Wall Street Journal on The Economics of Scottish Independence

We’re not in the habit of reprinting articles from the Wall Street Journal but we’ll make an exception for this one.  The article below was published on 3rd May by the WSJ in their MarketWatch section.  It examines whether the economics of Independence add up.  It’s an article worth bookmarking.



As the countdown to the Scottish independence vote in the autumn of 2014 draws closer, temperatures are rising fast as the debate moves to the hard-nosed economics of what will it cost. The Economist magazine recently poured gasoline onto the flames by running a map of Scotland on its cover labeled “Skintland.”

Even if this jibe is taken with an element of tongue in cheek, it still hits close to home: Scotland might not be skint — or poor — but for many the fear is, live in Scotland and you might be.

For years if not centuries a disproportionate stream of Scots have made homes overseas — from North America to New Zealand — seeking better fortunes and better weather. All too often Scotland tends not to offer the rewards available elsewhere.

If the nationalists are right, independence can reverse this situation. They can also point to some influential supporters including News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch who earlier this year tweeted: “Let Scotland go and compete. Everyone would win.” News Corp. is the owner of MarketWatch, the publisher of this report.

The crux of the nationalist argument is that Scotland underperforms because a dysfunctional Westminster political system has systematically relegated its interests: Government was either by a Conservative party with too few Scottish MPs to care, or a Labour Party who traded electoral success for economic mediocrity and mass welfare dependency.

Give Scotland independence and it will reverse this drift and ensure prosperity, they argue.

As well as the electorate, investors will also be watching plans carefully. The Eurozone crisis has shown how ruthlessly any hint of weakness in financial performance is punished.

No quick answers

Yet, there is no quick answer or unanimity to the economics of an independent Scotland. It requires more than just a snapshot of the country’s assets and liabilities upon separation. What is also needed is a sense of what kind of economy Scotland can achieve holding the full levers of power. If Scotland is put under new management, how much better will it do?

All too often this debate rarely gets past the sneering view that Scotland would be too poor (skint), or too small to stand on its own two feet outside the U.K.

But the claim that a penurious Scotland is a subsidy junkie has already been proved a myth.

New accounts of revenue and expenditure from Treasury data show Scotland regularly gives more than it receives from U.K. coffers.

Last year Scotland contributed 9.6% of U.K. taxes, yet received only 9.3% of U.K. spending in return with just 8.4% of the population. Take a geographical share of oil revenues into account and its 2011 budget deficit would be just 4.4% of gross domestic product, versus an equivalent figure for the U.K. of 6.6%.

There is now little dispute that Scotland on its own can be a viable economy. But just how strong depends on where you come down on the big arguments over oil, currency and how effectively an independent Scotland can govern.

The Economist questions Scotland’s dependence on oil, which it says is running out, while the price of oil may fall. Yet the claim of vanishing oil has been turning up since the 1970s. Latest reports estimate 24 billion barrels remain, equating to a wholesale value of some £1.5 trillion at today’s prices. With the world’s second largest consumer of oil, China, adding close to a million new cars on its roads every month, worrying about lower oil prices looks a red herring.

Another critique is that Scotland would be a vulnerable small economy on its own. Yet its GDP puts it on a par with the likes of Singapore and Hong Kong and would be ranked 6th in the OECD in terms of GDP per head.


One resurgent success is the national tipple. Helped along by surging sales in Asia where whiskey is often drunk by the bottle rather than by the nip, exports grew 23% last year to £4.23 billion.

One advantage of independence frequently cited is it confers tax-raising powers. Scotland could attract industries where it has a competitive advantage to relocate — be it asset management, game development or green renewable energy.

Singapore has successfully used tax incentives to support its wealth management industry. Scotland would have scope to consolidate Edinburgh as a financial center. It is already the fourth largest in Europe in terms of assets under management. Likewise policy could seek to attract corporate headquarter functions as Ireland has successfully managed. Scotland’s educated workforce benefits from having universities in the world’s top 200.

Yet come independence, there will still be housekeeping realities to deal with of dividing up assets and liabilities. Scotland will get its share of U.K. debt that needs to be paid.

And of course investors like nothing worse than uncertainty. This is one reason a cautious approach to establishing a new currency is likely. The current frailty of the euro has taken that option off the table and the SNP policy is to stick with sterling at least for the initial years of independence.

Despite this, ratings firms are likely to look closely at the newly structured U.K. It is not inconceivable the upheaval for both countries could lead to ratings review of the U.K.’s sovereign AAA rating. Later, if Scotland did have its own currency it would at least start from an enviable position of having substantial oil and gas asset backing.

