Referendum 2014
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Referendum 2014
The Scottish independence referendum and the debate about Scotland's constitutional future
Curated by Peter A Bell
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Independent Scotland 'will face instant spending cuts' says thinktank

Independent Scotland 'will face instant spending cuts' says thinktank | Referendum 2014 |
SNP leader Alex Salmond suffers blow as group says yes vote at 2014 referendum would mean cuts of £2.4bn in first two years
Peter A Bell's insight:

Glossing over the puerile casting of the constitutional question in terms of a single personality, there is something rather odd about the kind of analysis being reported here. I'm not referring to the obviously skewed assumptions that are made in order to contrive another scare story for Project Fear and a nice sensational headline for the media. I'm talking about how one-sided the analysis is. It's a job only half done.

When the people of Scotland go to the polls in just less than a year's time, we will be faced with two choices. We can either bring Scotland's government home where it belongs, or we can leave it in the hands of a UK government we have invariably rejected and have no real influence over. But, while we are being offered two options, we only ever see economic analysis relating to one.

Even as British politicians these days try desperately to avoid openly insulting the people of Scotland with the standard "Too wee! Too poor! Too stupid!" line, we are daily regaled with tales of the myriad forms of economic catastrophe that will befall Scotland should we dare to vote Yes. But we hear nothing of what might happen if we vote No. British politicians, pundits and "experts" alike are curiously quiet when it comes to the consequences of remaining in the UK.

How then are people to make an informed choice? We know full well what independence means. It means being like any other comparable independent country. It means facing up to the same sort of economic challenges that those countries deal with as a matter of course.

Notwithstanding the vein-popping hysteria of the anti-independence campaign and its tame media hacks, there is no rational reason whatever to suppose that Scotland will encounter anything more than the rather mundane issues of economic management that are part and parcel of being an ordinary independent country. There is abundant analysis to bear this out. So much so that even the likes of Alistair Darling and David Cameron have felt unable to deny the weight of evidence. So that's the economic aspects of the Yes option covered.

But what of the alternative? Why are none of these "think-tanks" thinking about that? Or, if they are thinking about it, why are they not telling us what they reckon will happen to Scotland's economy and the services which it supports if these are left to the tender mercies of a British state that no longer has to concern itself with the threat of a vote for independence?

Half of the picture is missing. But, in all honesty, I'm pretty sure most of us can fill it in for ourselves. Most of us, including many of those determined to vote No, are perfectly well aware of the havoc that will be wrought on Scotland if we forfeit the opportunity to take back the powers that are ours by right.

It is not a question of whether we can avoid the economically destructive and socially corrosive policies of UK governments if we vote No. It is a question of whether we are prepared to accept a fate far more troubling than anything that independence might hold for us.

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Bill Jamieson: Clear the fog around independence

Bill Jamieson: Clear the fog around independence | Referendum 2014 |
Many big questions remain unanswered ahead of the signing of an accord on the referendum, writes Bill Jamieson...
Peter A Bell's comment, October 11, 2012 5:48 AM
Without prejudice to the perfectly sound economic case for independence, is it really the only argument that matters? Is it right that independence should be conditional on satisfying some contrived economic test? Which other nations are required to submit to such a test in order to validate their independence?

Yet again, the question unanswered by anti-independence campaigners is why they insist that Scotland alone must be an exception among all the nations of the world. It is a question which unionists resolutely refuse to address.

Of course, it is not difficult to see why the British nationalist anti-independence campaign would wish to restrict the debate to one that references only economic criteria. Economics is a notoriously flexible study. It is, perhaps more than anything else that lays claim to the name of science, subject to a degree of speculation and interpretation that can encompass pretty much any conclusion. Economists are the soothsayers of our time, ever ready to read the statistical entrails and pronounce them portents of doom.

Unionists hope to control debate by narrowing it to a matter of economics. They desperately need to exclude from debate those aspects which they cannot control. They urgently want to keep the debate out of areas where their dominance of the mainstream media gives them no advantage.

Anti-independence campaigners are happy to talk in terms of carefully selected and appropriately massaged "facts and figures". They are distinctly uncomfortable when talk turns to the aspirational. While they eagerly resort to the banal patriotic jingoism of this year's seemingly interminable Britfest to bolster the notion of British state exceptionalism, they will doggedly reject the idea that Scotland's nationhood might be as much a matter of the heart as the head.

All we seek for Scotland is the same constitutional status that other nations regard as theirs by right. Our hopes and aspirations for our country are not commodities to be traded in the political market place.

While I have every confidence that the people of Scotland will manage the responsibilities of statehood at least as competently as the people of any other nation, I will insist that our right to that statehood is not subject to any imposed constraint or limitation. That right remains irrefutably valid regardless of any economic consideration.

