What could Independence mean for you.
Independence can mean many things to different people. Some are interested in political independence, some in monetary Independence and others simply interested in being free to come and go as they please.
Real independence comes from being free to choose the government that you want to represent you and the ability to decide who that government should be. To allow yourself to be ruled by another country, who's politicians you did not elect is neither independence nor even freedom. To be a part of a union where your voice does not matter and where nothing you say or do counts, is just as bad. Without independence, you cannot truly have freedom. Without freedom, you are nothing more than a slave to the society in which you live.
Two mice were talking in a field. One was rather rough and scrawny while the other was well fed but had claw marks on it's back. The well fed mouse tells the scrawny mouse that he should come live with him and his family. The scrawny mouse asks how the well fed mouse has claw marks on its back. The well fed mouse answers, there is a large cat that patrols where he lives and that as long as you don't disturb it then it will leave you alone, however, if you get in it's way, it will claw you as punishment but it won't kill you. We also have to help it sometimes to hunt but not very often. In that way we tend to live in relative harmony. Sometimes though the cat will claw them for sport or when it is bored or angry. So they try to steer clear of it and not get in it's way.
The scrawny mouse then replies, So you accept these clawing's as punishments and in return you get to hunt for food and not get hurt too badly or killed? Yes, said the well fed mouse, There are cats everywhere and some of them are much worse than the one where we live. Some will kill you or torture you and you will never see your family again.
The scrawney mouse replies, Thank you for the offer but i would rather take my chances and die a free mouse than live as a slave or plaything for some evil cat.
If you would like to help us by submitting articles relevant to the benefits of independence then please feel free to submit them. We are also open to articles pertaining to our other pages and idea's to make the site even better for all our members. So help us to spread the independence message and if we don't have an answer that you need, just let us know and we will do our best to find one for you which could then be included for all members to use to promote independence.
Independence and a Scottish Currency.
If you truly want to understand the currency issue and how with our own currency, Scotland could bring about full employment for it's people without getting into any kind of monetary difficulties. Then you really need to read the book "Moving On" By Andy Anderson and Ronnie Morrison. Here you will find two things. Firstly, just how easy it would be for an independent Scotland to bring about full employment and be one of the richest and brightest countries in the world. Then secondly, the reasons why the UK and just as importantly, the banks, won't want this to happen. You will be astonished at the answers.
"Moving On" was written in the run up to the 2014 referendum but no-one was paying attention in the Scottish government because they believed that they had all the answers already. We all know regretfully, what happened next. The book explains how a newly re-independent Scotland could set up it's own nationalised bank and internal currency to promote jobs and wealth for ALL the people of Scotland. But don't think it is all just pie in the sky, it is actually real. Whats more, It has already been tried and tested. It works and it's simplicity is astounding. No more bankers running the country or having to be bailed out to the tune of hundreds of billions of pounds. An end to austerity and foodbanks because everyone could have a job.
Don't believe me? read the book and see for yourself and if you think you can find a flaw in it then Andy and Ronnie would love to hear from you because no-one has managed it yet. The book also includes a full questions and answers section, for any questions you may have about how a new nationalised clearing bank would work.
For those who can't wait for the book I will give you the very basics and i mean the VERY basics.
The Scottish Government sets up it's own clearing bank and mint. Just as we used to have many years ago.
They then decide on a currency name and over so many months the currency is switched from sterling to The Scots £, just as an example. Just like we did with decimalisation, remember that?
The government then no longer needs to borrow money from private banks, so no debt repayments. They create enough money to fund new capital building projects, like hospitals, schools, motorways/roads, Scottish armed forces etc etc. The tax paid back over time from workers and businesses that benefit from these projects replaces the newly made capital and as such, no inflation is caused.
Buying goods from abroad does not change because the clearing bank takes care of that in the same way is does right now for the UK. You pay in Scot's £, the seller gets paid in their own currency. Just like now when you pay in sterling, the buyer gets paid in their own currency ie, Euro, Yen, Dollar.
To make the currency even more secure and to prevent currency speculation, the new currency can only be used in Scotland and cannot be taken out of the country, just like the Rand in South Africa.
As I said, this is the very basics and the book explains so much more and in better detail.
Food for thought.
Here are some facts about currency that you may not be aware of regarding our perceived Wealth, Debt and UK currency.
Wealth is not the amount of money in your pocket, it is what you make or create with that money.
Wealth = What you create with Labour + Natural resources (Hospital, School, Museum, etc.)
Money/Currency = Exchange mechanism used to pay for the labour and resources.
Capital = Tools that allow efficient use of labour and resources. (tractor, excavator, crane etc.)
The Bank of England is apparently the UK’s lender of last resort. When the UK government needs money they write out new bonds (Guarantee of Repayment) and sell them to the bank. The bank prints new bank notes for the bonded amount and gives the newly printed money to the government. The government is now indebted to the bank for this money plus interest.
The money the bank prints costs them nothing other than some paper and ink yet the government now owes them that money back, plus the agreed interest payment.
YOU, the public, are the real lenders of last resort in the UK because it is your tax money that is used to bail out banks that collapse and repay the money the government has to repay the banks for the money they printed.
At the end of the second world war, In a virtually bankrupt UK, the government nationalised the Bank of England and used new money to create the National Health Service with no signs of, nor need for austerity. Later, Thatcher deregulated the banks allowing them to do whatever they wanted.
Do you know the difference between fractional reserve and full reserve banking?
Fractional Reserve = Any money put into a bank, including wages, legally belongs to the bank.
Full Reserve = Any money you put into the bank, including wages, belongs to you.
All the main UK banks are fractional reserve banks, think about it!
The UK banking system uses a fractional reserve system which means that it only needs to keep a small fraction as a reserve, say 10% for example of all currency banked by you or a business.
What this means is that for every £100 that is deposited in a bank, that bank can then create an additional £900 to use as loans and investments, created out of thin air. The same way the BoE prints money to give the government for the bonds it accepts. This type of banking is completely legal and above board under the fractional reserve system.
