Alistair Darling accuses Salmond of blindfolding the electorate

Darling meets with members of the public in the Piecebox Café in Polwarth.

Darling meets with members of the public in the Piecebox Café in Polwarth.

Better Together campaign leader, Alistair Darling, today met with members of the public to discuss the most recent developments in the  independence debate. The meeting, at the Piecebox Café in the city’s Polwarth Crescent, comes days after the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, dismissed any hope that an independent Scotland could share the pound with the rest of the UK.

The former Chancellor of the Exchequer accused the First Minister of asking the people of Scotland to walk ‘blindfold’ into the polling stations 200 days from now. He said: “In the past few days the wheels have been coming off the nationalist wagon.

“Alex Salmond is not prepared to tell us what currency we will be using and cannot guarantee that if an independent Scotland were to join the EU that they would have the same deal as now.”

DSCN0608[1]Darling strongly emphasised the point that with thecurrency union completely off the table now there is no way to know what the pound in your pocket will be worth in an independent Scotland. This was reinforced by a representative from the Federation of Small Businesses present at the meeting who voiced concerns over the fact that many businesses rely on trade in other areas within the UK, an action that would be made difficult and expensive without a common currency.

He also warned that a change in currency could have dramatic effects on business in Scotland, and suggested that companies such as RBS and Standard Life would face a choice of a move down south in order to trade in the currency held by the majority of its customers.

Finally Darling warned not to take the decision of voting yes or no lightly, as the vote on 18 September is final: ”The result, whatever it is, will stand.

“People have to understand that there is no going back, and if the polls say yes? The result is binding.”

[ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE EDINBURGH REPORTER 17/02/14]

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Scottish Independence Debate Podcast

Stuart Johnston presents an independence debate with Ashtin Loughry and Cameron Bark. Will independence be a good thing for Scotland or not?

The Scottish Referendum from an Outsider’s Perspective

I have lived in Scotland for 5 months as part of my American study abroad program, and the one topic that is always inescapable, is the issue of Scottish independence. It is my understanding that Scotland is a part of the United Kingdom, and I can see why a nation would want to be free of a greater rule. However, when I talk to most people here, I get two answers; either they are vehemently for independence or they do not really know what is going to happen.

I can already foresee a few problems if Scotland attains their independence. First, taxes will immediately rise, and no one will be happy about that, considering taxes are already very high in the United Kingdom as a whole. Secondly, the issue of which currency to use will be hotly debated. Will they use the Pound or will they revert to Euros? Lastly, the benefits of free healthcare and free university might not be so free anymore. These two things are extremely valuable and speaking as an American, I wish these came free for me as well. Yet, these problems may never exist because no one can tell the future, and we will just have to see what happens when the time comes.

 

The independence question – you decide

When it comes to the Scottish independence referendum, I’m not sure. It’s not a case of a lack of information as such, but probably a bombardment of disinformation.

When the original idea of an independence vote came around I was prolifically no. But really it was because I was thinking of ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’. But that’s a pretty shallow argument, so it took a bit of thinking to arrive where I am now. I would say that I’m on the fence, leaning towards yes. My lean is attributed to one section of arguments: politics. The reason for that is because the way I see it the only spectrum in an independent (or not) Scotland that can truly be predicted is political.

The current state of affairs isn’t particularly desirable as Scotland is under a Conservative/Lib Dem coalition that we specifically didn’t vote for. I come from an area of Thatcher wasteland so for my community being ruled by Conservatives is a huge injustice. So, at least if we were independent we would be ruled by a government that we actually voted for. Thin argument if that’s your only one though.

The other side of the coin is that if we vote no then how would Scotland be treated as part of a country that we tried to escape. I dread the thought.

For me, that ends all viable arguments. For there is no models to compare of an already developed country in a similar situation. Because Scotland and the rest of the UK are so similar, I can’t see there being many social or economic arguments either way. This is unlike the situation with the Catalan region of Spain, which with the huge tourism industry in the region, if they were to become independent, and follow other small countries in installing a duty free law, could see their area turn into a country or principality such as Andorra or Monaco. The way I see it Scotland will remain indifferent.

