As I write this, Scotland is in a sorry state. Successive Westminster administrations have made decisions that have had a disastrous effect on both the people in Scotland and Scotland itself.
Our children live in poverty, our old people die making a decision whether to feed themselves or turn on the heating in winter time and our young people are looking at the possibility of receiving long service awards from fast food outlets and call centres. Even working families are having to use foodbanks and woe betide anyone who is in the unfortunate position of being unemployed, the situation for them is becoming harder and harder with no light at the end of the tunnel. Unemployment is reducing slightly but remains a major stumbling block as the jobs on offer are generally low skilled and lowly paid.
The people that are working are looking at their wage being salami sliced as the cost of living rises and the companies that employ them are struggling to keep the workforce that they have due to reduced orders and income.
That picture isn’t evenly spread throughout Scotland and there are places that are doing much better. In the real world that is always the case but taken overall it’s not a good state to be in for anyone. We need a healthy society and it really is a mess. This year there will be a referendum which, hopefully, the people of Scotland will take advantage of.
So what do the people actually want?
Like most folk, the average Scot wants enough income to support their family with plenty left over for the nice stuff such as holidays etc. Also the quality of work that they do has a marked effect on their self worth and levels of income, which incidentally has to be offered to their kids as well. So we could say that wish would be high on the list of important wants and needs ; “more disposable income” and “better quality job opportunities and lot’s more of them”.
The next thing that the average Scot wants is security and a decent community to live in without crime which has plenty of decent housing with good infrastructure such as good roads, shops, schools, entertainment and is a clean environment, well maintained and is free of litter, debris and graffiti.
The list could go on but I’m pretty sure you get the point.
Many of us in Scotland don’t have those things and as a basic requirement, that’s what independence has to deliver. But don’t those things cost money? Yes they do and to provide that money, Scotland has to change in many ways. The businesses need more worthwhile orders and central and local government would require more taxes to create the kind of communities that we’d like to live in. It is quite simply a case of the chicken and the egg.
Any change has to start somewhere and some might say that as we won’t be giving our money to the UK Exchequer, there will be more money left over to spend on “getting things moving”. Perhaps. There will be a lot to do with that extra money in
the formative years of an independent Scotland so it won’t be so cut and dried. The first elected Government of an independent Scotland will be faced with a set of priorities such as securing the country with armed forces and ensuring that basic infrastructure and services continues without a hiccup.
The graphic below shows how things stand now, and predicts the continuing situation should we vote no in the referendum. This is the “Westminster Effect” which holds Scotland back and keeps the population from reaching their full potential or
even part of it. It is no secret that the majority of wealth in the UK is held by those who live in the Southern half of England and yet a great proportion of the wealth in the UK is created in Scotland. We as a nation have to address that imbalance and the only way to achieve that is through independence.
As you see, in the graphic, the proportion of working people to non-working people is the wrong way round. It is thought that providing some additional powers such as the power over income tax will in some magical way sort the situation but unfortunately the number of tax payers in Scotland would have to rise dramatically or taxes would have to be raised to deal with the additional burden.
Many union supporting politicians have started talking about more powers for Scotland should we vote no, and the references to that possibility are becoming common place. There will be no additional powers and in fact we may even see a reduction in the powers of our devolved Parliament and in the extreme we could actually see it taken away. If those politicians were serious about additional powers there would be a debate in Westminster right now to amend the Scotland Act (2012) to show those additional powers and be ratified, ready and waiting for the decision of the Scottish people. No such debate is taking place and therefore the words of those politicians stating the possibility of extra powers are simply empty rhetoric with no foundation. They are simply saying that to gather support for staying with the union.
There is also an expectation amongst union supporters that Westminster will rally round and save the day by waving a magic wand and returning things to their version of normal if we vote no, however, that could never happen as the order of investment would be too high and the MP’s at Westminster would pay a heavy price in their own constituencies even if they did want to help out.
So, having achieved independence what will happen to change things?
Having achieved independence, a new progressive tax system would be designed from the bottom up. That would include levels of income tax and corporation tax with possibly some tax inducements to help new or small companies progress and grow bigger. A reduction in corporation tax would also attract inward investment and those companies setting up in Scotland or settling here from abroad would require employees. There are no short-cuts to success and even though a government of an
independent Scotland may want to invest in say, the Renewables industry which has fantastic potential, investment in that, certainly in the formative years will be too small to have a marked effect on the employment opportunities of the masses.
Inward investment therefore presents itself as the main weapon of choice to initially get folk back to work and give them a future. We have seen much investment in Scotland over the last couple of years by companies locating in Scotland, however, the amount we’ve seen is a drop in the ocean and our government would require control over corporation tax to really switch on the “open for business” sign.
Would a Scottish employee be paying more tax than those in the rUK?
No, as the graphic below shows, more people employed in Scotland would pay into the tax pot and not be claiming benefits. The effect would be a win-win and as more inward investment takes place, and more skilled workers are required, the wages of the ordinary Scot would rise on average and therefore the tax burden would reduce for everyone as a proportion of their collective wages.
More begats more and we could see a Scotland in a few short years that is much different in outlook than when it was struggling as part of the union. There are many ways that a Scottish government without Westminster to hold it back could create the environment for success and the graphic simply shows the effect of that effort.
Why would it benefit us to stay in the EU?
Scotland remains in the EU right now and as we will remain part of the European Union after independence, that could give us an extra shot in the arm given the great relationships that Scotland enjoys with other European nations right now and especially if the rUK decide to secede in 2017 after a referendum on it. There are many players down there that want to end EU membership.
There are also many companies who have a foothold in England due to EU membership and may consider moving if they lost that advantage. If Scotland has an “open for business” sign above its door and we have the beginnings of success as an
independent nation, they may decide to relocate to Scotland which would add to the tax receipts for the Scottish Exchequer, and require staff to fill those positions for people that they could not bring with them. After all is said and done, the first pre-requisite is Scottish independence, without that, we are faced with the same old, same old status quo and things will only get
All of the things discussed in this article are very achievable and would have a marked and positive effect on the lives of almost every Scot. We would see a return of self-worth and self respect in our communities and with that we would create the secure and clean communities that most of us want to live in. Our children would also have a bright future in Scotland without having to consider moving abroad to find a career, especially if they have a degree or two under their belt.
I heartily recommend independence as the only way forward for the people of Scotland. Please vote yes in the referendum.
The sky’s the limit (for now).
David Milligan Lvss