Guy Stenhouse, writing in one of the Herald’s regular, ‘talking Scotland down’ columns, that they gift to unionist campaigners, appears to have only a passing acquaintance with movies or the facts. He uses the analogy about wheels coming off the nationalist bus just as they did in the movie the ‘Italian Job’ – I can categorically tell you that the bus in the aforesaid movie didn’t lose any wheels nor has the Yes movement. However, let’s humour him with his wheels off the bus analogy and point out where he is wrong.
Wheel one, pensions. Scotland more than pays its way. Once independent, it will keep all the tax and national insurance revenues, not send them to Westminster, and since life expectancy is lower, Scotland could raise the state pension at no additional cost. But Scotland shouldn’t advertise this since it may precipitate a flood of people coming north to escape one of the lowest basic state pensions in the developed world.
Wheel two, currency. SNP policy is to adopt a Scottish currency as soon as practicable after independence. Currency has no intrinsic value but derives value from the goods and services an economy produces. Scotland’s immense natural wealth, highly developed economy and educated and innovative people will guarantee our currency has value. Scotland will launch its own currency at the point it becomes advantageous to Scotland to have one, there will be a transition period and using Sterling (our own currency) for a short period would maintain pensions values and facilitate trade as Scotland becomes independent. A sensible, desirable and pragmatic approach.
Wheel three, the deficit. Under the terms of the devolution settlement, the Scottish Government must balance its budget every year. London assigns Scotland a deficit based on the supposed benefits we receive from being part of the UK and for billions spent on nuclear weapons, foreign wars, unemployment payments because of UK economic mismanagement, Westminster corruption, servicing a UK debt Scotland didn’t generate, expenditure on Brexit and negotiating foreign treaties that damage Scotland’s economic interests. Some of the UK’s spending on Scotland’s behalf is spent in Scotland but what deficit Scotland has will change dramatically once we remove the added costs of UK membership and start investing in Scotland’s wellbeing.
Wheel four, the EU, not English, Single Market. ONS figures show the UK’s economic recovery has lagged that of its EU counterparts and UK exports to the EU plummeted by £20 billion in 2021 compared to 2018. As for that vaunted EU rebate, there is no £350m extra per week for the NHS. Regressive National Insurance taxes are rising, the triple lock on pensions is gone, and food and energy prices are soaring. Meanwhile, the newly minted Minister for Brexit Opportunities, Rees-Mogg, is desperately scrabbling around amongst Sun readers for ideas on how to turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse.
Scotland will be back in the Single Market as soon as we exit this failing Union and like Ireland, will rapidly forge new trade links with the EU, leaving behind an isolated rUK that will sorely need Scottish energy, water, and food and drink.
The wheels have been off the UK bus for some time now. The founding director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, David Simpson, put it well: “The economic cost to Scotland of our dependency on England is measured by the incomes, jobs and tax revenues that have been foregone as a result of the slower rate of growth of the economy because of its mismanagement under the Union.”
Once independent, Scotland will be able to make economic, social and foreign policy decisions that will benefit the people of Scotland.