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By Arthur Midwinter, University of Edinburgh; John Curtice, Strathclyde University; Karly Kehoe, Glasgow Caledonian University, and Neil Blain, University of Stirling

Former UK defence secretary and NATO secretary general George Robertson dipped a toe into the independence debate this week and found the water scalding hot.

In return for his comments to hawkish think tank the Brookings Institution in Washington DC that a Scottish yes vote would be “cataclysmic” and music to the ears of terrorist “forces of darkness” around the world, Better Together insiders were soon briefing journalists that this was “hardly helpful” at a time of distinct unease for the campaign.

The yes side remains behind but has been making steady progress, most recently culminating in a poll last weekend that suggested there are now just five percentage points between support for yes and no.

This helps explain why some unionists have been calling for a more positive campaign. While campaign leader Alistair Darling is still insisting that the yes side are the negative ones, we asked our panel whether they thought Better Together should change tack.

John Curtice, Professor of Politics, University of Strathclyde/ScotCen Social Research

My impression is that the no side feels somewhat chastened that its big idea, which was to tell us we could not have the pound, has not worked. And neither has repeating statements of varying degrees of ambiguity about whether or not the financial institutions would relocate in the event of independence.

In the wake of this failure, you are certainly seeing signs of disquiet from parts of the campaign. Liberal Democrats such as Nick Clegg, Charles Kennedy and Willie Rennie have all publicly called for the no campaign to adopt a more positive tone. So we perhaps should not be surprised that George Robertson’s comments were greeted with disquiet by some in the no camp.

My view is that being negative is not necessarily a problem. The problem in the past few weeks has been ineffective campaigning.

Negative campaigning is more likely to work if you are telling people something new. Even before the currency intervention, it was already clear from the polling evidence that quite a lot of people in Scotland had twigged that they might not be able to use the pound as part of a monetary union. Whether or not they thought they would be able to use the pound also seemed not to be making much difference to whether people were likely to vote yes or no, as we saw from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2013.

The source of the information has to have credibility. Telling people that, “a banker told me this” is not necessarily the most effective way of persuading people given their views about bankers as a class. And though businesses are not as unpopular as bankers, they are not that popular.

Equally, it is unwise to use a Tory to sell a big message in Scotland. They are not the most trusted source north of the border. Meanwhile, your claims should not be challenged by “experts” and quite a few senior economists have disputed George Osborne’s arguments against sharing the pound.

The problem the no campaign now faces is that nearly half of the Scottish population has decided it does not believe the claim that Scotland would not be able to use the pound, And having lost credibility on that issue its other claims about the risks of independence may now be regarded more sceptically too.

To be effective, negative campaigning also needs to be followed by the offer of a solution. But while the no side points to Scotland’s potential future economic difficulties, they are less effective at advising how the union will supply a solution.

Trouble is, the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats do not necessarily agree about how the UK economy as a whole should be run, let alone Scotland within it. Thus the no side finds it difficult to offer a united alternative vision that could be a vital ingredient of a more positive campaign.

Karly Kehoe, Senior Lecturer in History, Glasgow Caledonian University

With George Robertson, we need to keep in mind that he was speaking in Washington, DC. He was talking to quite a reactionary audience and not to people in Britain. There were specific things that this audience would have wanted to hear from a former secretary general of NATO.

But his speech indicated that he’s already questioning Scotland’s loyalty to the West. If you suggest that an entire nation can’t be trusted, of course that’s going to alienate people. It’s very condescending. That obviously isn’t good for the Better Together campaign and that’s probably why they wanted to distance themselves from it.

I can’t agree with Darling’s argument at the weekend that those in favour of a yes vote are inherently negative in their opinions. To assume that the majority buy in to what the pro-independence cybernats are saying is irresponsible. People are paying more attention to the mainstream media.

Arthur Midwinter, Visiting Professor of Politics, University of Edinburgh

George Robertson’s record on these issues is not great. He said before devolution that it would kill off the SNP. I just about choked at the time.

I have never regarded what Better Together is saying as negative. That’s a phrase that comes from Salmond. If people regard it as negative to be criticising your opponents, there’s something wrong with the quality of the debate in Scotland. You have to make arguments about the weaknesses of the economy and the fiscal position after independence. That’s not being negative, but robust and critical.

The notion that Better Together can come up with a plan for after the referendum is silly because it depends on who becomes the government. There will be some form of extra devolution, but not necessarily one that is agreed by all the major parties.

Better Together has probably been affected by the turn in the polls, though it’s difficult to tell what the causes are. Appointing Jim Gallagher as strategy director has made a difference to the tone. His advice would be that they should certainly be making a more positive case for the union, which has been a good change.

You have to separate the response to the SNP and the case for the union. The case for the union is now being made more positively, but I don’t regard what they are saying about independence as negative.

Neil Blain, Director of Media Research Institute, University of Stirling

George Robertson’s comments almost worked as an unconscious satire of the no campaign. It reminded me of websites such as bbcscotlandshire.co.uk that have been inventing scares about alien invasions and such like for months. Talking about forces-of-darkness type stuff at the Brookings Institution is not going to go down well.

It raises the real practical question of how the no campaign goes about being positive. If I was in the no campaign, I would find it incumbent on me to point out real difficulties with voting yes. The currency question, banks and GDP issues are real weaknesses for the yes campaign, so of course you would plug away at them.

I was astonished at Henry McLeish advocating going for more hearts and minds. People are going to decide on the basis of the economy. I would predict scare stories right through to the referendum.

But when it comes to making the no message more positive, there is a problem that many people think the status quo is not satisfactory. The SNP as a Holyrood party is enjoying sizeable majority support for a reason. When people were asked about devo max without knowing entirely what it was, 70% plus said they would go for it.

But the no campaign has to span everyone from traditional liberal home rulers who had no difficulty with devolution to hardline Michael Forsyth types. It makes it very difficult for them to put a message together about what Scotland will get in return for voting no.

To read the previous instalments from our panel, click on the links below:

3 April 2014: What does Alex Salmond owe the Poll Tax?

28 March 2014: All about the money as currency debate rages on

22 March 2014: Can we trust the polls?

Panel announcement

The Conversation

As an adviser to Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, Arthur was appointed chair of the party’s Welfare Commission, which is putting together a series of proposals for the future of Scotland.

John Curtice, Karly Kehoe, and Neil Blain do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article. They also have no relevant affiliations.

