Has Covid-19 ended the SNP dream of independence?

Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker as of 01:15GMT, Monday 16 March.
Photograph: Johns Hopkins University CSSE


I have invited this report from Jane Lax after I wrongly accused her of being a member of the undemocratic Scotland in Union letter-writing group and of having shared her letter with a known member of the group so that he could copy it and send it to a different newspaper. I have apologised unreservedly for any damage I may have done to her reputation. Jane has taken up my offer to write a piece for the Tusker defending the Union.

Readers are of course invited to respond but to focus entirely on the issues raised and to use evidence to back up any argument they make, as Jane has done. I expect none but will remove any personal or abusive comment.

It is not my intention to repeat this practice. The Tusker is an openly pro-Independence activist blog attempting to balance coverage and to rebut the errors reported in the MSM, dominated by pro-Union writers and commentators.

From Jane Lax

Having been given the opportunity to write a defence for the Union, for me there was only one topic to look at – the one area that affects everything from the welfare provision for the most vulnerable in society to the education system through to our health service and that one area is the economy.  Without a stable economy, the funds are not there to provide the best we can for our people and our society. 

We have all heard Nationalists use the derogatory phrase “too wee, too poor, too stupid” to demean opposition to separation, but remember it was the SNP’s John Swinney who coined the phrase in 2001.  Non-separatists don’t believe Scotland is too poor to be independent; only nationalists use the insulting phrase.

No-one says Scotland could not survive on its own outside the UK, but Scots need to be aware that, without the support of the UK, their standard of living would fall. Currently, the extra money we receive from HM Treasury supports 14% of Scotland’s public services every year. In cash terms, that is £10 billion[1]. The question is, which taxes would have to rise, and by how much – acting as a deterrent to enterprise and business – and which services would have to be cut, and by how much?

What non-separatists know is that Scotland is capable of being a separate country but believe that Scotland is better as part of the United Kingdom.  This Covid-19 pandemic has made this very clear indeed.

Scotland would have survived this pandemic like every country in the world but at what cost?  Would we have been able to provide what Rishi Sunak and the UK govt have – the furloughing scheme, the help to self-employed, the investment in restarting the economy?  736,500 posts have been supported by the furlough scheme in Scotland.  The cost of this at Scotland level is not yet available.  The cost however of the self-employment income support scheme which has helped 155,000 individuals in Scotland is £449 million to 30 June 2020[2].   Outwith the Union how would the last few months have looked?  Would we have had to return to our jobs regardless of the health risks?  Would businesses have closed, making many thousands of people unemployed?  What would that have done to the mental health of the Scottish people? 

Where has this money come from?  It has been borrowed by the UK government via the issuing of gilts.  Are we saying that the UK as a whole is too poor to function?  Absolutely not.  All countries borrow but an important question is what determines the cost of this borrowing? 

The calculation of this is no different to Mr Smith going to his bank and asking to take out a loan. 

Does Mr Smith have a good credit history?

Has he defaulted on any loans in the past?

Does he have any other debts?

Does he have an appropriate income to repay the debt? 

All of these lead to the question, can Mr Smith repay the debt when it is due? 

In this case, the UK has a good credit worthiness rating.  As at Dec 2019, Standard & Poor’s credit rating for the UK was AA, a high grade[3].  A 2-year UK gilt pays out at 0.5% as it is considered a very safe investment.  Compare this with Turkey where they pay out 11.325% for the same period.  Why the difference?  It comes down to the confidence the investor has that he will receive his money back.  A risky investment requires a higher yield.  Turkey pays the price of not being a safe investment (compared to the UK).

What has this to do with Scotland you may ask?  This is the question that non-separatists are often faced with.  Independence should not be decided upon solely by your heart but also your head which is one of the reasons that Scots voted against independence in 2014.  There was no detail given on the economics of how an independent Scotland would look. 

What currency would we use?  Would we have our own Central Bank and if so where would the funds in that bank come from?   How much would it cost to borrow?

We already spend more than we raise so how would we repay the debt?

We would start life as an independent Scotland with debts incurred as part of the United Kingdom, even higher now than before Covid.  Scotland has received an additional £6.5billion of funding to assist the administration in Holyrood with the Covid recovery.[4]  The UK government will have borrowed that money to assist the economy.  Do nationalists really believe they can walk away from that debt?  What investor looking on would ever lend money to IndyScotland with that track record?  And what return would investors want lending to a country that has these huge levels of debt and a deficit of 7%?  

These are the practical issues that any nationalist politician has to answer before any referendum.  They didn’t in 2014 and yes, there will be the usual suspects who will vote for independence regardless of practicalities but there are also the people who just want to get on with their lives and have a good quality of life.  Unless you have an economic argument that will convince them their jobs, their savings, their pensions and their lifestyle will be safe, they will not vote for independence.

Why take a leap of faith when the person asking you to do so can’t tell you how you will land? 

