In Depth

Arguments for and against Scottish independence

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ARGUMENTS FOR:

  • Britishness is dying. Scotland has its own parliament, its own laws and legal system. National feeling and self-confidence are high. It is time to take the next step.
  • Semi-independence is unsatisfactory. Fiscal powers and economic control remain at Westminster. Independence will allow Scotland to cut business taxes (like Ireland) to promote economic growth.
  • Other small countries like Norway and the Republic of Ireland are more successful and more dynamic. An independent Scotland will have the tools to match them.
  • Independence would give Scotland clout where it matters: a seat at the UN and in the EU Council of Ministers. Scottish interests, eg. fisheries and agriculture, are poorly served in Brussels by UK ministers.
  • Relations between Scots and English are deteriorating. Independence would free Scotland from dependency and England from resentment. An amicable no-faults divorce is better than a bickering marriage.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST:

  • The Union has served both countries well for 300 years. Devolution is a young experiment, and it is too soon to judge it.
  • There is a gap between public spending in Scotland (£40bn) and revenue raised there (£27bn). A Scottish government would have to choose between higher taxes and cuts in public services.
  • Scotland has more influence in Brussels as part of the UK than it could have as an independent state.
  • The integrated British economy is more capable than an independent Scotland would be of meeting the challenges of globalisation. Likewise, having independent defence and security structures would overstrain Scotland's resources.
  • Scots should recognise that devolution has put England at a disadvantage, and should press for reforms to the way Westminster works. Satisfying English grievances would put the marriage back on an even keel. Divorce is unnecessary and would be painful.

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