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Aye have a dream

Aye have a dream
steve2
 
The GW has asked me to write a piece about the current hot topic north of the border. No, not who Andy Murray's new coach is gonna be (!), but that other wee thing - Scottish independence. Or as we know it in the social mediasphere: #indyref.  
 
The GW knows I'm someone with an interest in Scottish culture, history and politics, and she knows I'm voting Yes on 18th September. As a Scot down south she thought it would be interesting to get a view of a trusted old pal as to why he is voting that way, and to scotch (!) a few myths along the way. 
 

Before we start I should say that all views are my own as a guest blogger and do not reflect those of the Ginger Warrior!

Braveheart, right? Freeeeduuummmm! 
 
Firstly, let me get one thing straight. If you read or hear anything from anyone - on either side - who decides to mention 'Braveheart', then just walk away. Put the paper down, change the channel, ignore it, and go and look for better sources of info. 
 
Dismissing Yes voters as 'Bravehearts' is a marker, in my view, of people who are not properly engaged with the debate and unaware of the real issues at stake. They are people who like to be seen to have an opinion, but frankly the 'Braveheart' put-down is the giveaway that they have nothing else to say. 
 
Similarly, I don’t share the views of a minority of people on the Yes side who may be voting for the righting of ancient wrongs lost in the mists of battles and Bannockburn. 
 
Scotland is currently ablaze with Scots reading voraciously, self-educating about the pros and cons of independence. We’re happy to sell Braveheart to the tourists, but we’re not daft enough to base our politics on a 20 -year-old film, or a 700-year old battle. 
 
It’s Scotland vs. England, no? 
 
We love you England, but it's not about you. It's us, and our need for change versus the tired UK political system. We're fed up with it. And we know most people in the rest of the UK are tired of it too. 
 
In fact, the referendum is not really about being any nationality at all - which might sound strange if you're used to the tabloid descriptions of the #indyref debate. It's about taking advantage of the opportunity presented to those of us who live and work in Scotland, from whichever background, to change the politics and - hopefully - society of the way things are done here. We are lucky enough to have an immediate chance to make radical change, and we hope that positive action on our part will have a knock-on effect elsewhere, against the out-of-touch elite who run the Westminster system. 
 
The journalist Ruth Wishart put it quite nicely when she said "A Scot is someone born here, and anyone who has paid us the compliment of settling here." My wife is German, and used to a completely different system where votes and representation on the political scene are actually much closer to the people. Scotland is, by comparison, the least democratic country in Europe below the national level. 
 
Aren’t Scottish voices represented at Westminster though?
 
Our voices don't count and haven’t counted much for decades at UK general elections.
 
steve1
 
Here's a simple fact. Not an opinion, but (honestly!) a real fact. Only twice since the Second World War have voters in Scotland managed to change the colour of government at Westminster – 1964 and 1974. And even then by a hair's breadth and one of the governments lasted only months because the majority was wafer-thin. 
 
People worry that if Scotland and its 59 MPs leave the UK, it will condemn the remaining UK to endless Tory governments. Anyone who tells you this is factually incorrect. The only way a Labour government can be elected again is for the voters in rest of the UK - and mainly England - to vote Labour in large numbers. They have to vote to change it themselves. But can they, really? 
 
The Voting System
 
Herein lies my main reason for voting yes. Most people probably don't know that there's a real difference between the way the parliaments in London and Edinburgh are elected. People just see "politicians" on the news and don't think much of it. From conversations I've been having over the past few months, it's clear even large numbers of people in Scotland aren't aware of the difference. 
 
Basically to become an MP at Westminster, you just have to come 'First Past the Post'. That means that if you win 25% of the vote in a constituency, and the other 75 % of votes got to, say, five other parties combined getting 15% each, you win. The 75% of people who voted the other way don't have their voices heard. 
 
We still have that part in Scotland for our "constituency" MSPs, but we also have what's called an Additional Member System. That means that after the first past the post MSPs are elected, the total number of votes for each party are added up, and they are given extra MSPs to reflect the total share they received. 
 
It's a type of what you may have heard referred to as "proportional representation" [PR]. It's not a perfect system, and there are many variations used across the world, but you would surely agree that it's a much fairer way to represent the voices of the people than what is used at Westminster.
 
Why not stay in the UK and try to change the Westminster system?
 
Well we actually did try that - as part of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition agreement in 2010, the Lib Dems led a referendum on AV (another kind of PR) in May 2011. It was defeated 68% to 32%.  
 
