets such as mineral wealth etc are owned by the country who’s borders they reside within Currently between 93% and 96% Scottish in terms of oil (it fluctuates dependent on oil well production levels) but the rest of the UK has a fair bit of gas. Non geographically fixed assets such as air craft carriers overseas territories embassies etc are divided by population percentage.

      I deal only in facts and proven estimations based on international precedent and international law and can back up everything we publish. The No campaign have been caught out again and again making things up and if you really look at the numbers you will see that there is no case for the union.

      • You talk emphatically and, for me, too impassioned. This is not a segregation issue this is a decision over what is best for Scotland. I am neutral, mostly, but have read just about the opposite of everything you have stated from economists who, at least, claim to be neutral etc. The point on the oil that I have read is that Scotland will simply not pick up the revenue if it becomes independent. Water rights etc may well have a bearing but there is far more to it than that and I feel you are skimming over certain issues with your over-emphatic writing. I’ve had a good read through the numbers from GERS and it looks to me if Scotland does not get all of the North Sea Oil revenue there will be a deficit. Show me where it states, unequivocally the revenue that Scotland will get from the North Sea Oil if it gets independence?

        • Dave please quote your impartial economists and any legal statement that oil will not be shared by geographic location as with every other international example in recent history.

          As for over emphatic writing I refute that completely, every number I have offered is backed up by government / EU / OECD data etc.

          Dave can you possibly ask yourself if the over emphatic language you are used to is actually from the No campaign and its media allies and it is only in comparison to what the unionists are feeding people that my writing seems anything less than common-sense backed by hard data that it is?

          All i ask is that people don’t accept the unionist propaganda without thinking about alternative viewpoints and you are doing that so thank you.

      • So I looked at these figures

        “In 2011-12, Scotland’s estimated net fiscal balance was a deficit of £18.2 billion (14.6% of GDP) when excluding North Sea revenue, a deficit of £17.2 billion (13.5% of GDP) when including a per capita share of North Sea revenue or a deficit of £7.6 billion (5.0% of GDP) when a geographical share of North Sea revenue is included.”

        What I can’t find is figures for the UK in the same period?

        • Looking at the accounts as an independent country you should compare the figures of Scotland with a geographic share of North Sea revenues (this is specifically calculated to equal what Scotland’s share would be after a yes vote). if you use the figure without oil you also have to tale oil and finance out of the UK’s GDP to make the reduction the same level.

          So what yo have found is that Scotland would have had a deficit of £7.6 billion (5.0% of GDP) when a geographical share of North Sea revenue is included.” The UK had a deficit of 7.9% all you have to do is use Google to find that number validated by several sources.

          The £7.6bn deficit is one of the lowest in the developed world given the current economic situation and of that deficit $4.1bn is interest on the UK’s debts built up at a time when Scotland was in surplus and would have had absolutely zero interest or capital repayments. Also conventional armed forced focussed on peace keeping etc and not nuclear power projection would save Scotland between £1bn and 1.8bn a year dependent on the policies of the Government in charge.

        • Looking at the accounts as an independent country you should compare the figures of Scotland with a geographic share of North Sea revenues (this is specifically calculated to equal what Scotland’s share would be after a yes vote). if you use the figure without oil you also have to tale oil and finance out of the UK’s GDP to make the reduction the same level.

          So what yo have found is that Scotland would have had a deficit of £7.6 billion (5.0% of GDP) when a geographical share of North Sea revenue is included.” The UK had a deficit of 7.9% all you have to do is use Google to find that number validated by several sources.

          The £7.6bn deficit is one of the lowest in the developed world given the current economic situation and of that deficit $4.1bn is interest on the UK’s debts built up at a time when Scotland was in surplus and would have had absolutely zero interest or capital repayments. Also conventional armed forced focussed on peace keeping etc and nt nuclear power projection would save Scotland between £1bn and 1.8bn a year dependent on the policies of the Government in charge.

  • Perhaps the most critical aspect is once an oil fund is set up it lasts indefinitly.