As the SNP spells out its detailed policy plans, hopefully the debate can focus on more than just what there is to lose from independence. Then perhaps everyone can win, rather than just worry about who will be skint.

Craig Stephen is a native Scot living in Hong Kong.

Comments (47)

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  1. Siôn Jones says:

    A balanced and fair-minded assessment, putting the BBC, the Economist and most of the English language MSM to shame. Well spotted, Bella!

  2. Doug Daniel says:

    How can a person read an article such as this and not be swayed by independence? It just makes sense.

    1. Longshanker, while you articulate the fears of many Scots re independence, and, in particular, Alex Salmond, I’m of the opinion that much of this is a hatchet-job by the BBC and MSM.

      As a life-long nationalist, I have to smile at the idea we are being led, Pied Piper-like, into the wilderness by the FM and his “vanity project”. I can assure any non-SNP members that Alex Salmond represents the views of the membership, and the idea that anyone could ever move the membership against its will, clearly doesn’t understand that membership.

      This campaign will not be fought on party lines. It will consist of a ‘Yes’ campaign and a ‘No’ campaign. Many traditional Labour and Lib-Dem supporters will vote ‘Yes’!

      Irrespective of the links to Murdoch, or anyone else, none of it makes Scotland unviable. As Doug Daniel points out, people in Scotland buy his newspapers and subscribe to his tv packages, so they aren’t too worried about his politics. To lower the debate of Scotland’s constitutional future to the level of personality politics is ridiculous, as well as extremely hypocritical on the part of the Unionists.

      It will come down to the economy, and the confidence of the people and business to take us forward. It doesn’t help that the Unionists and their media allies won’t address this issue honestly and leave the people to make up their own minds.

      My own sons are growing their business successfully. They see self-determination as an opportunity, and are certainly not concerned by the referendum. They know that borders don’t stop trade, or the ability to make money. They have the can-do mentality that will ensure our nation thrives in the future. Let’s face it, you need an independent mind, confidence and a proactive attitude to succeed in business; the very attributes required for a nation to thrive.

      Confidence and the will to succeed is the key!

      1. longshanker says:


        You said:

        “To lower the debate of Scotland’s constitutional future to the level of personality politics is ridiculous, as well as extremely hypocritical on the part of the Unionists”

        Without a figurehead how do you sell the vision? I’m all for hearing a compelling argument for Independence. As I said to Doug, I find it difficult to countenance the ‘status quo’ post referendum. I’ve said elsewhere that if the argument focuses solely on economics, the Unionists will get trounced.

        Consider this though. Would black emancipation have reached the stage it did without Martin Luther King as its figurehead? I don’t think so.

        I agree that something as important as Independence should be above personality politics. Unfortunately, a sizable portion of the electorate don’t vote by summing up the numerous pros and cons, economic or constitutional or otherways.

        Salmond is tainted by association with Murdoch. Just because people read the Sun or the Times doesn’t automatically mean that they’re pro or neutral toward Murdoch.

        Ask an average Scottish Sun reader (if there is such a person) if they’re disgusted by the Milly Dowler case. I’d take wagers on what the majority of such readers would answer.

        To be seen to be not only condoning the man widely held responsible for the Dowler case, but actively abasing himself, jobs related or not, damns Salmond. Granted, not to the faithful, but damns him nonetheless.

        Guaranteed, it will have a bearing on the outcome of the referendum – hypocritical personality politics or not.

        1. Les Wilson says:

          You see, a lot of false assumptions and spin in this reply of yours, which despite the fact you do not want to totally out, as a Unionist sympathiser, but still try to influence with continual spin, with no basis.

          Why don’t you just come out with what you really want to say, and be done with it.

          However I suspect that would not be your way, which is familiar in the way Unionists prefer to work.
          They want to keep the Union although it is no longer fit for purpose, especially for our Scotland. It is time that the population of Scotland saw some benefit from what we have.
          Not just see it all squandered in the South of England.

          So Longshanker, if you have any true regard for Scotland and it’s peoples, I would hope you would start to be positive, even helpful sometimes if you can find it in your heart to help people to see the good in Scots managing their own affairs.

          1. longshanker says:

            You’ll have to define what ‘true regard for Scotland’ actually means. It sounds like Nationalist spin, bordering on ‘anti-Scots’ insult to me. Stereotypically dull offering from the independence ‘faithful’.