Isn’t voting Yes all about Alex Salmond and the SNP?
 
Given the tabloids’ liking for bashing him at any opportunity, you could be forgiven for thinking so. But no. It’s worth noting that the SNP were elected by a landslide in 2011 under a proportional system that was designed (by the Labour government who set up the parliament) to be impossible to win outright. As such they were in a position to seek a referendum based on a strong electoral mandate. 
 
However, the Yes campaign has been deliberate to include people of all persuasions. Under the Yes umbrella, as well as the SNP there are the Scottish Green Party, the Scottish Socialist Party, Labour for Independence, and a rainbow of other interests. The chairman of the Yes campaign is the former Labour MP, Dennis Canavan, and its chief executive, Blair Jenkins, used to work for the BBC. 
 
I'm working with TradYES, a group of traditional singers and musicians who are the folkie wing of 'National Collective'. That's a group of over 1,000 artists and creatives who over the last couple of years have been involved on the ground with a non-party campaign for independence. 
 
Every week now a figure from Labour or the Lib Dems is announced as a Yes voter. To date that includes the former leader of Strathclyde Regional Council, the former Provost of Glasgow, the former Chief Executive and Treasurer of the Scottish Lib Dems, and most recently the Dowager Duchess of Hamilton - whose late husband the Duke of Hamilton carried the Royal Crown into the Scottish Parliament during the opening ceremony in 1999.
 
And Alex Salmond? Well he won’t be around forever. But he is someone who has stuck to his position and principles for the past 40 years, and he is the only one still active on the political scene. And he is, in my view, the most able politician in these islands and completely across his brief. 
 
What about the Scottish banks?
 
How would we have bailed them out? The banks are historically Scottish, but for decades have been operating globally. Banks are bailed out depending on the jurisdiction where they operate. It’s a little-known fact – hardly reported in the mainstream media – that British banks were bailed out to the tune of $1 trillion /£640bn by the US Federal Reserve. This included RBS ($446bn) andBank of Scotland ($181bn). Barclays – an English-headquartered bank - weren’t bailed out by the British taxpayer. But they were bailed out by the US Fed Reserve with over $500bn. 
 
Oh and while we’re talking of bailouts, didn’t that wee country Ireland (my Dad’s home country) take a big hit in the crash? Yes, true – but it’s worth noting that in Ireland’s time of need, George Osborne authorised a loan of several billion pounds, calling Ireland "a friend in need", a major trading partner with a banking sector closely linked to the UK's. Makes a mockery of the UK government’s “don’t come running to us” line. 
 
And whatever your views on tax avoidance controversies, their hard-won independence has brought about a business-friendly environment, home to a few companies you might have heard of – Intel, IBM, Pfizer, Hewlett Packard, Dell, Google, Apple, Paypal, Microsoft, eBay, supplying thousands of jobs.
 
What about the oil?
 
It’s true that oil is running out. But it’s also true that people have been saying this for 20 years. It’s generally accepted that there’s only about 40 years of oil left in the North Sea. But remember, it was only discovered in the 1970s. And investment in the North Sea is at an all-time high. So we have a chance to make a proper job of managing the second half of the lifespan of this important resource. 
 
Norway set up what’s commonly known as an “oil fund”, which is by and large a big pension pot for the country, basically a rainy day fund, generated from the income from oil taxation. In January of this year, the oil fund reached over 5 TRILLION Kroner – the equivalent of $820bn USD / £450bn GBP. Norway is a country with a similar population to Scotland, circa 5 million. That means theoretically every Norwegian is a Kroner millionaire. 
 
People say it’s too late to start an oil fund in Scotland. Well, Norway’s only began in 1990. The UK could have done this. But it didn’t, and even Alistair Darling admitted it should have done.
 
There are also potential oil reserves in the Firth of Clyde that have never been explored. Why? Because of the location of the UK’s nuclear submarine fleet at Faslane. 
 
Oh and if you haven’t read the McCrone Report on Scotland’s oil wealth in the 1970s, which was released in 2005 under Freedom of Information legislation, it would be worth taking a look.
 
What about the environment?
 
You might think oil = bad. Well, that’s mainly true , in environmental terms. However, we can use the resources wisely in a mix with renewable technologies. Last year, Scotland generated almost half its energy from wind and hydro power, and in total 15% of the UK’s overall energy needs– with about 8% of the population. We are on course to generate 100% of power from renewables by 2020. Sounds a bit different to the UK government policy, eh?
 
