Let's start with emotion. I am a proud Scot and also a British patriot, but patriotism is not nationalism. I voted remain in the EU referendum, largely for reasons of stability and consistency, but also because I am an internationalist at heart. I was furious when Nicola Sturgeon equated the remain vote (in Scotland) with a desire to secede from the UK, they are poles apart, and most Scots realise this.
Electorally, virtually two thirds of Scottish voters opted for Pro-UK parties at the General Election last month, yet under FPTP, the SNP secured the largest number of MPs. They lost some 40% of their Westminster seats, one can only imagine how a percentage drop like that would affect the Conservative government!
The tide is slowly turning against the SNP. When out canvassing for the Scotland in Union, one meets the occasional nationalist who still wants to break up the UK, economically this would be a disaster, with plummeting oil and gas revenues, the Barnett formula is the only thing keeping our heads above the water in a country which receives £1200 more per capita than the rest of the UK, while raising hundreds of pounds less per head in tax.
Scots are waking up to the fact that after 10 years in power the Scottish government has failed us in policing, health and above all in education. We are slipping further down international league tables in basic skills like numeracy and literacy. Their much-vaunted lack of tuition fees also has its downside in that fewer students from disadvantaged backgrounds access tertiary education. Their cover is increasingly blown, and voters are realising that they are essentially a party obsessed with independence.
A constant irritant with Nicola is her claim to speak for Scotland, she doesn't. She also claims to speak up for the Scots, not so much now. Her post-Brexit zeal for independence was clearly a tactical error. Another gripe I have with her is that she constantly refers to a 'right-wing, hard-Brexit, austerity driven' Theresa May. What's left wing about allowing fewer working class students to access university than in England? Hard Brexit? Some 40% of the livelihood of towns like Peterhead and Fraserburgh depend on fishing. They must want a return to the EU like a hole in the head. And austerity? Since 2010, the Holyrood budget increased in real terms by 0.4%. In the same period, the Scottish Government has cut real term funding by almost 20%. With punitive business rates and companies afraid to invest in Scotland because of uncertainty, Scotland's chances of reducing its deficit to EU terms is remote. Those on the left will be displeased to see the Scottish government refusing to vary the rate of income tax so as to pay for our hard-pressed nurses in Scotland.
I used to think Scottish independence was inevitable, i'm not so sure now. The recent gains by the Scottish Conservatives and the fight-back started by Scottish Labour are both encouraging. Our largest and most important market is the rest of the UK, and this point can never be repeated enough. Scots work and have many friends and family members living in different parts of the UK, we have married into English, Welsh and Irish families too - so why bring disunity where none exists - other than in the minds of nationalist fanatics whose grievance against Westminster will never be assuaged?
- Donald Thomson