[1] https://www.gov.scot/publications/government-expenditure-revenue-scotland-gers/pages/5/

[2] https://spice-spotlight.scot/2020/07/21/coronavirus-covid-19-the-furlough-scheme-in-scotland/

[3] https://tradingeconomics.com/united-kingdom/rating

[4] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/scotland-wales-and-northern-ireland-receive-additional-coronavirus-funding-guarantee-from-uk-government

42 thoughts on “Has Covid-19 ended the SNP dream of independence?

  1. As a Scottish INTERNATIONALIST I won’t read this rubbish sorry, skimmed it, that’s definitely enough, my time is more important.

    Calling people who support an independent Scotland, ‘nationalists’ is insulting, disrespectful and agenda driven, ie, implying a narrow, insular inward looking people, quite the opposite is true and I am sure the writer is well aware of that. The problem that Scotland has, is with British Nationalism, which IS a narrow nationalism, insular and in fact the cause of much racism and divide, and with Brexit, that is all too evident and dangerous.

    Scotland has suffered enough under the boot of the union, Scotland is hugely rich enough to be an independent country, fact. To imply otherwise is treating the people of Scotland with utter contempt. No thanks.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m not surprised that this article got your back up. If she’s avoiding ‘Unionist’ and its association with the Tories and using ‘non-separatist’ then surely she should be using ‘separatist’ and not Nationalist’. And that’s only the start.

      As Ian Kemp says, her choice of examples is revealing – as also is the choice of things she leaves out or skims. Eg didn’t the UK used to have an AAA rating before the tories got their hands on the economy?

      You are justifiably angry, but could I suggest you read the article at some point, ignoring the language and looking at the content? (Which was obviously carefully chosen – and one has to ask why.)

      Let me explain why. In short, this…
      “Independence should not be decided upon solely by your heart but also your head which is one of the reasons that Scots voted against independence in 2014. There was no detail given on the economics of how an independent Scotland would look. ”

      To be absolutely clear, I am NOT supporting the contents of the article BUT this is exactly why I eventually decided no in 2014. Almost word for word. My heart supported YES, my head asked “how would it be paid for?” and the only answer was a seemingly dismissive “Oil”.

      In many ways, this article is simply asking questions that the ‘floating voters’ asked in 2014. (Let’s leave aside whether the questions were already in the voters’ brains or not…) They’ll be asked again next time. As I’ve also said before, it’s people like me that you have to win over. If the outcome is to be different, the approach has to be.

      Analysis of style and content also shows the approach that’s being used, the ‘facts’ that are being chosen. I’m wary of this, especially now, but there are many in the position I used to be in who aren’t. Remember, this is the Vote Leave party who (allegedly!) cynically harvested people’s hopes and fears and used them to tailor their campaign. Some might call it emotional manipulation. Whatever it is, you have to admit they’re rather good at it.

      In one way, I think Ms Lax is to be thanked for this article. Because, asking these questions on a forum of well-informed, determined people has allowed them to give rational, articulate, well-reasoned, well-referenced responses.

      I believe this to be an essential weapon in the fight. Her choice of Nationalist v non-separatist, suggests to me that their approach is going to change to “yes, these people are obviously passionate in their beliefs, but their passions have blinded them to reality. They haven’t thought things through. We can sympathise. We’re reasonable people. We know the Union isn’t perfect, but faith doesn’t fill hungry mouths.” In other words, I believe, justifiable anger against unequal treatment and a passionate belief in self-determination will be twisted into foaming nationalism. And the Union will be the deeply hurt mother figure, of course.

      They can’t be allowed to play this game. Maybe a few easy to understand, fact-based pamphlets on the way Scotland could be in the future and – crucially – how. No arguments against propaganda. Just facts, clearly and calmly expressed.

      Also the responses will answer a lot of my questions and have given me a raft of links to follow up so that I can better educate myself on the issues.

      Possibly not the intended outcomes…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hello Jane.

    Thank you for explaining your position vis-a-vis independence. I agree with you that one’s head must play a part in the decision to vote one way or the other on this question. However I disagree with your analysis of the situation.

    I am not an economist, but I follow a number of international experts in this field, Professors Richard Murphy, Stephanie Kelton, Bill Mitchell and Steve Kean and also Dr Tim Rideout. If you google them you will find much food for thought on the Scottish Economic question and economics generally. They are advocates of Modern Monetary Theory, or MMT which turns orthodox neo-liberal economic thinking on its head. In short an independent country with its own sovereign currency can never run out of that currency. The only constraint on its ability to fund its political aspirations is the availability of resources, not the availability of capital. Austerity is a political choice, not an economic necessity.

    On the question of GERS you might want to look at Richard Murphy on the topic here https://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2019/08/21/whatever-gers-reports-today-its-important-to-remember-its-still-crap-or-a-completely-rubbish-approximation-to-the-truth/
    and here https://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2019/08/21/the-gers-data-is-ludicrous-scotland-does-not-generate-60-of-the-uks-net-fiscal-deficit/.
    Many other critiques of GERS are available if you care to search. Why the Scottish government continues to produce GERS is a mystery.

