The economy is the most important matter to almost everyone in the independence debate, but I do believe we will be better off as an independent country. By making our own decisions we can service our share of the UK’s national debt whilst targeting the economic issues of our own people. And if times of crisis do hit our economy again I believe that this will help us; just as a smaller ship can make quicker adjustments so can a smaller economy. Setting up our new country will cost us some money, without a doubt, but it comes with a greater sense of political and social opportunity that is hard to put a price on. The rest of the world is not going to suddenly stop trading with us and leave us on our own if we become independent. On the contrary, we’ll be able to set up our own deals and have our own place at the trade table.
Scotland will have far more of a voice as an independent country than as part of the fading former power of the UK. We’ll be able to make entirely our own decisions about things such as oil, broadcasting, energy and react on our own to international events. Being part of the UK has not helped us do any of these. One of my key arguments against independence back when I supported No was that we’d have a weaker defence. However, with Scotland not having been attacked in any capacity since World War II, I now think that a scaled-down Scottish defence would be a good thing instead of being part of Britain’s post-colonial hangover. A smaller defence doesn’t mean that we can’t provide support to military actions such as the air strikes on Libya in 2011, it just means that we can control whether or not we take part in them and spend less money in doing so – giving our schools and hospitals more spending power. We don’t need to be a part of the UN Security Council, which is largely a proxy battle between the US and Russia. We’d become a member of NATO as well, if we decide that we want to. Scotland will stand stronger on its own than sitting behind the UK.
Some No voters seem to think that we are going to have to build a state for ourselves from scratch and will never be able to manage it. I completely disagree, and actually relish the thought. We’re a nation that has produced some of the brightest minds the world has ever seen. Scots invented penicillin, the telephone, television, the fridge, golf etc. But it was also Scots who invented modern economics (Adam Smith), sociology, the US Navy and the Bank of America. We have more universities ranked in the top 200 in the world than any other nation on Earth. By any means we are a nation of intelligent people. Yet we still have an inferiority complex about us that’s evident when some say that we aren’t capable of creating a state for ourselves that works successfully and efficiently for our needs. It’s time for us to think a little more positively.
We get to start again by making a state that works best for us. We get to have a written constitution that defends our rights, rather than have a Government that actually wants to repeal the Human Rights Act. We get to completely redesign our welfare and tax systems so they don’t waste so much money and actually do what they are supposed to do. We get to get rid of nuclear weapons, multi-billion pound money-sinks that we won’t ever want to or have to use. All this is massive change, I know, but it’s all for the better. And if some things don’t quite go perfectly, we have the power to change them. We don’t have that power at the moment and will never have that power as part of the UK.
Our transition between the UK and Scotland might take a few years, but it’s in everyone’s interest to make it as smooth as possible. National insurance, pensions, tax credits, benefits etc. will all be ironed out and transferred as-was across to Scotland’s control. The infrastructure for many of these welfare programmes is already in place in Scotland. While we are still UK citizens the British Government has an obligation to do what’s in our best interest, and they surely wouldn’t damage relations with what would become one of their largest trading partners with sour grapes tactics that make things more cumbersome than they need to be. I don’t imagine that the new Scottish Government’s policies when it comes to pensions and welfare would be dramatically different from the UK’s in the first few parliaments either, so that there isn’t a shock to the system, but from then on we can work towards having a more efficient system that benefits more of us in Scotland. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will an independent Scotland – but the long-term gains far outweigh the small short-term cost of setting up our own country.