Scottish independence is a gamble, will voters stick or twist?
The wisest heads in the independence movement sometimes privately admit that independence is a gamble. Tearing Scotland away from its largest economic partner, England, in the hope relations will remain cordial or new markets can be accessed is a giant leap of faith - so too is the plan for an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU, despite not meeting much of the bloc’s entry criteria.
However, the big gamble is no bad thing, some say, as remaining in a United Kingdom enamoured with the Conservatives is itself a gamble with much longer odds. The spiralling cost-of-living crisis for regular people, the re-emergence of 1980s-style ‘trickle down economics’, and the constant elevation of plummy politicians to stations well above their abilities all point to a creaking, crumbling union. The union - and with it the last few embers of the British Empire - appears to be fading fast.
Today, the Scottish Government unveils its case for sticking it all on black, with the publication of its economic arguments for independence. Whatever answers the SNP has for questions on currency, trade agreements and border controls, it can, with considerable confidence, point towards Westminster and tell voters: “What have you got to lose?”
The SNP could today announce plans for a new currency backed by the Scottish gold standard, pegged to the price of Tennent’s, and it would still be half-tempting when compared with an economy run by Jeremy Hunt, or whoever is Chancellor next month. We could even use Tunnock’s tea cakes as the new Scottish pound.
No GP appointments. Astronomical energy prices. Train strikes. Black outs. Tax cuts for the rich. It’s hard to find the spine of a compelling unionist argument amongst all of that, without simply saying independence will be worse.
In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, I asked a few people in my northern English, Leave-voting hometown, why they chose to leave the EU: “Something has to change”, was the near-universal reply. On the question of leaving the United Kingdom - an act of economic harm many times greater than Brexit - how much are voters willing to risk?
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