    On the question of what currency an independent Scotland would use you might care to see these from Professor Bill Mitchell here http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=39501
    and here http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=39506.
    Other critiques are available if you search. In short it would be imperative for Scotland to un-couple itself from the GBP as soon as practicable.
    How that might be managed can be seen here https://www.reservebank.scot/timetable. It is simply an example. Another suggested timetable can be found in the Common Weal publications.

    And then there is the often asked question “But how on earth would Scotland pay for it all”? Some answers can be found here https://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2020/07/23/how-are-you-going-to-pay-for-it-my-video-giving-the-answer-to-the-most-crippling-question-in-modern-politics/,
    here https://theaimn.com/politicians-guide-question-going-pay/?fbclid=IwAR0k0AWma_hPJykl_IeBMDCb0d21DRFmvL5hqNQVId6uSrK7JY5tSvWUyRk,
    and here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WS9nP-BKa3M&t=135&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop.

    Finally on the question of whether Scotland would be rich enough to fund itself without the broad shoulders of the UK to help it you might care to look at Business for Scotland and take the knowledge test here https://www.businessforscotland.com.

    What is the reason that successive Westminster governments have been so desperate to hang on to Scotland? Is it through altruism? Given the selfish and self serving attitude of the Tory Westminster government that seems unlikely. So is it instead that Scotland is actually subsidising the rest of the UK? A convenient milch cow to be milked of its resources. You are, of course, entitled to your own view of all this Jane, but I believe that the facts speak for themselves.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. “What is the reason that successive Westminster governments have been so desperate to hang on to Scotland?”

      What a good question!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. 1. Because we are a net exporter unlike the rest of the UK which is stuck with an ever increasing trade deficit.
        It has been this way for forever. So if the rest of the UK never exports more than it imports how can it be a profitable enterprise?
        2. The UK like most nation states operates a Fiat Currency system which is in reality a fraudulent Ponzi scheme, but allows it to simply print an infinite amount of currency. This is how the broad shoulders of the UK works. It is a fraud with nothing to back it.

        Clearly Scotland could do exactly the same thing, not that I would advocate that.
        3. As far as the UKs credit rating is concerned, how much of that rating is dependent on the Oil resource? When that leaves with Scotland the rUK credit will be reduced to Junk status. Google youtube “John Rogers Scottish Independence” for a two minute expose.

        So far from Scotland needing the rUK it is in fact the other way around.


    2. This Richard Murphy? The Richard Muphy who made a complete and utter fool of himself in fromt of a panel of experts?


      1. Interesting ‘cuts’ though the recording there – the argument put forward by Richard is that the methodology is flawed, so nothing can be taken from the results. That doesn’t seem to be clear here.

        Richard Murphy has a huge amount of expertise on many aspects of tax – introducing the Fair Tax Mark along with others – as well as developing international accountancy regulations, and is involved in many economic-political endeavours, contributing academically and from within think tanks. Dismissing his contributions out of hand based on a badly edited committee meeting is not a reasonable approach. I have seen him in a fair number of committee meetings and his contributions are valuable – whether or not they were agreed with then, or now.

        He is one of the originators of the Green New Deal that is currently sweeping through the US as a new way of creating a booming economy while saving the planet. The economic thinking is turning, with a growing number of advocates. It is harder for those that are experts and have been taught something different to change their ways.

        You will need to update your video so the cuts are not quite so obvious if you want to use it as evidence.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. The ‘Scotland the brief’ booklet produced by Business for Scotland has a lot of statistics about Scotland’s assets to counter the argument that Scotland is not rich enough. There is also a longer version whch gives references for all these statistics.


  3. “We already spend more than we raise.”

    This assertion by Jane Lax is open to question. Margaret Cuthbert questioned the reliability of Gers in a talk in 2009.

    “Do Official Statistics Provide an Adequate Basis for Debate about Scottish Independence: or, indeed, about the process of devolution.

    Cuthbert, M.: Invited talk given at Royal Statistical Society Conference, Edinburgh, 11 September 2009.”

    http://www.jamcuthbert.co.uk/new_page_3.htm Scroll down and download.

    In 2019 , Richard Murphy also criticised the usefulness of Gers. The data do not seem to have improved with age.


    Jim Cuthbert, like his wife Margaret, a statistician and senior civil servant in the Scottish government has written a criticism of the botched fiscal settlement.

    “Scotland’s 53% marginal tax rate for middle earners illustrates yet another flaw with the Fiscal Settlement
    Cuthbert J. R.: published in The National 31 January 2019.
    Describes how the awkward interface between devolved and reserved powers leads to anomalous, and damaging, tax effects.”

    The link is that given above. Scroll down to the bottom.

