It is hard this week not to be thinking about the Scottish referendum because even though I am not eligible to vote, whatever the outcome I will, and countless others, be affected. We all appreciate it is impossible to know when any politician is telling the truth as opposed to some version of a half-truth but as a bystander this campaign has seemed to be all about negatives. I liked two comments I heard - somewhat paraphrased:-
"I could never vote for Salmond but the issue is about Scotland."
"Cameron's attitude initially was a bit like a man in a divorce case just going on about how you wouldn't get this and how much worse off you would be, not how much he loves you."
Obviously there is so much point scoring in politics and the constant scare tactics. For example Salmond telling Scotland how the NHS might be privatised by Westminster when the NHS was already under Scottish control and had been promised an extra Â£1bn funding by Westminster.
I can understand the attraction of being devolved from UK and most importantly the rule of Westminster but equally there must be risks. I always think that I would rather have a slice of a large cake than the whole of a smaller one, as you are much better protected against uncertainty. Much has been made of the success of some of the Eastern European countries now free from the Soviet bloc, but why is it that so many from those countries are still looking to the UK to work and live? Those in favour of Scottish independence say they want to be part of the EU, but also say they want to restrict immigration - but the uncontrolled immigration into UK now is that from within the EU.
Yes, independence has attractions, after all they will have 'Scottish' oil - I've always thought of it as North Sea oil which the companies have just chosen to bring ashore in Scotland. But at current tax revenue rates the tax on the oil would be 30% of Scotland's tax revenue (compared with less than 2% of tax revenue for UK) so very vulnerable to fluctuations in production and reserve levels. And if Scotland was too harsh on those companies why not start operation from North East England (there is already a Teesside Oil and Gas Pipeline) or may be Norway or Denmark?
The arguments will continue over the EU membership and use of Sterling but again these are no easy ride should devolution happen. But then we turn to The Vow made by the leaders of the main Westminster Parties - how does this make those not in Scotland feel - it might be considered the divorce attempt of showing how much love there is, but how about the rest of the UK who seem to be funding it?
We all know that the vote will be won by whoever gets over 50% (the 50% plus 1) but what about the aftermath? If the vote is in favour will Westminster then take the line of the divorced husband and try and give away as little as possible - as someone in the divorced party I hope so, after all Westminster should then be arguing for the best possible deal for the remainder of the UK.Â If the No vote prevails then what? Clause 30 of the Edinburgh agreement says that all parties agree to work for the best interests of Scotland and the UK. But Salmond has already said he will put together 'Team Scotland' to fight for the best deal for Scotland, even though under the agreement he should also be looking for what is best for UK. Westminster on the other hand already seems to have given everything away, or promised to, so who is fighting the UK corner? In addition, knowing it will be a close result, how long will it be before the demand comes back to the table?
No matter the vote outcome, it appears Scotland has won devolution to one degree or another and I wonder who will be fighting for the rest of the UK. We know in school the disruptive pupil is often the one that gets the most attention and sometimes exclusion is better for the remainder of the class. I hope if the vote is No, Scotland ceases to be the disruptive pupil so everyone can get a fair share of attention.Jonathan RussellReesRussell
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