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By Murray Pittock, Glasgow University

Scotland has always been a distinct nation but since the Act of Union in 1707, it has been a nation within a larger political entity: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The election of a minority Scottish National Party (SNP) government led by Alex Salmond in 2007 brought about the first indications that situation could change. When the SNP won a convincing majority enabling it to rule in its own right last year, the possibility that Scotland could again become a sovereign nation became a distinct possibility.

Now the Westminster coalition government of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats is striking back. Prime Minister David Cameron seeks to define a referendum on independence on London’s terms while Salmond says he has a mandate to run a referendum from Scotland.

The Conversation spoke with Glasgow University expert Professor Murray Pittock to find out exactly what the state of play is between two close neighbours with a long and storied history.

Can you explain what the situation is at both Westminster and in the Scottish Government as regards a referendum on Scottish independence?

The Westminster government have looked to seize the initiative over the Scottish referendum by saying that they will use their powers to either amend the current Scotland bill going through the Lords or more likely the 1998 Scotland Act to enable a binding referendum on the future of Scotland to be held.

Other referenda would simply be consultative. There was an indication at the weekend that they would wish this referendum to be held within 18 months, to wrongfoot the Scottish National Party government in Holyrood who have said all along, publicly, that they would hold it at some point in 2014.

There has been some sign of a retreat from that position by the UK government – particularly by the Liberal Democrat members of the Coalition – where the Scottish Secretary Michael Moore is looking to resolve the issue with the Scottish Government.

Earlier this week First Minister Alex Salmond made very clear that the mandate the Scottish Government had was to hold a referendum in 2014 and that is when he would intend to hold a referendum.

There are a number of bones of contention. One of these is whether there should be a third question about repatriating maximum powers short of foreign affairs, the so-called “devo max” question.

Another is whether the UK Electoral Commission or a Scottish Referendum Commission should run the referendum.

The third is whether 16 or 17 year olds should be entitled to vote rather than over-18s. The First Minister has indicated that 16 and 17 year olds would vote if the Scottish Government organised the referendum.

Can you explain the “devo max” option in some more detail?

There is some variety as to the powers that are suggested under devo max but the fundamental issue is that devo max represents what tends to be the polling evidence in Scotland, which is that there is a majority in favour of repatriating all powers to Scotland – including taxation and macro-economic policy to a significant degree – but excluding defence and foreign policy.

Although it must be said that the Scottish administrations since 1999 and particularly since 2007 have operated a nascent foreign policy.

In terms of the question of a mandate, the Tories only have one Westminster seat in Scotland and the Lib Dems have 12 where the SNP won a very considerable victory in the Scottish Parliament elections. Who will be able to claim better that they have the mandate to decide what referendum should be held and when?

Lib Dem Nick Clegg and Tory Prime Minister David Cameron can work together in government, but can they defend the Union together? AAP/Stefan Wermuth

The question of mandate has two aspects: a constitutional aspect and a political aspect. From a constitutional point of view the UK government has a case. From a political point of view, its case is very weak because clearly the Scottish Government was elected to govern Scotland and to conduct a referendum on independence and it has won an overall majority under a proportional system which is very difficult to do.

The Scottish Government clearly does have a political mandate and most of the counter-arguments have been constitutional and legal arguments. The question is how far those will give way to the politics. The early response in Scotland, not from politicians, from the public – judging by radio phone-ins and the like – is very hostile to the idea of Tory interference in Scotland, even from people who do not support the SNP.

I think if this was a Labour London government, it would be easier for them to put Alex Salmond in a corner. I think that the risk here is that in pandering to the anti-Scottish or anti-Salmond views of some of his backbench MPs and thinking he doesn’t have very much to lose in Scotland because he only has one seat, David Cameron has re-animated Scottish views that the Conservative party is a toxic brand and (also re-animated) antipathy to it and all that its stands for.

Which is perhaps predictable but is not going to make his task in gaining ascendancy over the Scottish Government any easier.

Is there a situation where a divided Unionist camp advantages the Scottish Nationalists?

I think that is a significant advantage. The other thing is the 2014 date. People have said it is chosen because of the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, or it has been chosen because of the Commonwealth Games but one reason it has been chosen is, I suspect, because the next UK general election is in 2015 and holding it within six to nine months of that General Election, especially in the autumn when the campaigning season has started after the party conferences, will make it very difficult for the Labour party and the Conservatives to appear on the same platform.

The indications are that they won’t be able to do that.

Would the SNP, even though they will campaign for independence, be happy with devo max?

I think the best guess there is that the Cabinet and the parliamentary party in Holyrood have got a variety of views on this and some of them will be keen to have devo max and some of them would be uncertain about having a third question. I think that circle may be squared by having a consultation process on the form a referendum should take with the electorate in Scotland.

My suspicion is the First Minister probably is interested in a third question and we will see whether people feed back to say they would like one.

Murray Pittock is involved in developing the Studying Scotland agenda in schools and elsewhere with the Scottish Government as part of his work in leading the Scottish Studies Global research theme for the University of Glasgow.

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By Jan Eichhorn, University of Edinburgh

A lot of things have been said about those who have not made their minds up yet with regards to whether they will vote yes or no in this year’s referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future.

Sometimes those undecided have simply been declared as those who probably do not care at all and are therefore not likely to think about it – and who will probably not turn out. On other occasions links to a range of socio-demographic variables have been made suggesting that people from particular backgrounds, in particular those from lower socio-economic backgrounds would be less likely to make up their minds.

But very few of these propositions have been backed up with actual data.

The vote: should Scotland be an independent country? SSA

Using the representative 2013 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (SSA) we have been able to properly investigate what characterises those undecided. We found a lot of the commonly expressed assumptions paraphrased above could not be supported.

But about one-third of voters say that they have not made their mind up yet. Therefore it is worth engaging with them in more depth to properly understand their reasons for indecision.

Age, sex and class

First of all, demographic differences do not show major differences in the likelihood of being undecided. There is no consistent age pattern – most age groups are similar to one another. While those older than 65 appear to be a little more decided and those 25-34 a little less, none of these differences are actually robust when you account for other influencing factors at the same time, such as sex and social class.

Proportion of voters undecided by age group. SSA

Similarly there are no major differences in decidedness between different social classes. Most are very similar, with those that may be considered about in the middle (small employers and own accounts workers) being slightly less likely to be undecided and those in lower supervisor and technical occupations being slightly more likely. But there is no clear pattern. The percentage of those undecided is effectively the same for those in the highest and those in the lowest social class (at 35 and 36% respectively).

