Where is the economic honesty in the independence debate?

Robert Hoskins says it’s almost impossible to find an argument for Scottish independence which includes a critique of its economic effects, and says the national debate is dangerously deluded as a result.

It is a rare political phenomenon indeed when a narrative comes along which dominates both the Scottish and UK political landscapes at the same time. It’s even more surprising when said narrative is being promoted uncritically by both left and right, not only uniting the Record and the Sun, the Guardian and the Telegraph but also the New Statesman and the Economist as well as being articulated by heavyweight politicians such as Gordon Brown and William Hague.  The narrative goes something like this: 

Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU whilst the UK voted for Brexit, and it now looks likely that the UK could crash out of the EU on October 31st with no deal. Brexit has also fuelled the rise of English nationalism which looks likely to propel Boris Johnston into Downing Street. A Boris Johnson premiership, promoting a Brexit that Scotland did not vote for could ratchet up the grievance machine to warp factor 10. When you also factor in Johnson’s previous anti Scottish statements suggesting that there are too many Scottish MPs in Westminster and wanting to cut the Barnett Formula you have full lift off to the final frontier of independence.

It has to be said that there does appear to be an element of polling evidence supporting this narrative. It would appear that Brexit is shifting opinion in favour of independence as Remain voters who up until April were split evenly between No and Yes are now breaking 51% for independence and 42% for the union. A hypothetical poll also demonstrated that 53% of Scots would vote to leave the Union if Johnson became prime minister. 

If this trend continues (with Boris still to be anointed there is no real reason to suggest that it won’t), it would appear inevitable that future opinion polls might be about to register a slender majority for independence for the first time in over two and a half years. So all this evidence would suggest that the future for the survival of the Union couldn’t be gloomier apparently, with a majority for the first time now appearing to be in favour of having a 2nd independence referendum within the next 5 years.

So are the tabloids, broadsheets, political journals and politicians right? Is an independent Scotland the inevitable outcome of the combination of a hard Brexit and a Bojo premiership?

What these articles and speeches are probably reflecting is that emotional attachments to the union are being stretched to breaking point at the thought of this happening.  What they are most certainly not reflecting is an informed decision on whether Scotland should be independent, based on any economic reality of what an independent Scotland would look like.

Because the extraordinary thing is that every one of these articles and speeches has been made devoid of any reference to what the economic landscape of an independent Scotland would be, thus depriving the reader and listener of making an informed decision. What this whole episode has demonstrated yet again is that it would appear to be an impossible journalistic and rhetorical task to actively promote independence or to warn about the imminent possibility of it AND provide an honest critique of its financial cost in the same article or speech.

In fact, here’s a thought: have you ever listened to a speech or read a pro independence article or an article warning about the impending breakup of the UK that has mentioned any one of the following?

  • An independent Scotland’s finances would be far worse now because of a plummeting oil price than they were in 2014.
  • The financial impact of Scottish independence on Scotland’s economy would be 8 times worse than the economic impact of a hard Brexit.
  • Scotland has a £13.4 billion fiscal deficit which amounts to more than the whole annual NHS budget. Reducing this deficit would cause austerity max and require public services to be slashed and taxes to dramatically rise to reduce it.
  • If Scotland becomes independent, it has a £120 billion population share of UK debt to pay off over a 20 year period at £6 billion per year which would cost £5 billion per year in interest to borrow.
  • According to the SNP’s Growth Commission Report, Scotland’s banks would move their headquarters down south paving the way for other sectors such as Scotland’s insurance and pensions sector to possibly follow suit.
  • A further £1.5 billion would be required to set up the institutions necessary to start a new country;
  • A minimum of £40 billion of foreign currency reserves would need to be found to fund our own currency which is the SNP’s favourite currency solution.
  • This new currency would be pegged to sterling which would be ripe for being targeted by money markets, resulting in the new Scots currency being worth less than Sterling which would see the value of wages and pensions drop with mortgage payments rising dramatically as a result.
  • An additional financial burden on Scotland’s business sector would be transaction costs which would make goods and services being traded in currencies of different values between Scotland and its main trading partner the rest of the UK more expensive as a result.

In fact I would wager if you did a vox pop of any of these inconvenient truths  anywhere in Scotland only a handful of the electorate would be familiar with any of them, let alone all of them. This is a damning indictment on the quality of political debate that there has been when it comes to discussing Scottish independence.

The only significant economic debate which occurred in the 2014 referendum campaign was limited to which currency an independent Scotland would use. This debate ironically turned out to be the one which punctured any hope of Scotland leaving the UK as the electorate realised what the dire financial consequences would be of not being in a currency union. 

My hunch is that austerity max trumps any and every argument for independence and that’s why articles by pro indy journalists which mention the economics of independence are as rare as hen’s teeth.

And by the way it is not true that people don’t vote to make themselves poorer; they do. For example, the next Labour government will ask those earning over £80,000 to pay more tax. This act of enforced altruism will not impede some high earners voting Labour as they see their financial sacrifice as manageable and as benefiting the many. However, people do not knowingly vote to put themselves, their families and their country into financial hardship possibly for more than a generation, which is what would happen if Scotland became independent.

