The ‘No’ Point of View

We are, at this point, in a relationship with three other countries, and have been in one, of some sort, for three hundred years or so.
These four countries, in their day, discovered and conquered a huge part of the world. We learned and worked and developed a culture the envy of many.
Our relationship with each other has not always been easy but it has always been profitable. We have prospered in this partnership.
Our people are free to live and work in any part of this United Kingdom. No-one is restricted in any way about what he can achieve. Anyone can reach the highest levels of our society given merit, hard work and a bit of luck.
It’s true that the playing field is not always level and we can see, like all developed and developing nations, an international centre which seems to have a gravitational pull all of its own. We are not alone in this. I expect the people of Trondheim look a bit sideways at the wealth gravitating to Oslo, the people of Naples must feel the same way about Rome etc etc.
We in Scotland have elected a Pro Independence government, in my view, at least partly done as a protest vote against the recently elected Westminster government which was promising hard times in response to what could be seen as mishandling of the economy by the previous Westminster government.
Now this Scottish government is campaigning to break up this union and take Scotland into a completely new situation.
Now, me, I’m a simple soul. I tend to be suspicious of organisations which are too big and too powerful, but also tend to dismiss those I see as too small. I think UK is just about right. We have a seat on the security council at the UN, we are at the table at the G8. We take many benefits from the EU but get great rebates which Maggie Thatcher negotiated. We are big boys in NATO and, by and large (apart from the Argentineans) no-one has fucked with us for sixty years.
I’m not suggesting that everything in the garden is rosy by any means, but, by and large, I’m pretty happy being a British Citizen resident in Glasgow.
Now, this local Government has won the right to hold a referendum on the future of Scotland. The question will be simple: Do you believe that Scotland should be an independent country?
Given that five million people living here will be directly affected by this, it is my assertion is that the onus of proof that this is a good idea rests with this SNP government. It is not for others to prove them wrong.
Given that they should be able to convince us that it is a good idea, they should be able to answer some pretty basic questions which the man in the street can understand. And here are just a few……
Given that the whole process is generating discord and bad feeling between Scots, it seems reasonable that it will also generate some hostility in London.
Given a YES vote…..

