Everybody knows that the future is uncertain. Nobody knows what’s around the next corner, though we can hazard a guess most of the time. But there are some things that we know for sure will be there, in the absence of an earthquake (which we probably would have noticed).
We don’t know the results of the referendum. There are only two choices, to be sure, but which one will win out isn’t certain. And if the answer is Yes, a lot will change, many would say for the better (on the basis that they couldn’t really get much worse).
But what if the result is No? Will everything stay the same as it was before? The No campaign would like you to say “of course”. They want you to vote for the status quo, and they’re banking on you not finding out what I’m about to tell you.
No does not mean the status quo (picture: @JohnJappy on Twitter)
Certainty number 1: More cuts
In a speech on 6 January this year, George Osborne said “We’ve got to make more cuts – £17 billion this coming year, £20 billion next year, and over £25 billion further across the two years after. That’s more than £60 billion in total.” So the cuts we’ve seen so far (around £10 billion) haven’t even scratched the surface, even though the UK already has more than a million families relying on food banks to feed their children. Incidentally, Trussell Trust have been warned that if they continue to campaign on this issue, they will probably be closed down.
Even if the Labour Party does manage to beat the Tories and win the next election, the £25 billion promised by Osborne for the 2 years following would still take place. Ed Balls, the Labour shadow Chancellor announced 8 days after Osborne’s speech that “Labour will accept Tory cuts in full”.
Certainty number 2: A reduced budget for Scotland
The main part of Scotland’s allocated resources from the Westminster government is calculated according to the Barnett Formula. This distributes expenditure… in proportion to population… Its principle is that any increase or reduction in expenditure in England will automatically lead to a proportionate increase or reduction in resources for the devolved government. Austerity will obviously reduce the budget, but this is not the major problem.
Because of geography, Scotland receives more per head than England, but less than Wales and Northern Ireland. Senior Conservative politicians, including Boris Johnson and Alistair Carmichael (Secretary of State for Scotland) in London and Ruth Davidson in Scotland have all called for the Barnett Formula to be scrapped and this has been echoed by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Taxation, which has called for it to be replaced “as a priority”. Scottish Labour have called for it to be scrapped as well.
If the Barnett Formula is replaced with a simple calculation based on population without adjustment (a suggestion which seems to be pretty popular down South), Scotland will lose more than 14.5% of its budget – resulting in a huge loss of services. Then you add in the austerity measures I already talked about above… they don’t even have to punish us for the temerity of asking for a referendum, because they will turn Scotland into a total basket case anyway!
Given that Scotland has been subsidising the rest of the UK for over 30 years, this reduction in funds would be unfair, of course. But politicians aren’t renowned for paying much attention to fairness except when they have to – as they do at the moment, but won’t after the result is known. The only way for Scotland to have a future worth living in is to vote Yes and take it into our own hands.
Take note of what Andrew Neil said, “Devolution, the Calman Commission, the Scotland Bill, the Edinburgh Agreement, all of this and more you have, is because Westminster parties are scared of the SNP. If you vote ‘No’ you massively change the balance of power and they will not only give you nothing, but will probably take powers away from the Scottish Parliament”.
In fact, they already have! Powers over the renewable energy obligation were brought back under the control of Westminster by a vote in the House of Lords at the end of last year. This is Westminster “being nice”.
Think about it. If Scotland were the liability that the No campaign would have you believe, why would they be so passionately involved in trying to stop us leaving? One thing’s for sure, it isn’t ‘cos they love us, or if it is, they have a pretty strange way of showing it.