It is indeed ironic that in 2016 the SNP gave itself the very same task of making independence sound a better option than the eye watering austerity that would come with it when it asked Andrew Wilson to form the Sustainable Growth Commission to do just that. More than two years later the new economic case for independence was finally launched and was widely condemned by a slew of economists for producing proposals which were not backed up by evidence and would lead to economic atrophy and eye watering austerity. The Commission’s author has refused to defend his work from its many critics which would suggest that there is more than an element of truth to their critique.

Meanwhile, the next time you read a pro indy article or listen to a pro indy speech – ask yourself does said article or speech have an economic critique of the cost of independence? Believe me, it won’t have, as it is an impossible task to write or deliver one and still say independence is better with the eye watering austerity that would come with it. What the article will have instead, if it is written by a nationalist supporting journalist or even by the First Minister herself who believes that ”Independence transcends Brexit, oil and the economy” is resorts to euphemisms such as ”significant economic challenges lie ahead” instead of specifying what those challenges are in order to deliberately underplay the magnitude of the economic problems an independent Scotland would face.

We as an electorate deserve better than having discussions of constitutional issues stripped of their economic context. The truth is that a credible case for independence can only be made when it is debated or written in an economic vacuum.

If there is to be a 2nd independence referendum it is absolutely vital that the electorate are fully informed of all the economic factors that would impact a new independent country, not just what currency Scotland would use. New innovative ways must be found to get this information into the mainstream for debate. One way of doing this would be to have a televised series of debates between economists – not politicians – on either side of the constitutional divide which focused on different aspects of the economics of independence, including currency, impact on pensions, deficit and debt and capital flight. This would be a much welcomed start. But until such times may I suggest that we should all be challenging pro-indy articles which are devoid of economic critique by responding to them asking which taxes they are going to increase and which public services they are going to slash to pay for it. 

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80 thoughts on “Where is the economic honesty in the independence debate?

  1. Yeah … I know …. Scotland’s rubbish isn’t it. We couldn’t even tie our own shoe-laces if it wasn’t for the “precious union”. Things may be bad for Scotland under the union in comparison to ALL our small, independent neighbours but we have to admit it is the best we could ever hope for as to go it alone would only see things getting worse …. after all …. we’re Scottish and therefore “genetically” unable to emulate the success of other countries. We should be grateful for the “hand outs” we get from our English carers and stop all this talk of governing ourselves in our own best interests when clearly our best interests lie in letting another country govern us in their best interests. I mean, it doesn’t work for other countries but we have to admit they are better than us so we cant really be compared to them. All hail the “precious union”. All hail “Project Fear”.

    1. If that is your pro indy pitch, you really do make my point for me. Where is any acknowledgement of economic reality of independence?

      1. Let’s accept your premise Mr Hoskins. Let’s accept that Scotland’s economy and finances are as dire as you claim (many economists etc disagree though). You, and ALL your unionist compatriots NEVER address the elephant in the room of how things got this bad if the Union is so good for Scotland. It certainly wasn’t taking decisions in our own best interests instead of the UK’s (ie SE England’s).

        So, taking your subjective assertions as realities, Scotland has a choice. Do we choose independence to acquire the ability to turn this unfortunate situation of the union’s making around and prosper as ALL our small, independent neighbour’s do; or do we just accept our lot, decide it is better to endure the increasingly debilitating condition than the “pain” of the cure and wither away?

        I don’t actually accept your economic armageddon “reality”. However, it does not destroy the case for independence. It is only another aspect of the debate that illustrates the necessity of it.

        1. Hi Bungo

          The bottom line here is – do you value your NHS? Scotland currently spends £13.4 billion more than it raises in taxes. The Scottish Gov’t spends £13 billion per year on our NHS. Even the Growth Commission (SNPs brief flirtation with economic reality) concluded that Scotland would be facing at least 10 years of mega austerity. There is NO scenario which exists which shows Scotland’s finances being better off under independence. I am guessing Bungo you are just like Nicola, a fundamentalist? You would accept mega austerity for yourself, your family and the poorest sections of the population as a price worth paying to tbe independent. Fortunately for all of us you are in a minority

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          2. All you’ve done there Mr Hoskins is confirm you are guilty of the very thing you accuse Indies of. Ignoring that which you don’t want to see. You have shown “it is impossible to write a pro-union article and acknowledge the damage it has done, and will continue to do, to the Scottish economy”.

            As to your little NHS (in which I have worked for over three decades) scare, I can ask how safe it is in a Tory/Brexit UK that is on its knees before a Trump administration begging for whatever trade deal he deigns to give them? A far scarier and more likely threat to it than Scottish independence ever could be.

            But then, perhaps you’re a “fundamentalist” for whom the “precious union” is worth the sacrifice of far more than just the NHS.

    2. You do realise that you have just proven his point?
      Not one logical counter argument presented, merely a diatribe against “the union”.

      1. Perhaps you should try answering the issues implied in my post. Such as why it is only Scotland that faces oblivion if it embraces independence while ALL our small, independent neighbours thrive? Or why, if the “precious union” is so good for Scotland, our economy and finances are so bad? What you would be saying is the union has crippled Scotland so badly it can’t hope to recover and must rely on supposed “English charity” until they get fed up with us and pull the plug. It is not a future I want for my country.