            I’m bored with the number of people accusing me that I am; Unionist, English, Anti-Scots, a troll etc. just because I refuse to go along with the prevaling ‘chip on the shooder’ ideology that every one is out to get the nationalists through subterfuge, bias and Unionist skullduggery.

            Independence is bigger than that – nationalism, sadly, doesn’t appear to be. Nationalism, almost by definition, needs a recognisable enemy in order to viably operate.

            If independence, SNP style, truly offered anything other than the trumping of one set of mostly mediocre, evasive, self serving politicians (Scottish variety) over another set of mostly mediocre, evasive, self serving politicians (Westminster variety) then there might be something to get excited about.

            Salmond’s unbecoming fawning over the Murdochs reeks of Westminstering of the worst order. What’s positive about that other than it indicating that Scots should expect ‘more of the same’ post independence.

            How uninspiring.

          2. Les Wilson says:

            I have commented in previous reply to you about the Murdoch/ Salmond relationship and asked if you disagreed with what I said, you have not replied to that.

            I also questioned another post you made about Murrayfield voters and asked for some evidence for your comments, you have not replied to that either.

            To me, a lack of response would suggest they are only figments of your imagination, with which you hope to instill distrust in people’s minds.
            This is common practice amongst those who do not desire Scotland to be a country that should determine it’s own future.

            They cannot come up with a good rational which would explain just why Scotland, who despite many years of us being addressed as subsidy junkies, and are indeed not, ( this is now widely acknowledged ) would be better off with the Union.

            Of course this is but one thing there are many others all meant to keep us under Westminster’s thumb, in order to squeeze all they can out of us.

            My interest is with the Scottish people, I want to see their standard of living improve, the levels of poverty removed, and Scotland itself be a better and fairer place for my children and grandchildren to live in.This will never happen within this dysfunctional Union that we have at present. DO YOU agree, or disagree with these sentiments?

            Have you seen the McKrone report? I think you probably have, but if not google it. I suggest anyone who has not looked at, should. It was an appalling betrayal of Scotland, would you agree with that, or will it be another non answer? All Scots would be deeply offended by it, if they all knew about it, but again it has not been widely publicised, I can only guess why.

            Your politics are obvious by your scattered comments which have no substance, maybe you are also happy about the way the BBC, almost all newspapers, and the media in general have handled the spin and manipulation against the SNP, are you? yes or no!

            So ramble on old chap as you clearly enjoy the fabrications you produce, and frankly, ramblings are exactly what they are.

          3. Siôn Jones says:

            Longshanker – Have you understood nothing of the proposition for independence? The4re is no ‘SNP’ style independence – it is just independence. The SNP may choose, as they have, to suggest things that would be possible under independence, but they understand better than you that the real choices will be taken by the people of Scotland. It is unionists like you that are trying to turn the argument into one of personality, not the secessionists. Your failure to grasp the fundamentals of what is being proposed, and your failure to propose a realistic alternative rather make you irrelevant to this argument.

          4. Les Wilson says:

            I second this post!

          5. longshanker says:

            Remind me who publishes the Wall Street Journal?

            Go back to your constituency and prepare to be disappointed.

          6. Les Wilson says:

            Oh your thing about Murdoch again, I wonder if you carry on with Milliband or David Cameron like this about Murdoch? Probably unlikely!
            I have already addressed the Murdoch scenario with you, but you cannot answer, just more deliberate negativity. Don’t you just depress yourself with all this rubbish?

          7. longshanker says:

            All politicians depress me. They’re all the same – just different coloured caps.

            Cybernatterers vain belief that the SNP are somehow different makes me laugh out loud however.

            “Addressed the Murdoch scenario”. No. You’ve reiterated the party line which, if you’re of the faith, is mildly plausible though hardly credible.

            Wee tip. Don’t waste any more time regurgitating trite mantras: They’re dull and boring.

          8. Siôn Jones says:

            Longshanker (Didn’t you run in the Grand National a few years ago?), I would like to congratulate you for uniting disparate threads of nationalist opinion on here. I am beginning to think that, rather than being a unionist Troll, you are in fact a very subtle agent for nationalism! Keep up the good work.

          9. Les Wilson says:

            All you say, is agenda driven and pure fantasy, fabricated in order to fulfill your self wants.

            You want to hide your closet agenda, while trying to influence others with unverified comments.
            You quote what you cannot prove, and as such show your real intentions.