Could you imagine setting up a business and printing your own money to keep it running? Completely illegal and you could go to prison for doing so. Yet this is exactly what the banks are allowed to do.
A zombie bank is one that is bankrupt and cannot cover its assets without public money (bailouts). All the big banks in the UK are classed as zombie banks because they use the fractional reserve system yet no longer have the minimum reserve required to keep them afloat. Until fractional reserve banking is removed, there will always be bank bailouts courtesy of YOU.
You can buy the book here, among others, on Andy's webpage at
Data courtesy of Andy Anderson, Currency for an Independent Scotland
Creating a New Currency
When we are faced with a complex issue, the wise thing to do is to consider it carefully, before we decide what actions we need to take, and very importantly, in what sequence we need to take them. If we decided to have some building alterations done and to have a room redecorated. We would start with the building alterations first, before we painted the ceiling, or laid the new carpet. The sensible way would be to plan the work, and the sequence in which it should be done.
The question of Scottish Independence is no different. In planning for it we need to plan the sequence of the changes which have to be made. There are at least three big issues to consider.
Political Independence and a referendum to secure this.
Financial and Economic independence.
A new written Constitution.
These issues, like any other complex planning have to be organised in sequence.
There is no point in attempting to implement a new Scottish currency, before we have dealt effectively with the Independence Referendum. We have to deal with that, and have it carried out effectively before we can implement any currency change.
This means that the idea that we can have the referendum on Monday and a new currency on Tuesday is totally unrealistic.
There will have to be a considerable gap between the referendum on political independence taking place and the implementation of a new currency. Even with the best planning possible and a clear understanding of the way forward it will not be possible to change over the currency for some time, possibly 2 years at least.
This will be required because Scotland currently has no legislative framework to handle its own currency, nor any institutions designed for that purpose, particularly no central bank. Now these new institutions, and the legislative framework to establish them, would have to go through the Scottish Parliament first.
So, if we are going to have a new Scottish Currency, whatever sort of currency that might be, it could not come into operation for at least 2 years after Scotland became independent. The only change which could be made immediately is that Scotland would no longer be ‘part’ of the issuing State for sterling, so could no longer be held responsible for sterling or any of its debts, but it could carry on using sterling which is an international currency.
Now if we know that the day after political independence we in Scotland, whatever our future plans may be, would carry on using sterling in the same old way, and for some time to come, then if makes sense to take this into consideration when we are contemplating implementation of our financial plans.
Indeed if we know that Scotland will continue to use the pound sterling for some time after we have political independence then it makes sense for us to come to an understanding with the Westminster Government prior to the Independence Referendum. I must make it clear that it is not necessary for the Scottish Government to have any agreement with the Westminster Government to use sterling, but it would be wise for Scotland to seek a wider agreement with Westminster for other reasons.
Of course such an agreement might not be possible, and of course, the Westminster Government might just renege on such an agreement within weeks of signing it, as they did with the Edinburgh agreement. However such an agreement on currency and trading should be sought because it could be of great benefit to both countries.
Can such an agreement be made and adhered to?
As an old experienced negotiator I believe it could be, because both sides have objectives they could obtain from such an agreement or things they could lose lacking such an agreement.
Let us start with the Scottish Government side. If they reached a comprehensive agreement with the UK Government on relations between an independent Scotland and the r-UK Government after independence, then this would make a significant change to the independence campaign because it would undermine much of the ‘project fear’ material and the concern over currency, pensions etc:
However, knowing this, why would the Westminster Government want to enter into such an agreement?
Well there are some very good reasons, and they are becoming clearer every day as the Brexit talks fall apart.
Ever since the EU referendum the value of sterling has been falling and uncertain. If there is a failure to agree at the Brexit talks more pressure will come on sterling. If there is a move in Scotland for another referendum with an indication that Scotland will be leaving sterling there will be more pressure on sterling.
Now in that situation, a strong disagreement between the UK Government and the Scottish Government over financial and economic policy would be the last thing sterling needed.
However, if the UK and Scottish Government came to an amicable agreement over the arrangements for trade and financial co-operation after Scottish independence then this would steady the pressure on sterling. Now there may well be such a situation at the time when a new referendum is being considered, which would be a strong incentive for a UK Government to try and achieve such an agreement.
So the condition may well exist for the UK Government to wish to reach an understanding with the Scottish Government which would be seen in international terms as a substantial and lasting agreement.
So what would be the headline terms of such an agreement?
That Scotland would continue to use sterling for a period of (x years) after independence.
That Scotland would enter into a special trade agreement with the r-UK which was designed to help the r-UK with its debt problem
That Scotland would co-operate with the r-UK in maintaining an open borders system.
Now such an agreement would be entirely possible for a Scotland which was planning to have its own currency and which wanted to retain membership of the single European market and to maintain a strong base in the UK market.
Of course it would need to be negotiated carefully, but it is possible to achieve.
Now, with such an agreement, or without one, Scotland could go ahead using sterling for a period of time until it had established the infrastructure and legal framework to set up its own currency.
Once the new Central Bank was in position and all banks in Scotland had been brought under its control then we would be ready to introduce the new currency. The actual changeover could be done over a week-end although sterling would be phased out over a period of 3 months.
It would mean very little change for the ordinary public. Scotland currently uses Bank of England notes and ‘Scottish’ notes from different Scottish banks. The new notes would be Scottish pound notes (initially on a par with the pound sterling) which would be issued by the new Scottish Central Bank.
Now, strangely enough, the current Scottish bank notes form a full reserve currency within sterling. Because in order to print ‘Scottish’ notes the Scottish banks need to deposit the equivalent amount in sterling in the bank of England. In future Scottish banks would not be allowed to print Scottish notes, all future notes would be printed by the Central Bank but the principle of full reserve would be maintained within the central bank.
So we could change over the currency in circulation very quickly over the weekend from a fractional reserve international currency to a full reserve domestic currency with no real difficulty and no economic disturbance.