        As to the points being made in the article, why should I continually have to give them credence every time they are put by desperate unionists? Despite the ridiculous premise that they are not talked about, they are constantly raised by the heirs of Project Fear. Indies now know how Van Helsing feels in all the old Dracula movies …. no matter how often he drives a stake through the heart of his nemesis, some true-believer will creep out of the night and bring him back to undeath in the dismal hope he will triumph this time.

        Take just one example from the lamentable list in the article;

        “An additional financial burden on Scotland’s business sector would be transaction costs which would make goods and services being traded in currencies of different values between Scotland and its main trading partner the rest of the UK more expensive as a result”.

        The UK uses a different currency to EVERY single one of its trading partners. EVERY single one! And apparently that’s absolutely fine; not a problem; nothing to worry about …. but not you Scotland …. It would be an economic disaster of epic proportions for you …. but ONLY you …. it’s fine for everyone else.

        These scaremongering witterings have been debunked so often Mr Hoskins should be embarrassed to continually resurrect them (as I “believe” he has already posted an almost identical article at least once here). But unionism is on the ropes, so they are left with little else.

      2. You can’t a counter argument when there is no argument. What Robert has produced is simply a list of assertions

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    1. Dave.

      Thanks for this. You have quite rightly highlighted a mega omission from my article. I should have written an extra paragraph, after the one which highlights the use of euphemism to deflect and minimise economic consequences. Of course I should have written a paragraph on outright denial of economic reality. Which your response has given great examples of Gers denial – even Eck acknowledged GERS was the kite mark. Even growth commission acknowledged Capital flight of banking and having to accept and pay off our debt. I say again it is impossible to write a pro indy article without resorting to euphemism or denial when it comes to economic reality

      1. I kind of expected more reality denial in your reply but coupling it with projection only tells me that reality denial is the least of your vices.
        When you say GERS denial you actually refer to OBR denial as GERS gets its reserved data directly from OBR PREDICTIONS and not from any reliable non politically controlled sources.
        The same OBR condemned by Alistair Darling when he was the shadow Chancer of the Exchequer no less.
        Its funny how Labour in Westminster constantly challenges Tory Government data and economic predictions and yet treats them as gospel when the same source is applied to GERS.
        When you also recognise that Scottish Governments balance their budgets to a point where underspends are applied and have done since 1999 you kind of wonder how Scotland managed to gain a deficit at all especially when you also remember the severe limitations the Scottish Government has on borrowing and those only gained recently from a position where it couldnt borrow anything at all.
        The growth commission told us the flight risk was due to Brexit not Scottish Independence.

        The pro union non case cannot be argued from any perspective without reality denial unrealistic projections and utter stupidity when you consider the ONLY choice available is between Full fiscal autonomy and access to full fiscal potential relative to LESS THAN full fiscal autonomy and LESS THAN full fiscal potential.

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      1. Dave,

        Debunked you say? What, all nine points? Do share your sources demonstrating said debunking. Sweeping condemnation like that without evidence is deflection in my book. Dave – instead of wasting all that negative energy in lobbing invective at my article. Why don’t you do something positive like taking on my challenge? Write a pro indy article and take at least one of my 9 points without resorting to euphemism or deflection and tell us how independence would be better than the turbo charged austerity that it would cause?

        1. What nine points? Those are not points they are worthless assertions founded on projections that never occurred. Projections that didnt even make the ball park.

          The Pro Indy argument is simplicity itself which is why you have to deny reality itself in order to oppose it.

          Independence beats Devolution. Devolution is worth less than Independence by every measure of constitutional calculation. Be it economic social fiscal Government authority responsibility or accountability.

          You cant make a case for Devolution which is why nobody who supports the corruption of the disunion even bothers to try. You certainly cant square the circle where the ONLY alternative to Independence offered is Devolution MORE.
          How can you claim that the closer you get to Independence the better off we are yet Independence itself leaves us worse off.

          Until you can answer that question you have nothing but stupid levels of lying false stats data and worthless projections based on where Devolution will take us.

        2. How do you explain then, that for the last 30 odd years apart from one, Scotland has paid more into the exchequer than it gets back.

      1. Aye watching people struggle with the very fabric of reality is always entertaining.

        1. Are you the banned poster “Mike” returned under a different name?

  3. Robert
    I am voting Indy next time its because of Brexit I think it will be a disaster for The UK never mind Scotland .
    I don’t see any chance of Labour winning the next election .
    English nationalism is now rampant .
    Boris Nigel Tory Jeremy talk of proroguing parliament .Court case to stop it .
    Plans for an alternative parliament .
    The chancellor has warned there is not enough money to fund the promises of Both candidates If a hard Brexit
    Billions spent on preparing for Brexit a lot of it wasted .
    My party labour riven at UK level by internal disputes .For me nowhere near government
    I don’t see any real political leaders at Westminster in any party look at the antics of all parties over Brexit broadcast every night to the nation all those so called meaning full votes .That turned out to be meaningless
    PM forced out by her own lot .
    Labour now in meltdown .
    The Northern Ireland assembly not sitting The Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament are both functioning and governing
    Westminster is in Gridlock not functioning
    I don’t want any more of it so I say if there is another Indy ref I am voting yes

    1. Hi David

      Sorry to hear you are thinking of voting yes. Yup I acknowledge the catastrophic state of politics just now and the Labour Party – horrendous. But, there is a strong common thread running through all these pro indy responses – all but 2 have not engaged with the stark economic reality of independence. And the ones that have engaged – have deflected and denied the mega austerity that would follow.

  4. Robert the economic case you are making does have to be made and explained .
    The next ref will be won or lost on who can explain the economic case ,On the doorstep it will come down to can I afford it can the country afford it and do I want to do it .
    The economic case you are presenting you need to make it now and be ready to explain in detail .
    A woman not voting told me Trump Boris Putin what a combination
    And also the Scottish Government has said 2nd ref 2nd half of next year any sign they are going to do it .
    And whats the plan if PM says no .
    There is intense argument and discussion about this going on at the top of the SNP
    I was delighted that Richard Leonard moved us to remain and no better together on Saturday plus the other policies announced .
    I will come back to another day Scotlands oil who owns and operates the rigs .

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      1. Hi Dave

        Gordon Brown got it wrong by offering the Nats the vow. Why keep feeding a hungry lion with an insatiable appetite? One thing we have learned from indy ref is, do not appease nationalists by offering more powers – no more devolution. Especially when the SNP can’t even use the powers they already have (welfare). Erm Dave, you still prove my point – you have offered me your best pro indy take and not engaged with any of my economic points.

    2. Hi David,

      Thanks for your response. Yes, the economics of indy and their catastrophic consequences do need to be exposed on the door step AND on the TV and MSM. It is a damning indictment about the appalling quality of debate on the constitution that so few people are aware about the economics of indy.

      1. Yet you cant do it without lying and lying stupidly. And you still wonder why Labour are nowhere.

  5. I watched Panorama today to anyone affected by anti Semitism I can only for myself say sorry .

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      1. Thank you for your comment Dave
        I agree But what I saw appears to go beyond attacks on the Israeli Government .Personal attacks on MPS and I don’t know the name but a Scottish Jewish organization has come out saying Scottish Jews would not feel safe living here with a Labour Government
        Some of what has been said is based on ignorance and it is taking far to long to deal with cases .
        I said months ago Netanyahu in trouble at home was using the Palestinians to divert attention away from that.
        I also said that Mossad would do everything possible to undermine Corbyn from being elected .
        As I believe he actually means what he says on human rights .
        A lot of Governments From Saudi to the USA cant have that and I firmly believe they are working to stop Corbyn that is probably going to be seen as anti Semitic but its not .
        And I also remember South Africa.

        1. When you say personal attacks on MPs you’re referring to them being called out for their vocal support of Israeli Government apartheid surely? I seriously doubt any of them have suffered any level of personal abuse simply on the grounds that they are Jewish.

  6. Hello Robert – an interesting article in part but based on the same arguments that Ruth Davidson et al puts forward. Its the same old bad economic arguments that seek to paint doom and gloom for Scotland. Have you ever actually looked at the economy of the UK? Do you think it is an example of a good balanced economy? What is the UK debt? How did it happen? Who made the decisions? There is more to being independent than having to endure you economic decisions being taken by someone else who has repeatedly made an arse of it. Even when you flat-line like Spain, Italy and Greece people still drink coffee and the world well, he keep on turnin’.

    Independence means you can choose when to send your people to war. How many lives have been lost for the sake of the UK interests (or USA) in spite of the wishes of the people of Scotland. How many new recruits has Erskine Hospital/House had to deal with because of bad decisions made by bad politicians in Westminster? There is more to independence than economics.

    Still we occupy the Chagos Islands and in November 2016 (not hundreds of years ago) the United Kingdom restated it would not permit Chagossians to return to their homeland. On 22 May 2019, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted in favour of setting a six-month deadline for the United Kingdom to withdraw from the Chagos Archipelago, will we do it? I don’t know. But I do know that if every person in Scotland wanted to comply it would mean Jack shit if England didn’t – and so far it doesn’t look like they will – this again shows that there is more to independence than economics.

    I could give many more examples of where independence means more than mere economics. I find it strange when Socialists – formerly revolutionary minded – say “Ach well the economics don’t stack up – lets stay in our box”.

    1. Hi Wynn,

      Thanks for this. You have also answered my main point for me. It is impossible to write a pro independence article (which you have) and acknowledge the damage it would do to the economy.

      1. Hello again Robert – thanks for taking the time to reply to my comment which is much appreciated. I have to say that you do have a point in your reply in that your article was about economics of independence and I addressed anything but that, so I will have a stab at it here. Before I do so I would like to point out that Unionist parties have the benefit of not having to address the short-comings of the UK including its own economic shambles (a deficit of £52bn and a national debt of £1.78 trillion) as it is the status quo. You really have to ask yourself if that is fair (as an argument) or a desirable way to examine the case for independence. There are two economic pictures to examine here and as I said there is more to independence than the economy – I mentioned war as one example.

        The argument you posit is based around the notion of exposing the short-comings of the independence movement’s arguments over the economic state of the country once it becomes responsible for ‘supporting itself’, but I have to say that the argument you put forward is based on speculation – there is no actual economic argument in there – its just the usual generalities that are put forward by unionists – and who can expect anything else to be fair, for in the same way there are economists on the side of independence who will push their biased view to progress their agenda.