            It is sad really that there are manipulative people like you who lead Walter Mitty lives that try to effect the life of others by trying to influence them without any evidence to actually prove your case nor to show how you really feel by giving your honest opinion or answers to questions posed.

            Unfortunately such people generally make no real contribution to a real debate, as people do come to recognise what they are dealing with, and subsequently do no heed what rubbish is being past on to them.

            Do you not get that, or are you so intellectually challenged that you can neither tell the truth nor explain or prove what you say. Rather sad really!

          10. longshanker says:

            Sion, Les, James

            You have to wonder about the calibre of reply when people refer to you as an ‘it’ or a horse or whatever your limited imaginations can create as an insult.

            It speaks volumes.

            I’m mildly surprised at Bella for letting it go.

            Bella consistently posts thought provoking and interesting articles – my favourite to date being the one written by the International Socialists.

            This piece is good, despite its source being a Murdoch published paper. Mr Murdoch has a completely separate agenda behind his support for the independence cause.

            I very much doubt whether any of you guys listed above are actually capable of conceiving what it is..

            Les, your dull insistence that I haven’t answered your questions is an answer in itself.

            It’s quite plain that you haven’t read the source of the Hampden, Murrayfield analogy or have any idea of the poll figures behind its creation.

            Raise your game and you might get an answer. Until you can come up with something more intelligent than your gutter insults, consider yourselves summarily dismissed.

  3. longshanker says:


    If our inward investors are going to be the likes of Amazon, Trump, Stagecoach, Diageo and Newscorps, it could turn us into a cheap corporate whoreland instead of Skintland.

    The potential sounds great. What would the reality be like? Where is the vision from the SNP or pro-independence third parties? Salmond is too damaged by definitive association to get the extra voters he needs to rally round the independence flag. There’s a real and present issue of trust which Salmond no longer commands.

    I know independence isn’t a SNP issue only, but that’s the way it’s perceived amongst many. I’ve even heard people say that the referendum is a “Salmond vanity project.”

    I’m still not convinced. The only thing I am convinced of is that the status quo is too horrible to countenance. Other than that – nothing.

    1. Doug Daniel says:

      Longshanker, the UK is already a cheap corporate whoreland thanks to its offshore tax havens such as Jersey and the onshore tax haven known as the City of Westminster. Besides, you mention Trump, but as everyone who mentions Trump seems to forget, the man currently despises Salmond precisely because he refuses to be swayed on the windmill issue.

      Salmond too damaged? Nah. The chattering classes may care about the Murdoch thing, but normal people don’t – if they did, they wouldn’t buy Murdoch’s papers or watch his TV channels. You hit the nail on the head when you say “present issue” – this will be no more of an issue in 2014 than the fact Salmond was shown to have spent so much money on food during the expenses scandal. People will vote for independence because the arguments against it are so weak, not because they like or dislike a particular politician.

      The only people to have called independence a “Salmond vanity project” are those who have already made up their minds about the issue. There is little point paying attention to such people, as they’re not the voters who will decide the result. If you genuinely want to be convinced about independence, why place so much credence on those who argue for the continuation of a system you already acknowledge is failing?

      1. longshanker says:


        “…why place so much credence on those who argue for the continuation of a system you already acknowledge is failing?”

        Because the person who made the ‘vanity project’ comment is in a highly influential, non-political position. (And female).

        It was said with such off hand dismissal that I was rather taken aback. This particular person is usually so measured as to appear to be neutral on virtually everything.

        No matter how you choose to look at it, the elements surrounding the Murdoch issue are not weak. They will quite rightly continue to haunt the First Minister.

        Alex Massie’s Hampden and Murrayfield piece hinted at this. Hampden voters won’t care about Murdoch as you quite rightly assert.

        Murrayfield voters are mostly horrified that Mr Salmond could be so contemptuous of the electorate and the Scottish Parliament in his deference to Murdoch’s empire.

        Independence needs the support of the Murrayfield set. Otherways it’s dead in the water.

    2. James Coleman says:

      I’ve said this before and I am emphasising it again. DO NOT FEED THIS TROLL. IGNORE IT. If you do not reply to it, it cannot come back with its ridiculous arguments. It may be fed up with people accusing it of being English, a Unionist in disguise, etc, but the truth is IT IS ALL OF THOSE and should be ignored. It is in addition probably a Labour /Conservative activist since it seems to have a lot of time to correspond on this subject here … and on the many other sites I have observed comments from it.

      1. James Coleman says:

        That last reply of mine was aimed at longshanker the ……..

  4. John Souter says:

    There is no option when the ‘quo’ is not static but flailing while falling.

