2007 - 2022

How Much Did You Say?

Transitionint-to-a-new-Scottish-state-ebook-coverHow much does it costs to set up a new country?

Prof Dunleavy, from the London School of Economics, said an independent Scotland could have to spend between £150m to £200m on new administrative structures to replace existing UK bodies.

You can read his full report here.

A spokesman for the First Minister said the UK Treasury’s previous £2.7bn figure had been “blown out the water”.

Professor Dunlveay had previously branded the Treasury’s figures as “crude misinformation”.

The report offers a massive blow to the latest effort to spread disinformation about the most basic transfer costs and processes and leaves the Better Together campaign again, reeling with their need to over-reach in this public debate where people require and deserve simple facts.

My problem with this report is that it assumes ‘business as usual’. As a means of calculating it’s basically asking what would it cost to continue as we are doing things now? A far more interesting approach would be to say about each and every inherited institution or structure: does this work? Can we afford it? Can we do it better?

A simplified tax system that enforced payment and closed loopholes could not just be a saving in the way it worked but a massive generator by creating more equality and transparency in the way we collect dues.

We want to transform Scotland not replicate existing ways.

Nevertheless, the report by the independent figure seems reasonable but it’s interesting to put next to some other big ticket items that we’d be able to do immediately do without on independence.

Given our renewable energy, we have no need for nuclear power. The incredible decommissioning costs of Sellafield, are currently budgeted at an ‘astonishing’ £70 billion. See details here.

A replacement for Cold War dinosaur Trident, estimated at £17 billion. Trident’s 11,000 jobs for £17bn come at £1.5m each! The combined cost of replacing Trident and maintaining the current system is £3.7 billion per year for the next 15 years. See details here.

The extraordinary costs of HS2 – a transport system we can’t afford that won’t come anywhere near Scotland, yet we have to pay for? This is estimated at £64 billion. See details here.

£200 million is loose change in the backpocket of an independent nation unshackled from these monstrous white elephants and able to take a reasoned look at how it structures its affairs. We have just saved our share of £151 billion, let’s go crazy and do things properly?

What would some of that money look like invested in Passivhaus as a minimum requirement in a national house-building programme?

Or invested in a massive low-carbon shipbuilding investment scheme to transfer jobs out of the old military-obsessed programmes?

Or how many teachers could you employ and how many schools could you transform for that amount of money?


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  1. I find the idea of asking “how much does it cost to set up a country?” obscene.Freedom is not for sale,democracy is not (or should not be) for sale.The more of these demands for a price on democracy the more aghast at those that ask those questions,really it should be “WHAT PRICE IS DEMOCRACY” and if the answer is in £&pence then the answer is wrong.

    1. Clootie says:


      I agree. However the Scottish government has to refute over the top numbers that may scare some people. The only way to do that is to acknowledge that 200 million is more realistic.

      Logical debate is required for those that base their decision in that manner. It is well worth taking the time to discuss with people in the manner they seek.

    2. Illy says:

      You’re esentially arguing this: http://xkcd.com/463/

      And while I’m not sure I disagree with you, getting the amounts down *is* a useful thing to know for the civil servants and treasury. The media shouldn’t be making a fuss about it though.

  2. kessykane says:

    what do you need

  3. picpac67 says:

    Excellent points. What about a scaling back of the military given that the ‘war on terror’ is a scam – part of the wider ‘project fear’ which is used to justify continually expanding expenditure on arms, surveillance, crowd control measures, the militarisation of the police etc. etc.

  4. Clootie says:

    Many industries require high amounts of energy. Steel mills , paper mills etc. We could attract these types of industry to the North of Scotland.

    This reduces transmission costs (energy used closer to point of generation). This pulls in heavy engineering hence jobs and apprenticeships.

    We would make different choices such as this with investment. If we vote NO the energy will go South to keep the lights on in London and we will see no benefit from another of our natural resources.

    The Orkney Island would have been a far better container distribution point than Rotterdam if vision had been used. Natural harbour potential and a range of major sea routes (great circle tracts)

    Why should prestwick not be a major international hub airport to rival Heathrow and Skipol. Perfect area with 100 percent clear landing conditions.

    The only thing limiting us is ambition and Westminster.

  5. DM says:

    The report actually acknowledges the streamlined system used by the Scottish Government and highlights how the number of public bodies would be further reduced (by around a third), compared with the bureaucratic monolith of the Whitehall system. So I think you’re being a bit unfair by suggesting that the report is advocating a ‘business as usual’ approach when it clearly isn’t doing any such thing.

  6. Hugh Wallace says:

    Reblogged this on Are We Really Better Together? and commented:
    “£200 million is loose change in the backpocket of an independent nation unshackled from these monstrous white elephants and able to take a reasoned look at how it structures its affairs. We have just saved our share of £151 billion, let’s go crazy and do things properly?”

  7. David McCann says:

    The list is endless. One of my pet hobbyhorses is the use of deep mine technology to harness heat.
    I know of no recent study here in Scotland, but would welcome any info should someone know of any.
    We have dozens if not hundreds of disused mines in Scotland, which Im pretty sure could be a source of cheap energy

    1. rkb66 says:

      There was a trial in Glasgow connected to this – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-17769365 – not sure what the current situation is.

  8. English should look closely at the process that has the interests of big business cause their government to justify spending billions of tax payer money on it, screwing up beautiful swathes of England, sold to them on the lie it will regenerate North Britain.

  9. Ian Kirkwood says:

    It’s really quite simple, we can do this!

  10. MBC says:

    Whatever happened to hydro-electric power? Was at a Yes meeting last week and this came up and Maggie Chapman said that it was because we are in hock to the big six energy companies that we don’t get allowed to develop community owned schemes.

    Hydro electric isn’t suitable for every part of Scotland but could make a huge difference to some.

    In Norway there are hydro plants that are owned by municipalities and they are some of the richest in the country.

  11. rkb66 says:

    Better Together just don’t get it! Money versus our nation! The opportunity to get the government you vote for versus start up costs. The opportunity to not spend money on trident versus investing in systems and processes to support a socially just Scotland. However, given how well we have managed on Westminister pocket money – I think we will be fine managing the rich and varied revenues generated from everything we have and will develop.

  12. rabthecab says:

    Minor point (or pointless pedantry,) but I take it original article published *before* Gideon’s announcement of HS3? Surely even BT/NT/whatever they’re called today see this as a great big “Gerrit up ye ya Jock bastards”? Another hugely expensive rail infrastructure project Scotland will be made to pay part of the bill for, even though it’s of absolutely no use/benefit of anyone north of Leeds.

  13. Balach mor says:

    Small beer when you consider Scotland expected contribution towards the completely irrelevant HS2 is upwards of £3.64 billion

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