    If we can manage our resources as well as our Nordic neighbours (who started their fund 23 years ago) the fund will start to generate more revenue per annum than oil itself does.

    Last years 14% return from the Norwegian fund equates to around £55bn.

    • The response to the NO campaigner’s claim that Scotland would not have been able to bail out the banks if it was independent is surely ‘yes, we certainly would, if we had set up our own oil fund as an independent nation’

      • Good point but it would have been yes anyway – we would have been sitting on something like a £69bn surplus if Scotland were and independent nation in the 30 years leading up to the crash even without an oil fund.

  • Great article Gordon, pity about the negativity from Dave. Why are so many people against Scotland progressing and becoming a fairer and more just society? Let’s use our assets to the full, and that means oil and a wealth fund.

  • Hi Dave

    I think it is relevant to look at what Westminster has done in the past because it shows a fairly stable pattern of behaviour, regardless of which party is in power and that gives us a good idea of what the future would be like if we continue to be governed by Westminster. In addition to the failure to set up an oil fund Westminster has overspent its budget almost every year for the past 30 years, run up an enormous national debt, it has habitually underplayed Scotland’s financial contribution to the United Kingdom and encouraged the idea that we are subsidised by the rest of the UK and it has allowed the gap between rich and poor to increase over decades until we reach the point that we are designated the 4th most unequal country in the world. I see no signs that this pattern of behaviour might change.

    You’re absolutely right in saying that no-one can be sure what Scotland would have done in the past had we been independent but we do know what Westminster did and since they show no sign of using the benefit of hindsight let’s use it ourselves and change things for the better. It’s surely worth the price of a new passport.

    • Of course it is. The passport thing is really an arbitrary example of the day to day things that would have to change.

      I just want the arguments to be based on the current and the future rather than. Well we would have put these lottery numbers on (now we know them) if nasty Westminster had just let us!

      It is naive to assume everything will be better without seeing the figures for the here and now.

      We don’t have an oil fund and in the hear and now we would be in deficit each year so would we really increase pensions?

      Would the rich in Scotland suddenly let their conscience get the better of them? “Ah yes lets redistribute the wealth now we are independent” ha ha I am sure they would 😉

    • I can`t believe the amount of “facts” some people want from Scotland but are quite prepared to accept all the cover ups from Westminster, no facts at any time about what they were doing, the mismanagement of money, pensions where people have lost thousands and people like myself have to work for an extra 6 years, the poverty in our inner cities?? Take a look at Dubai, Scotland has produced much more oil than them. Do we look like an oil producing nation? I don`t think so! Taking oil out of the equasion, we have whisky which is the 3rd highest export in the UK. Our food and drink industry is fantastic, construction, tourism, to mention just a few things. Foreign investment is at it`s highest in Scotland for 15 years so we might not be able to predict the future but we`ve got a better chance of predicting it if we stay in the union. Possibly bankrupt, a long period of austerity with huge cuts in Scotland. They can dismantle our parliament if they so choose so anyone voting no please accept you are voting for poverty for the rest of us and are forcing a Tory, possible UKIP coalition on us which is unforgivable. I prefer hope to no hope! VOTE YES.

  • No they are honest practical questions of which there are hundreds.

    Like you say there is no guarantee that Scotland would be part of the European immediately so the health card might not be an option.

    I also don’t buy that our politicians would have done any better what big Alex that sold off a chunk of Scotland for peanuts to him big mate trump?

    I don’t deny the mismanagement but had we been independent earlier Brown probably would have been a politician in Scotland!

    Both sides have poor arguments but I sure as he’ll won’t be taking a blind leap of faith based on that we would have done things differently!

    The only way I would ever buy this argument is if there was past evidence of us saying no don’t do it that way!

    Also the 14% on our savings and 3% on our debt really depend on us having a surplus after interest payments and the funds to run the country. I can’t see our creditors saying don’t worry about the interest payment this year we can see you are making more on your savings!