What else could we choose to do? Soapbox time.
 
We can choose to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons, and save billions of pounds in the process. 
 
We can choose not to become involved in illegal wars. 
 
We can divert our share of monies from wars and weapons of mass destruction towards addressing the fact that officially a fifth of Scottish children live in poverty. 
 
We could have a written constitution, unlike the UK.  
 
We can do away with the unelected House of Lords.
 
We can treat the poor and disadvantaged with compassion and the dignity they deserve, by ridding the welfare system of scandalous "fit for work" tests which we have all seen in the newspapers time and again.
 
We can abolish the outrageous bedroom tax. 
 
We can stop the disgrace of food banks blighting our towns and cities, with the Red Cross distributing food aid in the UK for the first time since World War II. 
 
I’m not interested in having “global influence” or “punching above our weight”. I simply want Scotland to be a peaceful country, where we make our own mistakes, take our own decisions, “reap our own harvest and ring our own till”, with greater equality and opportunity for all, and a welcoming place for people in need.
 
In closing, we have to ask ourselves several things:
 
  • Why are the current UK government so desperate to keep Scotland in the Union?
In spite of all the lovey-dovey statements about togetherness and shared history, remember - they're politicians. They know the way their bread is buttered, and behind all the statements are concerns about economics and power. 90% of the UK’s oil reserves are in Scottish waters, and contributes around £30bn towards the UK’s balance sheet. Taking that out of the UK’s “accounts” would have a significant impact on the UK’s credit rating, for a start.
 
  • If the question was the other way around, namely, would Scotland seriously vote to join the Union if it was the thing being offered?
  • Aye, Have a Dream. Isn’t it all just romantic nonusense and nostalgia?
Yes voters are often characterised as idealistic dreamers. But where is the No campaign’s equivalent to Scotland’s Future, the 670-page detailed, practical document outlining the Scottish Government’s proposals for how independence would look? 
 
Remember, we used to think it was ok to deny people the vote, to smoke in pubs, to discriminate against people because of the colour of their skin, their gender, religion or sexual orientation, and we would pay them less, or even imprison them. Now our pubs are smoke-free and gay people started getting married on equal terms this week. Someone once said there would never be a black president of the USA. 
 
The debate on the ground in Scotland is very different to that being played out by the mainstream media elsewhere in the UK. People are getting used to a sense that they have the power in their hands to make a change, and to make a difference. We need to instil that confidence and belief in our friends and neighbours that power does and should come from the people, it’s not a “them and us” situation. For too long we’ve been told “ye cannae”, but this time, yes, we can. 
 
Change takes courage. I watched Nelson Mandela’s release from prison when I was 11 years old. A few months before I had watched the Berlin Wall come down. My wife grew up behind that wall in the former GDR. She has seen history happen, and having looked at the objective, rational case for better, local democracy, in a place which just happens to be called ‘Scotland’, she is voting Yes. And if you have a vote, I think you should too.

 

Steve Byrne, over and out.

 

steve3
 

P.S. I'd be very interested to know where your opinions lie on the question of Scottish independence. I know the GW encourages open, honest and respectful debate so let's get to it!

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20 Comments

  1. Take the Braveheart stuff…but there are a lot of cock-a-leakie soup types coming out with misty mystic romantic notions for an Indy Scotland. And it’s embarrassing.
    And…what do you know about any of this? There are bloggers aplenty coming up with forensic analyses of Scotland’s potential. Why believe, with respect, a relative nobody such as yourself?
    And you miss out one crucial factor: those in Scotland living in deprivation are untouched by this debate. Like all political actions no-one has attempted to engage them. And these folk are plenty. Perhaps if you lived here you might understand that.

    • The Ginger Warrior

      Hi Robert, good to have you on here! Today’s post was written by guest blogger, Steve Byrne, who was born and bred in Arbroath and still lives in the Motherland. As for him being a “relative nobody” I’d like to to think that anyone currently living in Scotland is a “relative somebody” since the future of Scotland lies in their hands and in their vote.

    • It’s untrue that no one is engaging those living in deprivation. The Radical Independence campaign, with its slogans of ‘Britain is for the rich: Scotland can be ours’ and ‘it’s time the housing schemes of Scotland, not the playing fields of Eton determine our country’s future’ are regularly on the streets en masse in these areas.

