The End Of Britain? Ctd

This ad by Scotland’s Yes campaign packs an emotional punch:

But Alex Massie isn’t swayed by such appeals. He doesn’t think “independence a daft notion or some kind of fatuous affectation.” Yet he will be voting no:

[I]f we’re to vote on independence it should be done on the basis of a moderately honest prospectus. No such prospectus has been offered by the Scottish government. A lot of people are voting on the basis of a deeply cynical and meretricious set of promises that simply cannot, not even when assisted by great dollops of wishful thinking, be delivered. It is not possible to spend more, borrow less and tax the same.

That, however, is what the SNP propose. Lower borrowing rates, 3% annual increases in public spending and no changes to the overall level of taxation. It is incredible. It supposes that voters must be glaikit and easily gulled ninnies who can be persuaded to swallow anything, no matter how fanciful it must be. A nonsense wrapped in a distortion inside a whopping great lie.

But Mark Blyth believes that this vote isn’t about economics:

Raised in a country where the policy choice of the past 30 years has been neoliberalism with airbags (New Labour under Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown) or neoliberalism on steroids (under the Tories), and faced with falling real wages and diminished opportunity, young people in Scotland want another choice. This is perhaps why nationalism retains the capacity to surprise. It’s not about costs, risks, or uncertainties; it’s about the idea that a different future is possible.

Daniel Berman compares Scotland’s upcoming vote to Quebec’s failed 1995 independence referendum:

Regardless of my skepticism of YouGov’s finding that the YES campaign is ahead, I think that it is clear that the polling has closed across the board. In historical context this is not a surprise. While there tends to be a bias toward the status quo in most referendums compared with the final polls, that bias tends to manifest after a surge for the YES side in the final weeks.  …

This was evident in the closest precedent for the current Scottish Referendum, the 1995 vote in Quebec on the province’s status. As can be seen, the NO campaign enjoyed a large lead until the final two weeks when YES seemed to surge to a substantial lead, despite an intervention by American President Bill Clinton and a large Unity rally. Then, in something of a surprise, NO prevailed 51-49.

Neil Irwin considers the trade-offs of independence:

In big countries, businesses can get all the benefits of scale, selling within giant markets that all use the same currency with the same legal system. In geopolitics, large countries can strike hard bargains to get access to one another’s markets, while trouncing smaller rivals at the negotiating table. … If Scotland chooses to go independent, it will shed the advantages that come from being part of a relatively large global power (Britain’s population: about 64 million. Scotland’s population: about 5 million) for the chance to be governed by people with whom they share a deeper cultural affinity.

Noah Millman complicates the debate over Scotland’s currency:

Keeping the pound, at least initially, is much cheaper than ditching it. And the prospect of ditching it in the future would mean higher borrowing costs today. Why, after all, would you want to ditch a solid, respectable currency unless you planned to devalue? And if you wanted to tie the hands of a new government that might otherwise open the spigot a bit too wide, what better way than to force them to borrow in a foreign currency?

Precious few seceding states in recent years have adopted a truly independent monetary policy. Many have ditched their own newly-minted currencies entirely. Slovakia adopted the Euro before the Czech Republic has. Montenegro and Kosovo adopted it unilaterally. The Baltic states have rushed to adopt it as swiftly as possible. Croatia is hammering at the door to get in, notwithstanding all the nastiness of the past five years. Countries also continue to adopt the dollar as either their official currency (e.g. Ecuador, El Salvador) or as legal tender alongside a pegged local currency.

[Gordon] Brown probably has a genuine belief in Scotland being part of the United Kingdom, but there’s a more personal motive for him too: Without Scottish voters, the British left wing party he represented, Labor, loses a substantial chunk of its support. For example, there are currently 40 MPs in Westminster representing Scotland from the Labor Party, and just one from the dominant Conservative Party. Earlier this year, the Financial Times reasoned that Labor would need another 250,000 votes from the rest of the U.K. to compensate if Scotland left.  “We can’t even contemplate what might happen to the party if Scotland went,” one Labor source told the newspaper. “This is nightmare territory for us.”

Robert Kuttner made a similar observation earlier this week:

As cynics have pointed out, Tory Prime Minister David Cameron doesn’t want to be remembered as the British leader who presided over the dissolution of the United Kingdom. On the other hand, if relatively left-wing Scotland were to quit the U.K., the remainder of Britain would be quite solidly Tory.

But Cameron appears genuinely troubled about Scotland going its own way:

“I would be heartbroken … if this family of nations is torn apart,” Cameron told an invited audience at the Edinburgh headquarters of the Scottish Widows insurance firm. … Cameron acknowledged his unpopularity, but said the vote was not about giving “the effing Tories” a kicking. “This is not a decision about the next five years. This is a decision about the next century,” Cameron said.

Whatever happens, Bill Coles expects the vote to leave a mark on Scotland:

After most elections, the losers go off to lick their wounds, and then a little while later they come back to fight another day.

Not this time, though. This time it’s for keeps – with either the independence question kicked out of bounds for at least a generation or Scotland going it alone. The referendum has been thrilling and yet utterly divisive. Whatever the result, the wounds are going to be deep, and they will take a long, long time to heal.