    I can see you have passion and I genuinely would be all for it if I beloved for one second that the politicians had our interests at heart rather than their own egos but I don’t not till there is a proper plan with real figures not just the ones they want to show us!

    Also calling me pathetic does not make you right! Valid arguments do and I accept your points!

    • Hundreds of unanswered questions, where have I heard that before? 🙂

      In all seriousness does it really need to pointed out that this is a referendum and not an election? The bulk of these issues are policy driven and incidentally the UK Government can not give definitive answers on their position either.

      Further, speculation into what may or may not have happened in the past if Scotland had been independent is pointless. For example, I could argue in regard to Brown that he could not have done what he did as the system of government in Scotland (PR) would have prevented him. I think that is a reasonable position but I can not it prove as we were not independent. It is irrelevant, it is the future that counts.

      One final comment, what is the statement about Alex selling a chunk of Scotland to Trump for peanuts all about? If you actually think that is what happened with the Menie estate then I think you need to look again. It is comments such as this, short sighted and personality driven, that demean the debate.

      • Re your comment> “I also don’t buy that our politicians would have done any better what big Alex that sold off a chunk of Scotland for peanuts to him big mate trump?”

        What that means is this. I haven’t a clue what I am posting so I will just make stuff up that I think might be true.

        First of all the Trump was first entertained in Scotland by the Labour party, one Jack McConnel who flew around in Trumps chopper with him. Menie estates sale was well under way by the time Alex Salmond appeared in 2007 as FM. The public in that part of Scotland are overwhelmingly in support of the project, but you won’t here that from the unionist biased MSM.

        Large chunks of Scotland are and have been since 1745 in the ownership of foreign owners. The Duke of Wesrtminster and family for example owns huge chunks of our country.

        The Lunar landscapes of Sutherland are not natural they are man made by foreign interests.

    • I see negativity all around,and I wonder why some can be so negative,are some afraid to go and find the answers? The answers to most questions have been answered but unfortunately the media (biased towards Westminster) wont publish the answers.If you can get Westminster to give you a guarantee about all the things you ask of the Scottish government then I would say there is a case,but Westminster WONT answer any questions,they prey on the fear of uninformed people.Just what is the difference between Westminster asking questions of the Scottish government and not answering the same questions themselves? To my mind it is self-interest,would you give up a quarter of a million £,s a year and then the retirement home called the House of lords? Would you be afraid of getting caught out in having lied to the people of Scotland for all of your political life ? Oh I bet there are some very queasy stomachs down in Westminster or squeaky bum time for them,to use another phrase!Scotland (and best you check for yourself)has an annual food and power surplus every year,last year it was £4.1 billion if memory serves me well.Now any country that has power to spare (not counting the North sea) and a food surplus IS A VERY WEALTHY COUNTRY.Scotland is the only part of the UK with this surplus of both food and energy,of course we could just let the bankers (not a mistype) carry on gambling it all away.

  • I am neither for or against the independence vote however the arguments bases on hindsight by the yes campaign border on the ridiculous! What makes anyone think Scotland’s politicians and financial institutions would have behaved any better during the boom?

    I also want to know simple things like:

    Who pays for ny New passport?

    If I do venture into England and get sick will I have to pay for hospital treatment?

    Stop the moral high ground of “we should have…” “We would have…” and tell us how it will actually work!

    • Kinda pathetic response there Dave – you don’t care about the mismanagement of our society over decades, but £40 for a passport is what you care about? Well, here’s a question for you – when the Tories and UKIP haul the UK out of Europe, and you need to get a new UK passport, rather than your EU one – who will pay for that? Why is it an issue for you to pay for a new Scottish passport, but not to pay for a new UK one? as for England and hospital treatment, we have this wonderful thing called the EHIC; your European Health Insurance Card… and if you, as an EU citizen, fall ill in another EU state, you can head to the hospital and get treatment… of course, your darling UK government may well take that away from you as well… given the current direction of English politics, you may well find that England and Wales are the ONLY countries where you can get health care if you have an accident. The No campaign are wilful in asking naive questions about how things will work, whilst pointedly ignoring how things DO work already – they ask stupid questions about border controls, but ignore how things work between Eire and NI or between Norway and Sweden, they ask stupid questions about currency union, but ignore how the dollar is used by dozens of countries world wide… they ask stupid questions about how we could retain the monarchy, but ignore Canada and Australia… Be honest – you are not asking questions, you just think you are being clever. guess what? you are not.