  2. A very well written piece and a lot of research & statistics gone into it but for me – I feel this is referendum is being rushed with too many important questions unanswered!! Too many ‘wait and sees’ for me & my unpolitical mind to take in??
    I would love nothing better than an Independant Scotland but to me at this t

  3. Still typing!!!
    At this stage it feels like too big a risk to take. No I’m not totally happy with the government we have at the moment but this doesn’t feel like the right move either!!

  4. Hi folks – thanks for the comments. I’d like to take Robert’s point about engaging with people in deprived areas. I work in community arts and the voluntary sector in Edinburgh and am aware that some of the debate can be pitched at the wrong level. I’ve been canvassing round the doors of the high rise flats in Leith – albeit nowhere near as many times as the dedicated regulars on the local Yes teams – and I can assure you they are engaging with these folk on a very regular basis. And, importantly, they are signing them up to be on the electoral register, which many of them aren’t.

    Take a look at the work the Yes campaign is doing in Easterhouse for example – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-26391942 – and the Radical Independence Campaign, and the Scottish Socialist Party, whose constituency is exactly the kind of folk you describe. From my experience chapping doors, people in deprived areas feel completely disempowered because of the way society – and the Westminster system – has treated them over the decades. Their initial reaction is “oh, it’s aw the same, bloody politicians, I dinna care!” However, within a few short minutes of discussing the possibilities a Yes vote, and realising that they’re not voting for a party, but to change the system, and their voice could make a difference this time – many of them are coming on board.

    Also check out the Common Weal project, All Of Us First. Links to various articles to emphasise my points are coming shortly, we’re working on a wee technical hitch.

  5. Karen – what are your main “wait and sees”?

  6. Excellent piece, Steve. Considering the truly awful stuff coming from the NO side just now, I’m amazed at your ability to ‘keep calm and carry on’!

  7. Well written and well thought out piece of work.

    I don’t have time to address all the points you’ve made but I’d like to make a few comments…

    Re “Braveheart, right? Freeeeduuummmm! ”

    Of course, these people are minority but I’d suggest that they are not an insignificant one. Without them, your polling figures wouldn’t be as high. Of course, I fully accept that both sides of the argument attract their fair share of nutters as do most political parties. Some more than others.

    “It’s Scotland vs. England, no? ”

    Again, for some, it may be! However, I notice that it’s now almost obligatory for “yes” supporters to state how much they “love the English” . Why should they need to say this constantly? After all, unionists are constantly being criticized for saying they are “proud to be Scottish”!

    “Aren’t Scottish voices represented at Westminster though?”

    Nice charts and a lot of blue colour. However, it’s only in the last thirty years or so that Conservative MPS became such a rarity in Scotland but even up until 1997 they had about a dozen and in the fifties they had a majority of the vote. The best way to ensure a real Conservative revival in Scotland is to vote for Independence. Not a pleasant prospect, I agree.

    “Why not stay in the UK and try to change the Westminster system?

    Well we actually did try that – as part of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition agreement in 2010, the Lib Dems led a referendum on AV (another kind of PR) in May 2011. It was defeated 68% to 32%. ”

    It wasn’t “We” but a stitch up between the coalition partners to cobble together an agreement for power sharing. What was proposed was a lot of nonsense and not worth supporting. Will there not also be set backs and disappointments in an Independent Scotland?

    “Isn’t voting Yes all about Alex Salmond and the SNP?”

    Of course not but you should tell him that! He’s set himself up as the unofficial figure head of the campaign, demanding debates with the UK PM and so on. So, he’s inevitably in the firing line. Also, the SNP have produced a White paper with their plans post Independence and intend to be involved in negotiations regarding these.
    Yet, all we should be voting for in this referendum is whether we should remain part of The UK or not. Everything else should be separate and I believe that the electorate should decide. Either in an additional referendum for major policies such as our place in Europe or a fresh mandate should be sought for other matters.

    “What else could we choose to do? Soapbox time.”

    These are still only possibilities and opportunities and there has to be the political will and support to implement these. You are only speaking for yourself and those others who want to see such changes and not necessarily all Scots. Even George Galloway admitted (in a recent debate with Jim Sillars) that Scotland was by no means a “left wing country” and quite probably much more “conservative” than we would wish to believe.

    Sorry, I’ve been very brief here. I may compile something much more comprehensive in due course.