An Not-so-foreign Foreign Issue

Even though I have only been in Scotland a little over two weeks, it seems that the way politics are handled here are not so different from the way they are back home in the U.S. of A. Before I hopped on that 9 hour flight to Edinburgh, I was told by many people to be excited because I was going to be in Scotland during a very turbulent but exciting time–a time where the word “independence” would be whispered with feelings of adoration and beguilement. “How exciting,” I thought. “How lucky I am to be able to be in the midst of a group of people stirring with the same emotions that stirred in the hearts of those who fought for the freedom of America.” A bit nostalgic and a tad overemotional of a thought perhaps, but, hey, that’s just the kind of girl I am.
Upon arriving in Scotland, I was driven to my flat by a man with whom I conversed about the Referendum a good bit. He was an older fellow who seemed to believe it was high-time that Scotland had its independence; he wanted to vote Yes and believed that this country could easily sustain its own economy with oil and, to no stereotypical surprise, its whiskey. Since he was the first Scottish individual I had spoken to about the issue my whimsical picture of the fight for Scottish independence was perpetuated.
The second individual I spoke to about it was a uni-age guy who had some very interesting beliefs that he was gathered from a myriad of different sources. He believed the whole vote to be some what of a conspiracy–a way for the Scottish government to trick the English into giving Scotland more power by threatening a YES vote. An interesting idea to be sure.
The third group I spoke to were two of my classmates who both held a similar view of the issue: disillusionment. Ah yes, now this feels like home. Discussing the topic with them made me think for a quick second that I was back in North Carolina talking about “politics” and the next big issue with a few friends at coffee. They both see the whole issue of independence as an issue that could have maybe had merit at one time or another but due to oversaturation by the media and the ridiculous blind-loyalty of Scottish Nationalists neither of them really want much to do with it at all. I can’t blame them. Oversaturation of politics in the media is something I am quite familiar with as an American, especially as an American student whose home university is very liberal. It seems like everyday the young adults and 20 somethings of the U.S. are bombarded with different viewpoints on a whole host of different subjects but one thread remains common amongst them all: the issue is never really the issue. Now, what I mean by that is the topics the media chooses to speak on are rarely at the actual heart of the issue at hand. Rather, they focus on the fringe issues that get people really heated up and polarized like abortion, homosexuality, freedom of speech, etc. None of those issues are wrong to discuss at all; however, most of them they are abused, used as distractions from discussing the topics, though perhaps less clear and more difficult to handle, that truly affect the situation.
For the issue of the Referendum, this fringe issue that everyone seems to be playing on is the hatred of the Tories and/or the English in general. The YES campaign, according to my classmates, appears to be driven by this essential polarization: either you want to continue to be associated with the English/Tories or you are a loyal Scot and want nothing to do with them. Quite the heavy-handed viewpoint, is it not? This is what politics has become in America and it appears to be no different here. And, because of the plethora of information coming at us from every direction in this world of 24/7 news media cycles, the issue gets lost. It is so hard to discern truth from extravagant lie and because of this, it is so much easier to just sit back and let other people handle it all. We just want our peace and quiet right? Why does anything have to change at all? While I agree with this to a certain extent, there is no denying that if all of the sensible people decided to sit back because they are overwhelmed, that means that the floor is open for all those extremists with their heavy-handed opinions to make the final decision. And, let’s be honest, no one wants that. But how is one to wade through all the muck of the political media marsh in order to find solid ground?
What everyone wants to know is if Scotland can survive on its own, monetarily and politically. But, the majority of what appears to be discussed in the media focuses not on that central question but instead on the perks of saying YES and what a terrible Scot you are if you say NO. Now, don’t take my word for it for I am just a wee American lass attempting to understand a complex issue about a country that is not my own. Even though I am still very much in the dark, I am intrigued. So, ermm, let the games begin??

Scotland’s Big Decision

To leave the UK or to stay, that is the question on the minds of the Scots. Will we be better off as a independent county or will we fall apart? Can we stand on our own two feet? Will we survive without England? Those are a few questions you’d find yourself asking if you are a Scottish citizen in 2014.

You’d think that people in Scotland would want to be independent but as it turns out, a lot of Scots want to stay part of the UK. This really surprises me. Maybe it’s because I am from the US and being free/independent is what I’ve grown up with. England is nothing like a dictatorship towards Scotland, Scotland does make their own decisions involving education and health care. So maybe staying part of the UK is the best choice.

If Scotland did end up leaving, could the country survive without the help from England or would they crumble under the pressure?  Does Scotland have enough resources to keep the country going strong or would it only be a matter of time before they would go running back to England? It’s hard to say what the future would hold for Scotland if they did receive their independence.

Don’t get me wrong, Scotland might become a great country on it’s own and be just fine. Really , it could go any way and there is always that fear of the unknown and the what ifs with every huge life -altering decision. But you have to risk the bad to see if the good will follow.

Patriotism also plays a role in the Scottish Referendum. Obviously there are people in every country that feel proud to be what they are and this applies to Scotland. I’m sure some people want to be independent just because they can be.

It’s hard to form an opinion on whether or not Scotland should stay or leave the UK because I have only been here for 3 weeks. A few Scots that I have talked to are leaning more towards voting no and staying part of the UK. Maybe it’s because all their lives they have lived with British influence and couldn’t think of any other way of living. Or because they don’t think Scotland can survive alone.

I guess the only thing to do now is wait for the vote and see what Scots choose to do. Take a risk and become independent or play it safe and stay in the UK.

Scottish Independence Referendum – For Or Against?

By Marc McArdle and Laura Palmer.

One Scottish student’s view on Scottish Independence: