Today is Independence Day, the 24 March, the day Alex Salmond nominated as his ‘independence day’ following a Yes vote. Today’s edition of The National, the newspaper dedicated to the cause of Scottish independence, imagines what might have been. But one rather important story is missing. Yesterday, the Institute for Fiscal Studies updated its forecasts on what an independent Scotland would look like. The result: it’d have the worst deficit in the developed world (see graphic, below).
In his official forecasts Alex Salmond envisaged raising up to £7.5 billion of oil revenue. This was before the oil price plunge. Last weeks’ Budget revealed the actual amount: zero. (The graph, below, shows the changing picture). Hence the deficit.
Of course, Scotland could never run such a deficit. If newly-independent Scotland wanted to trade and borrow like a normal, successful country, it could not start life as an economic basket case. Salmond would also have negotiated his share of UK national debt, perhaps taking a lower sum in exchange for keeping nuclear submarines at Faslane. But this would not help him fill the hole in his day-to-day budget. He’d need to cut spending by 18 per cent, raise taxes by 21 per cent or implement a mixture of the two.
It would be sado-austerity, in the name of national liberation. Instead, Scotland chose to remain in the family of the United Kingdom – the greatest alliance of countries the world has ever seen, which pools is assets, risks and resources precisely for moments like these. The Scots who argued that we’d be better together have been amply vindicated. And David Cameron should never tire of making this point.