        In examining the economics of independence there are actually few tied down figures for any analyst to deal with, many given figures are interpolated from UK figures and others are estimates and/or projections. You mention GERS but really the veracity of these figures have not been accepted as you suggest. As you know it was designed by Ian Laing to be ‘anti-Scotland’ have a look at Richard Murphy to see how GERS is skewed. The price of oil is always going to be difficult to predict and that applies to both sides of the divide – the massive fall (90pc) in 2016 was certainly something that no one expected including Her Majesty’s Government in London nor was the recovery in 2018 (from £266m to £1.3 billion) – oil is indeed a lottery. That is why you cannot really say the effect it will have on an independent Scotland – and neither can I. BUT what I can say is that the democratically elected government (ten seats in Scotland out of 72) of Margaret Thatcher used those oil revenues for her ‘revolution’ to crush the unions and destroy the nation’s industry. Did we want that? I don’t think so. An ideological driven disaster that is still painted by the UK as good. No oil fund. Can you imagine if Thatcher or Major or Blair had set up an oil fund never mind for Scotland but for the UK?

        The fiscal deficit and I agree there is a fiscal deficit but there are disputes about the level of this due to the way it is calculated. However, unlike your article, even the IFS takes cognisance of the importance of negotiations on the share of the UK’s debt (not the £120 billion you cite – even Eire left with zero), and that due to Brexit independence might bring benefits that were not as relevant when the expectation was that the UK would remain in the EU and that by gaining the levers over its own economy creating policies to grow the Scottish economy more quickly would help to ameliorate the effects of the deficit. I do have to confess here that there would still be a problem – but not necessarily the bogey man that is painted in your article and by many other unionists.

        The figure you give of £40 billion of foreign currency reserves to fund our own currency is very large compared to the £10 billion estimated by Dr. Craig Dalzel of Common Weal – this is a good report that is worth a read. The currency might be pegged to sterling but the claim about it being targeted by money markets is pure speculation skewed towards disaster – counter arguments could easily be made that are more positive about the currency. Similarly, the figure of £1.5 billion to set up our institutions is speculative and I assume is derived from figures given by the UK Treasury in 2014 but this – along with the LSE estimate – was based on fairly simple multipliers on the setting up of 180 institutions as opposed to say 24, the UK itself has 24, and with “many of the required public bodies already existing in Scotland” this figure would be lower.

        The trading problem with the rest of the UK would not exist if the currencies remain equitable and if the Scottish currency is pegged then they should remain static. I also think the UK after Brexit will be willing to make a trade deal with its nearest neighbour. The problem of capital flight is not necessarily one that Scotland will face but one the UK itself already faces due to Brexit. Barclays, Easyjet, Diaggio, Goldman Sachs, Odgers Berndtson, Airbus, Aviva, Merrill Lynch, Dysin, Nissan, Ford to name a few are already leaving, left or downsizing. This whole Brexit disaster is because we are hitched to a country that has politically different psyche.

        If we want to have a real debate about the economics of independence it has to include the economics of a Brexited UK.
        If we want a real debate about Scottish independence then it has to be more than just economics and trade. 454 British forces personnel or MOD civilians have died in Afghanistan, 179 servicemen and women in Iraq – all these service people were sent out to fight – for what? The interests of the UK? Under a Labour government? Independence allows Scotland to follow its own agenda. Norway, Sweden, Spain, Germany – all different countries that do not seem to need to start fighting wars on foreign soil to (I suppose) protect their interests. Even Labour when it gets into power starts to ‘protect the interests of the UK’ – it forgets itself. It lost itself with Blair and it looks like it can never find its way back – so wide a church as to mean nothing. It is so frustrating to see Scottish Labour still stuck in its anti-SNP mode. Scottish Labour needs to find itself again and I would say that being stuck to the UK system makes that almost impossible and makes it party to backing the ‘interests of the UK’ which really means the vested interests of the rich. I know I didn’t have any beef with the Afghanis but there we went shoulder to shoulder. I ask again for what?

        We need independence to have any chance of creating a better society. Many countries have done this with much worse starting points than Scotland. Labour should be leading the way for independence not trying to undermine and block the aspirations of many. If Scotland does get independence how awful that in history books Labour will be ranked alongside Ruth Davidson and Wee Willie Rennie.

        1. Dear Wynn

          Many thanks indeed for your very civil response to my reply. You provide an excellent example of how a difference of opinion can be debated in good spirit. Without addressing all your points individually, can I just say I expanded the same economic bullet points I used in an earlier article on Labour Hame touching on the economics of independence which I ran passed Professor Ronald MacDonald first – as I wanted to present an honest economic case. Professor MacDonald is the Adam Smith Professor of Political Economy at the Adam Smith Institute at the University of Glasgow. There is no other academic in the country who has a more distinguished track record on applied exchange rate analysis than himself. So with the greatest respect I would put far more faith in the accuracy of his figures than i would Commonweal. The only bullet point which derived from a different source was point number 2 The financial impact of Scottish independence on Scotland’s economy would be 8 times worse than the economic impact of a hard Brexit. That came from Scottish Business UK group.

      2. That is hubris Mr Hoskins. We must, apparently, agree with you or be accused of being in denial of the “great truth” you present to us. Pardon us if we don’t accept your “great truth”.

