On Thursday, Scotland will vote on whether or not it should remain in the United Kingdom.
While I have no say in Scotland’s future and my opinion won’t matter, I do have some thoughts on the issue.
The romantic in me wants to vote Yes. The romantic in me wants to see an independent Scotland.
The realist in me couldn’t pull the lever. The realist in me would vote No.
I have problems with the message the Yes campaign is peddling. I’ve read their white paper on Scottish independence, and it sounds magnificent. Oil revenue, control over their own foreign policy, access to the pound and European markets, membership in the European Union, control over their own destiny.
Where the Yes campaign’s vision falters is on “access to the pound and European markets, membership in the European Union.” Because those three things are not guaranteed at all. Despite the firm statements from Westminster that, no, an independent Scotland won’t be allowed into a formal currency union with the rump United Kingdom, Alex Salmond insists it will happen. Thanks to misgivings from the rest of Europe, there’s no guarantee that Scotland will be allowed into the European Union and have access to the free trade zone.
Just last week, we learned that Scottish multinationals are planning on leaving Scotland and relocating to England in the event of a Yes vote. Why? I would hazard a guess that these businesses don’t want to lose their access to European markets. They don’t want to be located in a country outside the Eurozone. What’s Salmond’s response to this? It’s fear-mongering nonsense.
Rather than address the very real and negative consequences of an independence vote, Salmond pretends that the real and negative consequences simply don’t exist. When confronted with the reality, he puts his fingers in his ears, scrunches up his nose, and hums loudly. Salmond’s campaign has been based upon peddling the best case scenario, assuming that everything will turn up rosy, that all the chips will fall his way.
It won’t happen that way.
The Yes vote would result in a financial and brain drain from Scotland. To compete, Scotland may well have to adopt the same tax haven policies that Ireland adopted in the 1990s and led to the country’s financial ruin.
I agree with Gordon Brown that Scotland’s independence referendum has raised real and important questions about Britain’s constitutional order. I think that Scotland should remain within the UK and work to reform the system to create a written constitution and a devolved federal system.
And if that doesn’t work? Revisit the independence question in a decade, only this time with better answers to the questions of what happens with independence that grapple with the reality of the wider world.
Scotland, I would vote No on Thursday.