With the loss of the UK’s AAA credit rating, the last economic argument in favour of the Union has crumbled like a sandcastle in a rising tide.
Ratings agency Moody’s now ascribes its AAA rating to only ten European countries: Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Isle of Man, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. In other words, with the honourable exception of Germany, Europe’s most creditworthy nations are small countries, with populations much closer to five million than 50 million. This simply reinforces a wider trend. According to the CIA World Factbook, the world’s wealthiest nations (by GDP per capita, adjusted to reflect purchasing power parity – probably the most appropriate measure) are almost all small independent countries. The UK languishes in 33rd position.
In terms of quality of life, small independent nations dominate the upper reaches of the United Nations’ human development index. Norway is first, Ireland is seventh. The UK trails in 28th.
Even Ireland and Iceland, so often derided (remarkably ignorantly) by those who seek to scare Scottish voters, score well above the UK in most of these rankings.
Independence will not in itself guarantee prosperity for Scotland, but it will provide us with the normal powers and levers which enable so many countries of around our size to thrive.