  8. Some great points and a well written piece, but my vote for yes comes from my dislike for the Tory’s and the foot of the English government ,ie maggie Thatcher trampling on Scotland over the years, I really feel we can do better on our own and am fed up of this second homes for MP’s down south , their all out for themselves, at least up here we have the chance to put a stop to that………vote yes!

  9. Hi Steve,

    Really liked your blog. It’s good to see the argument for a Yes vote laid out in such a considered and measured way. To be honest – as a politics geek with an itch for a debate I’ve been quite keen to hear your full views for a while.

    I whole heartedly agree with your sentiments on electoral reform and I was completely depressed by the botched campaign on AV. A lack of understanding and a disgraceful No campaign were mostly to blame. But I also think people thought that if they rejected AV there’d still be a chance for full PR in the near future. This was completely wrong and now it seems electoral reform within the UK is well off the agenda for the time being. So I think there is a good argument to say that, while you might not think independence is the ideal outcome, it’s a real option on the table to achieve electoral reform (and devolution) so shouldn’t we take it? But independence is the most radical step that Scotland can possibly take and it would probably be irreversible within our lifetimes, if (for whatever reason) it didn’t work out. So I don’t think it can be seen as a pragmatic stepping stone to achieve electoral reform and devolution. The full package has to make sense. Clearly it does for you, but not for me.

    To achieve full independence would require us to unpick nearly every major British institution. This is a mammoth task, which comes with huge risk. The most important of these is the issue of currency. Even if there was consensus on a currency union, the Euro zone crisis has shown the difficultly and importance of getting this right. Our currency dictates the terms on which we trade with the world, prices in the shops, wages, the value of our savings, the cost of government borrowing and the availability of credit to just name a few issues. It has a profound influence on everyone, particularly in a small country that is interdependent on the outside world.

    For me this comes to the crux of the debate: on what terms would Scotland interact with the rest of the world if it became independent? Would it be better or worse than as part of the UK? And how would it affect immigration, trade and investment? It’s not an easy question to answer. Ultimately I feel that the current institutions serve Scotland well (in particular sterling and the single UK market), and most of the potential benefits of independence can be achieved through devolution and electoral reform.

    To address some of your other points…

    I agree that the bank bailout issue is overstated by the No campaign and it’s a shame that the support provided by the US to British banks and by Britain to Irish banks isn’t brought out more in debates on the subject. However, this doesn’t completely discount the issue. Bank bailouts are complex and require decisive action. Bringing more international cooperation into the mix can only add difficulties.

    Frankly I do care about global influence and punching above our weight. I’m not going to defend the UK’s historic foreign policy record, but I think strong international institutions, along with the rule of law and respect for human rights are hugely important to our longterm self interests (particularly for small internationally connected countries like Scotland) – never mind any fundamental ethical arguments. Scotland can be a leading advocate for these issues and I think it has a louder voice as part of the UK.

    God that was long. Thanks for reading.

    Rob

    • Good points too, Rob, and I appreciate the well considered approach to this debate that both Steve and youself have taken.

      I shall have to make a much bigger effort to rise to the occasion myself
      :-)

    • Cheers Rob and John for the comments. This will be a slightly jumbled reply to you both!

      I think what’s certainly clear is that there’s no 100% satisfactory package on the table in any direction at the moment, and given the choices available to us to effect change in the short to medium term, a Yes vote makes most sense to me.

      Your observations about PR mirror my own thought process Rob, and the failure of the AV referendum really pushed me to backing a full Yes vote this time around insofar as I could not see anything like a federal solution on the horizon where the model would mirror the local powers of somewhere like Germany. (My original article was full of hyperlinks to various things to back up my points, one of which was the Reid Foundation’s report on local democracy: http://reidfoundation.org/portfolio/the-silent-crisis-failure-and-revival-in-local-democracy-in-scotland/ – see the figures for Baden-Württemberg, courtesy of Eberhard ‘Paddy’ Bort who John knows well – Chair of Edinburgh Folk Club as well as an academic!)

      My comments re global influence were perhaps misconstrued. I rail against the imperialistic tone that’s often employed when talking about such things that we’d “lose” in terms of our presence on the world stage, which usually seems to be in terms of hard rather than soft power. I do agree that as a potential peace-broker, championing the rule of law and human rights along the lines of Norway, Scotland has a real potential role, but not as part of a hypocritical British state with a fairly blemished foreign policy record, in my view. Also, the European Convention on Human Rights isn’t perfect, but I’ve been hearing for the past 6 months that the Tories want to scrap it. Sounds pretty terrifying to me.