    You can see here that the Cuthberts make a long series of criticisms, over a lengthy period, about the financial arrangements made by the UK government for the devolved nations. The thrust of these criticisms and the fact that they are made at all should tell you something about the inadequate nature of the UK government of Scotland.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Health inequalities.

    It is galling to find Scottish Conservative politicians making criticisms of the attempts by the Scottish government to address health inequalities. It is Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat policies by successive UK governments that have done so much to cause these inequalities.

    Scottish academic research is clear. The fundamental causes of health inequalities are the unfair, unequal distributions of power, wealth and income in the population. The poor health of the UK is driven by poverty and powerlessness. the remedy is to redistribute, power, wealth and income. Scotland lacks the powers to do that most effectively. If you doubt that, take a look at the 2013 Ministerial Review of Health Inequalities done by Dame Professor Sally Macintyre and her NHS team. Take a look also at the stooshie caused by the Scottish government’s attempts at modest redistribution and the effects of the botched fiscal settlement on that.

    Click to access 1-healthinequalitiespolicyreview.pdf

    On page 6 of the Review policy recommendations are made to address the fundamental causes of health inequalities. Even with the additional powers devolved since 2013 none of these policy recommendations can be introduced today, though something could certainly be done about devolving power outwards.

    Professor Macintyre says that 40% of the current health budget is spent on interventions that are avoidable. It may not be possible to attain perfection, but an independent Scotland, addressing poverty by the redistribution of wealth, power and income, could reduce the current health budget by, say, 20%.

    For the Marmot Review of 2010 (covering the same ground with regard to England), Frontier Economics made calculations of savings to the English finance budget if the population enjoyed the same level of health as the top decile by income of the population. £69 billion in additional income tax revenues and saved benefit payments was the total. The ideal is not to be achieved but applying the same calculation to an independent Scotland addressing health inequalities there are some billions in additional income tax and reduced benefit payments here.

    The future seems bleak without independence. Take a look at the research here.

    Click to access 00533637.pdf

    Increased child poverty in Scotland attributed to the welfare policies of the UK government. Meanwhile, the Tories in Scotland produce this in their manifesto. Brain Whittle asserts that health inequalities can be addressed by more exercise and a better diet.

    This talk should be useful to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. While also bristling at the ‘Nationalist’ put down I have however taken the time to read the article more than once so that I could fully appreciate the points being made.
    I always find it revealing the choice of examples used to back up a point and the use of Turkey to illustrate the cost of international borrowing is particularly illuminating. Why not Ireland (AA like the UK) or Denmark (AAA) or Norway (AAA) all 3 of which match Scotland in terms of size and economic culture?
    Then we have GERS figures quoted both in absolute terms (10bn gbp) and percentage deficit (7%). GERS is highly contentious and every year there are numerous articles explaining their limitations. The Scottish Government has plans to produce an alternative to GERS but the pandemic has put that on hold. BTW ONS figures derived on a similar basis to GERS show that the NW of England has the worst deficit.
    I thank Jane for submitting her piece as, IMHO, it is what she doesn’t say that is most telling as it only looks to the past. Jane asks why she and her like-minded citizens should take a leap of faith when we who are pro-indy cannot tell where it will land. We in Scotland are being forced into Brexit and any number of subsequent actions against the clear will of the people. An Academic study by Roy et al in 2016 found Brexit will cause long term impacts of between -2 and -5% on Scotland’s GDP. Talk about not knowing the landing ground UK Government ministers have lied and rowed back on Brexit so often that I think it was The Guardian had done a piece online highlighting the 11 most obvious.
    To me Scottish Independence is about the future of my sons and their children yet to be born. I do not believe that an Independent Scotland will be a land of milk and honey, mistakes will be made but they will be OUR mistakes and the politicians who make them will only be accountable to the people of Scotland.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I think the detractors to Janes piece miss the point, no one disputes that Scotland can survive outside a uk, it’s just in what state it will be in to do so, clearly standards of living would fall, companies like mine would see no advantage in having a base here and would move south for fiscal parity and security, it’s the overall security I cannot see, and Zero Growth with just 5 million People approximately, and half That at working age, and half That again that being Eligible tax payers ! the basic infrastructure still needs funding as a result and that is not fiscally viable , yes norway and Ireland, et al survive but not a place I would look to for quality of life, and a very high cost of living – Ireland still benefits from the umbrella of uk as many have free access to live and work and health care here as well – I would like a Lamborghini but could I afford to tax insure and run it- ? If unsure you don’t buy!
    Brexit has taken us five years to reach this point I imagine scexit will take twenty to ratify – what with fisheries, agriculture, All financial matters and currency, interest rates, and defence all not even discussed properly – let alone debt.! Some say we are yoons but wishing to join the Eu surely makes that a yoon desire as well and one with no electoral control of the main Administration body? That way madness lies, handing over control to a body like that makes no sense and is definitely not indy!
    If the fiscal matters were genuinely shared and discussed, maybe people will engage more, but A sense that things are being withheld, and the bile that is thrown at doubters and people who question things Does make one a tad suspicious that’s it’s all about indy and worry about important matters afterwards.


