We are now less than six months from arguably the biggest and most momentous decision the people of Scotland have ever had to make. Should Scotland be an independent country – yes, or no?
Recent polls have suggested that the ‘yes’ campaign is gaining ground. Could this be because of the continuing negativity of the ‘no’ campaign – a stance that has earned them the ‘Project Fear’ monicker in some quarters?
Over recent months there have been a volley of negative announcements. No you can’t share the pound. No you won’t automatically be a member of the EU. No, you won’t be able to use your mobile in England without roaming charges. No, you won’t have the resources to bail out banks. And even, no you won’t be able to watch ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.
As a result, the ‘no’ campaign sounds like the bitter partner in a marriage that is heading for the rocks, carping about the other partner not getting the family silver or access to the joint bank account.
By contrast, the ‘yes’ campaign is presenting a vision of a Scotland playing its role in the international community, developing opportunity and creating wealth. Ambitious stuff.
In the remaining months and days before the referendum, the ‘no’ campaign would do well to start painting its own exciting and positive vision of a future that can get people like myself enthused. Otherwise, we will be left to assume that the future of the union simply offers more of the same.
That might encourage those who hate change. But for those of us who want to see a more dynamic and vibrant future it most certainly doesn’t.
I have never forgiven Westminster for consistently portraying Scotland as a ‘subsidy junkie’ in the 1970s and 80s while one of their senior economists was secretly penning a memo stating that the Scottish economy would tend to be in “chronic surplus to a quite embarrassing degree”. That is no way to foster a trusting relationship.
We now know that Scotland more than pulls its weight in the union, returning more tax per head to the UK Treasury and producing higher GDP per head than the UK as a whole. The ‘subsidy junkie’ myth is hopefully long dead and buried.
So what would get me – as an undecided voter – to vote ‘no’?
For me, the ’no’ campaign needs to present an enticing new vision for the United Kingdom. A union in which Scotland can enjoy the autonomy many of us want, while being recognised for its key role in working together with the union partners to build a stronger, fairer, more enterprising United Kingdom.
Yes, that might get my vote.