With the media slowly awaking to the sad truth that Scotland is close to leaving the United Kingdom it got me thinking about how badly this campaign has been managed by the ‘No’ side and that if they do it will have a significant impact on all of us.
Firstly I am advised that I shouldn’t have a ‘political view’ as a businessman, but to be honest if nobody speaks out about the potential travesty of Scotland departing and leaves it just to the politicians then we are all screwed. Now I understand a lot of the swing vote has come from too much of a negative rhetoric from the ‘No’ campaign and patriotic anti-conservative momentum from the ‘Yes’ side. But the problem is, I cannot see any positives for Scotland in choosing independence, and while the whole nation will suffer the turmoil of a split I can only see England benefiting in the long term. This surely should bother the nationalists more. If they are going to use the anti-English propaganda then the realisation that business and hence jobs will move south, to England’s benefit, should take some wind out of their sails?
I can understand the issue with Westminster making policy over Scotland, it is a long way away and has very difference social and domestic issues, but the Scottish Parliament is meant to appease that. With its current devolved matters including education, health, agriculture and justice it does have significant impact over day to day issues and with further powers it could do more. However running the whole country including currency and security are surely significant costs and overheads that 5 million people can’t support on their own? Or if they can it will add significant costs to the running of the country, all of which Scotland can’t support on its current income. And this is where I believe the ‘No’ campaign has faltered. By focusing too much on the negatives of leaving the union it has played into the hands of the patriots and their upbeat ‘what if?’ oratory. Unfortunately however there is no getting away from the costs Scotland will face, its lack of income as an independent country and the relative security and stability of the remaining union remaining on its doorstep. Surely any business or inward investor will just go south of the border?
And it begs also another question a bit closer to home in terms of Universal Service Obligation (USO), there has been a debate on the subject in our industry of what it will mean to telecoms in the sense that currently the cost of a phone line in the northern tip of Scotland is subsidised by installations across the UK. But as a separate entity the cost of delivery to remote parts of Scotland will surely rise? Having said that by not having BT as the monopoly might allow Scotland the ability to leapfrog the rest of the UK and deploy universal fibre access… oh wait sorry wrong argument! But you get the point – easy ones like Royal Mail will be impacted but also what about the likes of food. I am sure Tesco will do whatever it can to increase costs and improve margins. Would they argue that the cost of delivery an orange to Aberdeen is the same as delivering it to Birmingham? Does it matter anymore if you are then comparing two separate countries rather than separate cities in one nation?
I have thought about this a lot and have a lot more to say on the subject but my main gripe is how helpless I feel in helping to persuade the people of Scotland that they have a lot of benefits by staying and that they are stronger and richer by remaining a part of the UK. I am not all for big unions, I for one would currently support our exit from the EU (a separate debate!) for example, but I think the segregation of the UK would bring no benefits, especially to Scotland. We don’t have currency union with the EU but we do with Scotland for one. A United Kingdom outside of Europe, but able to trade with Europe, would be very exciting and may bring the change to the country that Scotland so craves. However that reality doesn’t become an option should Scotland choose to leave next week, and instead helps solidify the anti-English rhetoric that should have been put to bed generations ago.
Let’s hope the ‘No’ campaign can put a positive (ironic don’t you think) twist on things this week and advert this potential disaster.