Of course the cash in circulation is just 3% of the money supply, the bigger change would be in the non cash circulation, but again if we prepared it effectively we would just be changing one institution for another one, so it should slot-in without difficulty
After the change-over the Scottish Central Bank would be solely responsible for money supply in the domestic currency, and for currency exchange and balance of payments in international markets.
On the surface nothing would seem to have changed in the domestic economy except that the UK pound sterling would be gradually phased out, when they went into the banks they would be replaced with the new Scottish pound notes.
Of course there would need to be a lot of background work to make this change-over run smoothly and we have set-out in ‘Moving On’ the sort of institutional framework we would need, but none of this is difficult although in truth we will meet with strong resistance from vested interests just as happened in the UK when the NHS was established. That however is never a reason to hold back on our plans for social advance.
Our view is that the new Scotland should have a written constitution and that our currency should figure in that constitution. So we see this issue also being a matter which will cause delay in getting the sort of structure and institutions we will need in the new Scotland, but these matters are ones for the Scottish people to make decisions about and both of these decisions will be made after Scotland has voted to become politically independent.
Campaign for Clean Currency
Scotland is one of the most efficient countries in the world when it come to the use of renewables for it's consumers and businesses. We have even produced more electricity than can be used at times. With production growing steadily year on year, we have already passed the renewables target set for 2015 of 50%, with Scotland currently producing 53.8% of renewable electricity which more than exceeds that target.
Onshore wind is the biggest single technology, which accounts for over 70 per cent of the installed capacity, with hydro, solar and bio-energy making up Scotland’s next largest major sources of renewable power. Renewable electricity output has more than doubled from 8 GWh in 2007 to 19.5 GWh in 2016.
In fact, in 2015, The Scottish office put out figures stating that Scotland's utility company exports to the rUK were £5.8 billion.
In 2015, renewable electricity generation helped to displace roughly 13.4 Million tonnes of CO2. This was equal to about 28 per cent of our 2014 carbon emissions.
In 2016, Scotland produced almost 60% of it's energy needs directly from renewables. and with a target of 100% looking very much on target for 2020, Scotland will become totally self sufficient in energy without the need for oil or gas which are still heavily relied on in the rest of the UK.
One thing that needs to be dealt with though in an independent Scotland, is to remove our connections to the UK grid and or build a new state of the art internal grid. At present Scotland has to pay to be on the UK grid yet other parts of the UK get paid to supply energy to the grid. How can this be fair? The building of a new Scottish energy grid would also create many jobs both in the building and maintenance of the grid. The renewables sector in Scotland currently employs around 26,000 people. With more investment in an independent Scotland and our own grid, that number could rocket upwards.
To learn more about Scotlands renewables or to check on the numbers as they are updated click this link. Scottish Renewables.
With regard to Scotland's oil, lets have a little look at just how that troublesome oil revenue works. To make it easy we will take a really, really simplistic view.
An oil/gas company pays for a licence to drill for oil/gas in a sector of the sea. Then they buy or have built, a drilling rig which they put into position in the area they want to drill, according to their licence.
They then hire a crew and start drilling.
Then what do you know, if they have done their homework right, they hit a large pocket of oil, gas or maybe even both.
That Burdensome Oil
They extract the resource and pay tax on the oil they extract to the UK government. Now, lets look at the price of oil and extrapolate from some data that already exists. To do that we can look at some real life figures which have been set for a much smaller amount of barrels per day of production than is actually extracted from the north sea. So that we can't be accused of inflating the figures, I have erred on the "very" low side with regard to barrels per day produced. I am also only accounting for oil here, a similar amount of gas is just as likely being extracted, although we do know that some gas gets burned off.
The figures above show (on the left) what Scotland was getting in March of 2017 from oil extracted from the north sea. The figures above (on the right) show what Scotland would get if we were independent. Now remember that these oil fields are almost all in Scottish territorial waters. Also remember that I am deliberately using lower figures than are actually being produced and not including gas in this.
Based on these very low figures we are already losing out on £18.05 Million per day, just in oil revenue. Since that table was made oil prices have risen steadily but instead of making more money from the oil income stream, what have the UK government done? they have plans to cut the tax to 35% instead of 50% and have paid out over £80 million in rebates to the oil companies.
The government, by reducing taxation and giving tax breaks to these companies, is doing nothing more than increasing the profits of these companies but it certainly isn't helping you. You won't be getting a tax break though, because when you fill up your vehicle at the pumps with petrol or diesel, 80% of that money is tax which goes straight to the exchequer. So for every £1.20 you pay per litre of petrol/diesel, the government gets 96p of that. yet they still have the cheek to demand road tax as well.
We have been told that there is very little oil left in the north sea and that what is there brings in little money anymore. You will have seen how thousands have been laid off due to the drop in companies profits from oil sales and that if Scotland had been relying on the price of oil remaining high then we would have been bankrupt by now. Yet every so often we see news of new large finds of oil and gas which we never seem to benefit from and which is still, we are told, no use to us by the UK Government.
Little known fact: Did you know that there is a massive oil field off the coast of Ayrshire which cannot be tapped because the rigs would get in the way of the UK's trident submarines whose base is very close to our largest and most populated city?
Scotland is the only country in the world to discover oil and get poorer, why is that? Given that oil is of no use to us though, it is just as well that we are producing so much in renewable energy. Which, at the end of the day, is better for our country and the planet as we move away from carbon based fuels. With Tesla and now Volvo set to make all electric cars we are slowly moving away from that burdensome oil.
Some links to oil and gas production per barrel per day.
UK production data release. Cadenza Document
OIL and GAS UK. 2016 Economic Report
Land Reform in Scotland
Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016
The land reform act is basically the setting up of a commission to look at all aspects of land usage and the best ways to manage the land. However, many people feel that the land reform act does not go far enough and we will be adding those articles to this section as soon as they are ready. In the meantime, you can view the current legislation here. Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016.
