Today may be the last day but one of the era of Anglo-Scottish unity. On Thursday we may be saying to Scotland "Goodbye and thanks for all the fish."
How come Alec Salmond is so sure that he can make an independent Scotland so prosperous and hand out goodies to future generations? How come he thinks he can pay for a Labour programme of spending when Labour in England always runs up a huge deficit?
It's not just a matter of North Sea Oil, whose quantity and value Alastair Darling is so eager to minimize and the SNP so determined to exaggerate. Yes, that's a valuable reserve but its not going to make every wee Scots lad and lassie a millionaire overnight. There are other factors that Alec Salmond is keeping very quiet about.
One is that if the Scots vote for independence, they will no longer be members of the European Union. Mr Barroso has made that quite clear. He wants to send a message to Catalonia and the Basque country to forget independence. But being kicked out of the EU will be an immediate financial gain for Scotland. England and Wales will be left to pay the £50 million per day membership contribution, plus the frequent demands for bank bail-outs in their billions. The EU is not going to suddenly be nice to us and reduce our contribution just because Scotland makes off.
Secondly. an independent Scotland will not be forced to privatize its NHS. It will not have to give in to EU demands to open up all goods and services to a single, competitive market across the 27 + member states. It will be able to keep its NHS and its other public services, Post office, etc, in public ownership.
Thirdly, Scotland will not have to be subjected to TTIP and fourthly, it will be able to trade world-wide without permission from Brussels.
And finally, the unmentionable topic - immigration. Most migrants to the British Isles arrive in Southern England, and head straight for the big cities. They don't go to Scotland. An independent Scotland will not have to pay the burdensome costs of benefits for welfare migrants. It will not have to house them. It will not have to provide health services for them. It will not have to provide translators for them, and it will not have its standard of living undercut by migrant workers who are prepared to work for a fraction of the minimum wage. England will be left to foot the entire bill for all of this.
I have not actually heard Salmond mention any of this, but I have an impression that he is not stupid. He has built up his party from a marginal one to a game-changer in twenty years and he knows what to say in public and what not to say. All of this gives me a feeling that if I were a tweedy, whisky-sipping, haggis-eating Scotswoman, I would be very tempted to go out tomorrow and vote YES.
Lenten Meditations: Saturday 25 March
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