  5. Macart says:

    Good article, balanced and positive without being overly upbeat or unrealistic. WSJ has come closest overseas commentator yet to hitting the nail on the head with an overall frank assessment. They’ve certainly put our own print media to shame.

  6. Craig P says:


    8.4% UK population,
    9.3% identified UK tax spend,
    raises 9.6% UK taxes.

    It is a sad reflection on the Scottish media that it takes a foreign source to mention the third of the three stats above. Normally all we get fed is the first two. But there can’t be a properly informed debate on the issue with key facts missing.

  7. Les Wilson says:

    Can’t imagine guy’s like longshank ( good name ) are only around to tout the Unionist Cause. They are set to hurt the SNP end of. They see their existing world changing and cannot grasp it. I prefer to think of them as dinosaurs, and I hope they go the same way!

    1. longshanker says:

      “I prefer to think of them as dinosaurs, and I hope they go the same way!”

      Hmm. Can’t possibly imagine how you could reach such an intellectually liimited and bigoted conclusion Les. You’re obviously too ignorant to notice that in your daily life you’re inevitably ‘Walking with dinosaurs’.

  8. Les Wilson says:

    Hmmm ” intellectually limited and bigoted” Well you are of course welcome to your opinion.
    however there is a steam of bias ( however “intellectually ” covered!) running through many of your posts. So perhaps the pot calling the kettle black ( as we Scots say. )

    Take the claptrap you wrote above “Murrayfield voters are mostly horrified that Mr Salmond could be so contemptuous of the electorate and the Scottish Parliament in his deference to Murdoch’s empire.”

    What an absolute piece of tripe. Let me know just what evidence you have, that would indicate
    ( Murryfield voters are mostly horrified? ) So you know this HOW?

    I suspect it is just the ramblings of another Unionist sympathiser trying to skew things in their direction. If I am wrong, again, show me the evidence that this is remotely true.

    Talking about Murdoch, A. Salmond met him five times in five years and all well documented now, as one year was initially missed but now declared. Even this was not a meeting per say but they spoke while both attending a global Scot evening in New York. Hardly devious.

    Why would A.Salmond as Scotland’s first minister NOT speak to him. Perhaps it intellectually escapes you, or perhaps you have forgotten, HE EMPLOY’s 6500 people in Scotland!.

    Mr Salmond SHOULD be friendly with Mr Murdoch in this respect, and he SHOULD do what he can to encourage more jobs to come here. Let us also make abundantly clear that Mr Salmond has unequivocally and publicly denounced phone hacking many times, including in the Scottish Parliament.

    However, it is his job to try and gain jobs for Scottish workers and must be able to speak to Mr Murdoch ( who himself has Scots origins!) when a situation arises that could effect the workforce. Or do you disagree with that?

    Compare Mr Salmond’s meetings to those of your obvious friends at Westminster, Ed Milliband met Murdoch SEVENTEEN TIMES, D. Cameron EIGHTEEN TIMES for roughly the same period.

    Mr Salmond has spoken of his happiness to go to Levenson and explain his purposes in being friendly with Murdoch. Draw a comparison with Milliband and D. Cameron who are both panicking ,at all of their details going public.

    So dear Sir, have a modicum of truth in your postings or they may start to sound like the “Unionist Bias Media” please try and apply your thoughts to something more positive for Scotland rather than regurgitated and invented, spin.

  9. Les Wilson says:

    Hello, Hello Longshanker !! are you there?
    Or have you gone, to think again????????????

  10. steven luby says:

    Ah,good ole’ Longshanker’,depraved and narrow minded as many born to be a uninioist are and have become.Yes there will be major decisions to be made,but I can guarentee you one thing,they will be made byScots,in the name of Scots.Just as the decisions made,some good and bad,an Independent Scotland (meaning it’s people) will live and learn unlike Westminster who appear to simply thrive on the 10 year cycle of boom&recession!
    Their rhetoric and yours have become an old song stuck on the wireless,just like the philosophy of the great at Westminster,sadly their out to tea and no one’s home to change the channel.

    1. Les Wilson says:

      I could not agree more, the referendum should be run by Scots for Scots, end of.
      No interference by the UK government and it’s many proxies.( and they use many proxies to deter us!)

      Sad people like Longshanker really do not get, the more they try to down us, the more we will feel betrayed. Subsequently they will cause a reaction which will lean even more to Independence, such is the nature of Scots.

