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Scottish Independence Debate / Referendum: Ten reasons to vote No

IN THEIR contribution to the local debate on the Scottish independence referendum, now just six months away, Better Together Shetland have published ten reasons why they believe No is the way to go.

1. A successful Scottish Parliament and a strong UK Parliament

We get the best of both worlds. We have a powerful Scottish Parliament with full responsibility for key services like education, health, police and transport and we also get the strength and security of being fully represented in the UK Parliament, as an integral part of one of the major nations and economies of the world.

In addition, devolution is an ongoing process and there are opportunities for further enhancements to the powers of the Scottish Parliament while still retaining all the advantages of being part of the UK.

2. Higher spending and Scottish priorities

Scotland receives £1,200 more per person in public spending than the UK average, despite having tax rates which are the same as the rest of the UK. And the Scottish Parliament has full discretion to decide priorities between all the public services and how this money is spent on each of those services.

3. More jobs and more customers

Scotland has a small population of 5 million, but has a home market for its goods and services of 60 million by virtue of being a full member of the UK.

We sell more than twice as much to the rest of the UK than we do to the rest of the world combined, making it extremely valuable, not to say essential, that we have a full say over the running of the UK economy.

Only this way can we be sure that our major market is managed with Scotland’s best interests at heart.

Former chancellor and head of the Better Together campaign addressed an audience at Lerwick Town Hall in June last year. Photo Austin taylor

4. World influence and impact

As part of the UK we are a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and we are one of the major nations setting the agenda for the European Union, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, G8 Group of the world’s major economies, etc. We have 270 embassies and consulates around the world representing the interests of Scottish companies, travellers and overseas residents.

5. More security and a force for good in the world

The UK armed forces are among the finest in the world. As part of the UK Scotland is protected by a far larger army, navy and air force than we could possibly have on our own.

Scotland currently enjoys full access to the defence procurement market for aerospace, engineering and shipbuilding, and many jobs depend on that.

And we participate fully in the UK’s international aid programmes, among the biggest in the world, significantly helping disaster relief and development in some of the world’s poorest countries.

6. Lower licence fee and more programmes

Scottish TV licence fees contribute about £300 million to the BBC but by clubbing together with the rest of the UK we receive £3,600 million worth of programmes in return. Other small countries pay a higher licence fee for fewer programmes.

7. Better universities and more investment

With more top 200 universities per head of population than any other nation in the world, all fully connected to the UK’s research, investment and support networks, Scotland’s universities are thriving as part of the UK.

In May last year ex councillor Bill Manson chaired an independence debate with local MSP Tavish Scott arguing for the union against local SNP spokesman Danus Skene and young Scottish Green Party member and Yes campaigner Ross Greer

8. Lower future fuel bills and more jobs

Scotland (and Shetland in particular) has massive green energy potential, but needs full access to the huge UK energy market and UK investment markets to properly exploit that potential. Fortunately Scotland has both as an integral part of the UK.

And the massive Scottish oil and gas industry, very important to Shetland, also benefits from being part of that big home market.

9. A Scottish health service with access to all UK specialist treatment

Another example of getting the best of both worlds as part of the UK is health. The Scottish Parliament has full control of the Scottish NHS, but also has full access to all the expertise and specialists elsewhere in the UK.

10. Keep the pound and keep interest rates lower

There’s only one way to keep the pound and have access to the low interest rates set by the Bank of England, and that is to remain an integral part of the UK.

The uncertain, as yet unknown, alternatives in an independent Scotland are too big a leap in the dark to risk. Joining the Euro would involve joining a fragile currency run in German interests, which has proven to be highly damaging to smaller countries such as Greece.

Setting up an independent Scottish currency would almost certainly involve higher interest and mortgage rates, and would make it more costly to trade with the rest of the UK.

In September we can vote positively to preserve these and other benefits for Scotland and all its people. Vote NO in the referendum.

What’s your view on the issue? We would like to hear from you. Please don’t hesitate to participate in the comment section below or get in touch directly via