    • Scotland has operated a separate NHS for several years. There always has been cross border co-operation between the two health services and this will continue after independence. There is absolutely no reason why it should not. Also there are international arrangements with health services in various countries. A few years ago a woman from Saltcoats who contracted swine flu was flown to Sweden for treatment. So if Scotland does become independent it will be business as usual as far as the Scottish NHS is concerned. At least our NHS is not being run by private money grabbing companies like it is in England.

    • I’m disappointed that Better Together aren’t even trying to make a positive case for the Union. It leaves people like Dave having to pretend they haven’t made up their mind yet whilst they desperately post nonsense about passport costs and health care.

      Dave, what happens now if you venture to France and get sick? And you’ll be able to keep your current passport until it is due for renewal.

      If we vote YES. The world won’t suddenly stop turning….

      • That’s fine if this is guaranteed? If so you have answered both my questions.

        So if I vote yes we will remain in the European union guaranteed?

        • “So if I vote yes we will remain in the European union guaranteed?”

          Dave, there’s a referendum brewing in the UK about continued EU membership.
          So if you vote no, there’s less guarantee.

          This “guarantee” stuff about organisations like EU, UN, Nato, etc…it’s all disingenuous nonsense, it’s distraction from the real arguments, but let’s put them finally to bed anyway:

          Can you imagine the EU turning down a net contributor, oil and (more importantly) WATER rich, 7th best per capita gdp in the world, for membership?

          The UN is about to admit the Palestinian territories, run by terrorists, yet it will will refuse a peace-loving nation whose independence was gained at the ballot box?

          Nato will be quite happy to see our wee, strategically critical, territory cut adrift to gravitate towards alliance with Russia/China/Iran?

          Do you not see now, Dave, how absolutely moronic these arguments which go, “Ah, but you can’t guarantee…” are?
          Please don’t demean us with them again, they are tantamount to insult.

          There will obviously be a period between the referendum and independence, if such is the will of the Scottish people, and during that period these organisations will be beating a path to our door, pleading with us to join.

          • Ok forgive me for asking about things that concerned me. Obviously I don’t want to cause any more insult so to help me what are “the real arguments” I should focus on when making my decision to vote yes or no?

    • Dave my brother in Cumbria,tells me that he among others believe that the NHS (England) will not be in existence in 10 years time already they have private ambulances,but no paramedics just a First Aid certificate required,and many more things are getting privatised.They are looking for a profit from the NHS,instead of cutting costs its services that are getting cut.If your stuck I’ll pay for your passport,and if you get sick in England then you will be treated as you would in any other EU country,like now.It seems you are looking for problems where none exist,the answers are there best for you to check them out or do you just take the assumptions of those in the unionist parties,should say party as they are all in the Westminster party and they are having fun at our expense.

  • Did you really mean to say this?

    “We either have to act now with an oil fund or to hope that the rest of the UK will actually start to subsidise us.”

    Scotland will be a successful independent country with or without oil.

    • I see why you say that but my point is if we vote no then its not a case of everything will be ok and we will get a second chance in a few years. If we vote no powers will be removed from the Scottish parliament, and there will be decades more of low investment as our oil revenues run out and if that happens our fiscal advantage will be eroded and we will need subsidies!

      I have reworded it to be a little clearer >> So what happens when the oil does run out, perhaps in fifty years or so? We either have to act now by voting Yes, planning for the future and staring an oil fund or to hope that the rest of the UK will actually start to subsidise us.<< In context I think that makes sense.

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