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Could Scotland Survive Independence?
The question of whether or not Scotland could survive independence is one that has come to the political fore once again, in light of the recent landslide victory for the Scottish National Party in the General Election of 2011.
Scotland is a vibrant and innovative nation, with many and varied industries – fishing, farming, tourism, whisky distilleries, silicon valley blue chip enterprises, oil industry and many others, though it no longer has the heavy industries of the past century – coal mining, steel-making, shipbuilding, car manufacturing.
This is thanks in a large part to political influences. Successive English governments closed the heavy industries in Scotland, though to be fair part of the decision making involved the extra cost of transporting Scottish goods south of the border and then on to its European or worldwide markets.
An independent Scotland would remain as part of the European Union. As an independent member state it would receive its own fishing quota as well as every other quota the EC permits.
Several years ago, Scotland’s independence would have saved the estimated 70,000+ jobs that went with the closure of the giant Ravenscraig Steel works, as the EC quota would have ensured it stayed open. Instead the work went South.
Scotch Whisky Industry
The Scotch whisky industry is huge. It is among the top 5 industries in the UK and generates over £2.8 billion annually for the government in taxes, VAT and excise duty.
In fact, the taxation on whisky is so high that whisky manufacturers have started moving packaging and bottling out of the country altogether to save on costs.
90% of Scotch whisky is sold abroad and there is even talk now of taxing the beautiful soft Scottish water used to make the whisky to claw even more money out of the companies, who one day may very well say, “might as well close”.
I would hope an independent Scottish parliament would cut the whisky industry some slack to encourage sales and production to continue. 40,000 jobs in Scotland currently depend on the whisky industry.
Flower of Scotland - The Corries
North Sea Oil
We’ve been getting told since around 1985 that the North Sea oil is about to run out, but there is little sign of it yet.
Much of the North Sea oil is located off Scottish waters, but quite a few fields are located off English waters too.
The UK Government raise money in the North Sea by the granting of licences to oil exploration companies and by taxing the oil removed.
Current taxation levels stand at a minimum of 62%, with some of the newer oil fields paying out as much as 81%.
North Sea oil tax recently rose to offset a 1p reduction in fuel costs at the pumps, but the raise has caused unrest in the markets and at least one North Sea asset sale has been stopped because of the increased taxation.
The big companies working in the North Sea will be unaffected because their global operations are so massive the increase will be swallowed and those include BP, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobile and Royal Dutch Shell.
But it is the smaller companies who have been spending fortunes opening up new fields and installing new equipment who will be hardest hit, and those include EnCore Oil, EnQuest , Ithaca Energy , Premier Oil and Valiant Petroleum.
It is estimated that the annual revenues the government receives from the North Sea Oil industry to be around £5.2 billion per annum, and although this figure rose as high as £13 billion ($20 billion) in 2010, oil is finally running out, as it is across the world.
The SNP want to invest in wind and water power so that eventually all of Scotland will be run on this low-cost, environmentally friendly, and sustainable form of energy. In recent years, windfarms have sprouted up across the land and the scenic views frequently consist of huge windmills, positioned high on mountains to catch the ever-present westerly winds.
It is true where they said that Scotland has got to be the only country in the world to have discovered oil and found itself poorer as a result.
In the 70s, 80s and 90s, under Margaret Thatcher, Scotland saw all her heavy industries die, and unemployment rose to their highest ever levels.
But now looking at just two of Scotland’s industries, we are seeing a massive £8 billion ($12.8 billion) in revenue going elsewhere.
Scotland’s biggest problem is her position. As part of the British Isles, to transport by road to the Continent means travelling through England. As part of the EC, there should be no issue with extra tax payable or anything like that, same as on continental Europe. Many times travelling by vehicle in Europe, you can pass from one country to another without noticing.
Norway is comparable to Scotland
I like to compare Scotland to Norway.
Norway also has oil fields but less than Scotland. The difference with them is that they have from day 1 taken a slice of their profits and invested the money safely for the day when the oil runs out.
Norway, like Scotland, is a small country. They gained their independence from Sweden in 1905. Norway is almost 149,000 square miles in size (most of it uninhabitable with fjords and mountains with steep sides and rocky outcrops) has a population of 5 million, and is the second wealthiest nation in the world.
Scotland is 30,400 square miles in size, with many islands off the west coast, similar to Norway, and is also home to 5 million people.
If Norway can thrive as an independent nation, so can Scotland.
Scottish taxation and coinage
We already have our own education and legal systems; the major difference will be in how we pay for them. Revenues raised in Scotland would stay in Scotland. Do we earn enough?
We’d have to introduce a new taxation system. Centre 1 in East Kilbride already do all the tax work in Scotland. The only difference is that they would need new headed notepaper and the revenues would be sent to Edinburgh instead of London. We have our own banks, even if they are owned my multi-national companies now. The Royal Bank of Scotland, The Clydesdale bank, and The Bank of Scotland if they are still on the go.
All three banks still prints notes. We just need a mint to print our own coins. They would still have the Queen’s head on them for those worried about Royalty. Since the Union of the Crowns in 1603, we share the same King or Queen.
Life should continue as it does now. There would be an even greater incentive for our young folk to find work, to work for the good of their own country. Bring back patriotism, it works every time.
An independent Scotland would be a proud nation once again, and all of its people would work together to keep it so.