    1. Dear me, Mr Hogg. Norway ..’not a place I would look to for quality of life’. Have you ever been to Norway? They have new roads, bridges, tunnels, hospitals, schools. And no debt. Instead they have a 2 trillion dollar sovereign wealth fund. Yes, to people from Scotland it seems to be a high cost of living, but their wages are also high. Their standard of living is much better than in Scotland.

      I’ve been there and seen it. That could have been Scotland but, under the domination of England, we are embroiled in debt. Ruled by a government that is foisted on us by people in another country and dragged out of the EU against our democratic will. And constantly insulted as subsidy junkies dependent on English goodwill.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Bile?

      There may be a little bit – but that is mostly in reponse to the language used in the article, its own Bile if you like.

      Most comments are fairly and concisely answering the economic arguments – we have moved on from 2014, and it will benefit everyone if the anti-independence argument moves on too.

      You are right to question what you are told, because the economic realities of an independent Scotland show not only survival but huge benefits – to business, to individuals, to our whole economy which can be tailored to our needs and our types of resources. How we are within the union is not a reflection on what we will be as an independent country. Brexit is not the same situation – there are no laws governing the breaking of that treaty, while secession is fully covered by international law – many of which the UK state created themselves.

      The uncertainty you believe will happen need not be the case – it is a simple change over when our government issues our new currency – please refer to Tim Ridout’s explanation of this. Putting up imaginary obstacles and ‘what ifs’ are easily countered by the opposite what-ifs, we need to base our debates on reasonable and rational things then we can see if all those things can be addressed, and if not – does it need to be? Or, do you want it to be? Are you willing to look at the possibility that reaching independence will not be a hardship or a destruction of any business?

      Liked by 2 people

    3. Hi Alan
      Thank you for your contribution even if it does come over somewhat ‘play by my rules or I’ll take my ball (business) away.
      You however raise important issues such as the de-population of Scotland of working age tax payers. The Union is currently exacerbating that issue by their one-size-fits-all immigration policy which totally ignores Scotland’s population trajectory.
      Scotland is the only part of the UK with a non-oil balance of payments surplus in goods which is why Brexit is such a hit for us.
      It suits the Unionist purpose to talk up the difficulties of Scexit by referencing the ukg incompetent handling of the Brexit negotiations – starting with a mindset that ‘it will be the easiest negation in history’ was always going to end badly. I am sure as eggs is eggs that a defeated ukg will be a surly negotiator but we will put up with it in order to get to pastures new.
      You never know, companies like your may be central to a new Scottish economic vision and you may be wooed and encouraged to grow in a way that ukg might not support, nobody knows – so why assume the worst?
      My problem with so many defences of the Union is that there is an automatic assumption that an independent Scotland will just continue on as before. Holyrood has shown that where it has legislative powers it is prepared to think outside the ukg box for the benefit of all in Scotland. The Scottish electorate is said to be one of the most engaged in the world and I am sure that that will remain so for at least 40 years regardless. Such an electorate will hold its leaders to account far more effectively than the UK population holds westminster to account.
      Money is money, independence is the power to spend that money how I want. At present, westminster decides to spend x on England and the devolved nations get y as a Barnett consequential, it isn’t a gift and it all depends upon english political spending priorities (e.g. £4bn + for no deal Brexit preparations).
      The issue for me is that we don’t have the full range of legislative competences that independent countries have in order to address inequality, climate change and whatever the next big challenge is

      Liked by 4 people

  7. Excellent, thank you for taking the plunge Jane and putting forward your viewpoint, which is probably quite widespread amongst the anti-independence community.

    There is nothing in your post – your main fears of the economy – that cannot very simply answered by Scotland becoming independent. And I mean properly independent, with a currency issuing government – because then all your questions like ‘how would it pay for,,,’ are answered by being just a normal independent country. Many small countries have no problem being independent, some very successfully, and I suggest Scotland would be one of the successful ones. We have a wealth of natural resources, and carefully used and with good governance we can maintain those resources and still all benefit.

    I will post specific links later on addressing matters on the economy, along with debt – of which Scotland will have none on becoming independent.

    This is not fantasy, this is reality – the reality of how a country’s economy works, and how Scotland’s would. It is very stark to me the way the economical argument you give mixes up macro-and micro-economics and also mixes up how a Scotland looks in the union (beholden to a foreign government for hand-outs) and would be as an independent country – the way GERS does. There is nothing in the macroeconomics of Scotland today – our Scottish government just now runs a micro-economical budget, a household budget if you like – only the uk government has control of the macroeconomic situation here in Scotland just now, and all decisions like furlough schemes have to be taken by them, and most of those decisions are not taken taking Scotland’s needs into account. We are much poorer for being part of this Union.

