Head to Head: Scottish Independence

Matt Gillow Vs Ally Sadler on IndyRef2: who do you agree with? Vote in our poll

The EU referendum result arguably illustrated that the United Kingdom is, in fact, dis-united. 62% of voters in Scotland chose “remain” yet Scotland is on track to be pulled out of the European Union, due to the fact that 52% of aggregate votes were in favour of “Leave”. In light of this, Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has called for a second referendum on the issue of Scottish independence in a year or two’s time. But Prime Minister, Theresa May, has suggested that “now is not the time”. Moreover, in our Talk Politics’ first Head to Head piece, Managing Director, Matt Gillow, takes on Campaign Agent, Ally Sadler to debate the issue of Scottish Independence. However, we are keen to hear your thoughts too. Agree with Matt or Ally? Vote in our poll below!

Ally Sadler: For Scottish Independence

‘Too wee, too poor, too stupid.’ Throughout the initial Independence Referendum Campaign, this was the sentiment of those in opposition to Scottish Independence. Theresa May’s refusal to grant Scotland another Referendum at the current time, suggests that this viewpoint hasn’t changed. However, unfortunately for May and her supporters, the circumstances surrounding the question of Independence most definitely have. When the No vote won the first Referendum with a majority of 55% it was recognised by all that this had been a once in a generation vote, barring exceptional circumstances- 62% of Scots voting against Brexit have provided these circumstances. The speculation that May will be pushing for a ‘hard Brexit’ has done nothing to ease concerns for us North of the border and the lack of communication between the Westminster Parliament and Holyrood on said negotiations, has equally not done anything to ease discontent surrounding the decision. With Spain in recent weeks softening its view towards allowing new nations into the EU, alongside positive discussions with other European dignitaries, Sturgeon and Yes supporters have the hope and belief that Independence will result in Scotland’s continued membership of the EU.

We have heard over the last week claims from Theresa May that the SNP are playing politics as a ‘game’ and how this is dangerous for Politics as a whole. You can only laugh at the irony. May herself played the ‘game’ wonderfully, keeping neutral through the EU Referendum, letting other potential candidates for the Prime Minister’s job fight it out amongst each other, tarnishing their reputation as a result. Equally, were it not for her predecessor also ‘playing the game,’ she would never be in the position she is today. There have also been whispers that there is no democratic mandate for a Referendum given the lack of majority the SNP hold in the Scottish Parliament. These commentators, however, fail to recognise that with the support of the Green Party who are also in support of an ‘IndyRef2,’ there is in fact a Parliamentary majority of support for such a Referendum.

On top of this, an independent Scotland would make decisions that reflected Scottish priorities. Devolution has already allowed Scotland to make decisions which suit the nation’s issues in areas such as health and education, and Independence would allow the Scottish Government to extend this approach of looking at the nation’s issues across the board. Also, with currently just one Conservative MP representing a Scottish Constituency, and the vote of Scots in General Elections only directly effecting the result of the General Election once since the Second World War, it is clear that for the people of Scotland the current system just does not work and is quite frankly undemocratic.

In the coming years and months before a second referendum inevitably comes, you will hear a lot of negativity and fear tactics from those aiming to keep Scotland in the Union, however, I would rather look at things positively. Things can only get better than they are in the current situation for Scotland as a nation and the hopeful message the Yes Campaign has portrayed and will continue to portray is one I would rather see in my country and encourage you to believe in. We are not too wee, too poor or too stupid.

Matt Gillow: Against Scottish Independence

Scotland has the worst deficit in the Western world.
Yes, you read that right. Scotland, without the rest of the UK, has a deficit of -10% in shares of GDP. It’s worse than Greece. It takes the UK over the maximum deficit allowed for EU membership. On its own, to reach the deficit levels allowed for membership of the EU (-3%,) Scotland would have to make up £15 billion in spending cuts or tax rises. You just couldn’t make it up (European Commission, 2016).

A prosperous Scotland outside of the United Kingdom is a myth. The latest saga in Nicola Sturgeon’s self-serving drive for independence is based entirely on the premise that the European Union would accept Scotland with open arms. That isn’t going to happen; not only would £15 billion need to be made by an SNP government that doesn’t have the stomach for austerity and would dramatically lose support if such a programme was pursued, but it only takes one of 27 EU member states to veto Scottish entrance. Spain, Belgium, Italy, Cyprus and Greece have already suggested that they will block Scottish membership to prevent any fuel to the flames of their own separatist movements. Germany, France, and the Scandinavian states will be sceptical of accepting a new member with absolutely no reassurance they won’t be bailing out the Scottish economy a la Greece.

Even where free trade agreements exist, and neighbouring countries have good relationships – relations are affected by the presence of a border. The lack of a border with the rest of the UK means Scotland trades more with the UK than it does with anywhere else. UK trade accounts for £36 billion worth of exports in goods and services. Free movement allows Scotland to recruit the best and brightest minds for business. The stable UK economy protects Scotland from the volatility of oil prices, upon which the Scottish economy relies. Elsewhere, for example between the US and Canada, analysts suggest that the presence of a hard border means trade is 44% lower than it could be, even with a free trade agreement.

Why, then, is the SNP’s response to leaving their second largest trade partnership, to campaign against their largest? Why is nationalist rhetoric concerning the EU – concerning its support of free trade, it’s benefit to free movement and international humanitarianism, it’s stability and regulations – suddenly turned on its head when relating to the United Kingdom? Scotland receives £1,600 more per head than the average Briton from Westminster.

An independent Scotland would lose the pound – further exasperating their deficit. An independent Scotland would lose funding from the UK, which works out at about 1/7th of their entire national income. Independent Scotland would lose its doorway to the rest of the world. It would be ignorant to deny that Brexit means a rocky road ahead for the Union – but it would be more foolish still to suggest we are not, still, better together.

Who won the debate? Vote in our poll

You can also follow Matt and Ally on Twitter with the handles below:

  • @matt_gillow – Talk Politics’ Managing Director
  • @ally_sadler – Talk Politics Campaign Agent

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