One vote: Scotland’s future

Scotland 2012: we’re 2 years from a referendum that presents the most important vote its people are ever likely to make – should Scotland be independent like most world countries or should we remain in the UK political union that sees Westminster control our government?  On the implications of Scottish independence I’m happy to do a bit of research to answer questions that people may have…

Questions such as, what does this vote mean?  It is so fundamentally different to any choice that we’ve ever been presented with before that some help is needed.  You’d think it was a dream scenario for Scottish journalism and an opportunity to reverse the recent industry decline: the chance to present the options, analyse the implications and debate the merits of the potential solution.  Instead, they seem determined to report meaningless polls and remain focussed on personalities (mostly Salmond since they know he’s loved and hated in almost equal measure).

To look at change, we have to look at what happens just now?  Council tax aside, all of our taxes go to Westminster – for most people that is ~30% of your salary, ~60% of your petrol (, 20% of anything that you buy in the shop, 35% of what you pay for a pint ( and so on.  Business gets taxed as well – take Scottish whisky industry for example, the UK (Westminster) gets ~£3.9 billion each year (  Across the UK this builds a big pot, with David Cameron & George Osborne or the equivalents of the day getting ~£650,000,000,000 to spend each year. Can you actually imagine divvying up such a sum? Is it any wonder that politicians with such an intangible budget quickly morph into megalomaniacs who ‘plan wars’ and build Weapons of Mass Destruction?

Once the self-indulgence is done and dusted, the Scottish Government gets ~£30 billion to spend on health, education, policing, providing extra funding to councils, and some infrastructure / business investments.  There are a few of these policies where Westminster has responsibility for Scotland as well, creating an unclear overlap, so it is quite hard to know who is responsible for what.

Roughly another £33 billion of UK spending comes to Scotland (£63 billion in total) – which accounts for the various benefits (pensions, sick pay, paternity pay, unemployment pay) & a proportion of ‘defence’ spending.

So, what does this vote mean?  The decision is whether we keep the complex structure that we have just now, with a UK government completely unaccountable to the people of Scotland.  The alternative – the Yes vote for independence – is to have all of our taxes going to a Scottish government, and then the people who decide on how to spend that money become accountable politicians.  Effectively we are voting for democracy – independence will allow the people of Scotland to decide on the government and how they run the country.  Our alternative is to just keep hoping that things will work out for us elsewhere.  In Westminster we trust?  I think not.

About stuartmdarling

I live in Motherwell & work in Edinburgh in the Oil & Gas sector, which has been taking me around the world for 15 years now. My passion for politics and music go with me every step of the journey...
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8 Responses to One vote: Scotland’s future

  1. frazzledazzle77 says:

    For the first time in our nation’s history we are being given a chance of real democracy, a moment in 2014 with the opportunity to make a decision about our future.

    I would not suggest that we are any better, nor any worse, than any other nation. However, it stands to reason that we can be independent, as is the norm. That said, we have an enviable collection of natural resources at our disposal; wind, waves, tidal flow, oil and gas, water/hydro to name a few, with the skills to harness them. We should be the custodians and beneficiaries of our land, rather than handing over the dividend and then facing the indignity of having to beg for a portion of the scraps back (the “Union Dividend” they call it).

    With independence comes responsibility, opportunity and dignity.

  2. Mr Undecided says:

    A very well-written first post. Thank you.

    However, it is also very one-sided, which is to be expected. What I’d like to see is a follow-up article, focused on the key arguments for voting ‘NO’, with a balanced opinion counteracting these arguments to the extent where someone swaying towards voting ‘NO’ may change their opinion.

    Mr Undecided (but still swayed towards NO)

  3. Welcome to the Blogging world…Good Start, well done.

    Mr Undecided…If you can actually find someone from the NO side to actually provide some answers that spell out what you are asking for..I myself would very much like to hear them! As yet, despite pleas for them to spell out the positive case for the Union, they have yet to take up the challenge…All we seem to get is….were better together..because..we (they) can sit at the top table in the Security Council etc…
    So yes…I am with you on that score..

  4. Mr Undecided says:

    That response, auldacquaintance, is essentially what could cause your whole campaign to fail. You’re so blinded with nationalist arrogance that you’re missing the whole point. YOU need to convince people it’s the right thing to do. We’re already in the Union, so it’s much easier for people to take the “better the devil you know” option, especially those who do not know any better. However, you seem certain that people will just take your word for it that it will be better than what we have now.

