Ioanna Batzoglou shares her thoughts on why Scotland might prosper as an independent nation.
If there is a Yes majority vote on the 18th of September, there is no way back. As such, the complex economic and political implications of an independent Scotland should not be underestimated, nor should some important questions go un-contemplated. What currency will Scotland adopt if it leaves the UK? What defence capabilities will an independent Scotland have at its disposal? Under which macroeconomic and institutional framework will Scotland operate?
Many proponents of the current status quo reasonably argue that, in political and social terms, the SNP is presenting a somewhat contradictory, unrealistic agenda. For instance, the SNP is committed in abandoning nuclear weapons without foregoing Scotland’s position in NATO. Furthermore, the SNP is arguing against cumbersome regulation for businesses (i.e. high taxes) but concurrently proposes a Scandinavian-style welfare system. It seems that those who fear the future of an independent Scotland have obvious reasons to do so.
On the other hand, however, I think that a Yes for an independent Scotland should not be perceived as a Yes for the SNP per se. In fact, if Scotland becomes independent the SNP will not be able to blame the British government for unpopular decisions such as austerity programs. As a result, independence may be a way through which Scottish politicians can become more accountable to their electorate. Decentralisation, in this case, could lead not only to a resurgence of nationalism but also to a more democratic society.
Some proponents of the No campaign believe that only a large economy can survive the neoliberal capitalist system. I disagree. Consider the US-Norway juxtaposition; while the US economy is the world’s largest national economy with an estimated GDP of $17,311 trillion, the income gap between rich and poor in the US is higher than in any other developed country. Norway, on the contrary, while being smaller in GDP terms, outperforms the US in life expectancy, education and income distribution. Prosperity, in my opinion, means much more than dry GDP figures; it means even distribution of income, educational opportunities for all, and efficient public healthcare.
Based on this rationale, a small but functional economy can be more prosperous than a large one. According to expert Piotr Jaworski, if Scotland focuses on medium or small range banking services, the domestic financial market can operate more clearly and efficiently in the long-term. Additionally, most economists share the view that Scotland fulfills the prerequisites of a large oil-exporting nation, and, as such, it would be able to successfully set its own policies.
For all the reasons outlined above, Scotland can, indeed, become a thriving independent country. Whether it actually wants to remains to be seen. We’d best leave this to vote.
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