Scotland is at a crossroads. Alex Salmond beckons you down one path with promises of an economy to rival that of Norway or Sweden, with better care for your offspring and a large amount of oil which may – or may not – be in the North Sea. Down the other path, Cameron and Clegg take time out from their endless bickering to entice you with promises of pretty much nothing, as they have bigger issues in the EU without having to worry about part of their country rebelling and breaking away during their watch.
And so you would think: ‘Excellent, decision made, job done, let’s go home and turn on Downton Abbey,’ but unfortunately it isn’t quite as cut and dry. Scotland is very able to maintain itself economically; in fact the number of foreign direct investment projects in Scotland is 16% – which is 5% higher than the UK as a whole. On top of that there are, apparently, 24 billion barrels of oil left in the North Sea. However, this figure is blatantly denied by experts representing Westminster, rather ironically, given that it was first published in the UK Government’s oil and gas industry strategy paper in March. At this point it’s looking alright for us, we’ve got oil, gas and we even have the chance to get rid of nuclear weapons and Trident for good in Scotland. So why is no one jumping at the chance? Why aren’t people drinking themselves silly and putting traffic cones on statues? Because of a slight flaw in the SNP’s plan for independence – most of the outcomes and details haven’t even been discussed yet.
One of the endless examples of this is the reasonably important issue of immigration. At the moment this is controlled completely by Westminster, so it’s rather problematic for anyone to know what will happen if we do become independent. Will we have a diplomatic core with embassies spread across the world? What would happen to the asylum seekers once they crossed the border to Scotland? Will we have guards gallivanting around the borders, stopping cars, asking leading questions and generally trying to trip up anyone who isn’t particularly native? It’s difficult to have confidence when there are an alarmingly large number of questions still to be addressed.
Maybe Westminster is right to not promise anything yet. I mean, promises may be promises but they’re all going to get broken in the end, or in the government’s case before they even begin. SNP may talk big but under it all they are clueless about what will happen. At this point there are too many unanswered questions to make an educated decision on, too many petty arguments to comb through to find a clear concise plan in the making. There are no two ways about it, independence is a gamble, and shouldn’t we wait to have a full hand before deciding where to place our chips?
Image: Alex Salmond © the SNP (thesnp, flickr)