    Of course an independent Scotland would be able to make the same decisions Sunak has done – what a bizarre question – all other countries around the world have made those sorts of decisions, I do not understand the concept of how Scotland would be uniquely different. I would hope we would have made better decisions than Sunak though, his performance has been extremely poor and many of his decisions will leave the whole of the U.K. – including Scotland – in economic instability and likely poverty.

    It is NOT a leap of faith becoming independent – it is a constant, daily, leap of faith staying in this Union and hoping for something better. Your financial situation may be comfortable, but many others aren’t, and it need not be that way, and we have more prospect of having more equity and ensuring nearly full employment as an independent country. If I could see any change in the uk government, the English government, there might some arguments to being overruled by them, but there isn’t and never has been and there never will be. It’s time to let go the poor governance and try for ourselves – and we would not be starting from scratch or from poverty.

    There will be a lot of hard work involved in setting up an independent Scotland, but nothing difficult in it. And when I see how quickly change can happen, as with the current crisis, I know it can be done quickly and efficiently – IF everyone gets behind it.

    A good place to start in addressing your fears is to separate out the macro from the micro economics – Scotland would have its own macroeconomy on independence so you cannot conflate the two : and Scotland in the union, and Scotland as an independent state – the latter takes some imagination, obviously, but if you are to use it as an argument you need to think realistically about it.

    You are very correct to say that the 2014 referendum really did not address the economic argument, and did not give us a clear vision of how Scotland might look – and I believe we do need that vision and some solid procedures for realising it. These things are being addressed by various groups and people now – but not the SNP for some unfathomable reason. Tim Rideout, who is an SNP member and has had his resolution passed at conference last year – has put forward solid proposals for introducing our new currency, with reasonable timelines and explains how and why.

    You are also doing the exact same thing as many pro-independence people do and what you accuse them of – thinking with your heart, not your mind. Finding ‘facts’ to fit with your world view does not always reflect reality! Having looked at the reality, good and bad things, I conclude that not only can Scotland become independent, it would be beneficial to do so. If your argument had been ‘I just feel that way’, this comment would be a lot shorter (it would be ‘fair enough’! You can’t argue with how someone feels). I think we all find it difficult to be honest with ourselves when it comes to marrying up the heart and mind – but we should all try to accept that it is possible, and not accuse others of what we do ourselves.

    If you want to use economic arguments, you should avoid quoting politicians – I can recommend ‘The Deficit Myth’ by Stephanie Kelton (or watch any of her lectures online if you prefer audio visual) – I recommend this because the pro-independence economical arguments have moved on and have become a lot more sophisticated (despite the tired old trope you hear from the SNP) and if our two sides ever get a chance to debate I think it is fair you get a chance to fit this thinking into your world view before then. I know you won’t get to hear of any of it before we are allowed to debate the issue again.

    If you you want any specific links or reasoning on any of these topics let me know – I am very happy to elaborate – you covered many issues so it is not easy for a simple response.

    I really am glad you have taken up John’s offer, in a way you have already broken the mould, crossed a divide, that allows some debate – at last! I have no illusions that I would ever be able to change your mind on independence, I believe you are a hard and fast supporter of the union, but do hope you can agree we should take our discussions and debates away from what we are told to debate by newspapers and politicians, and realistically look at all the issues. I also hope to allay your fears – that if independence does come to pass, however much you would prefer not, it will not be so awful and disastrous as you believe it will be. It won’t – it will give us back self-respect and our own choices in how the country is run and how it looks.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. well, it looks like many comments have already provided plenty of link, I will contribute this one, adressing debt:

    This you tube video addresses the issue of how much debt would Scotland owe on becoming independent. Some people prefer an audio-visual format, and this is just 10minutes long.

    The short answer is: none. IF there was some insistence that Scotland should pay its ‘fair share’, then England would owe us. In the highly unlikely situation that it was agreed to pay compensation to England for its debt, it would only be the interest payments that would ever be owed, and they would be tiny.

    To continue with the debt argument, there needs to be some reasoning given on why the successor state – England – might reasonably decide it would want to make it an issue (they did not in 2014, legally and in reality, and are unlikely to do so in the future).


  9. Yes, thanks to Jane for her articulate starter here. Thanks to all for these well-referenced and well-made counter-arguments BUT

    The reason I became a strong supporter of independence is not anywhere here, I think.

    My central motivation remains a burning desire to leave the still twitching body of British Imperialism and it’s still present, will to project power globally either on its own or on the coat-tails of the USA.

    The dead and the still suffering, from the women and children bombed by the RAF in Baghdad to the homeless, drug-addicted, PTSD-cursed squadies on the streets of Scottish towns, I despise that Britain and I want out of it.

    Despite their weak adoption of NATO-membership and the FM’s bizarre worship of the war-criminal Hilary Clinton, only the SNP have the muscle to tear us free.

