Today's 'Tell Us Your Story' piece is from Robert Falconer: The SNP have only one reason to exist.
I was born a Scot, of Scottish parents, in a Scottish city, but I moved to England with my family, following my father’s job, when I was 3 years old.
I spent most of my working life in England, on one occasion in Scotland for a few years, but my English wife and I decided to move permanently to Scotland when I retired.
I returned to Scotland in the year 2000. The SNP was not even on my radar, however, I should have realised that devolution would only be a start, and that the constant demand for Independence would follow, as sure as night follows day.
I have watched the assent of the SNP into power, and into Government, with extreme concern since 2007, and more so in 2011.
This rise in influence was as a direct result of the failure of the Labour Party throughout the UK, and Scotland’s majority Labour MP’s rapidly were replaced by SNP MP’s.
The Scottish people were not going to vote Conservative, (though that is changing with Ruth Davidson), and the Liberal Democrats were distrusted following their power sharing with David Cameron’s government. The SNP were an alternative, and their “Stronger for Scotland” message resonated with some. They soaked up voters who felt they really had no other option.
The problem in Scotland is that the Unionist vote is dissipated through the three parties. There are five parties to vote for in Scotland, two separatist parties, and three Unionist, who should work together, putting country before party politics, but can’t or won’t, other than for a short time as “BetterTogether” in the 2014 Referendum.
I am a proud Scot, but I am first and foremost British.
I was very active during the referendum, campaigning with “Better Together” right across the political divide.
My wife and I had a lot riding on the result, as we had decided to relocate to England if the SNP achieved Independence. We were thrilled at the result, but it soon became clear that the SNP did not stand by the democratic will of the 55% and would try and try again to achieve independence from the UK.
The SNP have only one reason to exist, and their Constitution makes it clear that it is, first and last, Independence from the UK. They have no interest in the “day job” unless it brings Independence closer.
Taxes are now devolved powers. We have seen already the Land and Property taxes exceeding those in England, with the consequential drop in house sales, particularly at the top end.
This makes Scotland the most expensive place in the developed world for property taxes.
I think it is only a matter of time before we in Scotland are faced with higher income tax (already happening through the freezing of the 40% tax threshold).
Additionally, threatened replacements for Council Tax, with property and land taxes, are surely only a short time away?
I have two friends who had businesses in Scotland, who sold up their substantial properties and moved to England in 2014 and 2015. They believed that the risk was too great to remain in a country that was losing revenue from the collapse in the price of oil, but had so many Public Sector workers that had to be paid for.
It is clear that Scots such as myself will not remain to be taxed “progressively”, but will take their businesses, families and homes out of the orbit of the SNP if the worst case scenario comes about.
Again it is clear that much of the support for Independence is irrational, based more on emotion than logic. How Scotland would survive outside the UK should be foremost in the minds of supporters of the SNP, but it is not. The loss of the Barnet Formula payments alone would be a mortal blow to Scotland’s finances.
The Barnet formula is worth around £10 Billion more than we contribute in taxation. That is approximately one third of the Scottish Government’s entire budget, and also equivalent to the entire Scottish NHS budget.
How would such a sum be replaced in an independent Scotland? Only by increased taxation of the small bunch of citizens who actually pay tax.
I fear that an independent Scotland will rapidly fall into decline, as there is nothing in the economy to indicate that GDP would increase. Indeed, Scottish GDP is currently 2% ahead of last year, compared with the UK’s 6%, and Scotland’s deficit is the worst in the EU by far,( worse even than Greece), at £15b, 9.5% of GDP.
Remaining in the EU is not the answer either. Exports to the rest of the UK are £44b, compared with £11b for the EU. Scotland cannot afford to risk its trade with its most important customer.
There is another angle to this. The hostility created during the Referendum campaign, between the Yes and NO camps remains, as was clear during this year’s election.
SNP supporters shouted down non SNP candidates at the hustings. At one I attended, the SNP had packed the venue and were little better than a mob, even in one case calling out that a candidate was a liar.
Other parties field posters were defaced systematically, one I photographed even had the letters SNP painted over it in black paint.
The SNP government looks for every possible grievance against the policies and intentions of the UK government, and makes them up when they don’t actually exist.
Do we want to live in such a divided Scotland? I know I don’t, but I also feel that I have no option but to work and try as best I can to ensure that independence does not happen. It’s a strain and something I wish I did not have to do. I would like to enjoy my retirement in peace, without this constant threat, always there, in the background.
Of course, the result of the 2017 General election in Scotland was a source of real encouragement for all Unionists. At last the three parties had made substantial inroads into the SNP’s dominance of 56 out of 59 Scottish MP’s by winning 21 seats.
Hopefully, this shows that support for the SNP has peaked and is now declining. Another five years will show that the SNP Government is incapable of properly governing Scotland, with continuing failures in Education, (particularly basic literacy in school leavers and reduced places at University), Police Scotland, and the NHS. After all, they have already had 10 years in power.
It is up to all Unionists to do everything in their power to point out SNP deficiencies, and to push for change at the local and national level whenever an opportunity presents itself.
- Rob Falconer