‘Can we afford not to vote ‘yes’ to Scotland’s independence?’
RT:Is Scotland strong enough economically to go it alone?
Jonathon Shafi: Absolutely. The questions are always posed about whether Scotland can afford it. I think we have to pose another question which is “Can we afford not to vote ‘yes’ to independence?” And the reason for that is that the way the economy in Britain is run now is leading towards massive inequality on a historic scale, it is leading towards intensification of poverty and social deprivation. So the question is “Can we afford not to vote ‘yes’ in September?”
RT:British Chancellor George Osborne has said an independent Scotland would not be able to keep the pound. And there are doubts over whether Scotland could join the eurozone. If Scotland were to have to form its own currency, wouldn't that bring major risks?
JS: [Scotland's] own currency is a big question. But what we have seen from Westminster is billing over the question of currency because after all, it’s not in the power of George Osborne or Treasury or anyone in Westminster ask what currency Scotland chooses to use. It may be debated, it may be negotiated as well whether or not there should be a currency union. I think it is inconceivable that there would not be a currency union.
I have to say that I don’t want to do anything with the City of London or with the establishment in London. We want to see an independent currency, we want to see a Scottish pound that can actually start to break the trend of increasing poverty and inequality, that can start to propose something much definite as to how our economy should work, not just in the interest of the GDP, but in the interest of the people of the country as a whole. And that’s the way we want to move in. We should as well understand the people of the world who clearly think that the things that are going on are unjust and unequal.
RT:As part of the UK, Scotland has a big say in the UN, the EU and NATO. Wouldn't this influence be lost if Edinburgh were to break away?
JS: What influence has the UK had? It has had the influence to buttress the US imperial power over the question of Iraq over the number of last decades. We have had the influence to kick things like trade nuclear weapons, which we spent billions on, when we should be spending that money on our schools and hospitals. If you look at what sort of international play we really want to bring to bear, it is about peace, about progress, and actually staying inside the United Kingdom is going to tie us to the narrative of expansion, the narrative of military adventurism.
[US President] Obama has come out recently and said that he thinks that we should stay together. No wonder that he thinks that. If he thinks that because Britain is a vassal state for the US, the 51st state of the US, and we want to break with that and everything that it means. But we want to have influence with partners across the world on the basis of mutual aid and mutual trust.
RT:One of the SNP's main economic arguments is that Scotland should not share its oil revenue with the rest of the UK. But the oil will run out, and independence is permanent. Is it worth basing the decision on this?
JS: Oil is a bonus to the Scottish economy, it is not actually the thing that you would base entire economic planning on. That’s said if we were to use the benefits of oil to invest in developing industries, for example, the renewable industry which Scotland is hugely rich and wealthy in, then we could start [to place our trail] not just in terms of economic development but in terms of environmental justice as well.
When we look at the question of oil, one of the questions we have to pose is look what happened in the number of last decades with the money that has been raised from oil. The people of Scotland, I would argue that the people of the whole UK haven’t seen that. It is always the people that are left last, and it's corporations and the elite at the very top of this estimate benefit from everything.
Independence is a platform, a possibility to start redressing this balance to something more fair. I would say, on oil, it's a bonus to the Scottish economy. It’s not going to be the thing you place your entire economic argument on.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.