Sadly, it seems the dawn of a new year hasn’t led to an outbreak of optimism within the ranks of Better Together, if its latest “warning” – this time about charities and independence – is anything to go by.
Richard Baker MSP (your report, 3 January) claims that charities might be broken up as a result of independence, and implies that some charities’ activities in Scotland are subsidised from south of the Border.
I have almost 20 years’ experience as a director of various charities, including five years on the board of a well-known cross-Border organisation.
I’ve never heard anyone voice such concerns. Many charities already choose to operate different structures in Scotland and in England, without any difficulty.
Furthermore, since charitable giving is often higher (per head) in Scotland, any subsidy seems just as likely to flow in the other direction.
As with any sector, there is bound to be a range of views on independence, but in my experience there is substantial interest in, and support for, a Yes vote amongst those at the coal face of dealing with poverty, inequality and the environment in Scotland.
This is demonstrated by the rapid growth in the Third Sector Yes campaign.
Many of those involved have no political party allegiance but are inspired by the enormous opportunity that presents itself this year.
Scotland has been governed by Conservative prime ministers – against its wishes – for most of my lifetime.
Our values and priorities are therefore not reflected in many of the basic foundations of our society, such as our tax structures, foreign policy and welfare system. All this can change with the stroke of a pen in September.
For those who care passionately about addressing the needs and rights of the most vulnerable, the chance of a lifetime to build a fairer, more equal, more sustainable society is one to forego at our peril.
Richard Baker MSP is quoted as asserting that English charitable giving in effect subsidises the work of UK charities in Scotland.
Does he have a complete database bearing out this patronising suggestion? Can he confirm that every UK charity allocates expenditure in each of the UK countries precisely in line with the level of support it receives from each, or indeed otherwise?
Thought not. What about the notorious case of the RSPCA accepting substantial income over the years from Scots unaware that it does not operate in Scotland? The reality surely was summed up by the chief executive of the British Heart Foundation: “Whatever happens on the political landscape, we will continue to work with the people of Scotland.”
Quite so – the charities will continue to act as they think fit and people will continue to support them if they like what they do. Baker takes a clear lead in the 2014 “daft Unionist argument competition”, but alas, doubtless worse is to come.