Again, when controlling for other demographic factors we do not find the relationship between social class and decidedness to be robust.

Proportion of voters undecided by social class. SSA

There is a small relationship between indecision and general political interest. A small group of politically very disinterested people (about 10% of respondents overall) has a substantially greater likelihood not to have made up their mind. These “usual suspects” indeed exist, but they are only a small proportion of all those undecided. Whether people have more or less interest in politics only relates marginally to their likelihood of having made their minds up.

Political interest only matters at the extremes. So many of the undecided voters are not disengaged, but can be identified by other factors.

Proportion of voters undecided by interest in politics. SSA

There are some differences between men and women, with women being somewhat more likely not to have decided yet. This is a robust finding when taking into account other demographic variables, but the difference can be explained when we look at whether people think they know enough about the issue.

Those who feel that they do not have enough knowledge about independence yet are more likely to be undecided – and women are more likely to report the desire to know more about independence before deciding.

Proportion of voters undecided by political party identification. SSA

Those who feel independence would affect their lives more significantly are more likely to have made up their mind. So campaigns for both sides have been given a clear message – and a strategic approach would need to clarify this indecision on how independence would affect potential voters on each side.

Playing politics

Indecision is greatest among those who do not identify with any political party (at 48% indecision). This makes some sense, as those voters are probably not receptive to the clear pointers that the various political parties are providing. But there are also differences between parties in the campaigns. While nearly all those who identify as Conservative and Liberal Democrat have made up their mind (89% and 85% respectively) Labour identifiers, show similar levels of indecision to SNP identifiers (36% and 35% respectively), despite Labour being part of the Better Together campaign.

There is one more important group of undecided voters the campaigns should pay close attention to: those who do not have their favourite option on the ballot paper.

Decidedness by constitutional preference SSA

Approximately one third of respondents in the survey stated their most preferred option for Scotland would be further devolution (commonly referred to as “Devo Max”). Among the Devo Max-inclined voters, 45% were still undecided (compared to only 30% among those who preferred other constitutional solutions). Neither campaign has been able to capture a large number of potential voters who would have preferred further devolution to either independence or continuing full union.

If they want to reach these people, they will have to convince them that their proposals come closest to the preferred option of these voters.

The Yes campaign would presumably have to convince them that a No is unlikely to result in substantial further devolution, while the Better Together campaign would have to persuade those people of the opposite, that a No would be followed by effective further devolution.

If either campaign is able to do this we may see a relevant number of those undecided still shift correspondingly.

Hard Evidence is a series of articles in which academics use research evidence to tackle the trickiest public policy questions. The graphics were reproduced with the kind permission of ScotCen Social Research.

Jan Eichhorn receives funding from the Economic and Social Research Council as part of the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2013 with ScotCen Social Research.

This research has been funded by the ESRC. Members of the research team are Jan Eichhorn and Lindsay Paterson (both University of Edinburgh) and John Curtice, Rachel Ormston and Susan Reid (ScotCen Social Research).

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The cost of independence might just determine the Scottish referendum. David Cheskin/PA

By John Curtice, Strathclyde University

The Scottish independence referendum campaign has now been raging for 18 months, ever since the Yes Scotland (pro-independence) and Better Together (anti-independence) umbrella organisations were launched in the middle of 2012. But according to ScotCen’s latest Scottish Social Attitudes survey, conducted between June and October last year, the campaigns have so far had remarkably little impact.

For a start, the survey, which has been charting Scots’ attitudes towards how they should be governed on every year since the advent of devolution in 1999, suggests the level of support for independence has not shifted significantly during the course of the last year.

Support for the proposition that “Scotland should be independent, separate from the UK” has increased overall from 23% in 2012 to 29% now – but that means it is still three points lower than it was in 2011. Meanwhile, the proportion who agree that “the Scottish parliament should make all decisions for Scotland” (a statement that implies independence) has slipped from 35% in 2012 to 31%. Both figures are close to the 30% who say they “will” or “think they are most likely to” vote Yes in the referendum (while 54% say they are likely to vote No).

Much the same picture emerges when we look under the bonnet and examine what people say when asked how good a deal they think Scotland gets out of the union at present – and whether independence would make any difference. Such changes as have occurred have been small and not entirely consistent. The proportion who think it is England’s economy that benefits most from the union has increased marginally over the last year from 28% to 32%; at the same time, the proportion who thought that independence would make Scotland’s economy better has now slipped from 34% in 2012 to 30% today.

Meanwhile, voters are apparently still just as uncertain what independence would mean as they were 12 months ago. The proportion who say they are “unsure” what would happen if Scotland were to become independent has actually increased from 58% to 64%.

What really matters

So what needs to be done if either side is to shift the balance of public opinion, and voters are to feel that the campaign is actually helping them to make a decision? To find the answer, we can look at which issues actually divide voters into the Yes and No camps – and which do not.

On the one hand, voters’ expectations for the economic consequences of independence are clearly a key factor as they decide how to vote. Among those who think Scotland’s economy would be better under independence, 71% are inclined to vote Yes. On the other side, as many as 86% of those who think Scotland’s economy would be “worse” expect to vote No. Equally, when voters are asked what they would do if they thought they would be £500 a year better off as a result of independence, 52% indicated that they would support the idea. On the other hand, only 15% said they would do so if they thought they would be £500 a year worse off.

The debate has focused heavily on the economy, but also much else besides: the terms and conditions Scotland would have to accept to remain in the European Union, whether the UK government allow an independent Scotland to use the pound, and whether an independent Scotland would be a more equal society that was willing, for example, to spend more on welfare. These are issues on which Yes and No voters hold largely similar views.

While 67% of Yes voters say an independent Scotland should be a member of the European Union, so do 70% of No voters. Not that either side’s voters are very enthusiastic about that prospect: while 57% of Yes voters think Britain should either leave the European Union or at least reduce its powers, so do 63% of No supporters.

Although 39% of No voters who would like an independent Scotland to use the pound are doubtful it will be able to do so in practice, so are 33% of Yes supporters. On welfare, as many as 56% of No voters think benefits for the unemployed are too high and discourage people from finding a job. But so do 46% of Yes supporters.

The choice that Scotland has to make in September is vital to the country’s future. But the debate needs to focus on the economic consequences of independence, rather than remaining in the UK. Spending time on many of the other issues that have so far been prominent in the campaign simply risks wasting time.