The Scottish Government has until the 1st of October 2017 to lay out it's first land rights and responsibilities statement on land reform progress to the Scottish parliament. They must then either go back and revise that statement within a 5 year framework or the Scottish Ministers must, in exercising their functions in so far as is reasonably practicable, promote the principles set out in the land rights and responsibilities statement.
Land Reform in Scotland.
Andy Wightman is a campaigner for land reform and has produced a number of articles and papers on better land management as well as land ownership. This link will take you to his site Who Owns Scotland, where you can see the real truth behind how very little is actually owned by Scotland or anyone living here.
It is not just the land though, Scotland's forests are huge and getting bigger. However, not for the public to use, they are getting bigger because anyone buying land in Scotland, including from abroad, can get their money back by planting forests on the land and they get a grants which can be in the £millions to do it. So basically getting their money back, or a big chunk of it, from the Scottish government and then even more money by harvesting the trees when they mature for large profits and then planting again.
Some forestry facts from an article by Andy from February 2012.
Scotland has 45 per cent of the UK’s woodland.
Scotland’s tallest tree (also the UK’s tallest tree) is a Douglas fir in Argyll which is 63.79 metres tall.
The Isle of Arran is home to two species of tree that do not occur anywhere else in the world: the Arran whitebeam (Sorbus arranensis) and the Arran cut-leaved whitebeam (Sorbus pseudofennica).
The Fortingall Yew in Perthshire is 5,000 years old and believed to be the most ancient tree in the UK, and perhaps the oldest living thing in Europe.
The Rannoch Rowan is visible on a rock beside the A82 Bridge of Orchy to Glencoe road and is probably the loneliest tree in the UK.
Scotland has 1.1 million hectares of conifers and 309,000 hectares of broadleaf trees.
Read more at: Scotland on Sunday
Renewing Local Democracy in Scotland, is an article by Andy that was produced for the Scottish Greens in 2014. The following is the introduction as the full paper runs to 30 pages including images and statistics. To read the full paper click here
Scotland is engaged in a debate about the merits or otherwise of becoming an independent country whilst at the same time we appear to pay little attention to how we are governed by the tier of government that arguably matters most to people - local government. This paradox reveals a harsh truth about modern Scotland. This is an infantilised democracy where power is exercised by an elite political class - those in political parties - who are competing for a smaller and smaller share of the vote from an electorate that is growing more and more disenchanted with the political process.
Local governance is not a very engaging topic for most people but it is at the heart of a growing debate about democracy. As the part of government that is closest to the citizen and deals with most of their daily interactions with the public realm (education, culture, sanitation, housing, transport etc.) it is the part that should attract the greatest level of interest and engagement. The long term decline of local government over the past 40 years has been a slow and largely ignored phenomenon.
This report is about how we could restore, entrench and develop local government so that it becomes a valued and integral part of a new and invigorated democratic settlement in Scotland. The report is intended to stimulate debate, including within the Scottish Green Party, which has a long standing commitment to local democracy and which will be invited to debate these proposals at its national conference. Whether Scotland becomes an independent country or remains part of the United Kingdom, we need to talk about the local and about the crisis of democracy, funding, power and status.
The independence debate creates the opportunity to discuss the constitutional protection of local democracy, and the possible transfer of full powers to the Scottish Government could provide the stimulus needed to encourage Ministers of every party end their habit of controlling local affairs from the centre. As the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities recently claimed, “Scotland is one of the most centralised countries in Europe.
"It is no coincidence that our European neighbours are often more successful at improving outcomes, and have much greater turn out at elections. We cannot hope to emulate the success of these countries without acknowledging that they have more local councils, local elected councillors represent fewer people, and that these councils and their services are constitutionally protected and their funding secured by law, even with regard to national policy making. We should seek the same benefit, and the same independence that local government has in most western democracies". COSLA, May 2013, Local Matters.
Our final report from Andy regards the evidence he submitted to the Land Reform Review Group in 2013.
In 2007 I attempted to kickstart the land reform process by promoting six topics that could be taken forward in the third session of the Scottish Parliament.1 This initiative stalled after the Scottish Government decided that “enough had been done on land reform”.2 I am pleased therefore to see land reform being taken forward once again although it is tempting to view the current Review Group as just the latest in a series of moves to kick this tricky subject into the long grass.
As matters stand there is no indication that any of the group’s recommendations will be acted upon. I trust that I will be proved wrong. It is vital that the Group appreciates the significance of the task at hand. For centuries male landed elites have made the very laws that today underpin Scotland’s system of landownership. They have fashioned them in a manner designed to suit their own interests. We live with the legacy of much of that law today unlike virtually every other European country where revolutions and democratic reforms empowered the peasantry and democratised the commons.
Do not let anyone persuade you that this is a technical exercise or one to be advanced based upon “evidence-based policy” alone. It has elements of those of course but at heart it is a political project which should lead to the democratisation of landownership and governance in Scotland and the dismantling of a regime that has led to one of the most concentrated patterns of private landownership anywhere in the world.
At the same time, Government fiscal and monetary policy has led to hugely inflated land prices which are posing substantial barriers to (for example) young people wising to buy a house or land for a house or rural business. What follows is a number of topics that in my view merit priority action if the above is to be achieved. Under each topic I address the requested information set out in your Call for Evidence, namely:
1. Outline your vision of how things could be different and explain why, in your opinion they should be different;
2. Indicate any barriers there may be in the way of attaining your vision;
3. Suggest how these barriers could be removed and progress facilitated – whether by voluntary, legislative, fiscal or other means
1 1 Land Reform. An agenda for the 2007-2011 Scottish Parliament. Available here land reform 2007 pdf
2 Source is a senior Minister in the Scottish Government at the time
Additional information can be found at Andy's website.
Latest statement from ScotGov on their land reform plans.
In the last Parliament we took forward a Land Reform Act, which was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2016 and will introduce major changes to how Scotland’s land is owned and managed. The aim of this legislation is to ensure that Scotland's land must be an asset that benefits the many, not the few, and that our system of land rights promotes fairness, social justice, environmental sustainability and economic prosperity for all in our rural and urban communities.
