100 Days: Benjamin

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I came to Scotland in 2003 as a doctoral student at Glasgow University before becoming a permanent resident through a civil partnership in 2007. I fell passionately in love with the city I’ve chosen to make my home over London or New York.  Glaswegian humor, the West End’s breathtaking architecture, and the proximity of the Highlands are good for my soul.

I am not entitled to vote because I’m not a former-Commonwealth or EU citizen, but I have watched the debate closely.  In place of facts, Yes campaigners seem mired in tactics of emotional scapegoating that remind me of those used by Tea Party Republicans.  Democracies don’t always elect the candidate you personally want to win, but to throw away the security of a unified system because you don’t like the present leaders is short-sighted.

The White Paper has failed to detail how its promises would be fulfilled while relying on the fallacy that Scots are somehow not represented in the Parliament at Westminster.  There are over 50 Scottish MPs in London, the UK had a Scottish Prime Minister just four years ago, and devolution has in fact given Scots double representation.  So the idea that Scots are “slaves” to the rest of the UK is an irresponsible distortion that trivializes the experiences of actual slaves throughout history.

I’ve also seen Yes campaigners describe the potential loss of the pound as a “bullying” scenario.  One can’t blame the Tories for the definition of independence or the UK as a whole for needing to maintain the strength of its own currency.

I indeed find the idea of an independent Scotland appealing and romantic, but the bulk of non-partisan analysis points to a vulnerable outcome.  Higher taxes, higher food and energy prices, higher mortgage rates, a loss of research funding and foreign investors, and unsustainable pension and benefits plans amount to a recipe for economic disaster and political extremism.

Gas and oil revenues fluctuate too radically to depend upon for all of Scotland’s needs.  There is no plan for how the country would stabilize itself and meet the requirements for EU membership, a process that could take over a decade.  By contrast, as a part of the UK the Royal Bank of Scotland was saved from collapse, Scottish consumers enjoy a zero VAT rate, and half the country’s exports go to other UK countries free of trade tariffs.

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