The Scots May Lift Their Skirts To England – Again!

The debate about Scotland possibly leaving the United Kingdom has taken another turn this week with independent experts saying that Scotland would be out of the UN, NATO and the EU if they decide to break away from the rest of Britain next year. Something I am sure perhaps even Alec Salmond hasn’t thought of.

Salmond's Dream

Salmond’s Dream

In the opinion of the International Law experts, leaving the UK would give Scotland the status of a “new state” and it would have to re-apply to these bodies for membership. This in itself would perhaps not be such huge hurdle, but what interests me more is the Scottish Nationalist Party’s (SNP) claim that the country would survive economically on its farming, fishing and oil revenues. That I find hard to believe.

Let’s take a closer look at these claims. First of all farming brought in a total of £630m during the year 2008 to the economy. Farming output is around £230billion of which £400m is exported. The rest is for home consumption. Around 75% of Scottish land is given over to agriculture and employs around 65,000 people with a further 250,000 in related industry, which is 1 in 10 of the population. The average income of a Scottish farmer is £40,000 per annum.

Whiskey is another mainstay of the economy in Scotland and contributes £2.7billion to the Scottish Gross Value Added (GVA). The industry employs 10,000 workers and has a gross income of £460m per year. The production of Scotch whiskey provides a further 35,000 associated jobs and creates a value of nearly £3.9 billion each year in profits and wages (GVA) across the Scottish economy.

Scottish Business Doesn't Like The Idea

Scottish Business Doesn’t Like The Idea

By far the biggest problem for Scotland is the oil. Alec Salmond seems to think the country sits on a goldmine of oil and gas that will provide all the country needs in the way of revenue. This is not so! Experts are of the opinion that by 2020 the oil will start drying up and by 2040 is likely to be non-existent. This will prove a major headache for anyone who has placed all their bets on these products to support the economy in the future.

Also, this North Sea ‘gold’ is expensive to extract and is largely dependent on the market price of oil. Should the price drop to around $90 a barrel, 23 billion barrels of oil and gas could still be extracted and a profit made. At $70 a barrel this falls to 16.5 billion barrels, any more and the extraction process costs overtake the profits. Its is estimated that the oil and gas revenues have accounted for 13% and 23% of Scotland’s economy during the past two years which in anyone’s terms is a large slice. So you see that oil is hardly going to keep the Scottish economy afloat for very long.

There is little faith in the minds of economists that the farming and whiskey industries will be sufficient to prop up the economy despite what Alec Salmond and the SNP say. Scotland has seen a constant £41b deficit in its budget, and that includes all the oil and gas revenues. Should Alec Salmond still decide to ‘go it alone’ this will mean severe economic problems for the Scottish people at some point in the future when the government must get the economy figures balanced.

Not The Economy Foundation It Appears To Be

Not The Economy Foundation It Appears To Be

Michael Moore, MP for Scotland said: “….in the last 30 years, the UK and Scottish Governments have spent £197bn more in Scotland than the total tax generated in Scotland.” He continued: “If you had allocated every single penny of oil and gas revenues to Scotland over the past 30 years – a figure of £156 billion – then you would still fall £41 billion short of what both governments have actually invested in Scotland”.

Defence is another thorny issue for Scotland which currently comes under the United Kingdom defence forces. In the event of a break-away, the country will be expected to provide its own defence forces at an estimated cost of £1.8billion. Under present arrangements, Scotland contributes only £0.3billion under the combined UK defence policy so this will add a large amount to Scottish government costs.

When the Scottish people vote to leave the United Kingdom many will not realize exactly what that means, and Alec Salmond is not likely to tell them. The entire infrastructure of the country will need to be overhauled, including the introduction of new government departments in areas where Scotland is currently covered from Westminster. Tax, health, employment, foreign office, defence and many other ministries will need to be set up as the country begins to look after its own business, and all this at a huge cost.

If the split takes place The UK government will have to do much to assist in the setting up of this new land and the cost will be born by the UK taxpayer, but once the transition is complete, the Scottish people should not think they can come back ‘cap in hand’ to Whitehall when the real difficulties start.

What The Scottish People Think

What The Scottish People Think

There is little doubt that should the Scottish people decide to break away from the United Kingdom there will be very hard times ahead and the general public don’t even know the half of it. In my opinion, this whole idea of Scottish independence has come about with one purpose only – to glorify the name of Alec Salmond as the ‘man who led Scotland out from under the English yoke’, and that doesn’t include his political ambitions!

I just hope the Scottish people think long and hard with their minds, and not their hearts when the time comes, for it is a very big and dangerous step to take, attractive though it may seem on the surface.


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