Case for separation has not been made

John Lamont MSP
John Lamont MSP

In just under a week, Borderers face the biggest decision we will have taken in more than 300 years.

It is an important decision and one which we must get right. This is not like a normal general election, we cannot just give separation a shot and see how it goes.

I want what’s best for Scotland – more jobs, better childcare, greater opportunities and the protection of public services. But the evidence is clear, the best way to achieve all this is by staying within the United Kingdom.

The Yes campaign is promising that separation is the answer to a fairer society and will allow us to spend more on public services. This is untrue. This is the hall-mark of nationalism: finding an ‘enemy’ to blame all our problems on, and we should resist.

Independent expert after independent expert has come out to say that separation will result in painful cuts to public services, far greater than anything implemented by the current UK Government. This isn’t the UK Government saying this, it is the view of respected academics, city analysts and the Institute for Fiscal Studies, who predict separation will result in a £6billion black hole.

In order to fill this black hole, a Yes vote will result in painful spending cuts, on top of the difficult decisions already being made by the UK Government. It is clear that if you want to protect public spending on schools, on the NHS, on pensions, you need to vote No.

And it is just common sense that sharing the costs of public services over a country of 63million people is better and more stable than spreading them between 5million Scots.

But a No vote isn’t just about keeping the status quo. It’s about reaffirming our desire to stay within the UK family, then embarking on the process of strengthening that – it presents a tremendous opportunity to strengthen devolution, without losing our British identity and taking the ludicrous risks the SNP is asking us to.

The UK Government is very much working for Scotland. Thousands have been lifted out of income tax altogether, while the economic approach of the Coalition has seen unemployment continually fall and growth return. In contrast, the SNP can’t even say how much we’d have to spend setting up an independent Scotland, if we’ll be in the EU, and what currency we will use.

That is a staggering lack of detail, and it’s unclear whether they just haven’t thought them through, or decided the conclusions are too terrifying to reveal. The case for separation has not been made, these risks are not worth taking and Scotland can and should enjoy the best of both worlds: a strengthened Scottish Parliament, within a strong and stable world power, the United Kingdom.