My heart has always said YES: my family was involved in the nationalist movement back in the ‘50s and I grew up hoping that one day I’d see the kind of independent Scotland they dreamed of, but my head was more doubtful. As a journalist I wanted the facts. As a business owner, I needed to see how the figures would stack up.
So I started to look at the economic facts:
Scotland is a wealthy country – after a Yes vote we’ll be the 14th most wealthy country in the world. The UK is 18th.
Scotland generated £800 more in tax per person than the UK as a whole last year and has generated more tax per head than the UK every year for the past 33 years. We generate 9.5% of UK taxes yet only receive 9.3% of UK spending. It’s a fact that if we’d received the same %age amount of spend as we generated over the past five years alone, it would have added up to an extra £8.5bn.
According to some experts, we would be 11% better off over night after independence, without changing a thing.
But what galls me, and I’m sure many other Scots, is that the £800 more tax we shell out pays for things that we don’t want or even need, and we can’t spend it on the things that matter to us, like business support policies, rural economic development, welfare or indeed the minimum wage.
Scotland has paid £64 billion in UK debt interest that Scotland didn’t incur.
We pay £3.3bn for our share of the UK defence spend – yet of that only £1.9bn is spent in Scotland – and we have no say on whether we want that money to pay for illegal wars or nuclear weapons.
We’re expected to contribute £4.7bn to a high speed train link between London and Manchester and £400 million to the London sewer upgrade.
We incur costs of £60 million a year paying expenses for the House of Commons and Lords.
And while that money is spent on policies and infrastructure that doesn’t impact positively on the Scottish economy, our children are going hungry and pensioners have to choose between eating and heating.
Darling and Better Together can argue about the pound all they like, but I actually care more about how we spend our money than the currency we will use.
And I believe our money could be spent differently, more wisely and more fairly.
The UK is the 4th most unequal country in the world in terms of the rich/poor gap. If you look at the Business for Scotland website you’ll see maps which show the tax take, tax spend and life expectancy across the UK – it’s no surprise that where the spend is greater, the life expectancy is longer, and that’s in London and the south east.
We have the largest wage gap between men and women in Europe. Higher childcare and transport costs. Our pensioners are the poorest in Europe and child poverty is rising.
And that’s when my head caught up with my heart.
As a business woman I want to do my bit for a cause in which I strongly believe, I want to see improved opportunities for young people and more, better paid jobs, I want to see a living wage, more wealth generated for the people and businesses of Scotland, I want more women in the workforce, I want to see our economy grow.
But I’m not just a businesswoman, first and foremost I’m a mum, and I know that a stronger economy means more money for social good too. I want to see an independent welfare policy, by Scotland for Scotland: 1 in 4 Scottish children live in poverty, significantly higher in some areas, and I think that’s completely unacceptable
Scotland can, and will, be more equal.
But the only way for us to be able to make these changes is if we get the government we vote for. Scotland has a unique set of needs and opportunities that can only be addressed by those with an inherent, instinctive understanding of what they are, a Scottish government working with the people of Scotland for the betterment of all.
I believe Scotland has the skills, resources, the determination, the passion and the compassion to be a successful independent country, I don’t think there’s anybody better placed to run Scotland than the people of Scotland.
It’s been a long journey to where we are now, and winning on 18th September won’t be the end of it, it’ll be the start of a whole new journey, an incredible opportunity to create the kind of Scotland we want to live, do business and bring up our children in.
Article submitted by Michelle Rodger
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Read the facts at www.businessforscotland.co.uk