    The economy? There is no need for subtle debate. If Ireland with far fewer natural resources and a less-educated workforce can do it then we can too,

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jane finished her piece with the question ‘Why take a leap of faith when the person asking you to do so can’t tell you how you will land? ’

      What we do know is that we will land somewhere different, or with the opportunity to be different, to where we are now.

      My question that Jane should be asking herself is ‘ why on earth would you continue to have faith that the same tired old structures will ever deliver anything other than what they do now?’


    2. John, we all made the economic argument because that is what Jane brought forward – and we all diligently stuck to keeping on topic, as you requested. Now you are telling us that was inadequate? Perhaps your feelings are better addressed in a separate post? Is Jane even going to read our contributions? And look at our links? I hope she does.

      Your reasons for wanting independence are of course reasonable, but you can just say ‘I want that’ and expect it to mysteriously happen – it needs sound reasoning and people that are going to make it happen. And while Nicola Sturgeon sticks to the neo-liberal economic ideology, she will not make these ‘subtle’ arguments a reality. I know we will have to agree to differ on that point, the SNP as a whole is the vehicle, but not under the current leadership who does not listen to the main body any more. On constitutional matters I mean – before you throw popularity etc back in my face.

      There IS a need for ‘subtle’ debate – it’s this that will change minds (not yours) as well as the thinking that will make independence a reality. We need a vision of what we will be, not of what we don’t want to be – escaping the clutches of British imperialism is not enough – we have to ensure we don’t create our own version in doing so.

      I really think you are being unfair on us, and Jane, with your BUT. And the No Debate stance.


    3. Yes, John, the quality of the government we have from the UK is certainly one of my reasons for wanting independence.

      Thatcher’s government and subsequent UK governments chose neoliberalism. The effects can be seen all over Scotland and the rest of the UK in the dismal , former mining towns and villages. That transition from coal was deliberately short and harsh to defeat a powerful trade union.

      Since then we have seen PFI drive up costs in the public sector while providing lower standards. The hollowing out of public health departments and environmental health to a much greater extent in England has contributed to an inability to deal effectively with covid-19. The private companies involved can reach about 52% of the contacts needing to be traced. This undoubtedly is playing a part in the rise in infections in England, something that also threatens the welfare of Scots.

      What happened in Northern Ireland is a good example of the incompetence and malignity of UK governments. Instead of treating the situation as political, to be resolved politically by granting civil rights and, if necessary, the temporary removal of Stormont, the government delayed acting. It then employed military tactics honed in Kenya against one section of the population serving as a great recruiting sergeant for paramilitaries, prolonging the war and increasing casualties.


    4. Totally agree. Independence is the icing on the cake. The British State and its royalty, peers, corrupt and illegal interference in so many countries overt and covert, past present and future. The list is endless. How can anyone on the left not want an end to it. Certainly countries can change and learn but there is not a chance in hell that is going to happen in the UK without a break up of the Union.


  10. Jane you have done nothing more and repeat the ‘too poor, too small, too stupid’ mantra. It is odd that you can’t see it.
    ‘without the support of the UK, their standard of living would fall.’
    [I notice the ‘their’. Don’t you mean ‘our’. Are you not part of Scotland?]
    This is not correct (ref below) but even if it was it is an incredible statement. You are saying we are scrounging off England. If it were true i would want to be independent to change this, immediately.
    Would you say the same thing to India or Bangladesh or the African countries pre Independence? It is an incredible statement of self loathing and reverse xenophobia. If a country is dependent on England that is the very reason to become Independent, to learn and struggle to become self sustainable.
    I won’t go too much into arguing because we will just choose different sources. Who is correct?
    The problem is that we aren’t a poor country we have masses of fossil fuels with new fields discovered since the last Indyref. I don’t want use fossil fuels and we don’t need to because of our renewables but we are rich. This poor myth has been debunked numerous times. Because of this England does not want to let go of Scotland, that and the nuclear submarine base at Falsane. This leads to a massive propaganda campaign from the English nationalists to muddy the waters (which you have swallowed without digesting) and we have to look beyond the billionaire owned media and the British Nationalist Broadcasting company to see what is really going on. This takes an incredible amount of care, caution and intelligence. Luckily we are not stupid and we have a pool of experts, professors and dedicated researchers to guide us.

    Keep questioning, keep researching, keep questioning with an open mind and you will get there. You might find that you were a British Nationalist and have suddenly become proud to be part of a free Scotland. Who knows. That is the beautiful thing about being alive. We can and do change whether we like it or not.

    For finance and debt
    From Richard Murphy Professor of Practice in International Political Economy at City University, London.

    For bias and propaganda


    Wee Blue Book

    Assorted Myth busting Facts



    1. I am sure that if you are a British Nationalist you will find my statements above nothing more than conspiracy theories.
      The facts are the British State has form (i notice we even used the same name as Ruth Davidson, the boot’

      The UK does this all the time but we only hear about it if we keep our eyes and ears open or wait decades for the historians when decades have passed.
      The UK is doing this in Venezuela right now!


