Having posted twice on this topic already (on research funding and on general issues), as well as re-blogging Angela’s post, here are some final thoughts in advance of the referendum on Thursday. I’m expecting the media buildup to be almost unbearable, so after today I’ll be avoiding it as much as possible!
The first point, as mentioned in a Facebook update on Friday, is that it has become clear that Alex Salmond and his SNP cronies will stop at nothing to get votes. For example, universally unpopular government policies like the bedroom tax are being rolled out as reasons to vote for independence. The point is that the way to defeat such policies is to vote in a General Election, and they certainly shouldn’t be regarded as something that inevitably comes with government from Westminster. And there are many other examples of such policies being misused in independence arguments..
The second point is the assumption that an independent Scotland will automatically keep the pound, and EU membership. The SNP’s response to being told that neither of these will be the case is to claim bullying and therefore to hide their heads in the sand, ignoring the issue totally.
The third point is very much tied in with my job, and is the topic of research funding, which I posted on before. Last week I spoke to a Scottish academic who told me that many of his colleagues were developing escape strategies in the event of a Yes vote. Why? Because at stake are grants from the EU and EPSRC, which Scottish universities have been very successful in getting. In fact although I don’t have the precise statistics to hand, they have been disproportionately successful in doing so in relation to their size. EPSRC funding comes via taxation, so it is not clear how it could continue in its present form in an independent Scotland. And EU funding depends on membership, which would not automatically continue.
The fourth point is that the SNP government often boast about having things like free prescription charges and free university tuition. But where does the finance come from? Taxation, of course, and much of it from the UK as a whole. This will largely disappear with independence, so in fact these perks are mainly a result of being in the UK. But try telling that to Mr Salmond!
Finally, as eloquently explained by Angela, there’s the issue of Scots living outside Scotland not getting a vote. This seems almost unbelievable, and I’m surprised it hasn’t been challenged in court. Instead there will be many frustrated and disenfranchised Scots who are powerless to influence the future of their country of birth.
In concluding, I’m hoping for a No vote. It will be close, but I think there are enough sensible level-headed voters for common sense to prevail. If the outcome is Yes, it will be like being hit in the face by a large wet fish (a Sturgeon?) Here’s hoping for No!