A different take today. After publishing Jackie Kemp’s No to Yes article, I reverse the process with this piece by Gordon Young, a successful media businessman with offices in London and Glasgow. He moved south with his family because most of his business was generated there and he couldn’t expand further in Scotland, he felt. Some comments on Twitter doubt his story but I can vouch for him. Not only did he vote Yes (he was still registered here) but he spent voting night in my house.
He voices fears we don’t like to hear but I think his opinions are gold dust for anyone interested in how No voters are thinking and what issues need to be addressed. There are answers to some or even all but it’s helpful to have them laid out like this. The uncertainty in difficult times will chime with many as will concerns about trade with England. Not insurmountable, but clearly areas we need to discuss. I put his article here in the spirit of debate.
I voted YES in the last Scottish independence referendum. Here is why I would vote NO this time round.
1. The economy stupid. The fundamentals are weaker this time round. Partly caused by the collapse in the price of oil, but also a weakness across the Scottish business generally. Scotland needs to sort its economy out, at the moment it has no reserves to help get it through choppy waters.
2. We’re punch drunk. The country has just been through two other traumatic referendums. A period of stability is required so people can get back to their day-to-day lives and Government can get back to its day job of looking after things like education, health and policing all of which seem to falling behind comparable service levels south of the border.
3. Access to our biggest market. England is by miles Scotland’s largest trading partner; and being outside the UK single market would be far riskier than being outside the EU. In the referendum both nations were part of the European single market, so independence in that context looked sustainable. That has now changed. Even the Republic of Ireland is worried about the impact of being cut off from England, and that alone should be a wake up call. Scotland may vote for political independence, but the reality is it would still be dependent economically on England.
4. Money: The last time I bought into the argument that Scotland could retain Sterling (even though others thoughts that was unrealistic). However, this time it does not seen even to be an option – meaning Scotland would either have to adopt its own currency or the Euro. Both options are frightening and confusing for those who have businesses that straddle both sides of the border. Inflation, austerity, deficits, credit crunches would be the language of the new Scottish economy in the short term.
5. Proof of the pudding: After the last Referendum the Scottish Government got a host of new powers making it one of the most powerful devolved assemblies in the world. I’d like to see how it gets on with these, before handing it complete control. Early signs are not good. It is already one of the most taxed parts of the UK.
6. Investment: The uncertainly facing those in other parts of the UK is bad, but it is nothing compared to that faced by those in Scotland. Not only do they have Brexit to contend with but now talk of a referendum. What ever the outcome of this latest vote investment in Scotland will be depressed – depriving real people in Scotland of real jobs.
7. Bad Brexit deal?: Even those who voted remain agree it is crucial the UK Government gets the best deal possible as it opens talks with the EU. The timing of the SNP announcement is a huge distraction, that complicates these talks. That is not in the interest of anyone; Scots, English, Northern Irish and Welsh alike. This is the wrong time for this debate.
8. Lack of clarity: This referendum has apparently been prompted by the UK leaving the EU single market against the wishes of Scots. But if independence happens it is not clear if or when Scotland would be able to rejoin. It seems likely that it would have several years both outside the UK and the EU. And if of course if rejoining the EU is an option, that course will probably mean yet another EU referendum North of the Border. Scotland would face a decade of angst and uncertainty, and remember many in Scotland, including senior members of the SNP actually backed Brexit.
9. The world is a more dangerous place: It is easy to forget that the freedoms we enjoy in countries such as the UK are the exception not the norm. In other parts of the world I would not be able to write blogs like this. But these values are under attack; it is no coincidence that a Russian news agency has opened a branch in Edinburgh, allegedly to influence the outcome of votes such as this. There are pressures in the South China Seas, and worries about North Korea, not to mention what is happing in the US and the rise of nationalism in Europe. This is a time for the UK to stand together to protect its common values; which to me actually transcends the Scottish independence issue for now at least.
I am not ideologically opposed to Scottish independence. But politically, economically and in terms of basic security this is not the time.
PS: In the interest of full disclosure I should also point out that I no longer live in Scotland, so could not vote even if I wanted to. However, I still co-own a Scottish registered business, that employs around 60 people in Glasgow, so feel I should be able to put my tuppence worth in!by