Measures already taken forward under the Land Reform Act 2016, include:
ending the business rates exemption for shooting and deerstalking;
undertaking a consultation on ending the practice of anonymous ownership of major tracts of Scotland’s land;
undertaking a consultation on a world-leading Land Rights and Responsibilities statement setting out our long term vision for the ownership, management and use of land; and
establishing a Scottish Land Commission based in Inverness to provide direction and leadership on land reform.
We are committed to a target of one million acres of land being in community ownership by 2020. In order to meet this ambitious target, the Scottish Land Fund was increased from £3 million to £10 million in 2016. Figures published in August 2017 show that almost 500 communities now own their own land.
We have a thing in Scotland, in fact most of the world's countries have it. Where we sell goods to other countries and they pay us for them. They are called exports. However, if you listen to the mainstream media or the UK government we have barely enough to set up a foodbank. So, lets take a look at some of Scotland's exports and see just what is being sold. Some of which doesn't seem to count as Scottish exports because they leave the UK via ports and airports in England. Effectively making them UK or English exports
Did you know that 46,000 tonnes of fresh Scottish Salmon was exported via Heathrow in the last 12 months. At an export price of approximately £1.67 per kilo, (a quarter of what UK consumers pay in the shops) that is a total of £76.8 million. That may be small change to some but it would pay for a whole load of services in our NHS.
Now lets crank that up a bit, Scottish Whisky generated over £4 billion of revenue for the Uk exchequer yet Scotland see's nothing of that in return. With an additional 40 distilleries in the pipeline that figure is likely to increase vastly.
So what exports can we count on. Scotland's food and drinks industry is an even bigger hitter. Even excluding oil and gas exports, they accounted for £8.9 billion (includes tobacco goods) and the financial sector at £8.6 billion. Then there is the wholesale sector which generated £8.35 billion.
Now lets look at Scotland's biggest exports, oil and gas, most of which goes to the UK. Last year Scotland exported £19.4 billion and that is after the downturn in oil and gas prices since 2014. Still think we are a poor wee country ?
So, apart from selling oil and gas mainly to the UK, who else is buying our goods. The rest of the UK and worldwide combined accounts for £78.6 billion worth of Scottish exports. Now of course that could change to some degree with independence, dependent on our new trade deal. However, it is very unlikely though that the so called threat of boycotting Scottish goods would work just for the sake of it. The rUK relies on Scottish renewables, which are far cheaper than buying energy from France. People would still buy whisky, salmon, gin, other seafoods etc so any threat to not buy these goods would not last long. Very little of these types of goods are cheaper elsewhere and as we know, people are fickle and forget very quickly when it comes to saving money.
Putting the rUK aside for a moment, Scotland also exports goods to the EU, to the tune of £12.3 billion and to other parts of the world for a slightly larger £16.4 billion. Now even if by some catastrophe our trade with the rUK was halved, that would just mean we had more to sell elsewhere and prices in our shops might even come down to cope with demand, so there is always a positive side to these things. So even taking that as a remote possibility, Scotland could still be exporting at least £60+ billion per year to other countries. Being free of the overburdening UK tax regimes, would also allow us to sell more to other countries as we could set our own taxes and trade tariffs.
The Scottish government has set up a department called the ESS (Export Statistics Scotland) to try and gauge exports. This only takes into account Scotland's biggest 550 companies so is still incomplete. However, their figures still state the export total as £78.6 Billion. A link to the page is available below.
Finally, none of these figures take into account revenue from Scotland's financial services. An Independent Scotland could also be a hub for financial services in the EU. With many countries looking to move out of London now, Edinburgh and Glasgow are very viable options when we are independent. Some countries have even bought property in Scotland to be used for embassies in the event that we do vote for independence next time around.
Scottish Government figures from Export Statistics Scotland
Business for Scotland figures on exports. HERE
For a country of only just over five million people, Scotland attracted somewhere in the region of fifteen million visitors in 2016. That is three times more people than our entire population.
According to research by VisitScotland, the main reasons for those vists were;
a) The Landscape
b) History and Culture
c) The people
Cities and the shops are a big attraction as visitors seek out authentic Scottish apparel to wear or keep as a souvenir of their visit. The cities are also popular with afficionado's of architecture and cultural heritage. Castles also come into this category with many people wanting to see a castle or castles before they return home. Edinburgh castle and it's Royal military Tattoo, is one of the most visited places in Scotland. Stirling castle, the Wallace monument, Culzean castle, Castle Stuart, Fort George, Glamis and Inverarie castle's to name but a few, are all attracting visitors by the thousands if not millions each year.
Then add in places like Loch Ness, Loch Lomond, Culloden Moor, Bannockburn, Glen Coe, Arbroath Abbey, Ayr (Burns), Aden country park, Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies, The Helix, Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre, Galloway forest park and of course, who could forget Gretna.
Lets also not forget The islands, Arran, Skye, Lewis, Harris, Shetlands, Orkney, Uist, Islay, Bute etc etc. The list goes on and on. The last thing in these lists that I need to add is the distilleries. With Scottish Whisky bringing in over £4 Billion a year in taxation, the distilleries themselves are also massive tourist attractions where visitors can sample a myriad of whisky's both old and new, as well as purchase the odd bottle to take home with them. Did you know that the Isle of Islay has seven distilleries!!
Salmon and Gin are another two big draws as the bulk of the UK's gin is made in Scotland, making Gin distilleries a favourite of many as well as to sample fresh Scottish salmon with their favourite tipple.
I know I will have missed out hundreds of other tourist attractions so feel free to make up your own lists and hopefully make plans to go and visit them. Remember, visit local and buy local to keep our local economies thriving.
Libraries and records offices make up another chunk of places for visitors as they try to trace their family lineage. Ancestry visits alone are believed to bring in £101 million per year. Then there are the museums with Edinburgh museum being the most visited of all.