      The comment about “we love you England” John was because my pal Ceri whose blog this is is based down south and I rather presumed there would be a higher number of readers in England. I also say this with a high proportion of cousins in and around London. I take the general point though but I think the No campaign default to the “proud to be Scottish” line would win the day if we were taking count: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaT6Lg6aWpY .

      As for “The best way to ensure a real Conservative revival in Scotland is to vote for Independence. Not a pleasant prospect, I agree.” Well, you know what John, at least they would be our Tories! Seriously, if that’s what a fairer democratic system brought about in Scotland, then I could live with that in the knowledge that that is what my fellow Scots had voted for, in a fairer voting system. I wouldn’t vote for them personally, but it would be far nearer the famous “settled will of the Scottish people” than what we have just now. (Think I’ve just been sacked by all my leftie pals!)

      I don’t have a cast iron answer on the currency Rob, but I’m relatively relaxed about it if that’s not too glib a statement. At home we deal in more than one currency all the time, transferring money back and forth to Germany and so forth, and I also grew up with the British and Irish pound alongside each other across family travels. Perhaps that’s too naive a way to think, as I realise it’s about much more than that. But I can’t help but think it’s mainly all politics at the moment and that a solution has to be and will be found.

      Gosh aren’t we debating frightfully well, chaps. :-)

  10. Well done, Steve. You certainly spoke for me.

  11. Thanks for the responses, Steve.

    I have downloaded the papers re local democracy and shall study them more thoroughly in due course. However, I am concerned that the present administration in Scotland seems to keen to favour even further centralization as already shown by their policies regarding The Police, Fire Brigade services and so on. Of course, the argument is that they have been forced down this road due to financial constraints but they also claim that efficiency is greater. So, I’m not convinced that they would have done things differently even in an Independent Scotland.

    Of course, I do agree that it doesn’t necessarily have to be the case for the future especially if another political party or coalition of parties happened to be in power.

  12. As a Scot living in England, I find the whole independence debate interesting. For a start, I love my home country, I would live there were it not for the fact that my chosen career – to serve my country – prevents it. What fascinates me is that as a Scot living in England, life in Scotland certainly appears very rosy. No prescription charges, no university fees, no tolls, minimum NHS waiting times, to name but a few. Despite your mention of a lack of representation of Scotland in Westminster, Scotland has done well so far (with its own government) in making it’s own decisions and serving it’s people.

    As others have mentioned, the intricate details of picking apart our nation have not really been covered, let alone finalised, which makes many of your ‘soapbox’ statements seem much like ‘pie in the sky’. Call me boring, but should we really base such an important decision on ‘what ifs’? Is there not an element of ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face’ here? Looking at this as an ‘outsider’, it would certainly appear that Scotland currently has it pretty good.

    • The Ginger Warrior

      Thank you so much for your comment, Sarah. I really am on the fence on this one and just can’t make up my mind! Not that I get a say in the matter being, like you, a Scot residing in England. Let’s see what September brings…

    • Hi Sarah, thanks for the comments and apologies for taking a while to reply.

      I can understand that, with the things the Scottish Government has been able to do, that on the face of things it can look as if Scotland “has it pretty good”. However, one of the problems is that the Scottish Government has to operate within a fixed budget. It is legally unable, according to the Scotland Act, to run a deficit (i.e. an ovedraft) in the way that the UK government can, and most Western governments do. This limits the ability to make investments in things like social infrastructure.

      By the time of the Scotland Act 2012 coming into force in 2016, which devolves additional powers to Scotland, the parliament in Edinburgh will still only have control of around 15% of its revenue, up from the current position of 7%.

      One of the other issues is that when the UK govt makes cuts in its policy areas, the cuts are passed on in adjustments to the block grant Scotland receives in return from Westminster under the Barnett formula. So a cut of, say £20bn in the NHS budget in England can pass on around £2bn of a cut to the NHS Scotland budget in relation. The Scottish govt would have to find money from elsewhere within the *fixed* budget to mitigate these problems.

      Having the powers of a normal country following a Yes vote would allow a great deal more flexibility over budget choices which are currently made for us by a system that is outdated and a government at UK level whose leading party the Conservatives, has never had more than a single MP in Scotland since 1997.

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