      It is high time that Scotland was in charge of it’s own destiny, while poverty levels continue to exist in Scotland the UK continue to deprive us of the means to eradicate this scourge.

      There is many reasons we do have these areas of poverty, but mostly because successive UK governments for centuries have used the Scots for their own ends, be it as frontline soldiers or cheap workers. To keep Scotland poor makes for excellent recruiting grounds for their wars and any other use they may find for us.

      The finding of oil in Scottish waters was quickly grabbed by a Thatcher government which was going bankrupt, the oil revenue was used to bale out the country and to regenerate the south of England.

      As could be expected, Scotland saw and still sees little benefit from this asset within it’s waters. Sharing of wealth is not really an attribute that the UK government could claim, the wealth distribution system is a rigged one which does no justice to Scotland, couple that with normal under spends from what should be given, as part of our “Union”
      It is not difficult to understand why our poverty levels remain higher than they should be.

      Outsiders may wonder why Scots are not happy with their lot, well, there is not enough column space here to explain it all. I would just say to those who read this article, that to understand how things have been done across the UK, a continual analysis of past and current events would be required.

      We are not ignorant in Scotland, we have became important in very many countries across the world, we can be found everywhere. It is time for Scotland to thrive and our folks to be proud to stay in their small land, with a big future rather than emigrate to other lands.

      Trust an Independent Scotland, we will do the right things, and raise Scotland’s profile across the globe and we will do it well.

    2. longshanker says:

      Ah. Steven Luby. Like many an advocate of the School of False Consciousness, you make assertions and assumptions which cannot be backed up with evidence. You’ll do weel within your particular branch of ignorance. Keep thinking in stereotypes and common enemies who do not even exist. It seems it’s all your capable of – sadly.

      1. steven luby says:

        Silly !

  11. James Coleman says:

    He usually only appears when ‘good news’ articles about Scotland are published. Then, if you examine what he writes, he tries to influence the debate away from the good news by firstly making outrageous statements about AS in order to deflect some people towards an argument about AS’s leadership and how Independence will not be a bed of roses. He then feeds off replies by others to continue making unpleasant and mainly stupid comments just to keep the pot boiling; anything as long as it deflects comment away from the good news. It is a well known typical spin operation or in this case reverse spin. HIS COMMENTS SHOULD BE IGNORED. I would not dream of replying to anything he says.

    1. Siôn Jones says:

      James – the problem is that he is so ludicrous, it is hard to put the boot in. Like the chap in school (and there was one in every school – even in girl’s schools) that even the best behaved and most virtuous couldn’t resist bullying. That’s Longshanker!

      1. Les Wilson says:

        Sion,ref Longshanker.
        he is really a bit of a sad case really, when posed with questions I gave him to agree or not to agree he cannot answer them, which proves his motives in my book. ( you will see my questions, which are not rocket science. He posts items that are fictional or re written to suit his agenda. That is the depth of him. His posting name is even picked to cause offence, that should tell us enough.

  12. Les Wilson says:

    You continue with your drivel, you tell me to go and seek out the evidence for things you have quoted.

    Huh? You quoted them without any back up evidence at all, so while I would not insult your intelligence, it would seem that the responsibility to show evidence of his claims ARE ON THE ONE MAKING THE CLAIMS! Do you agree or disagree, ( I suspect neither, as usual.)

    Simply common sense one would have thought, unfortunately you do not give a lot of thought to what you say.

    A question,
    why would you choose a name to use that refers to the English King who had William Wallace hung drawn and quartered in London? Why would anyone with a modicum of intelligence choose a name that is so repugnant to Scots.
    I guess this shows your low regard for Scots and Scotland in general.
    Scots across party lines would detest this name to be used and does show the low base from which your mind works. So slither away.

    1. longshanker says:

      Spoken like a true Braveheart Commando. Well done. I imagine the humour and irony bypass operation must have been quite painful.

      1. Les Wilson says:

        I am only blunt with those who would wish to cause dissension through lies and deceit, I count you as one of these. So if the shoe fits, wear it.

        1. longshanker says:

          Yeah, Blunt is the right word; blunt and dull are fairly synonymous.

          1. Les Wilson says:

            Longshanker ( did I spell that right?)

            Well, I would rather be blunt and truthful than a devious liar, who is obvious in his intentions, if the unionists put reliance on desperate people like you to win their case, even with all the lies and manipulation, they are going to struggle. So keep crowing, give us more of a laugh at your expense.After all, that is what you and people like you are, a rather sick joke.

