Sorting Fact from Fiction:
Myth: Our global relationships won’t change
Fact: Scotland would be a new country. We wouldn’t inherit all the international deals the UK has struck over many years, decades, and even centuries (everything from extradition and trade treaties to the International Declaration Prohibiting the Discharge of Projectiles and Explosives from Balloons). So we’d have to start from scratch, negotiating to join everything from the UN to Nato.
Actual Fact : Scotland would not be a new country, it is already a country. It was a country before the treaty of union, it still is today. We wouldn’t inherit all the international deals the UK has struck that is true, but if it is true for Scotland it must be true for the rUK. It was the UK not the rUK that signed those treaties. If the UK is a successor state, Scotland must be too. Otherwise both must start from scratch.
Myth: We’ll still play the National Lottery and share much-loved national institutions with the UK
Fact: It’s called the National Lottery – not the International Lottery. You can’t buy a ticket in France, so why would it run in an independent Scotland? The same goes for everything from the Met Office to the benefits system. We’d have to spend millions setting up new institutions.
Actual Fact : We may or may not be able to play the National Lottery, chances are we will as it is a privately run institution not a UK government one. Technically the “national lottery” is an international lottery. The UK itself describes itself as a country of countries. Does anyone else see the plural there? The benefits system, yes because we are unable to program a computer to transfer funds from government into personal bank accounts. Contrary to popular belief, computers are not difficult to program. All it takes is a little training and some patience. Scotland is more than capable of setting up such a system. Spend Millions in doing so? Well maybe, but once you factor in the rebate we should receive from rUK to the tune of £4.7 Billion for HS2, we’ll still be making a net gain.
Myth: We’ll be an EU member (and inherit the same terms and conditions that the UK currently enjoys)
Fact: We’d have to apply as a new state and negotiate entry – it’s hard to imagine it would be an easy process (look at how long it took Croatia to join – almost eight years), and even harder to imagine that we’d be given advantageous terms (like the UK rebate or opt-outs, including from the Euro).
Actual Fact : Well given that it is widely accepted that Scotland will be in the EU as a continuing member this point is almost redundant. Though joining the EU isn’t a 1st come 1st served basis. If you meet the criteria, you can join immediately. East Germany was welcomed into the EEC within 1 year of unification with West Germany. The Scottish Government has set a period of 18 months for these negotiations. “realistic” was the term used by the UK’s official independent lawyer on the subject. There is also no mechanism to force countries to join the Euro (the UK likes to promote this Euro opt out to try to appease Eurosceptics that they are better than the rest of the EU when in reality they could just do what Sweden do), just like there is no mechanism to essentially kick Scotland out and force her to re-apply. The UK’s rebate lasts until the next EU budget in 2020. Then it is re-negotiated. Scotland is applying for no detriment membership to the EU. Meaning that no other members will be left out, and everything will continue, with Scotland paying her share instead of handing over her taxes to Westminster to pay it for her. This seems the most logical route.
Myth: We’ll keep the UK pound
Fact: Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems have all made clear if we leave the UK we’ll also leave the UK pound. A currency union would not work for Scotland or the rest of the UK – it will not happen.
Actual Fact : New Labour, Lib Dems and Tories are either economically illiterate, or they think we are. They do not own Sterling, just like the US doesn’t own the US Dollar. Panama etc … This point is tired and old, especially given the “of course” to a currency union as reported in the Guardian from an unnamed UK minister.
Myth: We wouldn’t have to bailout our banks – international investors bailed them out before
Fact: During the last crisis the UK taxpayer shelled out £66 billion to bail out the banks – more than £1,000 for every man, woman and child in the UK. Including guarantees, UK taxpayers gave more than £320 billion of support to Royal Bank of Scotland alone. Could we really afford these sorts of sums on our own?