Scotland's claim to independence outweighs any bean-counting calculation.
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Scotland Thinks: The Richest Nation In The World

Scotland Thinks: The Richest Nation In The World | Referendum 2014 |

If we have the political will to reduce the grotesque inequality of modern Scotland, and the crushing anxieties over status that inequality exaggerates, we can make an independent Scotland a richer nation. If we choose to escape from the neoliberal obsession with 'wealth generation' that still holds firm at Westminster, we can make an independent Scotland a richer nation. If we can stop the needless pursuit of eternal growth at the expense of the environment, we can make an independent Scotland a richer nation. If we can develop smart, innovative, compassionate policies that give people more security, more self-confidence and more time with the people - not the possessions - that make them feel happy, we could make an independent Scotland the richest nation in the world.

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Economy emerges as key independence battleground

Economy emerges as key independence battleground | Referendum 2014 |
NEARLY half of Scots voters believe independence would harm the economy, according to a new poll which shows the scale of the task facing the Yes campaign exactly one year out from the referendum.
Peter A Bell's insight:

As a committed advocate of independence I naturally peruse the mainstream media with a certain degree of cynicism. Healthy cynicism. Not the kind of cynicism that prompts unthinking dismissal of any message that conflicts with my ideas and attitudes, but the kind of cynicism that prompts questions. Awkward questions. The more awkward the better.

So, I see a headline assuring me that the economy is the "key independence battleground" and two questions immediately spring to mind. Is it? Should it be?

We know that the anti-independence effort is almost frantically eager to have the entire referendum debate framed in terms of their own series of often painfully contrived and apparently infinitely variable and extensible economic tests. And it is not difficult to understand why. To say that economics is not a precise science is to take understatement into the realms of the ludicrous. Economic analysts poring over their data tables are today's equivalent of priests rifling through the entrails of some unfortunate farmyard animal conscripted for the purpose of adding yokel-impressing arcane ceremony to an otherwise obviously ridiculous exercise.

Project Fear wants to have us all focus on the metaphorical goat's entrails for the simple reason that they can have those entrails say whatever suits their purpose. And their purpose is the preservation of the British state, with its structures of power and privilege, at any cost to the people of these islands.

It has been said, by myself if nobody more celebrated, that a cost/benefit analysis is just an impressively complicated way of getting from a preconceived idea to a foregone conclusion. The pompous prognostications of economic pundits suit the purposes of the No campaign because they can always be made to serve its grindingly negative strategy of mongering all manner of scare, fear and doom.

I don't know if anybody has done a study, but I'd be prepared to hazard a small wager that the preponderance of economic commentary is negative, It makes sense. Forecast sunshine when there's sleet and snow and you will be endlessly ridiculed and castigated. Forecast cold and wet and if it turns out nice again nobody will even notice you got it wrong. Such is human nature.

I think it was the redoubtable Iain MacWhirter who coined the telling phrase, "A nation is more than a balance sheet.". He was so right. But unionists would have us treat our nation as if it was no more than columns of figures scribbled in a ledger.

Think about it! Why do we so detest organisations such as Atos and those who instruct them? Is it not because they reduce people - living, feeling, hurting, crying, despairing human beings - to nothing more than beads on some giant corporate abacus? If we find it intolerable that individuals should be treated in this way, why would we accept it for the entire nation?

Is the sovereignty of the people of Scotland to be treated as some kind of tradeable commodity to be sold cheaply in a panic when the poisonous whispering of British nationalist spivs drives the price down?

Will future generations forgive us if we forsake their birthright, not out of any rational concern for the practical implications of realising our natural aspirations as a nation, but from intellect-sapping fear induced by the propaganda of a bullying state?

There may be risks associated with independence. So what? There are always risks. Always uncertainties. But the risks associated with bringing our government home are as nothing compared to the risks of leaving it in the hands of a UK Government which we did not elect. A government whose ethos and policies we abhor. A government that has no more regard for the people of Scotland than to suppose that we can be easily intimidated into forfeiting our sovereignty by meaningless threats.

There is no economic argument against independence. There never could be. Because there are no economic risks associated with independence that aren't matched or exceeded by the economic risks of remaining in the UK. They are no more than the vagaries that every nation has to deal with on a daily basis. Why assume that Scotland os less able and less worthy than any of those other independent countries?

Next year's referendum does not offer a choice between economic risk and economic security. It offers only a choice of how inevitable risk is to be handled and by whom. The question we must ask is not whether we can afford to be independent, but whether we can afford to sacrifice the chance to manage our own economy according to the needs and priorities of the people of Scotland.

You won't find the answer to that question in either the entrails of a goat or the tomes published by some economic think-tank. To know how you must vote in the independence referendum you will have to look to your own intellect. Aye! And your own conscience.

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Collapsonomics and the Indy Referendum

By Douglas Strang


Things fall apart. Willing or no, Greece will exit the Euro. With perhaps Portugal next, and then Spain, and then… Christine Lagarde of the IMF tells us in a BBC… Rea...

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