    I’m sure you’ll be aware of the modest 5000-“strong” Scottish Independence march in September – in fact, I’m sure you were there. Contrast that with the 1.5 million Catalans who took to the streets of Barcelona the same month. If that doesn’t convince you of Scotland’s apathy towards this referendum, I’m not sure what will.

    • Mr Undecided, there should always be context to such claims – and to be fair auldaquaintance has a blog which should be considered. Given the posts there, I think the response to you shouldn’t be dismissed (ref

      In response to your original comment, it is a good suggestion for me to provide the counter arguments made for the UK as I believe that this is where true arrogance lies. It seems that they are relying on the ignorance / apathy of the electorate to see them home but I believe the majority will want more detail and will have the energy to review the implication of a Yes or No vote (i.e. I don’t believe it to be true that independence can only come if every fine detail is understood by all, it may simply be enough for some to compare the potential of independence with the option of staying within the austerity measures of Westminster (one shouldn’t assume that one’s own opinion is representative of the masses 😉 )).

      As an aside, I believe Scotland is a lot closer to independence than Catalonia so I’m not sure of the relevance of your point there – the political circumstance surrounding the two marches differs significantly.

  5. Leo Strauss says:

    Interesting, if fairly concise, first blog. Despite a shared interest of politics with the blogger the independence question is one which I find particularly confusing as it is a choice between the current (not so great, but not too bad) status quo and the great potential/pitfalls that exist should we decide to vote yes. My hunch has always been to eer on the side of caution and subscribe to Bert Lance notion of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but I’ll admit that much of this derives from a lack of in depth knowledge of the subject matter. That said, I’m always willing to be convinced if the arguments are strong enough. I’m sure as we get nearer to decision time press coverage will be like nothing I’ve seen politically in Scotland during my lifetime and hopefully the commentary is enlightening rather than just agenda-driven

    I do believe however that the outcome of the referendum will probably be influenced a lot more by the PR machines and Media House-like outlets, than the actual substantive arguments raised by each side. This “problem” is not exclusive to Scotland, in fact the whole idea of Western democracy is one which I look upon with increasing cynicism with each passing year. But that is another argument for another time and another blog.

    There is part of me that believes we’re all damned whether we vote yes or whether we don’t as what really matters is strong ties to the greater business world. Scotland clearly has that at the moment and probably would continue to do outwith the Union. But “what if” things started to go wrong? What if there was another huge financial disaster? What if some unforeseen natural-disaster type event were to occur of the of the coast of Scotland? I know, ….. its a common fear that could be attributed to pretty much anything and if the, “what if” mentality were strictly adhered to then no one would ever get anywhere (on that subject, check this out for a laugh at 12 mins

    My biggest concern over the whole issue is how divided the opinions are of people within business, politic and the media worlds- they know far more than me but the split appears to be 50-50?!?. Sure, a number will have not only a personal opinion but a vested interest due to work and what they have been conditioned (I use that word loosely rather than implying that we live in a Orwellian state. Although, at times I believe we really are.) to think is right. And I’m also concerned that part of the reason I’ll always question this desire for independence is my genuine (although not bitter or distasteful) dislike for Salmond / Sturgeon. The ‘independence at all costs’ mentality shown by these two grates on me a little but to let that be a reason alone to cloud my judgement would probably be naive and churlish.

    I’m starting to waffle a bit now but suffice to say, enjoyed the article. Some more of the same may get me on board. Now off for a run 🙂

    “All political action aims at either preservation or change. When desiring to preserve, we wish to prevent a change for the worse; when desiring to change, we wish to bring about something better. All political action is then guided by some thought of better or worse.”

  6. I hope to give my own take on areas where I think we can do a lot better with independence than we are doing / will do within the UK. Here’s a couple of links to other articles on some points that do need fixing: (note, this is a good website that started up fairly recently), or The evidence is there to suggest an independent Scotland could have weathered the financial crisis that we just experienced, and the core of the independence movement is to improve the social and economic welfare of the nation which in itself would serve us to be better equipped for any future ‘global recession’…

    With respect to Salmond and Sturgeon – you’re entitled to your opinion on them, and as politicians they are bound to divide opinion – but I don’t think it is true to say that they have ever pursued an agenda of ‘independence at all costs’. I believe they have stayed true to their core principles in there drive for independence, and at the heart of that has been democracy. I think you’ll find this interview with Jon Snow to be interesting as I think it shows a different side to Salmond: and this article is also worth a read –

  7. Pingback: Scottish Independence: Let’s talk about it | Darling Blogs

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