Here's another little known fact for you. Outside of America, Germany is the next biggest country on the list of visitors to our shores. Australia and then Canada come 6th and 7th on the table with France up in 3rd place.
Another huge area of Scottish tourism comes from film locations, with one of the best known being the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Lochaber. The viaduct was used in every Harry Potter film and many important scenes took part on the Hogwarts Express while crossing it. Although to the locals the train is knows as the Jacobite express.
The Isle of Skye has also featured prominently in films with the Old man of Storr doubling up as an alien homeworld in the film, Prometheus. Skye was also used partly for the Wicker Man, Highlander, Flash Gordon, 47 Ronin and Snow White and the Huntsman to name but a few. Doune Castle in Stirling was also used for many films including Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Ivanhoe,The Bruce and the TV series Outlander, doubling up as Castle Leoch.
So start getting your lists together and get out there and explore this amazing country of ours.
GERS and the Scottish Deficit
So, what actually is GERS? Well, it's proper name is, Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland. Who compiles the data and where does it come from? Just as importantly, Why is it Scotland's deficit!
To get to the bottom of this you have to first look at where the data is compiled. The starting point for this is, as in most things statistical, London. Simply put, a whole load of statisticians in Whitehall try to work out what the UK has as a deficit and then gives us a bill as a percentage of that total amount per department or area of spending. Regardless of what was actually spent in Scotland.
So, when they tell us we have a £15 billion deficit, what they are actually saying is; We don't have a clue about what Scotlands revenue and expenditure, this is because we don't collate data for the majority of Scotlands exports, imports, tax, savings etc etc. We just divide up the total UK deficit and apportion a chunk of it to you (Currently 9.8%).
It doesn't matter if Scotland's parliament is run by the SNP, Labour, Conservatives, the Greens or even the monster raving looney party, though that might be fun for a while. The GERS figures are supplied by London and as such, the Scottish government has no say in those figures or how they are compiled. All they get to do is look at them and put them out to the country so that we can see how much our estimated or extrapolated deficit is.
Remember as well that GERS is a five year estimate and as we all know, Westminster and whitehall can barely operate five months into the future, let alone five years. This means that until a unit is set up to actually, and physically, track Scotland's real revenue and expenditure, we will never get a true figure of any kind of deficit. The thing is, we could actually be in the positive and would never know because Scotland's real trade figures are not collated for inclusion in GERS.
Could you imagine sitting down to have a meal in a restaurant and the waiter hits you with a bill for £15,000 because the restaurateur claims that this is the amount you will owe him for the next five years worth of meals!! It just wouldn't happen, so why is it happening to the other countries in the UK who's spending per year is way below the amount apportioned to us?
Another point to remember is that these figures relate to an extrapolated division of the UK's overall deficit. When Ireland left the Uk they did not incur a charge to cover their share of any deficit at that time. So when it comes to an independent Scotland, technically we would also owe nothing because it is a UK deficit.
This deficit would not be the same in an independent Scotland anyway because we would have actual income and expenditure figures tracked by the Scottish Government, not estimated figures from whitehall. Every time the UK borrows money for whatever vanity project or scheme they have, most of which revolve around London, Scotland gets apportioned a part of that newly borrowed money to pay back whether they like it or not. When the UK want to borrow money to replace trident, or even just to pay the operating costs. Build a new motorway to connect the north and south of England, expand it's London underground, rebuild the London sewer system, expand it's train services and build new monuments and start new wars to feed their friends in the arms business. All this is partially paid for by Scotland or apportioned to Scotland as a percentage to add to it's apportioned deficit.
Very little money is spent in Scotland by the UK government and in fact much of Scotland's investment comes from the EU funding partnerships. However, that will all stop after brexit, if we don't get our Independence and we will become totally reliant on the UK government, which hasn't done us any favours so far.
Even allowing for the share of UK assets that Scotland has paid towards, as a trade off against the deficit, this would more than overshadow any apportioned amount, and much more. If you now look at that from a slightly different angle then you could say that Scotland owns 9.8% of the rest of the UK because that's what we paid for as part of that evergrowing deficit that was apportioned to us. You can guarantee that the 9.8% is worth a lot more than the fabled £15 billion they are claiming we owe.
So the next time someone asks you, "Well, what about the deficit, how are you going to pay it" Tell them, Once you get me some reliable figures collated in Scotland we can talk about it, if a deficit even exists.
If you would like to read more about GERS you can get the official figures for 2015-16 HERE
Here are a couple of articles about it to get started on.
Scotland and the EU Myths
One of the biggest questions for Independence voters and those who are unsure is, Would an Independent Scotland automatically join the EU? The simple answer in the first instance is NO. An Independent Scotland may well get fast tracked though through the process. Depending on which comes first, Independence or Brexit.
As Scotland currently fulfils all EU criteria on joining, this means the time to become a full member would be much shorter than a country that doesn't currently fulfil the membership criteria. Remember, there is no front or back of some fictional queue. Although some people would try to tell you otherwise. To see what the criteria is for joining follow this link.
The process would not be instant though and could still take a number of years to be ratified. The likelihood is that a national vote would be taken by the Scottish Government to ratify our wanting to join. This follows from the fact that a condition of joining the EU is that "an acceding country must have the consent of their citizens – as expressed through approval in their national parliament or by referendum". Full conditions of membership.
Then there is the point regarding the Euro currency. No country that joins the EU is forced to join the Euro or adopt it as their national currency. Of the last 13 countries to join the EU, only 7 have adopted the Euro. Joining the Euro would likely not be in Scotland's best interests, as it works to build our economy and create capital projects and the jobs that would come with those building projects. Scotland needs it's own currency with a nationalised central bank to build a healthy economy. (see currency section)
For those who are interested though, the conditions for joining the Euro are as follows.