John Curtice is co-editor of the British Social Attitudes 30th report. Partial funding for the 2012 Scottish Social Attitudes data reported here was generously provided by the Economic and Social Research Council (grant number ES/K006355/1) and the Electoral Reform Society. Funding for the 2012 British Social Attitudes data came from NatCen Social Research’s own resources. Responsibility for the views expressed lies solely with the author.

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Derek Bateman challenges that view that Scotland wouldn’t have a seat at the European Top Table

Derek BatemanThe political blogger and former broadcaster, Derek Bateman, has written an open letter to two Scottish MEPs. He’s taken them to task over their support for comments, made recently by various EU officials, that Scotland would cease to be a member of the European Union should the country vote ‘Yes’ in the forthcoming referendum. Given the state of uncertainty over the issue, here’s his letter in full.


Open Letter
David Martin MEP and Catherine Stihler MEP (both Lab)

Dear David and Catherine

Season’s greetings to you both and to your families. I do miss my trips to Europe paid for by the taxpayer. They may come round again for me when I’m appointed Scotland’s Ambassador to the EU in a couple of year’s time. (I have been told I’m ahead of both Alyn and Ian in the queue so it may be worth keeping in with me).

I see you have both been busy over the holiday period in keeping with your reputation as among the hardest working MEPs.

David Martin MEP

David Martin MEP

In particular, your ringing public endorsement of Jose Manuel Barroso’s assertions about the position of our nation after a Yes vote have been striking and in tone at least leave you open to the charge of relishing the idea of your country being excluded from membership in its own right, an oddly masochistic reaction I put down to confusing two different things – your desire to remain part of the British state by winning the referendum on the one hand and your constituents’ national interests on the other. As we are about to vote this year on our independence and, since continued EU membership is very much the desired outcome for many of us, can you address a few questions for clarity. In this I’m following the well-worn precedent of European Unionists in demanding answers of the Scottish government before we vote, not to mention the greater precedent of access to truthful information for all citizens in advance of a democratic vote. Here are my questions.

Can you point to the section in the treaties which can be applied to Scotland voting for independence and then subsequently, against its wishes, being expelled?

If you are seeking legal clarity on Scotland’s position, will you formally ask the British government to request it from the Commission who have promised to clarify officially but only to the Member State (UK)?

Catherine Stihler MEP

Catherine Stihler MEP

Do you agree with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that a “precise scenario” for clarification only applies after the referendum vote? (Letter to me from FCO 13/12/13. The ‘precise scenario’ referred to by the Commission can only be presented following negotiations on the terms of Scottish independence from the UK, which can themselves only follow a ‘yes’ vote in next year’s referendum as there is currently no democratic mandate for undertaking such negotiations.

Will you vote for Scotland’s membership of the EU irrespective of how it eventually comes about?

I appreciate it is in your political interest to have your constituents frightened into believing they will become stateless people – the Palestinians of Europe – stripped of their existing rights against their wishes after exercising their democratic right of freedom of expression but surely we are entering uncharted territory now in which the destiny of the Scots is at stake, not just another five years in or out of office. Therefore the ritual dance of claim and counter claim from our politicians – on all sides – should stop.

So, again, where in the treaties governing the European Union does it allow for existing EU citizens to have their country removed from membership, their citizenship revoked, their right to free movement withheld, their financial contribution retained, their subsidies stopped (retrospectively?), their visiting students repatriated before qualifying, their border re-introduced and closed to the single market, hundreds of EU-funded developments halted, and you as MEPs ejected from your elected position?

It seems that Barroso and Van Rompuy – and yourselves – are relying on Article 49 of the TEU which relates to new member states. Scotland won’t be a new state until the negotiations are completed and she will then be endorsed by London so are you saying Brussels will have no involvement of any kind in 18 months minimum of talks between London and Edinburgh and will immediately turn its back on the deal although it’s ratified by the rUK as a Member State?

Even if we adopt that viewpoint, although Article 49 manifestly envisages third countries applying to accede rather than existing ones splitting, my question is: How does Scotland get there? By what process based on which section of the treaties does Scotland cease to be a member? Who decides? Who votes? Is it your argument that the Commission members simply assert that Scotland is outside from a given date and do you as democrats – and as Scots – accept that without challenge? If so, what happened to your commitment to the rule of law and rights of the citizen and all those demands over the years for the institutions to be made more democratic and subject to the parliament? Or do we end up in the Court of Justice possibly under an Action for Annulment, thus:

If any EU country, the Council, the Commission or (under certain conditions) Parliament believes that a particular EU law is illegal, it may ask the Court to annul it. ‘Actions for annulment’ can also be used by private individuals who want the Court to cancel a particular law because it directly and adversely affects them as individuals. If the Court finds the law in question was not correctly adopted or is not correctly based on the Treaties, it may declare the law null and void.

I assure you, I will be the first individual raising such an action, should it ever be needed.

And, if it comes to this apparently unlawful exclusion, will you support it, even if the Scots, whom you both represent, have expressed their desire for independence and will you declare that your obligation is then to fall in behind the people who elect you and take up the fight for Scotland’s right to retain membership?

I would have thought that was self-evident but, David, I remember your enthusiasm for Scotland’s exclusion is quite boundless and you wanted to enshrine it in decisions of the parliament by producing an official report…. “Martin planned to write a report arguing that any new state would be automatically outside the European Union and would be forced to reapply for membership…” http://www.catalannewsagency.com/politics/item/report-on-the-consequences-of-independence-blocked-in-the-european-parliament

Why are you so keen to ensure your own country is made a pariah? The trouble I have with this is that it doesn’t sound like a patriotic Scot bringing to bear his vast experience by using the treaties and historic precedent to warn of the implications of a vote. Rather it has all the marks of a zealot hungry to find any means, lawful or otherwise, of creating difficulty for his own people…not to mention the democratic rights of our fellow European citizens in Catalonia. When did your fealty to the British state overtake your socialist instincts for peoples’ rights, subsidiarity and internationalism?

How is it that you can champion over many years the rights of Palestinians to their own homeland run by themselves even when it brings you into direct opposition with the Israelis, yet you campaign from other side when your own people aspire to the ultimate expression of nationhood – independence? In principle, I don’t think the two are so very different and at the very least, Scots and Palestinians are entitled to hear the truth about their position from those who represent them rather than find those same representatives are in effect running a campaign against them. (How else do explain your position of insisting – and working to demonstrate – that Scotland will be outside the EU? And why have the Labour MEPs done nothing to seek an alternative view, a more creative approach which is already being preached by voices in other member states and briefed by the EU’s own lawyers?)

I notice too that in working to get the institutions to oppose Scotland’s membership, it is your custom to refer to the nation of Scotland as a “region of the EU”. I suppose that is the reality of our place in the UK but I know of no Scot, Unionist or Nationalist, who talks on an international stage of his or her country as a region. Does this provide us with a clear insight into your own personal view of the Scottish nation as less than other countries and unworthy of statehood?

I fear the politicking in this debate is obscuring the reality which is the inclusive impulse of the EU since inception, a principle I know you subscribe to which makes your insistence that the Scots must be denied an odd one.

The risks for those of you promulgating this stance is two-fold. One, the anger at the embarrassment this obstructionism to Scotland – and Catalonia – is causing to the reputation of the EU as a democratic alliance spills over and other countries openly challenge the institutional orthodoxy or, even more likely, an insider leaks the outline legal viewpoint which contradicts it. Second, the Yes campaign wins and the truth is revealed in real time as negotiations begin. In neither case do the Barroso adherents win, or deserve, anything but the contempt of the international community and, more pertinently, the scorn of the Scots. Not much of a legacy, is it?

Happy New Year


Do Coalitions produce better Government?

This year’s UK party conference season has been concentrating minds on the next general election, even though it is two years away and over the blue horizon of the independence referendum. Each party wants to form the next government in May 2015 but the tormenting question is: what happens if no one party has a majority in the House of Commons?

Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg

Most people, of course, want one party to win outright – 67 per cent, according to the latest opinion poll (ComRes for ITV). But, as we all know, it is not what happened at the last election, and the Liberal Democrats seem to believe it is not what will happen at the next election. They have a Rousseau-like belief that it is the general will of the people to see parties “working together” to form a consensus government.

It is not, however, what the opinion polls are saying. Again according to that ComRes poll, 51 per cent of voters want the largest party to rule. And that makes sense to me. As Alex Salmond demonstrated in the Scottish Parliament from 2007- 2011, a minority government can rule well, last the whole term and be successful, as judged by the people at the following election.

Of course, he had to win a majority in parliament for any new law and for his budget. So he had to accept that the Edinburgh trams went ahead, that there should be a thousand more police on the beat, that there was not enough support for a local income tax. On each of these issues, an open debate took place in parliament. And when there is no overall consensus in the country for one particular philosophy, then this is how political business should be done, issue by issue.

The parties are trying to form a coalition in Germany

The parties are trying to form a coalition in Germany

But there’s a curious fashion among politicians these days for coalition governments. The Germans are putting one together as I write, so too are the Norwegians. The Italians, the Irish, the Belgians and at least 20 other countries are keen on coalitions. Only, however, as a last resort and because no one party can win the support of most of the people.

Coalitions are dangerous things. They can fall apart at any moment. They can push through unpopular measures. They concentrate power in the secrecy of the cabinet room rather than in the directly elected parliament. They lead to incoherent trade-offs of one policy against another (eg free school meals/tax breaks for married couples). They can lead to a small party staying permanently in government as it forms coalitions with first one major party and then another. (This can be dangerous for the small party concerned, as the Free Democrats have found in Germany and the Liberal Democrats may be about to find out in Britain in 2015.)

In fact, the Liberal Democrats are the very party that can ensure that we do not have a coalition next time, by promising in advance that they will not enter a coalition with either the Conservatives or with Labour. And I would argue it would be to their advantage. First, it would be a popular stance, likely to win them more votes. Second, it would allow them to say they are breaking the mould of tribal British politics and instead introducing “issue politics”. And third, it would be underlining the power of parliament over the executive…governments propose but parliaments dispose.

The SNP formed a minority government successfully

The SNP formed a minority government successfully

Some people say minority governments are unstable. So are coalitions, of course. But we now have fixed term parliaments in the UK and Scotland which make multiple general elections less likely. In the event of a no-confidence motion being passed in parliament, it’s more likely now that another leader from the same largest party would be invited by the Queen to form a government. In any case, why should there not be another election if MPs cannot agree on a government?

Some people say a minority government cannot get anything done. What they mean is that it cannot get its own way all the time. And why should it? It doesn’t mean the country descends into chaos. Ministers would run the administration day-to-day, assisted by their civil servants and systems already in place would continue…budgets, laws, quangos, local governments etc. On major issues, a minority government has to go out and win a majority of MPs for what it wants to do.

Some people say minority government and issue-by-issue politics leads to a decline in political parties and the rise of maverick independents. But there is no reason why this should happen. Campaigners would still need to organise into teams and to work on a local level. And they would still gravitate towards a particular political philosophy…building on earlier traditions. And each party would still put forward a general manifesto on which it would hope to win the popular vote outright.

The advantage of staying out of coalitions is that parties would not have to compromise their election pledges. They could vote in parliament along the lines of their manifesto, without bringing down the government and causing a political crisis.

Will Coalition Government survive the next election?

Will Coalition Government survive the next election?

Some people say minority governments cause uncertainty. Not if the system is that the largest party forms the government on the morning after an election. There is no week of coalition haggling to unsettle the financial markets. And people would be able to form a pretty clear view of which way parliament would vote on each issue. Coalitions, in the end, are a conspiracy by the politicians against the voters.

And it’s not that minority government has not been tried. Norway has had three minority governments since the war, Canada has had 11. In Australia, Julia Gillard ruled for three years with a minority government. Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan both led minority governments for a time. John Major’s government was a minority – if you exclude the Ulster Unionists. Labour in Wales have formed the administration without an overall majority. And, as mentioned, Alex Salmond showed how it could be done in some style.

The Liberal Democrats argue that by being in government they have achieved more of their policies than being outside it. I doubt it. Many of the changes they claim to have won would have happened anyway…raising the income tax threshold, investment in early years education, linking pensions to the “triple lock” of earnings, prices or 2.5 per cent. They claim to have “tamed the Tories”. But we still have austerity in the form of deep cuts in public spending and we have a British veto on a treaty to bring financial stability to Europe.

It would have been easier for the Liberal Democrats to block Tory excesses by linking up with Labour in the Commons on issues such as university fees, NHS reforms, or the spare room subsidy.

The Liberal Democrats will probably live to regret their panic in May 2010 and their leaders’ wish to rush into government. I don’t quite understand politicians’ weakness for ministerial power, when they could have real power as MPs, and a much easier life. They can still see their ambitions fulfilled for a mixed economy, full employment, decent public services, local decision-making, protection for our human rights, care for the environment etc through a parliament with a real say on all executive action.

