Talking down the SNP, but never Scotland

The Director of CBI Scotland has said that asking legitimate questions about the implications of independence “must not be branded by the SNP Scottish Government as talking Scotland down.”

Speaking at the Institution of Civil Engineers dinner in Glasgow Iain McMillan said that it was important for Scottish business that key questions were answered and not ridiculed by the SNP.

I wonder if Mr Salmond and Co will be quite so quick to dismiss this call from Scotland’s leading business organisation as “talking Scotland down”.

I for one am quite happy to talk the SNP down, but I’ll never talk Scotland down. It is time the SNP realised they are not the same thing.

Extract from speech made by the Director of CBI Scotland to the Institution of Civil Engineers:

“The SNP Scottish Government is committed to holding a referendum on independence during the second half of the current session of the Scottish Parliament. No one should be in any doubt what independence means; it means Scotland leaving the United Kingdom and the rest of the UK becoming a foreign country.  That is the stark reality and it would be a huge step to take.  So it is legitimate for business to ask questions of the SNP as the referendum approaches.  For example,


  • What would be the currency of an independent Scotland?  The SNP leadership says that an independent Scotland would keep the pound sterling until such time as the euro may be adopted.  But that begs the question; would the rest of the United Kingdom permit an independent Scotland to use its currency?  It might not.  And, if it did, there are likely to be strict conditions attached.  So, has the SNP fully explored the currency issues?
  • Whether an independent Scotland adopts the pound sterling or the euro, how would our inflation target be set and how would it be met?
  • There is the question of an independent Scotland’s membership of the European Union.  The SNP argue that, as part of the UK, which is a member state, Scotland would automatically be a member of the EU following secession and inherit all the UK’s obligations and opt-outs.  Others argue that by seceding from a member state and becoming a new nation state in its own right, Scotland would need to apply for membership and, if admitted, be obliged to adopt all the treaties and their provisions with no opt-outs.  How can the Scottish Government be sure that the position would be the former?  Have they asked the EU authorities for an opinion on the matter?  If they have, what is the opinion, and, if they haven’t do they intend to seek one?
  • What would be the costs of full statehood?  An independent Scotland would need its own full panoply of government departments – a treasury, a central bank, armed forces, foreign embassies and consulates, a revenue authority, a border agency and customs, various commissioners and regulators and so on.  What would all this cost?  Would we share some of these resources with other countries?  We need to know.
  • The Government Expenditure and Revenue in Scotland data shows that Scotland had a deficit of £14 bn in 2009-10 even after its geographic share of oil and gas revenues is included.  That is 10.6% of Scottish GDP.  What would be the level of government spend and borrowing after secession and how would it be funded?  Oil and gas revenues are volatile and oil and gas are a reducing resource, down from 4.5 m barrels a day in 1999 to 2.2 m barrels a day in 2010.  What degree of risk would the bond markets attach to an independent Scotland and what price would they put on their sovereign loans to us?

There are other questions too relating to matters such as our armed forces, jobs in support of naval shipbuilding and at Faslane, financial services and cross-border taxation and regulation.  And other questions will arise as the debate moves forward.”


Iain McMillan goes on to say:

“We have asked similar questions of the SNP in the past and, I regret to say, have been criticised by their leaders for doing so. Alas, so have others.  But these questions are important and legitimate and they must not be brushed aside or ridiculed by the Scottish Government and their supporters.  And those who put such questions must not be branded by the SNP Scottish Government as talking Scotland down.  This is about securing Scotland’s best interest and business undertaking due diligence in support of that interest.  And until these many questions are answered to the full satisfaction of our members, CBI Scotland will have no option but, reasonably and sensibly, to continue to oppose the Scottish Government’s plans to take Scotland out of the United Kingdom.”     




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