"Adopting the single currency is a crucial step in a Member State's economy. Its exchange rate is irrevocably fixed and monetary policy is transferred to the hands of the European Central Bank, which conducts it independently for the entire euro area. The economic entry conditions are designed to ensure that a Member State's economy is sufficiently prepared for adoption of the single currency and can integrate smoothly into the monetary regime of the euro area without risk of disruption for the Member State or the euro area as a whole. In short, the economic entry criteria are intended to ensure economic convergence – they are known as the 'convergence criteria' (or 'Maastricht criteria') and were agreed by the EU Member States in 1991 as part of the preparations for introduction of the euro.
In addition to meeting the economic convergence criteria, a euro-area candidate country must make changes to national laws and rules, notably governing its national central bank and other monetary issues, in order to make them compatible with the Treaty. In particular, national central banks must be independent, such that the monetary policy decided by the European Central Bank is also independent."
One other factor though to remember is the ERM (Exchange Rate Mechanism). Any country can join the ERM without adopting the Euro. To date, only Denmark is in the current version of the ERM II.The ERM works by fixing an exchange rate between the Euro and a non EU countries national currency, allowing for only minor fluctuations. A proper explanation can be found here. ERM II and how it works.
To join the Euro and adopt it as a national currency, you must have been in the ERM II for at least 2 years. So the next time someone tells you that you will be forced to have the Euro you can correct them with actual facts.
Scottish Fishing and the EU
An open letter from Graeme Goodall, Buckie, Moray
LIVING in Moray, I found it infuriating to see placards everywhere depicting a smiling Haddock draped in the Union Jack proclaiming that a vote to leave the EU would “Save Our Fishing”.
Moray was the closest-run district in the whole of Scotland in the EU referendum, with entire family dynasties with links to fishing casting their vote to leave based purely on the misguided mantra that the EU is responsible for the demise of the fishing industry in Scotland.
As a former fisherman during the 1980s, and at that time part owner of new-built 65-foot trawler, I think it is time for all of our fishing communities to face up to some hard truths about the fishing industry and at whom the finger of blame for its demise should be pointed.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, the Scottish fleet had become the biggest and most powerful in Europe, to the point where the catching power far outstripped the resource. Boatyards were booming and so were the local economies. The vast majority of these vessels, however, including the one in which I was a partner, were built with the help of a 50 per cent EU grant. Without this, the boat could never have been built. The same applies to the vast majority of boats built in Scotland in that era.
As this new generation of boats, equipped with the cutting-edge of fish-finding equipment, became larger and ever more powerful, the need to catch more fish to fund them increased. New methods of pair trawling utilising much heavier and larger nets were developed, as well as twin-rig trawling with one powerful vessel towing two large nets. This effectively rendered no single area of the seabed, including the spawning grounds, safe from the Scottish fleets’ nets. Many owners had two rotating crews that would change over straight after landing so that the vessel turned right around and was constantly at sea, hammering the fishing grounds seven days a week.
A Catch-22 situation was created where the large boats were so expensive to run and heavily financed that they couldn’t afford to stop fishing for a single day!
By the end of the early 1990s the fish stocks were utterly devastated, with landings down vastly year on year and cod on the brink of extinction and haddock and whiting heading the same way. Extreme action had to be taken, with quota cuts and days at sea being introduced by the EU as the stark scientific data was presented but almost immediately and unsurprisingly dismissed by fishing industry leaders as unproven nonsense.
The EU grants for new vessels had stopped, but young ambitious skippers then turned to the big banks to finance even more powerful super trawlers being built both at Scottish and European yards, which were designed to work in the most extreme conditions at the outer reaches of the continental shelf and Rockall. The traditional inner waters had now been fished out and decimated, not by the EU but by our own Scottish fleet. The EU finally took drastic action when many fish species teetered on the brink of never recovering, and quotas were immediately cut again to the point where the new larger vessels were struggling to stay viable.
To rein in the size of the fleet, a short-term decommissioning incentive scheme based on the vessels’ tonnage and horsepower was introduced, with a maximum compensation of £1 million for the largest vessels. Skippers who had gambled by building multimillion-pound vessels at foreign yards now found themselves at the mercy of the banks to whom they had turned to finance their venture.
Cold, hard economics of the banks decided the fate of many young north-east skippers as the unsympathetic banks decided to cut their losses at the fear of further quota cuts and grab the decommissioning payment while it was available, resulting in almost brand new multi-million-pound vessels sailing to the scrapyards of Denmark to be cut up and their owners made bankrupt with their livelihoods in ruins. Many other boat-owners decided to accept the decommissioning grants as well due to a mass migration of crews to the oil industry, adding to the already intolerable stress of trying to stay viable in impossible circumstances.
Today, fish stocks are recovering to healthy levels, but only thanks to EU intervention. Had the Scottish fleet been allowed to continue as it was the end-game would have been the same for the fleet, but there would have been no fish stocks today and no recovery. Many fishing families fished ethically, but if fishermen – especially those from that era who are blaming the EU while waving a Union Jack – need to point the finger at anyone for the tragic demise of the industry and our communities, then I suggest they take a good long look in the mirror.
Bank of England's response to Scottish Independence
The Bank of England has revealed details of the emergency plan it would have put in place had Scotland voted 'Yes' for independence in the independence referendum.
The Bank was ready to pump millions of pounds into the financial system to ensure liquidity and had issued extra notes to cope with additional demand from Scottish deposit holders. It was also prepared to stand by notes issued by Scottish banks in an attempt to reassure the public there would be no immediate changes in an effort to prevent a potential deposit flight.
Unlike England and Wales, where all bank notes are issued by Threadneedle Street, Scotland has different types of bank notes issued by Scottish banks. These are guaranteed by deposits at the Bank of England.
"Under current arrangements, Scottish banknotes are backed fully by their issuers’ holdings of Bank of England notes, UK coin and deposits at the Bank of England. This would have been a key public message in the event of a Yes vote," the BoE said.
Had Scotland voted in favour of independence, the Bank said it would have issued a statement "reaffirming its responsibilities for financial stability, prudential regulation, banknotes and monetary policy in the entire United Kingdom, including Scotland" until independence came into force.