  11. “Where has this money come from? It has been borrowed by the UK government via the issuing of gilts.”

    With respect, I think it is starting by now to gradually dawn on every man or woman and their dog that has a truly inquiring brain that statements like these are a complete distortion of facts currently made blatantly obvious by the CV19 crisis. It implies that the UK Treasury has to go around investors to collect its own £ currency, that only itself, or its agents in retail banks, can issue in the first place! Otherwise it is counterfeit fraud. Punishable by imprisonment. Which is absurd. (And the latter bank money creation is anyway only temporary, in the form of a loan, since only the UK Govt can truly create currency permanently into existence, which it does through govt spending. It being meaningless to imagine it really has to pay itself back),

    The Emperor’s Clothes tale best sums up the fraud that is this ‘mainstream orthodoxy’. The issuance of gilts is to a large extent a hangover anyway from the defunct gold standard: a bit like a ritual Morris Dance being mistaken for actual Spring.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. So, another British nationalist decries nationalism – the same old britnat hypocrisy.

    So, another British nationalist says Scotland can’t afford to be independent, whilst ignoring Westminster’s soaring debt through its own fiscal incompetence – the same old britnat hypocrisy.

    So, another British nationalist demands detailed figures on what an independent Scotland will look like, whilst ignoring the fact that Westminster hasn’t a clue what to do today when it holds all the fiscal levers – the same old britnat hypocrisy.

    Scotland will regain its independence because of the same old britnat hypocrisy.


  13. This is an article with a profile of and interview with Sir Harry Burns, then CMO of Scotland. It was done just before the indyref . Sir Harry said these things: “What we need is a compassion that stands in awe at the burdens the poor have to carry, rather than stands in judgment at the way they carry it.” This, also: “Jimmy Reid understood what was happening – the alienation, the cry of men who were victims of blind economic forces beyond their control, a feeling of despair and hopelessness. People who do not feel in control over their lives struggle because the system does things to them – it doesn’t work with them and help them create ‘wellness’ for themselves … when things happen that alienate people, they lose that sense of control and a whole range of biological, as well as psychological, things occur.”


    The day after the referendum, Sir Harry remarked, with feeling, “The poor have been put back in their box.”

    Health inequalities in Scotland will not be resolved in this Union.

    Click to access 00403544.pdf

    Click to access Scott_Samuel_etal_IJHS2014_The_impact_Thatcherism_health_well_being_Britain.pdf


    Liked by 1 person

  14. The illogic and prejudice of Jane Lax’s faith position becomes evident before one has even read to the end of the first paragraph. She insists that a “stable economy” is a prerequisite for the restoration of Scotland’s independence. But she imposes no such condition on the Union. By no stretch of the imagination could the UK economy be called “stable”. But that doesn’t matter. Because Jane Lax’s analysis starts from the assumption that the Union is better in all circumstances while Scotland’s independence is only feasible in the most impossibly ideal circumstances.

    Others will make the mistake of engaging with economic arguments which can never be conclusive. Why bother when the fatal flaw in Jane Lax’s feeble defence of the Union is revealed in the opening paragraph?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. It would appear that Jane Lax does not have anything approaching a sufficient level of confidence in her guest-post to even muster some interest in the efforts made by some to start with, listing many resources that might lead to a more informed position at least.

    Merely as a matter of protocol, and good manners, one might have expected some engagement in discussion with the comments.


  16. Jane Lax chose to base her argument solely on economic matters and most of the relevant points have already been addressed in responses here. One matter she mentioned that needs clarification is what she describes as “borrowing by issue of gilts”. No borrowing is involved in Gilts issue: the money is created electronically by the Bank of England (which is wholly owned by the UK Treasury regardless of its claims to be independent) on instruction from the UK Gov by providing overdraft facilities for UK Gov. The Gov’s books register this as a liability, albeit a liability it need never repay, and, to balance its books, the Gov sells Gilts to large investors, notably pension funds, which need long-term, guaranteed investment opportunities to preserve funds and current interest rates on them are at an all-time low.

    This illustrates perfectly the Defecit Myth as, in the wider economy, Government debt represents the money it has created which is being held by the private sector. As and when the private investors seek repayment of their Gilts, it is done by creating new Gilts, for which there is always a demand as they are a guaranteed, long-term storage facility for private sector wealth. Ergo, the National Debt is never paid off (and never will be) and continues to rise year on year.

    Aside from wanting Scotland to control its own economy for its own good and to improve equality and conditions for our people, I want independence so that, if we have a government that screws up on governance, we can vote it out of office. Also I want to see the pointless obscenity of costly, unusable WMDs removed from Scotland’s lands and seas for all time for the sake of our people and environment. None of these things is possible if we remain part of the UK


    1. “Government debt represents the money it has created which is being held by the private sector”

      A really lucid, clear explanation of the above throughout the comment, readily accessible to the understanding of all of us (including the author of the blog post). 🔥


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