By Alasdair Galloway
Letter to the Herald:
Over the last two days you have included letters by Douglas Cowe and Ian Lakin, concerning the possibility of independence. I might have said “critical of independence”, but criticism demands evidence, and both your correspondents include as much evidence for their assertions as Donald Trump has for his claims of voter fraud. Basically, both have argued that independence is doomed. One can almost hear Private Frazer telling us “we’re doomed, we’re doomed ah tell ye’”.
Mr Lakin dismisses the possibility of a successful independent Scotland with the claim that it would not be possible “without a currency, with massive debt and large fiscal deficit”. Yet, if we stay in the UK, what adjective would he apply to Westminster’s level of debt? And of course, the scale of any fiscal deficit is disputed, no matter how often Mr Lakin and others of his opinion may state this as a “fact”, supported only by a document which itself is clear that it is about Scotland “under present constitutional arrangements” (ie GERS).
He further claims there would be “a flight of capital”, but where would it go? Most of the rest of the world is hardly in a good economic place even now, however long before the Covid emergency ends. So too would there be a flight of people. Would this be to our neighbours in the south, whose economy is hardly likely to be much better and which will have just left the EU, perhaps without any sort of deal to manage future relations.
Mr Cowe claims, “when the chips are down, [Scotland] has to depend on the financial strength of the United Kingdom.” Where does Mr Cowe imagine the current Scottish Government would secure the necessary resources, when its funding comes mostly from the annual block grant (basically an estimate of what Westminster would have spent in Scotland on devolved matters). Big taxes such as National Insurance, Corporate Taxes (including oil tax revenues) and rates of VAT are reserved to Westminster. Most importantly however, Scotland has limited borrowing powers, so unlike Chancellor Sunak, Kate Forbes is not able to phone Andrew Baillie at the Bank of England and ask him for (quite) a few billion pounds. Considering this Mr Cowe, where is the money to come from?
Or is your point that an independent Scotland would be too wee, too poor ….. etc to be able to secure those resources. Let’s take Croatia where the 10-year yield on Croatian government bonds is just under zero-point eight percent. In Greece – remember that is how an independent Scotland would turn out, but without the sunshine – there it’s just over zero-point eight percent.
Debating the wisdom or otherwise of Scotland’s independence is an important matter, too important to start from a conclusion and then following up with no more than assertions.