Do you remember, not so long ago, the joy with which the No side sneered at the prospect of an independent Scotland being given the thumbs down by the credit agencies? No AAA status for this small nation state, no Sir, better to shelter under the brilliant economic management of the Brown/Balls/Darling Labour era and the present magnificently successful stewardship of George Osborne that now sees UK debt heading towards £1.2 trillion, with £1.5 trillion likely by 2017.
In the real world of that overhang of crippling debt, as opposed to the mythical one the Better Together campaign would have the Scots believe they live in, the credit agencies are speaking in a language that is crystal clear – the UK is bust, the AAA status has already gone. If Scots remain within the UK, it will take at least until 2017 for output to get back to the level reached in 2007, and according to the Budget small print it will take until 2019 until incomes reach their 2007 levels. Our future in the UK is grim. Steadily falling disposable income, rising inflation as £375 billion money printing of quantitative easing starts to unwind, savings eroded not only for the individual but for the pension funds and the annuities on offer to people retiring, pay day loans expanding as they feast upon the plight of the poor, and food banks rising up as decent people try to help those same very poor, including the working poor, to eat. Better together is a lie. All, except the rich, will be poorer together.
We have just witnessed a non-budget because the Chancellor is hemmed in, clueless about what to do in getting growth. Corporate Britain is now sitting on £750 billion in cash, refusing to invest any of that vast sum because, as the bosses explain, they see no prospect of growth and profits that would flow from new investment. In its cry of “Where are the political leaders Britain needs?” the Daily Telegraph (22/3/13) notes mournfully, that “from the 2015-2016 fiscal year onwards, there would have to be either big tax rises or deeper cuts in spending……….We are left with the impression of a political establishment that simply refuses to acknowledge how deep a hole the country is in.” That establishment includes Labour.
The Telegraph does not exaggerate. So far, we have experienced a reduction of only 3 per cent in state spending over the past three years. It is only after the independence referendum, after the Westminster election in 2015, as the Telegraph acknowledges, we shall experience the full horror of the full cuts. It will then be too late for Scots who voted No, if in a majority, to repent. They will do so at unhappy leisure, in growing poverty of income and served, if that is the correct word, by public services in serious decline.
The Telegraph’s cry for leadership is unanswered from within the Westminster establishment. It now, in some desperation, looks to the new Governor of the Bank of England, Canadian Mark Carney, to come up with the magic solution.
Has no one noticed that as well as being financially bankrupt, the UK governing class, in appointing a foreigner, and giving him carte blanche on the economy, is tacitly admitting it is politically bankrupt? It is a strange form of democracy that sees its parliament and government abdicate responsibility to a foreign national. The last time history recorded such an event, was in 1876 when a debt laden Egypt gave up control of its economy to British and French Commissioners. It would seem that it is in more than big pot holes in roads that the UK is coming to resemble some aspects of a third world country.
There is no reason for Scotland to remain within a United Kingdom that is bust, and has no prospects of being un-bust. Our 5 million population, even if we cut our public services to the bone, and beggared every worker with wages below the minimum, cannot save the rest with its 55 million of a population. As the facts show, they cannot save us either. We can, however, save ourselves through opting for independence.
It is much easier to manage a small economy, to turn it round, than it is a large one. It is no accident that the league table of wealthy states shows the small countries at the top. It is no accident that Iceland, independent and free of the shackles of the eurozone, has so remarkably recovered from the great crash of 2007. Scotland is small in numbers but rich in resources. It is able, like all other small states to be nimble, to try and then adjust policy as experience and circumstances dictate.
The choice before the people is whether they will remain within a failing state, or use their abundant talents and their land and seas’ resources to strike out in a new direction in order to reach a higher level of prosperity, allied to fairness in the distribution of wealth.