End the coalition conspiracy now.

We need a much better standard of debate about the issues

12 months from today, people living in Scotland will go to the polls to answer one simple question – “should Scotland be an independent country?” One can only hope that the next 12 months will start to see much more detailed, reasoned and effective debate about this country’s future. Frankly, until now what we’ve had has been what can only be described as a “phoney war”. Very little in the arguments put forward by either side in this debate could genuinely be said to be anything more than opinion, guesswork and conjecture.

Would Scotland have to adopt the Euro?

Would Scotland have to adopt the Euro?

All the big questions still have to be answered. Would Scotland for example automatically be a member of the European Union? Would the EU allow an independent Scotland to keep the pound? Would an independent Scotland have to adopt the Schengen Agreement – and if so what would that mean for the border between Scotland and England? Even if Scotland were allowed to keep the pound, would it be able to borrow at the same rates as the current British government? What would Scotland share of the U.K.’s National Debt amount to?

These are only a tiny fraction of the still unanswered questions to which voters will need answers before this time next year. It is unlikely that today’s debate in the Scottish Parliament will add very much to the sum of knowledge. With all due respect to the various parties, all we are likely to get is more of the same political posturing. We need the two sides to be much clearer in setting out their stalls and be able to present a much more coherent argument for and against independence.

Alistair Darling chairs the 'No' Campaign

Alistair Darling chairs the ‘No’ Campaign

Speaking recently to business people who have strong reservations about the split with England, it was quickly clear that their main frustration was aimed at what they described as the ineptitude and incompetence of the “No” campaign. Alistair Darling, its chairman, may be a seasoned politician but the business people felt that he appeared to be leading a group of disparate organisations which were between them incapable of producing a simple, clear vision of a future United Kingdom. They feared that the campaign was in danger of losing by default because its public relations in particular seemed non-existent.

By contrast, the “Yes” campaign does at least have a vision of what Scotland could be like as an independent nation. They were able to draw on international comparisons such as the peaceful breakup of Czechoslovakia into two separate countries. They constantly refer to the influence that small nations can have on the EU – the Presidency of the Council is currently held by Lithuania, for example. And the SNP has consistently over the years drawn inspiration from the success of the Nordic countries, Norway and Denmark in particular. The party sees no reason why Scotland could not emulate those nations.

Alex Salmond MSP "once-in-a-generation event"

Alex Salmond MSP
“once-in-a-generation event”

However, we are reaching the point where flesh needs to put on the bones. The first stage in understanding what in fact we will be voting on in 12 months’ time will come with the publication of a White Paper setting out the Scottish Government’s position. Only then will the supporters of independence be able to separate the reality from the dream; only then will the supporters of union be able to identify the perceived benefits of staying together.

First Minister Alex Salmond has said that the referendum would be “the biggest opportunity Scotland has ever had”. In a speech last night, he went on to point out that referendums like this are “a once-in-a-generation event, which means that the vote on September 18 next year will be the opportunity of a lifetime for many people in Scotland as we get a chance to choose a country’s future.” He insisted that the referendum was not about anyone politician or party. “It’s about completing Scotland’s home will journey just been underway for more than a century.”

What we now have in front of us is the choice of what form that home rule will take. This “phoney war” has been going on for too long. There has been some speculation that Mr Salmond chose the date in 2014 for several social and political reasons. He will for instance be hoping for a positive outcome from the Commonwealth Games and the other major events which are taking place in Scotland next year. He will also be hoping that the other political parties will start fighting each other in the run-up to the U.K.’s general election in 2015 and thus be more interested in fighting each other and fighting for the cause of unity. The danger is that the winner may turn out to be apathy and the last thing Scotland wants or needs is to reach a decision on a minority vote. Our decision needs to be clear-cut and definite.

The Independence Debate Continues

The months when politicians take their summer break is often referred to as “the silly season”. However, it is also time for reflection, away from the hurly-burly of the daily debate which goes on both in Edinburgh and Westminster. So it is that two of our political figures have been delivering measured comment on Scotland’s future.

Alex Salmond MSP First Minister

Alex Salmond MSP
First Minister

Let’s start with the First Minister, Alex Salmond, who delivered a speech in Hawick earlier today. He focused primarily on Scotland’s relationship with the European Union, insisting that this country would have more of a say when it chose to be independent. He also expressed fears that Scotland’s voice in Europe could be silenced if, following the referendum on membership promised by Prime Minister, David Cameron, the UK “were to sleepwalk out of the EU.”

“If we don’t become independent,” he said, “we won’t have control over what happens. It’s an all-too-real example of why it will be better for all of us if decisions about Scotland are taken by the people who care most about Scotland – those who live and work here.”

Mr Salmond went on to stress that small countries had shown that they could “wield great influence”. By way of example, he pointed to the way in which Denmark had used its presidency of the EU Council to drive forward major reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. “Scotland worked closely with Denmark,” he explained, “but we had no capacity to lead reforms in the same way that Denmark could.

Denmark held the EU Presidency

Denmark held the EU Presidency

“These countries often wield great influence. After all, the EU is an organisation where negotiation trumps ultimatum; where the strength of your ideas can matter more than the size of your population. Not being at the top table has harmed our interests for four decades. Within the UK, we are occasionally consulted. With independence, we would contribute as equals.”

In a more reflective foray, the former First Minister, Henry McLeish, set out his stall in an essay penned for The Scotsman. In it, he claimed that the Tories and much of the unionist establishment could be described as “indirectly hastening the breakup of Britain”. Indeed he even claims that Conservatism in London could be “a much bigger threat to the union than nationalism in Edinburgh”.

Mr McLeish argues that a “perfect storm of issues, events and toxic politics is brewing not in Scotland but in London, at Westminster and Conservative Party HQ, which, over the next 12 months, could engulf the referendum campaign and impact the mood and mindset of a nation, change the political psychology of how Scots might vote and ultimately determine the outcome of the vote.”

Former First Minister Henry McLeish

Former First Minister
Henry McLeish

He goes on to warn that the ‘No’ campaign seems oblivious to what might happen or is simply ignoring the signals. As he explains, “a recent headline seemed to capture the scenario facing Scots – “Independence is risky, but Union is even scarier”. There is little doubt Scots would not like to see their future through the prism of the current UK government and their fear this could be their shared destiny within the Union at Westminster. This is the nightmare scenario.”