          2. Siôn Jones says:

            Agghh – but where would we be without our Longshankers and other CyberBrinats. Life would be so dull – and, heaven forfend, some posters who posit real, challenging arguments for retaining the union might emerge in their stead! Now that really would be fun!

            An empty dream, alas, as there are no such arguments.

  13. I don’t have a side in this and having left Scotland to live abroad I didn’t feel wholly entitled to get involved. I wouldn’t mind coming home to an independent Scotland; equally I don’t think the last 300 years has been awful. Living as an expat in a number of countries has made me keenly aware of how similar Scots and the rest of the UK are in temperament, humour and values.

    But there is something about the tactics of the SNP and the largely blind flag waving that I am seeing from the YES campaign that is really getting to me, so I dug into the facts and applied some intellectual rigour which seems to be lacking.

    The economics of independence could have worked 40 years ago before successive Governments blew all the oil revenues – but not now.

    The facts are that Scotland contributes/takes;

    – 8.4% of the UK population
    – 8.3% of the UK’s total output
    – 8.3% of the UK’s non-oil tax revenues
    – 9.2% of total UK public spending.

    Spending per capita in Scotland was £11,370
    Spending per capita in the UK was £10,320 (which is slightly higher than it would be UK minus Scotland but we can live with that error)
    So spending in Scotland was £1,030 – or 10% higher – per head of population than the UK average.

    What about incomes?

    Scottish total non-oil tax revenues coming in at £42.7bn or £8,221 per head

    Total public expenditure attributable to Scotland of £59.2bn, or £11,370 per head. (That includes Trident, Olympics, other projects that some – English, Scots and otherwise don’t like etc. I’ll factor that in later)

    That means Scotland ‘got’ £16.5bn more of UK public spending than it contributed to total UK revenues – that’s around £3,150 a head. (These are 09-10 figures from the Scottish Executive)

    The government has kept oil out of the equation but let’s bring that in now.

    Say 85% of N Sea oil is territorially Scottish (though it will be cold day in hell before Whitehall agrees with that) than means;
    85% of £8.8Bn tax = that £6.35Bn in tax revenues.

    Divide by number of population and you get a per capita gap between Scottish spending as part of the UK and revenues of independent Scotland of close to £2,130.

    That’s including oil.

    There is also talk about how a newly independent Scotland would not do Trident, Olympics and I suppose Glasgow 2014. Sports events help form national character so it would be an error to get rid of them but say you scratched Trident regardless of the pressure that NATO would no doubt apply, that’s a £15bn one off and £2bn p.a. on-going cost for the UK. 8.3% of the one off is £1.25bn saved and an on – going saving is £160m p.a.
    Even if you say that’s £200m p.a. once you get rid of some other costs there is still a gap of some £10bn p.a. That means that £1,500 – £2,000 per person per year extra in taxes or equivalent cuts in public spending.

    Given that a survey showed that tipping point of independence for most Scots was about £500 (or the cost of an iPhone) a cost of £1500-2000 per person per year seems a stretch. So there doesn’t appear to be public willingness to allow taxation to rise to cover this cost. That means £1,500 per person per year cuts in public spending.

    That’s the straight line numbers done. I used the latest 2011 Scottish government figures for all these calculations. They can be found here http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/352173/0118332.pdf

    Let’s looks at some other economic aspects of this.

    A Scottish economy largely reliant on oils, booze, potentially hydro or wind, a bit of finance, tourism and call centres isn’t the basis for a healthy economy. The oil and gas taxation revenues that Scotland would gain would mean Scotland would depend on oil for around 18% of GDP. North Sea production has been falling by about 6% a year for the past decade. Roughly speaking it is true to say that there is as much oil remaining now as has already being extracted but bear in mind that cost of extraction and therefore sensitivity to price increases- as does of tax revenue. Plainly speaking hard to reach oil is more expensive to get at and if the oil price falls back at some point in the future, production in the North Sea will drop back and tax receipts will fall.

    Norway is often held up as an example of an oil dependent economy (20something% of GDP I think) that’s doing OK. The truth is that Norway has for a long time invested oil revenues in the Statens Pensjonsfond, the $550bn plus sovereign wealth fund, which combines the oil profits from its 2/3 stake in Statoil with an aggressive, 60% equities investment strategy. The Pensjonsfund is massive, has a very long investment horizon and is actively managed. Scotland has debt another point which seems to be ignored.

