Friday, 11 July 2014

What has been conveniently ‘forgotten’ by the unionist media, as we move towards the Independence Referendum, is the Tory promise to cut a further £25 billion from the economy if they win next year's Westminster election (which is becoming more and more likely).  

Instead, if there is a ‘No’ vote, we are going to be subject to endless propaganda by the Tories about the extent of the recovery of the economy.  This has already made its presence felt in several right-wing Tory newspapers, one remark which has ‘stuck in my gullet’ was "Thanks to Osborne, Great Britain is Great Again" – simply because there is no reliable data to support such wild claims.

Searching - as I always do - for reliable information has led me to the latest International Monetary Fund Growth report covering the period 2010-2014, issued less than a year ago.  It shows the UK in the second bottom position of the growth rate and not far above the seven countries still in recession.  It is not surprising therefore that the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, kept repeating throughout June that recovery of the economy was too precarious to raise interest rates, despite "London overheating".  On the other hand Mark Carney can't be seen to be doing nothing about it, so he may yet announce a token rise this autumn.  

The IMF Growth Rates show the true position, e.g. UK 1.2%, Finland 3.4%, Norway 5.2%, Ireland 6.0%, Malta 6.8% Germany 8.0% and the US 8.5%.  These figures are in tune with the 2014 OECD world wealth league.  Ireland for example is in 7th place, whereas the UK languishes at 17th. Whilst the growth rate of the UK may have improved slightly in the last six months, it will still fall far short of our competitors.  The headline in The Independent which first set out these figures reads – "Rivals leaving Britain behind in global race for recovery" and the sub-heading reads – "UK growth will trail most other major economies by the end of Coalition term".  

Returning to the Tories promised £25 billion cuts, on whom will the axe fall?  It certainly won't be the bankers who caused the Credit Crunch, as the Tories have rushed to try and prevent the EU from limiting banker's bonuses to the equivalent of one year's salary.  

On a population basis alone, Scotland's share of this cut would be £2.1 billion but, with the Barnett formula almost certain to be scrapped if there is a ‘No’ vote, and Westminster no longer restrained by the threat of Scottish Independence, I expect that budget cut to be around £4 billion. 

This would make it difficult for Scotland to maintain free health prescriptions, free education, free concessionary travel and the freeze on Council Tax.  It may even succeed in putting pressure on the Scottish Health Service to adopt English health privatisation measures.

We have so much to lose if we don't get Independence.  

The Tories also say that during their next term in office they would "end the deficit".  At present the Chancellor has to borrow £115 billion each year simply to balance his budget, it would require four further cuts of £25 billion to achieve this, which is a mind-boggling prospect. For a start, could this mean the privatisation of every single state-run facility?  

These plans sound impossible to achieve, as each cut will impede the purchasing power of every citizen, cripple businesses, and cut tax revenues to the Exchequer, thus taking the country many years to recover.  But let's face it – this is what the Tories say they are going to do, and with UKIP behind them, if they win, who can stop them?  

My article so far has been based on the assumption that the Tories will win, but what if Labour win? 

Labour’s big drawback in achieving this is that few people can see Ed Milliband as a future Prime Minister.  Also, Labour have failed to promise to cancel Tory cuts (a very strong point that can be made on the doorstop).

So what is the difference between a £25 billion Tory cut from a £25 billion Labour cut?  Answer: “Zilch”. 

Labour's policies seem to be at sixes and sevens as, on one hand they have promised to freeze energy bills, and on the other hand are trying to portray themselves a business friendly party.

There is also a gulf of a difference from what Scottish Labour want for Scotland and what London Labour will allow them to do.  London Labour are in control, which was shown by the party's final proposals on what they will give Scotland in the event of a ‘No’ vote. The sad outcome being that even the Tories - who have strongly opposed devolution from the start - are now promising Scots more than Labour are.  

For a moment, let's assume that the economy is a motor car.  If we are only given the engine (Westminster tax-raising powers) what use is this without the steering wheel, fuel tank, gear box etc?  

It is only Independence which will give us full control of all the levers which will make Scotland the successful independent county we know it can be.

I am a proud Scot, and I am sure every Scot reading this will say the same.   The eyes of the world are now upon us.  Overseas, we are held in high esteem.  For example, how many readers on being asked by their hosts whether they were "English" have received a very pleasant reaction on answering: "No - I'm Scottish"?  The people of the ex-colonial countries, thinking about how tough a fight they had to gain their independence will look with disbelief on Scotland being handed theirs on a plate, only to reject it.  I have had an American pen-friend for many years and through exchange of letters have found out how much the ordinary American is rooting for us, despite their leaders saying we should "sook-in" with David Cameron.   My friend occasionally sends me a copy of an excellent magazine called "The Highlander".  I was amazed to find that there are hundreds and hundreds of both Highland Games and Clan Gatherings held across the continent, large events which are well reported, attracting many thousands of spectators;  this in itself shows the respect held for this small country called Scotland.   Equally important is how the words and songs of Robert Burns have spread across the globe.

Finally, a glimpse into the future in the event of a ‘No’ vote. 

So much will be lost.  When our MPs of any political party stand up in The Commons to object to an anti-Scottish measure, they will be jeered by hundreds.  Instead of the "Proud Scot" and our motto "Scotland the Brave", we will be regarded as a country of "fearties".  

With the developments I have described, the frequently heard remark throughout the land will be "I wish that I had voted ‘Yes’.”  But too late, I'm afraid. 

New Westminster legislation will have ensured that Scots cannot call for a referendum ever again.

Don't let that happen.

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