The question of Scottish independence has arisen with increasing regularity since Alex Salmond and his Scottish National Party (SNP) won the majority of the votes at Holyrood’s parliamentary elections in May.
At this point, it is worth noting that I am Edinburgh born and bred. This means I can say with full conviction – no thanks Mr Salmond. There are too many warning signs, and, with the greatest respect, you only have to look as far as Ireland to see what outcomes could possibly await. If more evidence was needed, you could also look at Portugal or Greece.
Despite what the SNP says about Edinburgh’s financial services sector, progressing one’s career often means relocating to London. If the independence calls are to be believed, business within Scotland would be strengthened, meaning talent wouldn’t have to ever leave. Perhaps this is true, but it is a huge gamble that would either pay off or implode spectacularly. I for one, do not feel comfortable with the risks.
I am not anti-SNP, however. I think the party, and indeed Salmond, have proven more than capable of running Scotland in the people’s interests throughout the financial crisis. I even like most of its ideas for regeneration going forward. In particular, Salmond has proven to be a very good international businessman, making beneficial trade deals with big global corporations within the technology and retail sectors.
Further to that, his recent schmoozing with the likes of China, I believe, will prove invaluable down the line. China’s recent gift of two pandas to Edinburgh zoo was a side-show. Importantly, ties were strengthened and the doors are now wide open for future investment and business in both directions. Anything to keep those whisky exports high.
The one area where the SNP loses my support is its extreme approach towards independence. The party has made noises recently about holding a referendum on the issue, and Westminster might even allow it.
If the vote did come off and Scotland became independent from Britain, I’ll probably be a London resident for many years to come. Just as well, then, that opinion polls suggest the Scottish public don’t fully support independence.
Judging what kind of impact independence might have on investment is hard to predict. The currency issue is the first to tackle. A recent poll in The Scotsman newspaper asked if an independent would continue using sterling, adopt the euro, or create a new currency. Surely, given recent turmoil, the euro would be a mistake.
The major question to ask is whether or not Edinburgh’s financial services industry would survive. If not, Salmond, apparently, has a plan. He aims to turn Scotland into the green energy centre of the world. Just as well, because the North Sea oil stocks will not be around forever.
Just as well, also, that David Cameron, and pretty much the rest of British politics opposes Scottish independence and vows to fight against it.
Nevertheless, for democracy’s sake, Scotland should eventually vote on the matter. If nothing else, it should provide evidence to Salmond that – at least on the issue of independence – Scotland doesn’t agree.