He discusses the potential impact of UKIP on politics south of the Border, and analyses the current debate within the Labour Party over what, if anything, it stands for. And this is a problem for Labour both at UK and at Scottish levels. Mr McLeish points out that, in London, “Labour has to reconnect with the electors and show willingness to transform a tired and dated Union and set out a new direction for a modern, federated, flexible and fairer one, where maximum powers are available to Scotland and the English question is addressed.

“Labour in Scotland has to engage with identity and nationality, difference and diversity, and start to believe in Scotland as a nation. Labour should be arguing for a Union worthy of its name and where each country can work out its own destiny. Saving the Union by respecting Scotland’s demands and ambitions is a small price to pay for stable politics. If this is not a price the unionist parties can pay, Scottish voters may have no option but to vote to end the historic links and build a new Scotland.”

In putting forward his thoughts, Henry McLeish is today looking at Scotland almost as an outsider with inside knowledge. Since leaving politics, he has spent much of his time in North America, where he holds a visiting professorship at the University of Arkansas School of Law and a position at the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. Unlike Alex Salmond who remains deeply embroiled in the campaign to persuade Scots to vote for independence next year, Mr McLeish can at least now afford to stand back and offer a more thoughtful, reflective and impartial perspective.

Centre for Public Policy for Regions – based at Glasgow University

In a report that may sound like music to the ears of the “Yes” campaign, the Centre for Public Policy for Regions has said that the Scottish Government’s budget from now until 2017/18 will fall in both cash and real terms as a result of this year’s UK Spending Review. The centre, based at Glasgow University, prepared a briefing note on the implications. It warned that the Chancellor’s programme of budget cuts was far from over. Indeed, instead of five years of austerity, the country now faced as much as eight years of cuts, meaning that we’re not even half way through.

The report wants greater clarity on Scotland's budget plans

The report wants greater clarity on Scotland’s budget plans

The study warned that the Scottish Government could face a real series of dilemmas if its oft-stated commitment to protect spending on the Health Service is maintained. It could mean that other services would have to be slashed – with cuts of as much as 25% cuts in real terms between 2009-10 and 2017-18. However, as the report’s authors acknowledge, much of the detail of what will happen in the latter years of the programme has yet to be announced. Much of it won’t be confirmed until after both the Independence Referendum and the next UK General Election. But the fear is that future cuts will greater than any experienced so far.

The report shows just how much of a juggling act Finance Secretary, John Swinney, will need to perform. It contrasts the fall in the Scottish Government’s day-to-day resource spending with the prospect of a rise in capital spending. This would only arise if the loan support programme for business were taken into account. The report explains that “such loan support is intended to engender more private sector activity. Including the loan support means government-related capital spend rises in both cash and real terms. However, removing it means there is a further cash and real-terms fall in investment spend for Scotland. Hence, it is possible to argue that the Scottish Budget has both fallen and risen in cash terms.”

John Swinney MSP Juggling act

John Swinney MSP
Juggling act

However, the paper points out that a ‘yes’ vote in next year’s independence referendum could lead to the spending profile being changed. Until then, the Scottish Government’s budget has depended on a block grant worked out on the basis of a 35-year old formula – the Barnett spending formula. Instead, Holyrood would move to running its own tax system. But the report is blunt. It set a challenge to the Scottish Government to deliver much more clarity on its financial strategy if it secures independence.

Mr Swinney was quick to point out that “if decision-making powers remain at Westminster, CPPR suggest Scotland will continue to face a future of public sector cuts or UK tax rises and increasing restrictions on our ability to spend Scotland’s budget in the best way for Scotland. Scotland is now facing eight years of real-terms spending cuts, extending well beyond the referendum to 2018 or even longer.” He went on to say that “the Chancellor is restricting our ability to invest in the infrastructure that is essential to economic recovery and longer term growth.”

However, a spokesman for the UK Government insisted that Scotland would have “additional capital spending in 2015-16, which the Scottish government can use to fund shovel-ready projects as it wishes. Scotland has also received over £1.6bn in extra funding through the Barnett formula since the beginning of the Parliament and continues to benefit from substantially higher public spending per head than the UK average.”

Last week, the Caledonian Mercury published an article in which the entrepreneur, Tony Banks, explained why he had come out in favour of a “Yes” vote next year. Today, we’re publishing a second list of questions from CBI Scotland which it believes need to be answered before other parts of the business community can even make up their minds. We’ve decided to print their document in full as part of the ongoing debate.

When we published the last set of questions, some readers criticised the decision on the grounds that the CBI was a “UK organisation”. While that it true (its name after all is the Confederation of British Industry), it has many significant Scottish members and thus has a right to be heard. And it is right that bodies like the CBI should be asking questions as, in our view, too much of the discussion has been emotional rather than intellectual


The Scottish Government’s Independence White Paper – further issues that business would like it to address


1. CBI Scotland is an independent not-for-profit business advocacy organisation funded by its members and representing firms of all sizes from across the country and from all industrial, commercial and business sectors. Our mission is to help create and sustain the conditions in which businesses in Scotland can compete and prosper for the benefit of all.

CBI Scotland Logo2. This is the second paper in our series highlighting the issues and questions that businesses would like to see addressed in the Scottish Government’s forthcoming Independence White Paper. As indicated in our initial paper, the CBI has a rich history of engagement with governments, parliaments and others on constitutional public policy matters that affect business. Away from the public policy debate, we have also sought to encourage and assist our members in their practical consideration and assessment of what Scottish independence and constitutional change might mean for their organisation, their staff, their customers, supply chain and business operating environment.

3. As we have said previously, the decision on Scotland’s future is rightly and ultimately one for the electorate. However, industry and wider civic society has a role to play too, and the CBI is committed to ensuring that the needs of the economy and business are properly reflected in the referendum debate. The upcoming publication of the Scottish Government’s proposed White Paper on Scottish independence is a key opportunity to provide a thorough and detailed explanation and vision of what independence would look like, how it will be achieved, what it would mean for our economy and the management of economic policy, and what the business environment would look like and how it would work.

4. Our members are keen to understand the Scottish Government’s plans and vision for the business landscape in the event of independence. In this second paper, developed by our member-led Referendum Working Group and subsequently considered and approved by the elected 45-strong Council of CBI Scotland, our members highlight further issues and questions that they would like to see addressed in the Independence White Paper. These issues are in addition to or expand on the ones identified in our initial paper.

