Daily Israel Report

Both Sides Appeal to Scottish Economic Sensitivities

As the polls demonstrate growing support for Scottish independence economic arguments pro and con are targeting the Scots.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 10/16/2011, 4:21 PM

The current debate about independence for Scotland is likely to reinforce the stereotype about the Scottish preoccupation with economic savings.

Alec Salmond head of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) emphasizes that independence will mean control of North Sea oil for Scotland's. The decision by oil giant BP to invest £4.5 billion in the oilfields of the coast of Scotland reverses the notion that North Sea oil was diminishing in value. The previous projection was that the oil would be exhausted by 2030, now we are dealing with 2050 and billions in royalties. The British government is expected to receive record revenues this year from the oilfields and is therefore alluring to Scottish voters to have these revenues all for themselves.

Those defending the union have hit back by saying that the Scottish economy would've tanked and Scottish banks such as the Royal Bank of Scotland would have gone under without the United Kingdom. They warn the Scots that independence would carry an immediate price tag of £122 billion.

This debate is taking place against a backdrop of increasing support for Scottish independence all over the UK. This does not mean that people feel that the Scots have a case but that Scotland is currently is overrepresented and over subsidized and England would be best off without it.

Alec Salmond is preparing to offer the Scottish electorate a middle have your cake and eat it option in the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence.

Voters will be able to choose either full independence from the United Kingdom, or full "financial autonomy" –where Scotland would be able to raise all its own taxes and run its own welfare system but remain part of the UK.  Knowing that younger voters are more likely to take the plunge Salmond wants to allow people from the age of 16 to vote. The government will not allow the Scots to cherry pick their degree of affiliation. The riposte is likely to be barring MPs from Scotland from voting on bills that affect England..

There is also the issue of the timing. Given the momentum building up for independence opponents are challenging Salmond, the Scottish first Minister to put the referendum to a vote as soon as possible in order to end the conditions of uncertainty. Salmond and the SNP reply that they promised a referendum in the latter half of their term in office meaning that the referendum can wait another 2 or 3 years.

In the meantime representatives of the Scottish government have established a quasi-embassy in the United States allowing representatives to brief members of Congress on the Scots drive for independence.