The all-important vote for Scottish Independence will take place on the 18th of September next year. In less than a year, the electorate of Scotland will go to the polls to decide their fate.
A lot has been said in reference to the referendum from both sides. One fact which isn’t in doubt, is that the yes campaign is trailing. Many argue that this will be still be the case come Election Day. Nate Silver, the pollster who correctly predicted all 50 states in the 2012 American presidential election, stated in August that Scottish independence has “virtually no chance”. There is certainly cause for concern amongst the ranks of the Yes to Independence movement.
A poll released on the 19th of September shows 59% voting no to independence, 31% saying yes and 10% undecided on the issue. Including 16 year olds in the voting process and precluding those who do not live in Scotland has not tilted the balance enough in the favour of the SNP’s ultimate goal to secede from the United Kingdom.
The question of what would happen if Scotland became Independent is a difficult one to answer, the ‘yes’ campaign despite claims have shown little clear or concise vision for an Independent Scotland.
The problems Scotland could face are multiple. The IFS wrote a report on the credibility of a fiscal Scotland which stated that public spending per head is £1200 higher in Scotland than in other parts of the UK which includes England through the Barnett formula. This being despite the fact as the IFS have outlined that the disposable income per head in Scotland is similar to that of the rest of the United Kingdom. Yes to Scotland’s economic strategy rests upon the North Sea oil and gas trade. With oil and gas being highly variable in price, and the precise sum of income that can be generated from the North Seas in the future, this is certainly a risky strategy and lacks any real credibility, a view is shared by Alastair Darling the former Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The OBR project that revenue from oil and gas will drop from £6.7 billion this year to £4.1 billion per annum by 2017-18. However on the ‘yes’ website they simply state that under the current government they would continue to receive the same benefits and government services without detailing how they will budget for the revenue decrease in the long term. This is not the response of a campaign which is serious about finally taking control of their own country.
Yes to Scotland have yet to reveal who would be eligible to be a citizen of Scotland. A question of pertinence to many on both sides of the border. They have also failed to secure the terms of their future with regards to EU Membership stating that it will be worked out and confirmed before they become independent in March 2016. Scotland’s share of the national debt is also undecided and subject to negotiation with the treasury.
These are all matters which are extremely serious which the yes campaign has failed to address adequately. The SNP may have secured the power to force the debate on Scottish Independence, but they have failed to present clearly their picture on how an Independent Scotland would fit into a post-Britain landscape. Until they do, Scottish Independence is doomed to failure, and Alex Salmond to political irrelevance.