(FPC) shows the level of planning that went into into putting together a contingency plan.Financial Policy CommitteeScotland said no to independence and preserved its 307-year-old union with England after a historic referendum on 18 September.
However, minutes of the Financial Policy Committee (FPC) shows the level of planning that went into into putting together a contingency plan.
Preparing for Independence
Preparation for the Development and Management of an independent Scotland
The preparation for independence requires more than the establishment of a Scottish currency, a central bank, and therefore freedom from the existing banking and money creation system, as I have previously described.
Although those financial arrangements are certainly the most important, because being in charge of the money supply is how any future Scottish government can be sure that it is controlling the economy, as opposed to control by the self-interested bankers; a plan for sustained economic development must also be in place, and widely advertised pre-independence, so that its advantages are known and can be immediately used to expand existing business, and to attract new inward investment when the day comes.
100% tax relief for money spent on new plant and equipment would be a pre-requisite. This would apply to existing, new, and incoming business. And the people from abroad needed to plug the skills gaps, or add to the skills needed in those expanding and new businesses should be sought.
Immigration should be geared directly to economic development, and not be seen as a social service, or a piece of virtue signalling, that does nothing but give refuge to the waifs and strays of the world. Immigration would thus be totally focused and selective.
The present Scottish political system also requires review and amendment. Certainly the excess of unelected MSPs has to be addressed. Any new parliament needs to be sharper, with its members more aware of and committed to Scotland beyond the central belt, for it is in the Highlands and Islands and the Borders that huge potential remains undeveloped.
The cost and need for 129 MSPs - 56 of whom are unaccountable and unelected party appointees - could be examined, and constituency boundaries could be altered to reflect targeted economic activity, rather than mere equalisation of the electorate. There are presently 72 Scottish parliamentary constituencies and 59 Westminster constituencies. The lower figure of 59 seems realistic, but with boundaries altered as above.
The issues of centralisation and agglomeration need to be addressed. These are the processes whereby the urban central belt population attracts the administration, to the detriment of the suburban areas, and the secondary process of agglomeration whereby all the skills tend to come together in those urban areas. No better example of these phenomena is the south east of England, which in economic terms produces 25% of UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and whose huge wealth is striking by comparison with say that of Tyneside or Merseyside.
This is a function of both a poor economic development strategy, and an inadequate transport infrastructure, and must be studiously avoided in a developing independent Scotland.
Road, rail, and air need to be linked and developed, and this has been a signal failure in Scotland, perhaps a product of Westminster funding, but perhaps not. In any event, it is something that requires immediate attention. The rail link to Inverness would make a good start, as would the development of Dundee airport to serve international jet travel.
Education is another priority. Somehow, the Scottish education system – which in my youth was recognised as being vastly superior to its English counterpart – has been allowed to slide.
By Scottish Office admission, 20% of the adult Scottish population is functionally illiterate and innumerate. The reasons for that have to be addressed and remedied. Education is the bedrock and future of any nation. Do not feel alone, as this is also a UK statistic, but it should never have happened in Scotland’s previously superior system.
In conclusion, my view is that the efficient and productive management of an independent Scotland is a project that has to be started now – simultaneously across all these fronts – in a co-ordinated manner - to define routes to success and lay their foundations, and even to start their implementation, so that Scotland can be governed with a set of working systems, and directed along a path that will ensure success and prosperity, and is ready to roll when the day comes – as indeed it will.
© Malcolm Parkin - August 2018
Housing costs in Scotland
Houses cost too much! The price of a house is dependent on two separate costs.
a) The cost of the materials and labour to service and build the house.
b) The cost of the land.
Currently the cost of land can make up over 70% of the value of houses. This is mainly due
to the outdated system of land ownership and usage in Scotland. The cost of actually building a house is relatively stable. Land! Land is finite and we cannot make more. Thus the ongoing pressure for land to meet social needs is continually driving up the value of land. This socially generated profit goes directly into the pockets of landowning corporations
Currently, land is barely taxed at all; yet for generations “Ground Rent” (Land Tax) was the primary source of funding government services ...until the land-owning elites manipulated the
law and now our public services are inadequately funded by regressive taxes such as council tax, non-domestic rates, income tax, etc. Whether you live in an urban area or a rural setting. look around. There are areas of waste or underutilised land. No tax is being levied on this land but the value, thus the profit upon selling, is increasing all the time because of the investments of society.
Homes for all! Between 1945 and 1950, when the country was skint after the war, the
Attlee Government undertook a massive and successful public infrastructure construction project that included building sufficient homes to meet the needs of the people. How?
Attlee took control of the money supply away from the commercial banks and supplied the money required directly through the National Central Bank and thereby took control of the economy. He therefore had the investment capital which could be duplicated for the Campaign for a Clean Scottish Currency (CCSC)
To invest in infrastructure projects like council houses, NHS and hospitals, schools, nationalising the railways and other industries that provided well-paid jobs, and they reduced the National Debt. We can do the same! A sovereign Scottish Government – with the political will – could follow the example of the Attlee Government. Scotland has the materials, labour and resources to build adequate housing. Only unbridled land speculation stands in the way. Such a course would provide for more high quality, well-paid jobs within the industry to the benefit of both the local economy and local authorities.
How? By replacing council tax, non-domestic rates and income tax with a Land Tax (Annual Ground Rent). This will encourage landowners either to put idle or under-used land to optimum use or dispose of it to someone who would. It would free up more land for housing
and provide revenue to fund public services while reducing the burden of destructive taxation on labour and enterprise. We already have the experienced evaluation surveyors to set the valuation of the individual areas of land dependent on their productive value to society.
Each site in Scotland sucks up the value of its amenities. Just like a sponge. But those amenities are mostly provided by the efforts of society (some come free from nature). It’s time for Holyrood to collect a proportion of that value into the Public Purse instead of sticking with
destructive taxes which repress jobs and enterprise.
THIS CSCC INITIATIVE IS SUPPORTED BY
Scottish Land Revenue Group
Centre For Scottish Constitutional Studies
Constitution for Scotland