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Robert Reid: Will hearts or heads win out on Scottish indy vote?

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In two weeks’ time we will know the outcome of the referendum on the future governance of Scotland. Some will have already cast their vote under the postal vote option and because of that, the most recent televised debate between Better Together campaign leader Alistair Darling and Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond was the last.

It was an excellent opportunity for the two sides to correct impressions and to make their cases clearly and concisely. With some 20 per cent of the electorate apparently still undecided, recent polls tell us little about whether it will be a substantial majority or a single vote that carries the day for Yes or No. 

Watching Darling and Salmond was not the most edifying spectacle as they battled like two kids in a playground, with the use of the pound touted as the Holy Grail by Salmond. The conduct of the two politicians was such that if the recent debates had taken place in a classroom, they would have no doubt ended up with both men in detention.

At the very time people are seeking facts about the pros and cons of independence, all they seemed to get from the debates was rhetoric and bluster. The No campaign has now enlisted former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown although he may just be the tipping point the Scottish nationalists need.

One inescapable fact is that the number of workers employed by the state in Scotland is more than half the working population, never mind the ones who are already taking their pensions. This defined benefit provision is not affordable in the long term and even those in receipt of pensions should not be exempt. 

This problem is, of course, not just an issue north of the border. At some point it needs to be addressed, but as those who need to act are themselves directly affected, it is precisely this conflict of interest that prevents the issue being tackled. However, as those outside this benefit bubble increasingly resent the cost of supporting the defined benefit promise, action will be necessary if civil disobedience is to be avoided.

When the votes are cast on 18 September, the heart may well end up ruling the head but whatever the outcome, it is clear the referendum will trigger change in some form at least. 

Even a No vote is expected to mean more powers and more money for Scotland. If it is a Yes vote, then we will have five to 10 years of transition as issues from taxation to passports are resolved. 

It will be interesting to see if Scotland follows through with its promise to slash corporation tax as this will mean businesses are attracted, rather than deterred,
by an independent Scotland.   

I cannot vote as I no longer live in Scotland, nor am I likely to return to live there in my later years. That said, I am proud to have been born in Scotland and it is true to say that, for me, home is where the heart is. Whether the hearts or the heads win out over independence remains to be seen. I look forward to the result with both interest and trepidation.

Robert Reid is managing director at Syndaxi Chartered Financial Planners

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Comments

There are 11 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Interesting piece Robert albeit it does feel a wee bit like a “neverendum” to those of us ex pats following the debate on ra meeja. The “you cant” approach has backfired a bit for Better Together …nothing more likely to raise a Jocks hackles than saying you cant ( no pun intended) .

    From my perspective the real issues are
    (i) does it make the sum of rUK & Scotland weaker …yes ,
    (ii) who the hell would give up being part of the UK to ( if successful ) become a wee bit of the EU
    (iii) what will happen the next time a Scottish nurse or engineer gets captured by Boko H or ISIS etc
    (iv) Can Scotland afford an FSCS ? Because if not a heck of a lot of money is going to get out of dodge …and fast .

  2. I don’t live in Scotland but I for one want it to stay part of the UK. Not for any love of the people or country itself, albeit I do like the peeps and the place and visit it regularly. I hope the NO’s win for a very selfish reason. It will substantially weaken the sum of whatever England, Northern Ireland and Wales becomes – (They can’t be called the “rest of the UK” given Great Britain will cease to exist, therefore by definition, so will the rest of the UK) form a number of viewpoints and this concerns me greatly, as it should every other current UK citizen.
    @ Alan Keegan – your point 2 is interesting if the Yes vote wins. Why do you think that Scotland will get in to the EU? There is no certainty of that. I don’t think Spain will agree to this. If they do it opens the flood gates for Catalunya to do the same thing as Scotland and Spain cannot ill afford this to happen. I understand that for a new country to get in, it needs to be unanimously agreed & I really don’t see Spain allowing Scotland in. If I that is correct it will be interesting to see what happens to Scotland then – it could a small independent country with NO safety net and its own currency. It is a given that they won’t be able to get monetary union with Sterling and they won’t get the Euro so will have to have their own currency (ben if they peg it to Sterling) which means creating a central bank of its own as far as I understand and that will create its own issues for borrowing from around the world-A brand newly formed independent country with no track record. Good luck with that.
    It is an interesting article and only time will tell the outcome but one thing is for sure – I think the winner will be determined by a photo finish.

  3. Robert doesn’t define which result would be heart and which head. Both answers on the ballot paper will be a bit of both, but the herd fact is the heads are with a Yes vote because the numbers stack up. It is a mistake to assume being a part of a bigger economy is to be part of a successful economy. Scotland is of optimum size and has a modern diversified economy enabling it to achieve a position amongst the top 10 most successful countries in the world. Currently Scotland is the 14th most prosperous country, so the goal of moving up a few notches is clear and attainable.

  4. ‘One inescapable fact is that the number of workers employed by the state in Scotland is more than half the working population’

    Not actually the case. Public sector employment in Scotland is 545,200 accounting for 21.2% of all employment. ( ONS Labour Market statistics Q1 2014) Private sector employment has grown both numerically and as a percentage of all employment in Scotland since 1999 with corresponding decreases of those employed in the private sector.

    The only inescapable fact is you did not check before writing you article. I am sure you did not intend to mislead but there is a lot of misinterpreted data produced by Better Together which is frankly failing to make their case

  5. Opps! Last line of para 2 should read comment at 2.01 pm
    corresponding decreases of those employed in the PUBLIC sector

  6. Opps! last line of para 2 – post at 2.01pm should read

    corresponding decreases of those employed in the PUBLIC sector

  7. I’m voting “yes” if repatriation is part of the outcome. 🙂

  8. @Marty I did say if succesful .
    But the aspiration of the separatists is to go that way . Good points though …unless Brussels fancies hunners of wee countries ..walloons , catalans etc . Nobody big enough to talk back eh ?

    And yeah it will be rUK. Wales , NI and engerland will still be a United Kingdom, Britain is the land mass , I never mentioned it .
    But why am I fighting you …we agree 🙂 .

    He’s a devisive b**d that Reid fella.

    And I’ve never talked to separtist that can give a sensible answer to (iii) except that it wont happen because everybody knows we gave the world the Bay City Rollers and the Krankies.

  9. Once Scotland votes ‘yes’ can we have a vote so London can do the same?

  10. @Smithy Why should pnly London have the option? With de unionisation, where do you draw the line? Cornwall has as much right as Scotland. As I said to my brother in law yesterday, why do countries have to be geographically next to one another to form a union? The right to self determination can get a little silly when so much is interdependent.

  11. Nick,
    I’m sure the people of Surrey will think the same way when the South West breaks away!

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