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September 12, 2014

Comments

James

"I don't see why men and women should have different knowledge about the effects of independence."

Not necessarily different knowledge but they could certainly put different weights on the pro/anti-independence arguments. I think there is an argument that women interact with the state and the public sector more frequently than men. Most women rely on the NHS for at least one major operation in their 20s and 30s, to give birth. Women still tend to handle the family finances, including tax and benefit payments, more than men and are more involved in their children's education and childcare.

I could certainly see why arguments about the viability of an independent scotland's tax and spending plans, with all the knock-on effects for public services that women interact with more than men, would mean that women put more weight on these arguments.

Jamie

As a Scot who lives in England, I have been following the referendum campaign closely. I agree that attitudes to risk will be a key factor in decision making on the referendum and would add four further points.

First, in this type of complex situation, it is vital to understand the problem as perceived by the voters before you can understand how the voters will view risk. Most of the London chattering classes have not taken the time to do this and so have misunderstood what is happening in Scotland.

If you are happy with the Union then you will perceive no risk in voting to maintain the Union but a high risk in breaking it. However, if you perceive the status quo to be problematic then you will perceive significant risk both in maintaining the Union AND in breaking it.

The London chattering classes are mostly in the first camp so they are aghast that Scotland could be so reckless to take a major risk. However, the Scots are mostly in the second camp (there will be a lot of reluctant No voters) so they see BOTH options as risky.

Prior to the announcement of the referendum, the most popular governance option amongst Scots was devo-max. The reason for this was almost certainly related to risk. Scots could get 80% of what they wanted (more control of tax and spending in more areas) with none of the major risks (currency, defence, membership of international bodies). However, David Cameron refused to include a devo-max option on the ballot. This decision, in itself, is part of the problem as perceived by some Scots.

In denying the possibility of a low risk – high reward option, Cameron has forced the Scots to decide between what a large number of them see as two high risk options. Laughably, at the last minute and due to the closeness of the polls, Cameron and company are now claiming that a No vote represents something like the devo-max option which he refused to include in the first place.

Second, younger voters appear to be more keen on independence than older voters. In general, we are all more inclined to take risks when we are young. One of the most interesting aspects of the vote will be the impact of reducing the voting age to 16. It is not an accident that the SNP opted to do this. Not only are younger people more likely to take a risk but they will also have a longer timeframe for measuring any reward so are likely to place less emphasis on the one-off costs and risks associated with changeover.

Third, a significant part of the perceived risk arises from the economic illiteracy of the SNP leadership. However, in the event of a Yes vote, the Scottish negotiating team would probably be bolstered by Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling and Danny Alexander who have collectively been involved in leading the UK Treasury for almost two decades. Hence, some of the more outlandish options are extremely improbable. If a currency union could be negotiated then, in practice, the situation would be similar to the popular devo-max option. If not then Scotland could set up its own currency. It’s also worth saying that, in an independent Scotland, it’s not clear why the SNP would continue to exist, so their views on longer term economic policies are not necessarily very important.

Finally, the London chattering classes will have their own perceptions of risk – particularly left-leaning chatsters. If Scotland votes Yes, the rUK will be more likely to vote for a right-wing government, and the next right-wing government will hold a referendum to leave the EU. This risk is almost certainly a factor in the “unbiased” advice coming from the south.

I hope that the Scots vote No but then negotiate devo-max. England (or its regions), Wales and Northern Ireland could then follow with a similar arrangement if that was what they wanted.

Blissex

«However, if you perceive the status quo to be problematic then you will perceive significant risk both in maintaining the Union AND in breaking it.»

My guess is that the basic risks Scots see with the Union is that politics are very regional, and Scots really dislike being ruled by the whims of swing voters in marginal seats in the South East, because:

* in UK-wide elections Scottish voters are essentially irrelevant;

* swing voters in marginal seats in the South East are very relevant, and they are mostly Thatcherite rentier landladies.

That's a pretty big risk, because the UK Treasury has in effect guaranteed to indemnify fully City banks and investors for any losses on the mortgages and remortgages that those swing voters have used to speculate on SouthEast house prices, for example.

I have some friends in the North and they have the same problem; some have mused that Northumberland and Carlile might ask for annexation to Scotland if it become independent....

Blissex

Put another way, voting "NO" is effectively a vote for Scotland to be ruled according to the interests of english tories, not even scottish ones, for decades to come.

Even New Labour, whose most prominent leaders were Scottish, adopted an english tory oriented set of policies, because that is how UK wide parliamentary majorities are made.

Scotsmen may be well fed up with that; for some reasons Scotswomen don't dislike it as much.

Luke

Blissex


"I have some friends in the North and they have the same problem; some have mused that Northumberland and Carlile might ask for annexation to Scotland if it become independent...."

And every selfish southerner would say "can you backdate that?"

rogerh

I wonder how this will look to the Scots in say 10 years time, as a wasted opportunity or a lucky escape. But on rational grounds it all looks too close to call. Then there is the emotional angle, fear of change and mad ideologues versus the feeling 'Better to dwell in freedom's hall.....'.

But the 10 year angle seems a pointer, will the English have entered some sunny economic uplands by then through miraculous policies created in Westminster - probably not. So to say 'No' is to ensure they are shackled to same-old same-old. To say 'Yes' gives a small chance of better but also the risk of freedom's others side - 'With cold damp floor and mouldering wall'.

leslie48

Whatever it is its the most depressing thing ( a Yes vote) to happen to the British Left as it allows greater chance of Tory govts being elected in the future & provides greater chance of EU exit by the English as it reduces the pro-EU vote. Moreover according to many economists it increase the Scot's chance of austerity because of the need to reduce their deficit consequent upon exit, banking requirements, currency issues, increased debt servicing...it will not be the poor who gain under these nationalists far from it.

weareastrangemonkey

Another reason there are more men in the Yes camp:

Men are more aggressive and tribalistic than women.

ParisIain

If the 'Yes' win, the SNP will continue, make no mistake. Like all freedom parties all the world once they have won their freedom they will not say we have won now it up to the people to take over. No they will be the heros who hold on to power by the theory I lead you to free so I am the boss.
SNP if they win it will be for along time they may be able to live of the oil revenues for some years but will they cut there own wages when things become tough?

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