Friday, 29 August 2014

Independence will not solve Scotland’s problems

Independence will not solve Scotland’s problems

It has been difficult over the past few weeks to ignore the Scottish referendum debate, turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper and you will see it.  The question of should Scotland be an independent country? Has been everywhere, the problem with the question of independence, is what an independent Scotland would be like is not set in stone. Voters have the option of voting to stay in a political and economic union that they know but may not necessarily like or voting for an independent Scotland which still has a great number of unknowns such as will it be in the EU or which currency will it use.

The Yes Scotland campaign has blamed Westminster for all Scotland’s problems and claims that Scotland would thrive as an independent nation, while the No campaign has tried to use the uncertainty about what an independent Scotland would look like to spread fear over Scotland’s potential economic strength.  However it is fair to say both sides are exaggerating their points, Scotland would not collapse if it became independent although it may have a few tough years to start with.  And the Yes campaigns claims that Scotland would be a fairer country are also not defiantly true and this is largely down to an independent Scotland’s currency plan.

It is fair to say Scottish politics is more left wing than English politics, you only have to look at the number of Tory MPs in the two countries.  However those voting yes hoping for radical politics and economics in an independent Scotland will be massively disappointed if Alex Salmond’s plans to keep the pound with or without a currency union are implemented.  There is an old saying in British politics, no matter who is in government the treasury runs the country, and this is basically true whoever controls a country’s economic policy has control over the country.  If Scotland keeps the pound Number 11 Downing Street will still have a large portion of control over economic policy in Scotland.  As the Chancellor of the Exchequer along with the Governor of the Bank of England will set interest rate, control the printing of money, set the target inflation rate and have a large degree of control over exchange rates.  All these things are hugely important to a country’s economy and not trivial issues, under Alex Salmond’s current plan an independent Scotland would sacrifice control of all these powers to the Bank of England and Number 11.  This will make it nearly impossible for Scotland to pursue a left wing economic agenda and it will also mean that the Tories will still have power in Scotland.

To conclude although Scotland could still be a successful independent country it will sacrifice many important economic powers to a foreign country if it implements Alex Salmond’s currency plans.  This will mean that Scotland will struggle to implement a left wing economic policy to solve its inequality problems because it will not be able to set the correct economic conditions to pursue a radical form of economics.  Many Yes voters want a more equal society, but with the current currency plans they are not going to get it.  An independent Scotland needs its own currency for many voters’ vision of an independent Scotland to be realised.  However, this would have its own set of problems such as high prices for imported goods, but if Scotland truly wants to be in charge of its own destiny an independent Scotland would need its own currency.  

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