Alert commuters using Scotland’s railway stations may this week have received a “newspaper” from the official No campaign containing a splendid crossword and a recipe for raspberry brownies, amongst some political rubbish.
We haven’t tried it ourselves, but we hope the recipe was a bit less inaccurate than the political sections, or a lot of people might die of food poisoning.
1. “We get the best of both worlds. A powerful Scottish Parliament with power over things like schools, hospitals, police and transport and we get the strength and security of being part of the UK, one of the biggest economies in the world.”
Well, yes, if by “biggest” you mean “most bankrupt and indebted”. And if by “powerful” you mean “hamstrung by having its budget set and all its most important decisions taken by a government Scots rejected overwhelmingly”. Otherwise, spot-on.
2. “In Scotland we have £1,200 more per person in public spending than the UK average. Most of this extra money is spent by the Scottish Parliament on priorities we decide like the NHS or our schools.”
Of course, to pay for that £1,200 in “extra” spending we cough up £1,700 more each than the UK average. But it’s nice of them to give us back 70% of our own money.
Most of the other £500 Scotland subsidises the UK with is of course frittered away by Westminster on priorities we DON’T decide, like weapons of mass destruction, high-speed rail that doesn’t come near Scotland, improving already-lavish London public transport, the Olympics, aircraft carriers that don’t have any aircraft to carry, and invading countries full of brown people and shooting them.
3. “Scotland is a country of 5 million but we get to sell our goods and services to a home market of 60 million customers. The SNP Government’s own figures show that Scots firms sell twice as much to the rest of the UK as we do to the rest of the world combined!”
Scotland is a country of 5 million but we get to sell our goods and services to a European common market of over 500 million customers. As long as we don’t get dragged out of the EU by Westminster, that is.
And independence won’t stop Scottish businesses selling goods and services to the rest of the UK, any more than we’re currently prevented from selling them to France or Germany or India or Japan or the USA. Obviously.
4. “As part of the UK we are on the UN security council and we have 270 embassies and consulates around the world helping Scots companies and travellers. We are one of the big nations setting the agenda in the EU. And the UK has been voted the most culturally influential nation on earth.”
As part of the EU, Scotland has access to the embassies of any fellow EU member state anywhere in the world, and will continue to do so as an independent member state of the EU upon independence. The UK’s idea of “setting the agenda in the EU” usually consists of isolating itself from everyone else, and if the English public gets its way we’ll soon be on the way out.
5. “The UK armed forces are the best trained in the world. As part of the UK we are protected by an army, navy and air force far bigger than we could pay for on our own. We have one of the biggest aid programmes, helping disasters and the poorest parts of the world.”
As part of the UK, Scotland’s coasts are left undefended, thanks in part to MoD cuts which have fallen disproportionately on Scotland. Scotland could protect itself more effectively for less money than we currently pay for the UK’s efforts.
The UK does not currently meet the UN’s stated aim of rich countries spending 0.7% of GNI on international aid, which the Scottish Government has already committed itself to meeting (and more), which would put us on a par with Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and Luxembourg.
6. “Scottish licence fee payers contribute about £300 million but, by clubbing together with the rest of the UK, we get about £3.6 billion worth of programmes. Viewers outside the UK have to pay for things like iPlayer and other small countries pay a far higher licence fee for fewer programmes.”
The white paper has set out plans for how a Scottish Broadcasting Service (SBS) would function, how much it would cost and how Scots would have access to all the programmes we currently enjoy and more. (If nothing else, at least we wouldn’t have the indignity of paying to have people insult us on TV.)
We currently pay the 8th-highest licence fee in Europe, and many other small countries (Ireland, Slovenia, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic) pay less and yet still get access to those precious BBC programmes.
7. “With more universities in the world’s top 200 per head than any other country on the planet Scotland’s universities are thriving as part of the UK. Our scientists and inventors are backed by investment from the rest of the UK.”
…investment which is being cut by the current Westminster government. Luckily, research funding doesn’t recognise borders, going instead to where the best research is being done regardless of its location.
To quote the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council: “Research is international and many challenges that we face are global. As well as maintaining the strength of UK research, we want researchers to be able to collaborate with partners around the world.”
8. “Scotland has massive green energy potential. Today the cost of building wind and wave generators is shared across the energy bills of 26 million households. If the cost of this had to be paid for by just 2.4 million Scottish energy bills we would have to choose between green jobs or much higher energy bills.”
Well, we wouldn’t, since the Scottish Government has said it’ll remove green taxes from bills and fund renewable energy projects from central taxation instead. But the initial setup costs of an infrastructure that could tap a limitless, infinite supply of cheap, clean, exportable energy compares well in the long run to the costs of commissioning, operating then dismantling dangerous, dirty nuclear power stations.
9. “We make decisions here in the Scottish Parliament about our NHS but we also benefit from cost-free, hassle-free access to the lifesaving specialist treatment we need anywhere in the UK NHS.”
…which would continue to happen exactly as it does now, since NHS Scotland is already a separate organisation from the NHS in the rest of the UK.
10. “Today the UK pound is our currency and our mortgages are backed by the Bank of England. If we leave the UK and have to join the Euro or set up a new currency from scratch it would cost us with higher mortgage bills and will make it more costly to trade with the rest of the UK.”
That’s nice. But Scotland will be keeping the pound, so what’s your point, caller? And anyone who tries to suggest Scotland COULD join the Euro – never mind be COMPELLED to do so – ought to be directed to the convergence criteria that a country must fulfil before joining the Eurozone. It’s not happening.
As for mortgage rates, those are on the way up whether we’re in the UK or not. (And we note that for some inexplicable reason “Better Together” has stopped going on about how great UK pensions are recently.)
With all due respect, we humbly suggest that in future, the No camp might save itself some embarrassment by getting us to give its releases the once-over BEFORE they give them to the Scottish public, not after.