WE NOW HAVE two years of tedious and wearisome debate ahead of us with, I suspect, most of us already tired of the endless drivel spoken on the merits of an Independent Scotland or an United Kingdom. Now if there was a referendum on whether we stay or leave the European Union I suspect the United Kingdom as a whole would come together and vote us out, but that's not to be. Instead we are now to be subjected to a Yes or No vote on whether we want to throw away what our ancestors fought and died for because a political party has hung its coat on the answer.
According to Salmond we get to keep the parts of the union we like; the British currency, of which we would have no control over as it would be the currency of a foreign land; and the Queen, as Salmond realises that's a divisive issue and a step too far for the Scottish people before the referendum, better waiting until after her death. He maintains we will all be better off being a separate country living on the fabulous wealth Scotland provides through oil and whisky. There is, however, little said on the re-allocation of the national debt with Scotland taking on at least 9% of it, a considerable sum and the jury's out on whether the bail-out of the Royal Bank of Scotland would be deemed wholly a Scottish debt. An independent Scotland would have to negotiate terms of repayment with the dreaded Westminster, yet again that would be outside Scotland's control. Our borders to England would have to be manned as the likelihood of us, as a separate country, automatically remaining in the European Union would be remote, although Alex assures us we would. We would have to reapply as a separate nation, with a refusal guaranteed unless we sign up to a whole host of agreements that would make us less competitive than the our neighbours and new competitors - England.
If you are a born and bred Scot, like I am, and have the audacity to live and work outwith Scotland you are probably not on the electoral roll, therefore how would I qualify for a Scottish passport – leaving me in a state of limbo. Where do I belong if not British? Of my fifty-four years, I have lived fifty in Scotland, worked, raised a family and bought my home (of which I still pay council tax), and intend to return in my retirement – yet I won't get a vote in the referendum and no-one can tell me how I will be entitled to a Scottish passport. But that's another thing that will be sorted out after the referendum.
The unthinkable some years ago has happened due to Alex Salmond and Alex Salmond alone. He is the smiling, everyone will be alright, figure head of the SNP, and is the only MSP in the Scottish parliament that can really speak, he holds audiences in the palms of his hands, smiles as he puts another chip on the Scottish shoulder about how hard done we all are in Scotland and like a fairy story if we leave the United Kingdom it will all be better, eh how ?
Welfare spending is 6% higher north of the border and North Sea oil and gas revenues would not even meet that cost alone. At present we get, from Westminster, a far higher rate per head than south of the border to compensate for the sparser population, that of course will go if independence is the reality. Ask the SNP how they will manage to make up this loss and yet again you get the old whisky and oil argument.
When you ask any SNP supporter or indeed politician for facts and figures you dont get it. It will all be sorted out after we get independence they say. The main thrust of their argument is to get away from the control of Westminster, to take control of our own destiny, to replace the control of Westminster - with the control of the SNP, and anyone who makes reasoned arguments against this is accused of Scaremongering.
The infrastructure is just not there in Scotland to maintain our country, if you think the cost of the Scottish parliament building was obscene, you aint seen nothing yet.
Lord Forsyth, a Tory has-been, accuses David Cameron of caving into Salmond, of not negotiating properly and of allowing Salmond to dictate the terms of the referendum, clearly not true but if it were what of it? Maybe its time for Salmond to put up or shut up? Forsyth calls Cameron a Pontius Pilate, an interesting comparison as Governor Pilot condemned a man to death whom he knew to be innocent to prevent a riot in a religious capital that was known to be rebellious. Morally and legally he was wrong but politically and diplomatically?
As our first minister looks like he is slowly eating himself into an early grave the strong possibility is that he won't be around for long and it will be the odious Nicola Sturgeon who takes the reigns, the deputy first minister who made such a balls-up on her health brief (although she believes worryingly that she did a good job ) that her reward is now to co-ordinate the strategy for the independence debate - God help us all.
To allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote is another mistake for Salmond as these are the people who will find it the most difficult to get jobs outwith our union, they will have to leave Scotland if they wish to work in big companies as the taxes that will have to be raised, even just to maintain our present day Welfare state, means that the big companies who employ our youngsters will be squeezed to pay more and will not remain in Scotland.
The trouble is there is no effective opposition to the SNP. The Conservatives once led by the Daphnie Broon of politics, Annabel Goldie, has been replaced by Ruth Davidson who managed to say little beyond platitudes in her early days as leader and now clearly realising she needs to speak puts her foot in it regularly.
Then there's Johann Lamont who had the audacity to speak the truth on the crippling welfare state but was lambasted for it, perhaps the reason being she is a Labour MSP and any credibility to her argument was lost after the spending spree in Blair/Brown years.
The Lib/Dems have Willie Rennie - who? Doesn't matter really, as they are seen as the party that sold out all their principals and beliefs so they could play with the big guys and now block anything the Conservatives want to do.
So not a lot for Alex to worry about except maybe one guy, the only guy that could take him on verbally and win and thats Nigel Farage of UKIP. This is a party that is growing and its leader is a breath of fresh air. At present an MEP where he lambasts the European Union continually (watch him on U-Tube) you can see self-important MEP's cringe when he gets up to speak. He cuts through white wash and red tape, ridicules silly European laws and talks a lot of sense. We need him in Britain as an MP where he could support his party in Scotland and take on Alex Salmond. The Scottish people like no-nonsense politicians and at the moment are stuck for choice. I would pay good money to watch a Salmond/Farage debate.
So what's next in the future ? Wales, the Isle of Wight - the Shetlands - to go it alone? Don't laugh its not beyond possibility, look where the SNP has got Scotland is now.