Scotland decides: trust Alex Salmond or listen to the naysayers?

What poses more risks: trusting Alex Salmond or listening to the chorus of those who have warned of the consequences of going it alone?

What poses more risks: trusting Alex Salmond or listening to the chorus of those who have warned of the consequences of going it alone?

In less than 48 hours we will learn the fate of both Scotland and the United Kingdom – a result which could lead to it opting to become the latest of the world’s club of independent countries.

But how likely is it?

For those looking for clues, the final clutch of polls published today gives us a clear message – we simply do not know how Scotland will vote. The cliché that it is ‘too close to call’ has never been more appropriate.

As someone passionate about keeping Scotland’s place at the top table of the UK, while feelings in the heart will be a key factor behind many people’s votes, the question for many others will very logically be the risks involved with either decision.

With that in mind, the question now is surely this: how much do Scottish voters trust Alex Salmond, the man who has given the impression that independence would produce a land of milk and honey with no risks whatsoever.

For those unsure, here are the facts.

Currency Union

Yes Scotland has persistently said that an independent Scotland would maintain a currency union with the rest of the UK. But how can they be so sure? All three of the main UK parties have made it clear that they would not allow a currency union; the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has noted that currency union would be ‘incompatible’ with Scottish independence. Olli Rehn, the former European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs and the Euro, has explained that combining a policy of sterlingisation with EU membership would ‘simply not be possible’.

European Membership

Alex Salmond’s stated aim has been for an independent Scotland to join the European Union within 18 months. How does that tally with the comments of the Spanish minister for European affairs, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, who has recently put the length of time that Scotland would have to wait to be admitted to the EU at around five years? Speaking to Newsnight, he observed that an 18 month timescale had ‘a lot of ifs’ and ‘more ifs than a poem by Rudyard Kipling’.

That is of course if Scotland were to be allowed to join the EU in the first place. Let’s remember the words of the outgoing president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, who told the Andrew Marr programme in no uncertain terms in February that “It will be extremely difficult to get the approval of all the other member states to have a new member coming from one member state.”


Will Scotland take the risk of going it alone when faced with the warnings today of 14 former military chiefs who, in a letter in the Sun, have warned that a ‘no’ vote tomorrow is simply ‘critical for all our security’. They continue:

“A vote for separation would undermine both Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom’s defence.

“The division of the UK may or may not be politically or economically sensible, but in military terms we are clear: it will weaken us all.”


Will Scotland vote for independence with all the uncertainties over oil and the SNP’s plans for the economy and public spending in an independent Scotland?

The respected Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has cast clear doubts over the tax revenues that Scotland could look to enjoy from north sea oil, whilst Sir Ian Wood, widely praised and heralded as Scotland’s leading oil businessman, has accused Yes Scotland of misquoting from his report on the future prospects for north sea oil. Warning that Salmond et al have been far too optimistic on how much oil Scotland would enjoy, Wood continued:

“Young voters must be aware that by the time they’re in their 40s Scotland will have little offshore oil and gas production and this will severely hit our economy, jobs and public services.”


Faced with alarmist warnings from the SNP that only independence can save the NHS, who will Scotland believe tomorrow, the SNP, or the warnings from the IFS and yesterday’s NHS whistle-blower warning of substantial cuts to the health service north of the border?

And let’s remember that the SNP’s own manifesto in 2011 declared in no uncertain terms, “the Scottish Parliament has responsibility for the health service and that means we can protect NHS budgets”.

By the SNP’s own admission, Holyrood already has the power to protect the NHS; how then can they simultaneously warn that these powers aren’t enough to protect health services? They cannot have it both ways.

The Economy

And perhaps the most important issue of the lot: the economy. Who will Scotland believe, Alex Salmond, or Alex Salmond’s former employer, the Royal Bank of Scotland who, along with other banks, has symbolically made clear that under independence it would move its headquarters out of Scotland.

Then there is the stark warning from Deutsche Bank, that independence would lead of a chain of events on a par with those that led to the Great Depression.

Stark language it may be, but voters will have to determine whether it is a bluff or not.

Scotland goes to the polls tomorrow. It will be the point at which the politicians go silent and the people decide. The question will be what poses more risks: trusting Alex Salmond or listening to the chorus of those who have warned of the consequences of going it alone?

And finally, let us remember the words of Donald Dewer’s son, a son of the man who was the political midwife and father of devolution in Scotland as we know it and whose statue stands tall and proud outside Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall.

Writing in the Daily Record today, Iain Dewar writes of his father:

“He may have been first minister of Scotland, but his lifelong sense of the importance of solidarity with others did not crumble as he passed Gretna.

“It would never have occurred to him that a better Scotland might be created by the erection of a new border, by the breaking of the bonds that have endured across the United Kingdom for more than three centuries.

“Dad cherished the idea of a more confident, prosperous Scotland playing its part in building a more confident, prosperous United Kingdom.”

He continued:

“After his passing, some described him as the father of the nation. He’d have been embarrassed and wryly amused by this.

“In fact, dad was a proud son of Scotland. And that is why he would have said no thanks to separation.”

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