    It is very unlikely that Scotland would walk away from UK Inc. without inheriting a pro rata share of UK net public debt, forecast by the UK Treasury to peak at 71 per cent of GDP in 2013-14.
    UK national debt is the total amount of money the UK government owes to the private sector and other purchasers of UK gilts. Public sector net debt was £1,065.4 billion at the end of September 2012, equivalent to 67.9% of GDP. Some argue that the real national debt is actually £1,340 billion, which is 103.5 per cent of GDP. This figure includes all the public sector pension liabilities such as pensions, and private finance initiative contracts (Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Northern Rock etc liabilities).

    Independent Scotland’s share of that is 8.4%. Or £112.6Bn. The cost of that depends largely on the rating that Scotland would receive as an independent nation. According to credit rating agency Fitch it is impossible to say what credit rating an independent Scotland would enjoy as the terms aren’t clear but a newly independent Scotland with a big fiscal deficits, high public debt and reliance on a declining resource for a significant percentage of its revenue, could not enjoy a triple A rating. Scotland’s costs of borrowing are likely to be far higher than those of the UK. To avoid that Scotland would need to lower its debts rapidly. Given its close ties to the rest of the UK, Scotland could not get away with taxing corporations or skilled people more than England or Wales so most of the extra austerity would have to come from cuts in public spending.

    So the minimum cost of servicing its debt is $5Bn p.a at (AAA) ratings and much more likely to be higher.

    I don’t think the plans for an independent currency are robust either. Staying part of Sterling for an undetermined period is as far as I can get from reading Danny Alexander’s speeches. Given its different risk profile it is likely that a Scottish pound may need to become independent of the UK pound. That probably – If the English have any sense at all- means doing without access to the Bank of England. In that case Scottish financial institutions – Private or Public wouldn’t have a lender of last resort unless Scotland set up a central banking function-A huge cost. Not having a solid central bank means that you don’t have anywhere to go in a crisis – as we have seen and are seeing in the eurozone. That is a potentially horrible situation. Worse case it’s what happened to savers with Icelandic backed bank accounts. Independent Scotland could likely make a case to join the Euro but that looks shaky anyway and isn’t independence-But at least it would provide some stability.

    If Scotland really wants independence for political or cultural reasons, go for it. National pride is priceless. But walk with your eyes open to the hard road ahead and to the fact that Scotland could, and likely will, end up as one of Europe’s vulnerable, marginal economies.

    I’m living in Italy now so let me be Machiavellian for a minute. A canny Englishman would welcome a Yes vote as one of two things will happen – One the SNP planning and fiscal credibility will be ruined once people start to get beyond the flag waving and realise the uncomfortable truth that Scots will be £1500 per person per year worse off. Then independence never happens and the SNP’s bargaining position is ruined. Second scenario is that somehow the SNP fool the voters and get through it and Scotland is off and running on its own. If I was part of the Tory UK government, I would be elated, getting shot of predominantly Labour and SNP voting constituency will strengthen my political hand in Westminster and I’m well rid of a future burden that it has already profited from.

    Not a bad exit strategy eh?!? Milk the oil, take the benefit and then fool the foolish into cutting themselves loose.

    1. Les Wilson says:

      There is a simple question to ask the Unionist crowd.
      If you pay too much for Scotland, If we are as the propose a nation of subsidised junkies, if we are a nation of alcoholics, then just tell me why. They are lying, manipulating, blackmailing and every dirty trick they can think of, just to keep us, just let us go, end of!.
      Scotland is much more than suggested and only today THE TORY ENERGY MINISTER said “the stories that the best days of North Sea oil are gone” could not be further from the truth.
      So absolutely no sign of the oil and gas running out, maybe 40-50 years. However, this is the normal Unionist ploy, they told us the same 30 years ago. Today the energy minister came clean, for once.
      All the years of North Sea oil, Scotland has seen little benefit as Westminster sucked the bulk of the revenue to subsidise the South of England. We are the only country in the world who discovered vast resources and did not benefit.
      We also have large fishing grounds, and are pretty well self sufficient in food. We have a thriving whiskey industry. We have an ever expanding green energy industry and much more.
      So, no! not at all, Scotland can and will stand on it’s own two feet.
      The Unionists control all the Scottish media, and TV, including the BBC and they all conduct their conspiracy in ways Putin would be proud of.
      Nevertheless, this time ( unlike the last time in 1979 when they cheated us) there is more opt-ism in the air, no matter what they do this time, we have their number.
      So do not listen to all the rubbish these guys put out, truth is they are scared of what they will lose. They have no other concern.

  14. edward humphrey says:


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