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Thread: The myths of independence

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    The myths of independence

    Found this article on the Herald we site at http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/p....1132044?29595

    Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tackles head on some of the claims being made by Unionists about Scotland’s prospects for going it alone

    30 Oct 2011

    LAST weekend in Inverness, the SNP fired the starting gun on the referendum campaign to deliver an independent Scotland.

    The decision on independence will, of course, be one for the people. And in order for them to be properly informed about the choices that lie before them, it is crucial they are properly informed of the facts.

    Facts are something that have been sadly lacking from the anti-independence side in the debate on Scotland’s constitutional future over the years. Myths, fantasy dressed up as fact, and downright falsehoods permeate the discussion on how Scotland would fare as an independent country.

    Thankfully, the people of Scotland are increasingly seeing through these attempts to talk down their own ability to make a success of themselves, their communities and their country.

    To take one of the most repeated, pernicious and damaging myths head-on, there can no longer be any doubt that Scotland more than pays its own way in the UK. The latest Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) reports shows that Scotland has run a current budget surplus in four of the five years to 2009-10, while the UK was in current budget deficit in each of these years, and hasn’t run a current budget surplus since 2001-02.

    Scotland accounts for 8.4% of the UK population, but in 2009-10 contributed 9.4% of overall UK tax revenue – £1000 extra for every man, woman and child in Scotland. The international comparisons also bear out the fact Scotland is more than capable of paying its way. Our ratio of debt to GDP as an independent country would be lower than the EU and G7 averages.

    One of the reasons, of course, for that healthy position in comparison to other leading industrialised nations is that Scotland has a trillion pound asset base in the form of our remaining abundant North Sea oil and gas reserves. And here we run into another myth – the suggestion that Scotland’s oil wealth is fast dwindling, nearly depleted and not worth factoring into future economic assumptions.

    As recent announcements have shown, nothing could be further from the truth. It is calculated that more than half of the total value of North Sea reserves have yet to be extracted.

    BP’s recent announcement of its major investment in the Clair Field west of Shetland even prompted David Cameron to admit that Scotland’s oil will be flowing for “many, many years” to come – and it is imperative that it is Scotland that benefits from the next 40 years of offshore activity rather than another four decades of Scotland’s wealth pouring into Westminster coffers.

    The Unionist case has now resorted to claims that, even with its North Sea wealth, an independent Scotland would have had a £41 billion deficit between 1981 and 2010, and is therefore dependent on a generous Tory Treasury.


    The truth is the opposite. What Scottish Secretary Michael Moore neglected to tell people when he recently recyc led this attack previously used by Labour’s Jim Murphy was that the UK ran a deficit of more than £715 billion over the same period.

    In other words, Scotland is in a far, far stronger position than the rest of the UK – actually in surplus relative to the UK as a whole to the tune of £19bn – and by the Unionist parties own risible logic, Britain could not possibly afford to be independent.


    One of the most preposterous myths peddled about an independent Scotland is that we would not continue to be members of the European Union. For a start, we are already an integral part of the EU – and as an independent state would be in exactly the same position as the rest of the UK as a successor state.

    Legal and constitutional experts, including Eamonn Gallagher, a former director-general of the European Commission, and Lord Mackenzie-Stuart, a former president of the European Court of Justice, both confirmed that an independent Scotland would continue in EU membership.

    And how could it be otherwise, when Scotland has such a huge share of the Continent’s energy reserves, including oil and renewables? The fact is that the last major EU expansion in 2004 saw 10 new countries join – six of them smaller than Scotland and six of which have become independent since 1990.

    Allied to the other EU myths is the canard that an independent Scotland would be forced to set up border posts and customs barriers. The reality, in 21st-century Europe, is that you can drive from the Arctic Circle to the shores of the Mediterranean without encountering a single border post, and Scotland would be no different.

    It is in the international sphere that we find some of the most insulting myths about Scotland’s capacity to contribute fully as a member of the global community. And one of the worst examples of this came last week when Michael Moore suggested an independent Scotland would not have been able to participate in the recent UN-approved, Nato-led Libyan mission.

    The fact is 17 countries joined the mission to protect the Libyan people from Gaddafi’s regime, including a range of smaller nations such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway – and non-Nato countries such as Sweden. Denmark, a country of almost the same size to Scotland, undertook almost as many air sorties as the UK.

    Scotland’s ability to make its own way in the world should not be doubted, nor should ou r ability to take the best decisions in our own interests.

    The referendum when it comes will allow people to make their own minds up on what kind of future we want.

    And it is essential, when that time comes, that the myths about independence are scotched once and for all.

    -----

    I did leave a comment about how I think the idea of joining the EU was not a good idea when we can get all the same advantages by joining EFTA and thus not lose some of hard fought for independence.

    Alastair

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    Re: The myths of independence

    Hi Al,
    this just recalls the old adage - Lies, damn lies and statistics...

    Hopefully most people will begin to react just like the Quebec "freedom fighters" and wake up to the truth at some point.
    It's all very well listening to the heart but at some point the head needs to be listened to...

    Sandy

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    Re: The myths of independence

    At the end of the day Sandy we just need to listen to it all and sort out for ourselves what we believe in and make our own minds up for the future of Scotland. My single biggest problem is that I don't trust politicians.

    I do however believe that the people should insist on knowing on what the "so called" facts are based on. They need to quote the sources and make them available. And we need to know how relevant these sources are. I mean any idiot could produce so called facts so we need to be able to judge the credibility of the various reports that are quoted.

    Right now I am personally convinced that the SDA is a credible source of information and if you read the article I put up recently about James Wilkie, who is the chairman of the SDA, then I rate him as a credible source of analysis on the prospects for Independence and what comes after. See http://www.electricscotland.com/hist...les/wilkie.htm if you missed it.

    Alastair

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    Re: The myths of independence

    Quote Originally Posted by Alastair View Post
    At the end of the day Sandy we just need to listen to it all and sort out for ourselves what we believe in and make our own minds up for the future of Scotland. My single biggest problem is that I don't trust politicians.
    Alastair
    I cannot agree more

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