5. As we have said previously , there are gaps in knowledge about what Scottish independence would mean for business and our economy as well as what the business environment would look like in the event of independence. We recognise that in a few instances complete clarity would have to await the outcome of any negotiations between the Scottish and UK administrations following any referendum vote in favour of independence, or between the Scottish administration and relevant international institutions (e.g. the EU). However for many other aspects the Scottish Government could and should provide clarity over what it would like to achieve, and a candid assessment of the benefits, risks and costs of doing so well in advance of the referendum. This would inform a productive public debate but also provide certainty and allow businesses and others to assess the merits of what is being proposed and plan ahead accordingly. We look forward to the publication of the Scottish Government’s Independence White Paper and would urge Scottish Ministers to consider publishing it earlier than currently envisaged in order to provide the greater clarity and certainty that businesses seek.


Fiscal strategy

6. What fiscal rules if any would be applicable to an independent Scottish government, for example with regards to borrowing and national debt? Would targets be set to reduce or eliminate the public sector deficit and the national debt?

Duties, taxation and non-domestic rates

7. What income tax rates, taxable bands, allowances and reliefs would apply to those in employment and the self-employed, including reliefs for business expenses incurred whilst working? What would be the tax treatment given to encourage employee share ownership, and for loans from employers to staff for example for travel season tickets? What tax treatment would apply to non-domiciles?

8. Would an independent Scotland seek to retain or alter the 3 different rates of Value Added Tax currently applied to goods and services, including the items which are reduced-rated (e.g. heating oil) or zero-rated, as well as the range of exemptions? At what level of a company’s turnover would the ‘VAT threshold’ commence?

9. Would an independent Scotland apply a Bank Levy to commercial banks? What tax treatment would be applied to investment trust companies?

10. What taxes, rates and destination bands on air passengers or flights, if any, would apply in an independent Scotland, including for short or long haul connections, and would flights departing from airports in the Highlands and Islands continue to be exempt? What duties if any would apply to alcohol, including spirits, wine, beer and cider? What hydrocarbon oils duties would be applied to petrol, diesel, heavy oils, aviation gasoline, and biofuels? What tobacco duties would be applied to items such as cigarettes and cigars?

11. What if any rate of aggregate levy would be applied on the commercial exploitation of rock, sand and gravel? Would there be a distinct Scottish-only climate change levy and if so what rates would be applicable?

12. Would non-domestic rates reliefs that are currently uniform across the UK – e.g. for enterprise areas, properties used for the training or care of disabled persons – continue to be so?

13. What would be the implications for the ownership, assets and liabilities of state-owned shareholdings in Network Rail, Channel 4, Met Office, Ordnance Survey, Post Office Ltd, The Royal Mint, UK Hydrographic Office, Urenco, Working Links, Plasma Resources UK Ltd?

Export and business support

14. Which overseas markets and regions will be prioritised for consular support for Scottish business and leisure travellers? What transitional arrangements are envisaged for the provision of diplomatic representation at economic-facing international institutions such as the European Union, World Trade Organisation, World Bank, International Monetary Fund?

15. How will the functions of interest to business relating to the UK’s Office of Cyber Security & Information Assurance be discharged in an independent Scotland? How will the functions of relevance to business of the security service, intelligence service and GCHQ be discharged?

16. How will the functions and services of Ordnance Survey which affect and apply to business be discharged in an independent Scotland?

17. Will the Royal Mail or its Scottish successor, or indeed any liberalised system, continue to be subject to a universal service obligation which provides for mail to be delivered to business premises 6 days a week?

18. What approach would be taken to the regulation of commercial sales online, for example to do with contractual and company information?

Labour market and pensions

19. What rates if any would be set for statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay, and statutory sick pay?

20. How will state pensions be paid and administered? What would be the implications from the European Union’s rules on cross border pension schemes?

21. Would key markets be prioritised or have a premium service for visa services?

22. What system of employment tribunals would be put in place to determine disputes between employers and employees and consider claims to do with matters such as unfair dismissal, redundancy payments, or discrimination?

23. Would an independent Scotland seek to retain the four different rates which apply to the national minimum wage, namely the adult, apprentice and two youth rates?

Transport and energy

24. What if any implications will there be for the ownership of Network Rail and its associated rail infrastructure, operations and rail stations in Scotland? What implications if any will there be for the management and operation of – and allocation of capacity on – cross border (between Scotland and England) rail services, and will such services be subject to EU cross border rail regulation? What charging regime would apply for freight and commercial train operators using the rail network?

25. How would the functions of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency which apply to commercial shipping, ferries, and fishing be discharged in an independent Scotland? How would the sea related aspects of the Crown Estate be discharged? Maritime agreements? Would Scotland establish its own ship registry? Would a tonnage tax continue to apply or would alternative taxation arrangements for shipping be put in place?

26. What assessment has been made of the impact of Scottish independence on likely future upgrades and improvements to transport links between Scotland and the rest of the UK, for example the A1 and M74, west and east coast mainline rail enhancements, and High Speed Rail 2? What assessment has been undertaken of the impact on any potential future requests for Public Service Obligations to guarantee existing regional air services to London’s key interlining airports?

27. What tax incentives if any would be available to encourage the exploration and production of shale gas?

Intellectual property and industry standards

28. Will an independent Scotland seek to sign up to the various international patent and trademark protection systems such as the European Patent Convention, the Patent Co-operation Treaty, and Madrid Protocol, and over what period would it hope to do so?

29. How would the functions of the UK’s national standards body and the accreditation service be discharged in an independent Scotland?

Telecommunications and digital

30. What would be the approach to spectrum management of radio and broadcast frequencies, and which authority would have oversight of this and any responsibilities for licenses and auctions? What would be the approach of the Scottish telecommunications regulator to the national telephone numbering plan and the universal service obligation?

Entertainment and gambling

31. How would the functions of the Gambling Commission as Britain’s commercial gambling regulator, including licensing, codes of practice, compliance and enforcement, be discharged in an independent Scotland, if at all? What license fees and charges would be applied?

32. How would the functions of the National Lottery Commission, including licensing of any lottery operator, be discharged in an independent Scotland, if at all?

33. What taxes and duties if any would apply to gambling and betting, including rates, fees and duties on amusement machines, bingo, and machine games duty?


34. How would the functions of the UK regulatory and enforcement authorities which approve and license the use of medicines, drugs and medical devices be discharged in an independent Scotland? Will pharmaceutical companies need to apply to a distinct Scotland only regulatory and inspection authority for a license, and if so what fee structure would apply?

CBI Scotland
May 2013