As part of the United Kingdom Scotland enjoys relatively low levels of taxation, but high levels of public spending. It is because we are part of the United Kingdom that we can enjoy these elevated levels of public spending. If Scotland was to separate from the United Kingdom, it would have one of the highest deficits in the world. This is mainly due to some very costly social policies under devolution, such as free tuition fees, free care for the elderly and of course no prescription charges. Obviously, none of those mentioned are “free’” as the money comes from taxation.
The Scottish National party likes to use the above social policies to show how “progressive” Scotland is, and how different it can be from the rest of the United Kingdom. Though these policies are only viable under a devolved budget, as part of the United Kingdom. The Scottish government’s own figures have stated that Scotland has a large deficit, in fact it is the largest in Europe – proportionally bigger than Greece’s. Therefore, if Scotland was to be separate and establish itself as a new state, deep cuts to social spending would have to be implemented to balance its budget. In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that John Sweeney of the SNP warned us about these dangers in a leaked document.
It is quite clear that when the SNP boast about their popular social policies under devolution, they are making the case for staying part of the United Kingdom, because the social policies the SNP boast about would not be possible under a new Scottish state.
The SNP talk about “social justice”, yet all the evidence suggests that breaking away from the United Kingdom would entail far more austerity – this would cause more social inequality. It is progressive to talk about Scotland staying part of a successful United Kingdom; it is progressive to say that we should work together to overcome the social issues that we currently face; It is not progressive to suggest that we should break away from the United Kingdom, and enter an unknown situation which has far more risks than it does benefits.
The SNP’s argument from splitting away from the United Kingdom, is that we would be better off. The SNP doesn’t realise that many Scots know that we are economically more secure as part of United Kingdom. The SNP can attempt to skew the reality; that we are better as part of United Kingdom, though it will not work. The reason that it will not work is because most Scots know the facts. Though it isn’t just about facts and figures, we are a family – the emotional case for staying together is also quite apparent and it isn’t something that we should underplay.
I will always say to my family and friends that we are more secure as part of the United Kingdom, we shouldn’t allow party politics to verge us away from the significant issues at play here, such as education and health. The SNP need to start getting on with their day job of running Scotland, not splitting up the United Kingdom.
By William Nisbett, Glasgow