        As I’ve said, if the fears you stoke are real, it points to the union being so bad for Scotland it has crippled us financially and economically to the extent we can no longer stand on our own two feet and prosper as our small, independent neighbours do. Something I have never seen any unionist address. So, using your logic, I will make a hubristic counter statement to yours …. “it is impossible to write a pro-union article and acknowledge the damage it has done, and will continue to do, to the Scottish economy”.

  7. Shsss, nobody mention that other economic disaster of a similar sized independent country with oil to the east of us.

    So shsss,

    What ? NORWAY


    1. Davy – That’s a deflection. Have a go. Write a pro indy article give it your best shot and then at least constructively engage with one of my points without use of euphemism or deflection. What about which taxes you are going to raise and which services you are going to slash to erase the £13.4 billion fiscal deficit for starters and then conclude that Indy is best.option

  8. This is a well-considered piece and agree with almost all of it. From the rattled comments above it’s an easy win on the economic case, and yet the attraction for independence will not fade for a while yet. Selling the status quo is the most difficult position, as you say, whilst the empty canvas of “independence means” varies from person-to-person.
    Since moving to Scotland I’ve been most disappointed with my encounter of “the most informed electorate in the UK”. It’s as shallow as the Brexiters, all rhetoric and little substance. My own concerns are with jobs, mortgage, pensions, and a sense of universalism on key issues: brexit being one. The SNP have divided the nation to such an extent that a positive case for independence, that excludes Anglophobia, is an alarming rarity. And that’s a shame as there is plenty of common ground when you realise people genuinely want what’s best for their country. What terrifies me most, should we become independent, is the further deepening division iand anti-English rhetoric which the SNP will be happy to whip-up as a scapegoat when the lights go out.

    1. A Walker,

      Many thanks indeed for this. I agree totally with your point. What is so destructive and scary about nationalist / identity politics is that at least 1/3rd of nationalists would accept turbo charged austerity for themselves, their families and for the poorest as an acceptable price to pay for independence – I would include Sturgeon in that camp. If there has to be another indy ref (you might want to check out my 2 previous articles on Labour Hame on this) I agree it will be uglier that the 1st, laced with outright anglophobia and division. Einstein said that Nationalism is the measles of the masses – I agree 100% with him.

      1. Robert I might not agree with Nicola but she believes in Indy 100 per cent .
        I have never heard her or other SNP people calling people out on Nationality .
        Letters to the National are a different story but no way of knowing if writers are in any party.

    2. Point to examples of “anglophobia” from the SNP. It would be nice to see evidence for once. Constant unfounded smears get tiresome.

  9. I never read the article above, I know the subject in detail.
    But I admit I did scan through it. I was looking for something, a statement, a pearl of stupidity, that would confirm my prejudices. I pick this one out for your amusement.
    “The truth is that a credible case for independence can only be made when it is debated or written in an economic vacuum.”

  10. I am on oxygen at home I phoned the company who supply and service the equipment .
    All of it is manufactured overseas The USA and Australia I wanted to know what happens after Brexit .
    The company based in Stirling told me other patients have asked and in case of problems at ports etc .
    They have been stockpiling in warehouses .
    I did not vote for Brexit I was not told at any time I would have to consider supply problems for medical equipment .
    Or anything else
    Yes Robert the financial consequencies for Scotland will have to be fully examined and explained it will be key .
    I voted and campaigned for no in 14 .
    But no way did I ever think PM Cameron would ever give Nigel what he wanted a ref on the EU .
    Even Maggie did not try that .
    I knew from day 1 he would lose .
    It was about immigration nothing else got a look in .
    The week before polling day I thought Scotland would vote leave when on the bus we passed roadworks Gas this time and heard Polish guys over here doing our jobs .
    When I said if they were someone would be working I got turned on .
    Its happened twice since .
    That is something we don’t deal with .
    Robert I am in the Labour party will vote for and campaign for Labour in all elections except an Indy ref if we get one .
    Then its yes .
    Robert Mharie Black said when asked can Scotland afford to be Independent she answers can we afford not to be .
    And that is the question that will decide it .
    What would you say

    1. Hi David

      Really sorry to hear of your poor health and the very real worry that a hard Brexit might have on access to your O2 medication. Not clear as to the point you are making about immigrants though. No matter how catastrophic the political landscape might be in the UK today – iremember this, it does not change one iota the bonkers economics of an independent Scotland. If Scotland were to be independent how on earth is a new country with no credit history going to find the money to pay off the £13.4 billion fiscal deficiit; its population share of the UK debt; or even the start up costs. Where is it going to find the £40 billion currency reserves needed to protect a new currency? Do you really want to have your state pension paid for by the Scottish Government (as agreed by SNP in 2014 White paper), especially as its value could tank compared to pensioner payments in rUK who will still be paid in sterling? David – I totally get that emotional attachment to the Union is being frayed like never before but the bottom line – for you -your family and for everyone in Scotland is that UK political chaos trumps turbo charged austerity for Scotland. Hope you get your O2 supply sorted.

      1. But Mr Hoskins, WHY is the Scottish economy so “bonkers” if the “precious union” is so good for us? Why do you refuse to acknowledge the damage done to Scotland by the “precious union” your assertions imply. Is it because to say it isn t so would undermine your own argument?

