I've put together 3 general reasons why I think Scotland should vote Yes. There are lots of others, but these are the most important to me. Let me know what you think.
1. We'll always get the governments we vote for.
Scotland rarely gets the government it votes for. Since 1970 there have been 11 elections; Scotland has voted Labour every single time but has ended up with Tory PMs six times, including Cameron, Major and Thatcher. Voting Yes means that we'll always get the government we vote for. Here are a couple of specific examples of how badly the Westminster electoral system serves Scotland:
1992: 68% of Scotland MPs are Labour, John Major elected Prime Minister
In 1992, John Major was elected Prime Minister while only securing 15% of seats in Scotland.
2010: Scotland returns one Tory MP, David Cameron elected Prime Minister
More recently, in 2010, 69% of the MPs we returned to Westminster were Labour, but again we ended up with Tory Prime Minister David Cameron despite the Tories only having one MP in Scotland.
2. We're in a better financial position than rUK.
Here are a few metrics that demonstrate why we'd be starting our journey as in independent country in a better position than we're in now.
GDP per capita
When you consider our population, Scotland's economy is larger than many other countries (including the UK), even if we exclude our geographical share of oil/gas.
GDP per capita
We pay in more than we get out
In all but 2 of the last 8 years, Scotland's proportional contribution to the UK taxman has been greater than the proportion of UK spending we've got back (see the graph below). Scotland makes up 8.2% of the UK population has consistently generated more than 9% of total UK tax revenues.
Tax revenue vs spending
Our bank balance is healthier than the UK's
The previous two graphs show two things: Firstly, we're wealthy. Wealthier than the UK and wealthier than many other developed countries. Secondly, we get a bad deal as part of the UK.
This final graph shows how Scotland and the UK manage their budgets. It demonstrates how badly Westminster has handled our economy, and why we should govern our own financial affairs.
Current budget balance (%GDP)
Scotland has consistently run a smaller deficit than the UK as a whole. Before the financial crisis, Scotland actually managed to run a budget surplus. This shows that decisions about Scottish finances are best made by the people who live and work in Scotland.
You can get the surplus/deficit data here.
3. We can control more issues and spend our money on what's important to us.
Defence & Nuclear Weapons
The UK's arsenal of nuclear weapons is based 25 miles outside Glasgow. You can cycle it in an hour or two. MOD convoys carrying nuclear bombs frequently travel through central Glasgow and have suffered 70 security lapses in the last 5 years.
Trident gobbles up between 5-6% of the Defence budget, according to written answers to a House of Commons debate. That means that Trident costs the UK between £2 and £2.4 billion per year. Getting these things out of Scotland would save us up to £200m, based on Scotland's population share of the cost (8.4%) - that's £1billion over a five year parliament.
Getting rid of nuclear weapons would make us feel better, set an amazing example to the rest of the world and save us £1billion every parliament, which we could spend on anything we like.
This one is quite simple: An independent Scotland would be in control of its foreign policy, which is currently being mismanaged by Westminster. A vote for No could mean:
- More illegal wars, like Iraq.
- An EU exit under a Tory-UKIP government.
There are also huge savings to be made by scaling back the Foreign ministry that the UK currently operates. In addition to running costs, Scotland's share of the UK's bloated asset register are revealed by @AssetScotland on Twitter:
Scotland already produces around 40% of its electricity from renewable sources. Scotland contributed approximately 36% of the UK's renewables output in 2012, exporting over 26% of what we generate. We are on target to generate 100% from renewables by 2020; see how this stacks up against rUK below:
The future looks even brighter: Scotland is sitting on 25% of Europe's total wind potential and 10% of Europe's total wave potential. The renewables sector is a growth area and already supports more than 11000 jobs.
We also have oil. Although oil reserves have declined since they were first discovered (obviously), 40% of Europe's total oil reserves are in Scottish waters. A soverign wealth fund is still viable:
- Norway established a $1trillion soverign wealth fund over the last 24 years,
- There are still 24 billion barrels of oil, which would last us at least 50 years.
It's also worth considering that Scotland could be sitting on huge undiscovered reserves off the West coast. A recent report suggested that these reserves could last 100 years and be worth £1trillion. One of the reasons preventing exploration of these reserves is the presence of the Trident nuclear submarines on the Clyde; another reason to vote Yes.
When you consider our huge renewables potential and large oil reserves, Scotland is one of the most energy-secure countries in the world. There is a 20% spare electricity margin in Scotland and only a 2-5% margin in the UK as a whole. Energy supplies in the UK are parlously tight and there is no coherent strategic response to address the problem.
An independent Scotland would find itself in the position where our energy needs were met cleanly, safely and sustainably. We would also find ourselves immune from many of the geopolitical issues associated with energy security; we would not have to chase Russian gas and Middle Eastern oil, making Scotland safer and richer.
More money, better government and a bright future will lead to wealth, democracy and security. That's why I'm voting Yes.