Scottish independence: Economics is important but both sides need their own visions of hope – Scotsman comment
Their assessment that the cost of leaving the UK would be equivalent to an income loss of between £2,000 and £2,800 per person cannot simply be dismissed in the way that UK Cabinet minister Michael Gove infamously sought to do when he replied “people in this country have had enough of experts” during the Brexit referendum campaign.
Doubtless there are other experts and other figures, but we the voters should bear in mind what they all have to say.
Some independence supporters will take a leaf out of Gove’s book and see the LSE’s research as part of ‘Project Fear’. For others, their main motivation is a sense of a separate Scottish identity that demands nationhood to be fulfilled and they may remain steadfast to that idea almost regardless of cost.
But there are people for whom the economics of the independence question do matter. They may be those whose hearts say yes to independence, but whose heads say no.
They could also be those on the political left who have despaired of UK politics and believe the only chance of creating the kind of society they wish to see lies with independence. It is no coincidence that the SNP’s rising popularity has been mirrored by Labour’s decline.
Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop also made the point that countries like Denmark and Norway, with similar population sizes to Scotland, were far wealthier per head that in the UK, arguing there was “no reason whatsoever” that Scotland would be unable to emulate their success.
The challenge for unionists is to counter those visions of hope with one of their own, rather than relying on gloomy economic forecasts alone.
The ability of Scotland’s businesses to thrive within the UK as we move further into the Internet Age and the new industrial revolution of renewable energy could be one way to paint a rosier picture of Brexit Britain.
And the NHS is an obvious example of the great things we have achieved together.
With polls showing independence attracting support from just over half of the electorate, both sides need to realise the importance of hearts and minds in this momentous debate.
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