Actual Fact : Banks are bailed out based on where the contagion is, not where the head office is located. Take 2008, RBS do about 10% of their business in Scotland. Scotland would then have paid 10% of the bailout. Barclays was one of the major UK banks to be bailed out by the US federal reserve, as it did an awful lot of business across the pond. Look it up if you don’t believe me.
Myth: The answers are in the independence white paper and it all adds up
Fact: The white paper does not answer the key questions. Many of the independence plans, for example on currency and EU membership, are in the hands of foreign governments who would be acting in the interests of their own citizens ahead of Scotland’s. And the white paper does not add up – the plans to cut taxes and extend childcare need £1.6 billion of additional funding.
Actual Fact : Currency – no one can tell any government what it can use a legal tender. There are also 4 currency options in the white paper. EU – already answered, Scotland will be in the EU. The EU needs Scotland for energy, agriculture and fishing. If Scotland is not in the EU those treaties will not apply and Scotland could not allow foreign vessels in her waters. The Scottish route is also vital to get to Norway’s waters too, will the EU really let go of all those fishing grounds? £1.6 Billion in extra funding – post indy the UK will need to pay Scotland £4.7 Billion for her share of the “national infrastructure” HS2, which will come no where near Scotland. £4.7 – £1.6 = £3.1 Billion left to play with. That’ll do nicely thank you.
Myth: There would be tax cuts and more spending in an independent Scotland
Fact: Scotland spent £12 billion more than it raised in taxes last year (that’s from the Scottish Government’s own figures, including North Sea revenues). So it’s hard to see how we’d be able cut corporation tax and air passenger duty on one hand but still spend more on benefits and create an oil fund on the other.
Actual Fact : Scotland runs a deficit, like every other country. It is a smaller % of GDP that the UK’s to be honest. Scotland’s deficit was so high in the last financial year due to “record investment” in the north sea. Which of course offsets tax receipts. When the North Sea starts producing again deficit bye bye, Though the deficit is relying on Scotland’s spending being the same. Here’s me thinking we’d make savings by not paying for the Royal family, the Westminster gravy train, Trident and HS2.
Myth: Westminster won’t devolve more powers
Fact: More powers were devolved in the Scotland Act 2012 (the largest devolution of tax powers in the UK’s history). As a result we now set even more of our own laws, from motorway speed limits to regulating air weapons. Plus, all three main UK parties have promised more powers will be devolved in future.
Actual Fact : Johann Lamont called further devolution “propaganda” – enough said.
Myth: You can’t trust unionists, they’re just negative
Fact: The union has been a huge success story (from joint sporting glory to the amazing scientific collaborations that created Dolly the Sheep!) for more than 300 years – that’s why the rest of the UK doesn’t want us to leave.
Actual Fact : The Union has been such a success story that 59 countries have left Westminster’s control since the American Revolution. Sports stars will continue to train together and scientists will continue to collaborate. Much in the same way that science is conducted today. Unless it’s North Korea or maybe China, science doesn’t stop at borders.
Myth: Remaining North Sea oil and gas is worth £1.5 trillion – and at least £6.8 billion in Scottish tax revenues in first year of independence
Fact: The Scottish Government assumes that oil and gas can be produced at zero costs (so rigs and pipelines can be built and run for free, and oil workers don’t need to be paid), despite the remaining oil being further off-shore and deeper under the ocean, so it costs more to extract. Over the last two years, taxes from the North Sea have been £3 billion below the Scottish Government’s most pessimistic forecast – that’s the same as our entire education budget.
Actual Fact : There is debate over how much in value is left of North Sea Oil. The lowest is the OBR’s £1.5 Trillion. European experts say its closer to £2.5 while the industry itself says £4 Trillion. The truth is, that oil is a bonus to the Scottish economy not the centre of it. It would be foolish to base an entire economy around one sector, unless of course you’re the UK and that sector is the casino style banking of the city of London. Also the total for tax revenues include tax paid by north sea workers, not just from the sale to allow these oil companies to use our resource. The cost of extraction and building is taken by the oil companies not the tax payer