An independent Scotland would thrive economically

An independent Scotland would thrive economically
As a rally with thousands of people supporting Scottish independence gets underway in Edinburgh, the Scottish economy is diverse enough to break from London even without oil, while politically the two countries are poles apart, say those in the Yes camp.

Claims by the Better Together Campaign, which is fighting for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom, that the Scots will be poorer if they separate from England are totally unfounded, Pat Kane, a writer, musician and member of YesScotland, tells RT.

He maintains that there is a lot of work being done in Edinburgh to examine how an independent Scottish economy would work.

Even without oil and gas Scotland is an averagely well performing European economy, says Kane. And with the oil and gas sector, even if future output and reserves are volatile, the Scottish economy would do extremely well.

Scotland is a modern developed economy and would do fine without its southern neighbor’s subsidies.

“In no way would it be a petro economy. Three of the top universities in the world are based in Scotland. There’s a huge sector in bioscience, there’s great advantages in food and textiles,” said Kane.

Kane also points out that had Scotland had sovereignty, it would have been able to build up a huge wealth fund like Norway has done. The Norwegians discovered oil in the North Sea at the same time as Scotland in the 1970’s, and their wealth fund now tides them over fluctuations in the market and can be put towards developing technology to extract the more tricky oil reserves, which are still untapped.

His views are shared by most people in the pro-independence camp.

A pro-independence supporter with a Saltire flag and a "Yes" written on his body joins a march and rally in Edinburgh on September 21, 2013 in support of a yes vote in the Scottish Referendum to be held in September 2014. (AFP Photo / Andy Buchanan)

Adam Ramsay, co-editor of the blog Ourkingdom says that it’s insulting to other small countries to say that Scotland wouldn’t be able to survive.

“Scotland has the same population as Denmark; it’s a bigger country (by population) than Norway. If you look at a list of countries by population in the world, Scotland is right in the middle, so I think that the claim a normal sized country can’t survive is insulting,” Ramsay told RT.

Per capita Scotland is also one of the richest countries in the world and in any case, points out Kane, small countries often do better than larger ones in a whole host of ways.

Research and statistics show “how well small nations, fewer than ten million, do on a whole range of indicators whether its well-being, happiness, economic performance or educational outcome,” he said.

Politics not just economics

Like the Nordic and Scandinavian countries, Scotland has long championed center-left political values, but because of control from Westminster it has had to endure years of conservative governments. The conservatives, who dominate the current coalition UK government, have traditionally always been weak north of the border, in the last election they picked up just one seat.

“I think there’s a very tangible frustration that we can’t get the kind of social democratic society that we keep voting for decade after decade. This time we can get the type of political system that our citizens vote for,” said Kane.

This is something that is reflected in current opinion polls on independence says Ramsay. While a good many Scots are still undecided, once you add questions such as, ‘If you knew the Conservatives would win the 2015 election’, then 52% of Scots would be in favor of independence. If you ask them if they believed the UK would leave the EU then 52% would also vote for independence. Cameron has promised to give UK citizens a referendum on future UK membership if he wins the next election.

A Pro-independence supporter wearing a kilt holds the Scottish flag as people gather for a rally in Edinburgh on September 21, 2013. (AFP Photo / Andy Buchanan)

The English are much more anti-European than the Scots. An opinion poll conducted last year showed that among Tory voters  - most of whom live in England - 68% would vote to leave the EU compared to just 44% among Labour. While, UKIP, which wants the UK to leave the EU, has a growing support base in England, but almost no support in Scotland. 

Claims that Scotland would find it difficult to get into the European Union after voting for independence have been labeled as more scaremongering by the unionists, say those in the Yes camp.  In any case, they argue, there is no provision for expelling a territory that has been subject to EU laws for the last 40 years.

There’s a lot of thunder and lightning about this but eventually pragmatism would prevail,” said Kane.

Independent Scotland better for England too

Kane whose family and business is split evenly between Edinburgh and London says that the English themselves are beginning to change their views towards the possibility of an independent Scotland.

“A lot of English think that Scotland is already de facto independent given that [we] have different education and health systems,” he said.

He also points out that an increasing number of English see Scottish independence as a way for the UK state to get to grips with some of its basic problems.

“We might complain in Scotland about the power of London but talk to people in the north of England about the prevalence of social, financial and economic policies that are skewed towards the interest of the South East,” said Kane.

“Scotland [breaking away] might be the shock effect that starts that process happening,” he added.

Much of the wealth in the UK is focused in London and the South east, while the north of the country has higher unemployment, lower standards of living and higher government expenditure per person.

This non-exact divide is also reflected politically, with the south generally supporting the Conservatives and the north supporting the Labour party, and culturally in terms of class with both sides of the divide being the butt of countless jokes.