How many Scots would vote to join the Union if Scotland was still independent?
By Blair Jenkins
Part of what we are trying to do in Yes Scotland is to encourage people to engage with the independence debate in fresh and imaginative ways. Sometimes that means viewing things from a different perspective.
Earlier this week, I caught up over a beer with a friend and former colleague from BBC and STV days, Ron Abercrombie.
Ron is an enthusiastic Yes supporter who raised the interesting question of what the anti-independence campaign would look like if Scotland had remained independent and the vote in 2014 was on whether we should now join the union.
We quickly got to a list of things that would have to form the core of the pro-union case:
- Your main parliament will move hundreds of miles away and your MPs will be in a small minority.
- You will have a government you didn't vote for.
- You will hand over all your oil and gas revenues to the London Treasury.
- The biggest nuclear arsenal in Western Europe will be based on the River Clyde, 30 miles from your largest city.
- An austerity budget will be imposed from London, cutting jobs and threatening public services, instead of Scotland being responsible for raising and spending its own taxes.
- You will join a country whose health and education services are rapidly being privatised.
Yes supporters will quickly realise that this list of "attractions" is far from complete. Please feel free to add your own. On one level it's an amusing game to play, but it's also a really good way of getting people to look at these issues with fresh eyes.
While the Yes campaign is grounded in hope and aspiration, the anti-independence protagonists are struggling to find a positive message to back their case.
In fairness, it is not easy. Only the other day we heard former Prime Minister Gordon Brown try to paint a rosy picture of the union that many people, including Labour voters, will simply not have recognised.
What the Yes campaign is all about is growing and developing as a normal, aspirational and successful country. Independence will mean strong, new relationships between Scotland and the rest of the UK - a partnership of equals, a new and stronger social union to replace the current political union.
For us, this is about examining the kind of people we are, our values and the society we want to build for our children and our children’s children.
We need to remember that what we are being asked to do in 2014 is not to elect a government. We are being asked to vote for an opportunity to create the kind of country we want, to make our own decisions and live by our own values.
Independence is all about having the power to choose. In terms of priorities, we believe that support for mothers and children in a more prosperous and fairer country would feature very highly.
Today, in a list of 176 countries in the Mother’s Index – part of Save the Children’s State of the World’s Mothers report – the UK fails to make the top 20, trailing countries such as Estonia, Greece, Slovenia, Spain, France and Italy.
Actress and Yes Scotland advisory board member Elaine C Smith recently helped launch our report into a fairer Scotland. Here she explains why she believes an independent Scotland would be a caring, more prosperous and more socially just country.
The Prime Minister has ventured north again today, giving a speech at the Scottish Tory Conference in Edinburgh. David Cameron will no doubt be comfortable preaching to the converted, but to the rest of us his presence will serve as a timely reminder of exactly what a No vote would mean for Scotland – more Tory Prime Ministers we didn’t vote for.
A report by the Child Poverty Action Group has cast light on the damning future that could await 100,000 children in the event of a No vote.