  11. The so called plan B motion to the SNP October Conference a majority of SNP MPS at the general election enough for an Indy ref has not been selected for debate .
    There is a surprize

  12. Was watching BBC News when the screen filled with the breaking news sign .
    I thought has Boris been caught telling the truth .
    No luck it was the tennis haha

  13. Robert the argument pre Brexit Referendum was based on economics nonetheless the electorate despite the possibility of a financial hit voted for Brexit,so l don’t think that it’s all based on finance and l think that the same will apply in the next Scottish Independence Referendum.

    1. Hi Ted

      Remember the message on the Brexit bus? Turned out to be a lie. As the No side found in 2014 it is a very difficult ask to defend the status quo. As when hit with the economic realities of leaving the UK / Leaving the EU – the other side deflects and denies by shouting ”project fear”. Unfortunately due to the rise of polulism and nationalism we live in a post truth society. We live in tribal epistemological times. Where evidenced based expert opinion is now no longer taken as the truth. Where expert opinion is traduced and the new truth is decided by leaders of the tribe such as Wings over Scotland;s Blue Book for example

      With regards to Indy ref 2 I agree the Leave side will want to focus on everythiing but the economics of independence for reasons pointed out in my article and will no doubt play the usual nationalist cards such as Scotland is so different from rUK tand Scotland is better than the rUK – that has a strong appeal absolutley as does flag waving, But does it trump austerity which could last for more than a generation?

      1. Robert hypothetical question if it was shown in advance that for certain that Scotland would be a wealthier country if it was Independent would you vote for Independence? If the answer is no then your economical argument in this article is a false premise and nil and void.

        1. Hi Ted,

          I would be far more willing to consider it absolutely – who wouldn’t?

          1. But Mr Hoskins, if we remain in the union we will never be as wealthy as our independent neighbours. We will remain a mediocre, relatively poor ( by comparison with our independent neighbours) peripheral region of the UK. Certainly poorer than our human and natural resources would indicate we should be.

            Again you are left with the decision of whether you want to remain in “safe mediocrity” as a backwater region (as Scotland has been for centuries), or take control of your destiny and strive to be the equal of our small, independent neighbours.

            This is the rub when it comes to whether the union is good for Scotland or not. If the Union was good for Scotland we would be demonstrably more prosperous than our small, independent neighbours making the union a no-brainer. At the very least we would expect to be AS prosperous as them making economics moot in the indy debate. But, if we believe your assertions, Scotland under the union is far worse off than all our small, independent neighbours. So why would we want to continue in a union that, according to you, has been a disaster for us? Where is the logic, never mind honesty, in your case?

      2. [Moderator note: This poster is now banned for attempting to subvert a previous ban using a different username.]

  14. Went to see my MSP Monday
    I told him about my concerns regarding oxygen equipment and medication supplies post Brexit .
    He said he never thought he would be sitting at a surgery speaking of possible medicine shortages .
    He said the Post Brexit planning between the Scottish and UK civil servants has been superb .
    The MSP not SNP said that Scottish government ministers cannot get any answers from UK government ministers
    Westminster is in Gridlock over Brexit and the Leadership race .

  15. Donald Trump has record numbers for people in work the US economy is booming Its why I think he will be reelected .
    His comments on the Democrat women disgraceful and very calculated .
    Now Donald is America first .
    And when he calls the shots everyone else including the UK have to do as he says .
    As we found out over the leaked emails when we lost the Ambassador for doing his job .
    Boris if PM has said first stop USA within days and it will be with a begging bowl .
    Tory Jeremy will have to do it to.
    Trumps people have been caught on Tape saying they will not allow Corbyn to be PM
    What else wont he allow Scottish Independence maybe .
    And if we do how long before a Scottish FM gets the phone call from Washington telling not asking what they want
    as others have .
    Even after Trump his successor will be just as bad
    What if we want to close Faslane and US President says no

  16. Nice little barny going on in SNP Land its that motion on Indy not selected for conference .
    They got a letter saying why not selected and don’t debate party business in the press .
    That went down well letter plus photies are in 2 papers haha

  17. Brexit homelessness NHS worries and we still allow football clubs to spend millions on players

  18. Never mind all that
    On Sunday night the smoke alarm started to chirp every 45 secs as it is supposed to when it has a low battery .
    So I took it down and it still chirped for 2 hrs .
    So I asked several friends yes folks I do have them suggestions ranged from hit it with a stick . To light papers under the empty plate run away see what happens did not do any of that .
    Did phone the company Monday was asked did I disconnect from wifi eh then was told smoke detectors speak to one another through the system .
    Not to worry new alarm will be sent out .
    Last night chirping again every 45 secs for 2 hrs so I took down another detector phoned again this morning was told put last nights alarm back nothing wrong with it .
    What happened was as detectors talk to one another the system was looking for the one I took down .
    So get a tissue and stuff it into the empty plate until new unit arrives .
    So folks remember to have the occasional word with your smoke alarm .HAHA

      1. Thankyou for your comment Ted
        No bleeps last night maybe because I said night night and apologized for using naughty words to them Sunday and Monday haha

  19. Todays Wednesdays PMQS Corbyn tried to ask about Climate change and for the 2nd week running it degenerated into insults between him and the PM .Over Anti Semitism and Islamaphobia Playground stuff
    With Brexit Drug deaths Universal credit we need better than this .