  • Why do you think an rUK government will cut you any slack when you try to negotiate the thousands of things needing agreements?
  • If they say NO to a shared pound then what are you going to do? Invent a new currency? Where will it be printed? At the Mint? Who will be your lender of last resort? RBS? Given that it is owned by the British taxpayer anyway -or Bank of England? Why would they? Does it seem possible that 2014 could negotiate itself into 2016 and we have no currency but just end up using the pound anyway but have no lender?
  • How will it affect jobs? You say you will close Clyde Submarine Base Faslane. That’s 6,500 jobs. Do you expect rUK to still send its warships to the Clyde to be built? What if it chooses not to build ships outside the country? Will SNP be able to commission enough warships to keep them going?
  • I’m planning a world tour in 2019. If I get in trouble in say Thailand, where will I go for help? Will there be a Scottish Embassy? Will you have lots of Scottish Embassies around the world? Will that not be very expensive? Or maybe you will choose a cheaper option, like getting the Swiss or someone to subcontract? Or are you hoping that there will still be enough goodwill in rUK so that they will handle it for us?
  • Can you tell me why major institutions are making noises about relocating South? What if they are not just scaremongering? What if these big boys really do feel that they do not want to be based in a small country with an untested currency? I know that investors are a nervous lot; it doesn’t take much to give them the jitters. If they all went, how many jobs would that represent? Not just jobs of course, but taxation receipts.
  • How would you defend us? Will we be in NATO? I know you changed your NATO policy recently (and lost some high fliers in protest) but how does that gel with your ‘no nuclear’ policy? Surely NATO will demand you keep Faslane? But will rUK be happy about its nuclear vessels being based in a foreign country? What about the Armed Forces? Will all the Scottish soldiers become Scottish citizens? Will they transfer to Scotland? What if they don¡¦t want to? Will they lose citizenship? What about specialist defence roles? Intelligence? Cyberwarfare? Do we have people skilled in this so that we are not vulnerable? Do you think MI5 and MI6 will be minded to share with us? How about the Navy? Do you think The Royal Navy will just hand over 10% of the fleet? And if they did, what would you do with them? Would you look to project power to protect our interests in say, the Persian Gulf? Or would we do a kind of Coastal Patrol/Fisheries/Coastguard kind of thing? If that was the case, are we not then removing ourselves from the world stage? Relinquishing all influence?
  • It seems to me that all the shared institutions will have to be duplicated. I’m thinking DVLC, HMRC, DWP, Passports- a whole other issue! But seriously, is it not going to be really expensive to do all that?
  • The European Union. As I said earlier, I’m a simple soul so tell me if I’m wrong. This is how I see it. The UK is a member of the EU but has opted out of the Euro. Lucky thing that or our tax Euros would have been propping up the Greeks! We get a big rebate from our contributions. An independent Scotland would automatically get into the EU? I’ve heard you say this but I have also heard from influential people that we would have to apply for a new membership. I have also heard that we would have to meet the financial stability tests and jump through all the hoops that new entrants have to do. I understand that there are a number of countries with small secessionist issues of their own and who would, in their own self interest, make it as difficult as they can. What if they were successful in blocking us? Would that not put us in a very poor trading position with almost ALL the countries we currently do business with? What if we did get in somehow, wouldn’t we have to adopt the Euro? Did we not just decide it was lucky we hadn’t? Would we have as much influence in EU decision making as we do now? I dunno- just asking.
  • Scotland’s Oil: I’m confused. Everyone seems to have different numbers but what is clear is that it ain’t going to last forever. Is it wise to pin all your economic hopes on a diminishing resource?
  • Given that you, the SNP, have called for (as a right) a democratic secession referendum, what are you going to say if the Shetlands and/or Orkney demand the same right and choose to be off to Norway?
  • Citizenship. Sorry, I’m really confused about this. I served for some years in the Armed Forces. I was seldom is Scotland for those years but considered myself Scottish. Years later I was working and living in Brighton but those guys who worked for me were in no doubt about where I came from! As I understand it, people not actually resident in Scotland at the time of the referendum will have no vote. But they will be affected by the result (if it’s YES). Will they become Scottish citizens and need to apply for residency in rUK? Or will they become rUK citizens? If they do that, if and when they decide to come home, what do they do? If we have so many of our people out and about in the world who would be significantly affected by the vote, should they not have one?
  • Passports. I understand that a British passport ranks No.1 (with Finland and Sweden) in that we can travel to 173 countries without a visa or get a visa on arrival. This is pretty good and If one travels a lot must save a lot of money and convenience. Do you think the new Scottish Passport will simply inherit all the benefits existing with the British one?
  • BBC- I have no idea how that would go. Do you?

I have more questions, and I suppose there are a lot of much smarter people out there saying “what about this? And this?”
The point I am labouring is really simple: it is your responsibility to reassure us that these questions actually do have sensible answers. Just saying something like -and I quote ….
“The Scottish Government has decided that an independent Scotland should continue to use the pound and enter into a formal currency agreement with the government of the United Kingdom.”
“The current Scottish Government supports continued membership of NATO, albeit with the significant caveat that membership should not require retention of nuclear weapons in Scotland.”
“Being independent means a lot of different things to each and every one of us. For some, becoming independent is when we get our first car, or our first home. Or perhaps when we start our own family. It is the point we take responsibility for our own future and our own success. Yes, there are ups and downs, but we plan, we prepare, we take out insurance and we get through even the most difficult times.”
Stirring words, but it seems to me, lacking substance. I feel that if you are going to cast me and mine into some Braveheart future with huge risks which you can’t control, you better have your ducks in a row, ‘cos, if you fuck this up, some Braveheart who used to work on the Clyde or at Faslane or at Scottish Widows is going to look you up.
These are only my questions – asking them is not scaremongering or bullying. It’s your idea after all.

David Hunter
March 2014