Yes, Stoat, the pundit you’ve all been waiting for. Well, at least one person asked.
Coming back from hols I misread a headline on my phone (I don’t have data roaming so gloriously missed everything while I was away) that suggested that Scotland had voted for independence. “Good for them” I thought, though I was surprised they’d been that brave. Then I realised I’d misread it. Anyway, the point is that whilst my overall opinion is that the Scots should vote against independence, my view isn’t very strong, and I do at least feel emotionally in favour of independence. But as an exercise I’ll try to write down a coherent view.
Incidentally, there’s a quite separate reason for wanting (or opposing) Scottish independence: that Scots voters would no longer elect politicians whose opinions would directly affect votes in Westminster. Some would be quite happy to see SI just for that reason; others oppose it for that reason. I’m not interested in that aspect for the moment.
On pure economic / financial terms, its hard to see how SI will help. There are three losses: (1) direct financial support from the UK (Barnett formula); (2) frictional costs (managing the shadow pound, import tariffs, defence, whatever) and (3) capital / business flight (many things that might once have been agnostic about setting up in either Scotland or England are more likely to choose England in future). Set against that there is only the fairy stories about majick oil revenues; those fables won’t come true. I don’t really buy the bit about not being allowed into the EU though; that seems like nonsense to me. The idea that an indep Scotland would be richer and more dynamic doesn’t seem plausible; their tendencies, if anything, are more socialist, which isn’t going to lead to a more dynamic economy, quite the reverse. Note, BTW, that Scotland already has the power to vary income taxes but has never been brave enough to use it, for the obvious reasons.
From the press coverage I get the impression that many on the Yes side are either pretending to believe in the fairy stories the SNP are telling about oil; or are just ignoring the economics issues as something that can be set aside for now and solved later. Surfing a wave of joy-of-independence-now, pay-later. In a certain way I can sympathise with this: I’d be quite ready to believe that losing 10% of GDP, say, was worth the joy of independence. But I don’t see quite how that fits in with the promises that people are being given (see, e.g., the SNP on independence; cite). “Fairer” is very nice; but a levelling-down fairer won’t make the proles happy.
Far too much of the debate I hear on the radio isn’t rational. That’s all very well for general elections where you can change your mind a few years later. It might all end badly for SI.
To my mind, Catalonian independence makes more sense than the Caledonian variety. Spain is the Euro, so Catalonia has no currency problem. Spain is in Schengen, so Catalonia would be too. And defence is less interesting, and so on. Quite a few of the frictional problems vanish.
[Update: 2014/09/17:21:50: and just to nail my colours to the mast: I think the result will be No, by a larger majority than the polls are predicting.]
* It Would Be Impossible For An Independent Scotland To Establish A Sovereign Oil Fund – Timmy (who really ought to update his photo).
* How a nation went mad – Bagehot, the Economist.
* The welcome return of Plumbum
* Luv2suckbigcok says Yes, but Grindr as a whole says no.