  20. Robert was talking to someone who had been thinking of voting Indy now voting remain thinks if we are out of the EU and we then get a ref how would an Independent Scotland cope out of the UK and EU at least until we got back into the EU .
    But if that could be explained how a stand alone Scotland could cope out of the EU and UK at least until we got back in or could we stand alone he is back on board .

  21. Nice little war over that motion on Indy that did not get selected for the SNP conference today in the National a columnist who I wont name has waded into the committee who turned down the motion the conference itself being just a yes please rally .
    To many people in well paid jobs .etc .
    They used to through that at Labour

  22. Well another thing someone should have told Boris when he pulled the kipper stunt Ile of Man is not in EU or part of the UK .Its not paying attention to those kind of details that worries me about him being PM and his team should have spotted it.
    And at the EU Ref I voted remain I did not vote for a recession or public borrowing to go to 60 Billion in a no deal Brexit Neither were on the ballot paper

  23. New documents released not leaked show that Whitehall civil servants trying to get EU rules past a fed up John Major including could stallholders be prosecuted in 2000 for shouting Lovely Tomatoes 70p a pound answer correct maximum fine 5thousand not 500 pounds its because new metrication rules meant that greengrocers had to price Tomatoes in Kilograms .
    Building work at no 10 Churchill was shocked when told that building work at no 10 and treasury building would take 3 years .
    Then MacMillan hit the roof when the cost doubled to 2pt5 million and when he discovered it was in part due to a work to rule he declared that shows what is wrong with this country.
    The project got so out of hand Nigel Birch minister for works in 1955 suggested pulling down nos 10 to 12 Downing Street .
    No 10 was in a bad state crumbling foundations dry rot insect damage and a strike over tea breaks Churchill said the Ark did not take so long to build .
    And distrust architects like everybody else they are keen on making profitable work for themselves .
    That paragraph was scored out .
    Britains Ambassador to the USA sent cables about Bill Clintons private life
    The White house was chaotic 2 key advisors were leaving .
    The staff were still in campaign mode .
    Clinton would talk things to death and make a decision at the last moment .
    The Ambassador said Clinton had no feeling for foreign affairs talked loudly fails to act .
    And he complained about his treatment in the British press .Was assured the British public loved him .
    In 1994 Boris Yeltsin was accidently kept waiting on hold for an hour and a half when he phoned Clinton So he refused to take Clintons calls for days .
    An hour and a half on hold amateurs as anyone who has had to phone the DWP will tell you haha

  24. The great weakness of this article is that it makes the wrong comparison: the comparison is no longer ‘indy Scotland v Scotland remaining in UK’ but rather ‘indy Scotland within the EU v Scotland remaining in UK that has just left the EU on hard-Brexit basis’.

    Unfortunately, this is comparing guestimate with guestimate – so any attempt to make an economic assessment of the better option is doomed to failure. Ultimately, we may as well just choose the option we would prefer from a social/political/democratic point of view and assume that either option is likely to be touch economically

    1. Birtig
      I think its now Scotland stays within the UK leaves and stands alone until we join EU again and what if that requires another ref .
      I want an Indy ref but I see no sign the Scottish Gov is even considering asking for one and what happens if next year PM says no.

  25. Todays Friday National front page Project Fear news story is busted by the experts
    Its an investigation into a Sunday Times story on property investment being hurt by Indy 2 speculation .
    But on p2 we have Mackay says 204 million income tax gap can be managed.
    Surely that should have been the front page.

  26. Was in town today the pensioners forum were out collecting signatures for their petition against the decision to scrap free tv licenses for over 75s .
    Politicians beware they are angry and adamant they are not paying .
    They are not daft they know exactly who is to blame for this .The UK Gov. Who according to them are stealing their tv licenses haha

  27. All those Cabinet ministers threatening to resign if Boris goes for a hard Brexit got news for you folks you may as well resign now .
    Boris will start with a clean sheet .You will be out anyway.

  28. Well infighting has spread to AUOB and the SNP haha
    Was in my local Library today I asked who did it was told it wisnae me before I even told them what I had spotted .
    A book on the Titanic was in a prominent position in the Travel Section haha.

  29. Well todays press predictions
    Michael Gove to join the cabinet .David Gauke to quit said he would today .
    Up to 6 Tories talking to the Lib Dems about defecting Boris would then have no majority
    Senior Tories are discussing forming a government of national unity under Phillip Hammond or Sir Keir Starmer
    Interesting as Hammond will also quit .
    Several countries are said to be secretly negotiating with Team Boris including Ireland to avoid a hard Brexit if true why not with May.

  30. Watched Saturday night Our World it was about the operation to separate the twins joined at the head .
    What a job the hospital staff did and when they sang twinkle twinkle little star I joined in .

  31. Jo Swinson new lib Dem leader Colin Mackay she was the least boring of the 2 and only the warm up for the Tory result haha.
    And 3 MPS to take gov to Scottish court if Boris tries to prorogue Parliament

  32. They are going to test a toe belonging to Robert the Bruce to see if he had Leprosy first a film now this what next haha

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