CONSERVATIVE FRIENDS OF THE UNION RALLY
SOUTH BEACH HOTEL, TROON
FRIDAY 15thAUGUST, 2014
Alex Salmond likes to accuse us of scaremongering. He deployed this tactic in his woeful performance in the TV debate with Alistair Darling, when he bizarrely raised the spectacle of giant pandas, aliens and driving on the right. He seemed to be trying to make the point that such scare stories about an independent Scotland are designed to frighten the punters and that the reality will be much different.
In the First Minister’s dream world, following a YES vote on 18thSeptember, Scotland’s sunlit uplands and sparkling seas, will be awash with oil, whisky, fish and loads of money. There will be Albanian levels of public spending; a benefits system that would bring tears to the eyes of a Scandinavian; no more wicked bedroom taxes and welfare cuts; no more austerity. You can almost hear Jimmy Shand playing in the background!
But let’s pause for a second for a wee reality check. The SNP have been in power in Scotland for years. They formed a minority government way back in 2007 and then they won an outright majority at the last Holyrood elections. We have seen how they handle power in Scotland and we therefore have a clear idea of what an independent Scotland run by the SNP would look like. It is a disturbing vision!
A parliamentary committee system, dominated by the SNP, to ensure government policies are driven through with no opportunity for checks or balances. Democratic decisions voted through unanimously by local councils, then called in and overruled by SNP Ministers in Edinburgh. Armed police patrolling our streets like downtown New York or Chicago. An energy policy based on useless and massively expensive windmills, steadily destroying our landscape, driving over one million Scots families into fuel poverty and leading inexorably to electricity blackouts. Individual state nominated guardians appointed for every Scottish child to ensure their upbringing conforms to SNP Government stereotypes. An embryonic foreign policy based apparently on ‘ban the bomb’ and help Malawi.
And crucially, on the currency, no ‘Plan B’. “It’s our pound”,says Alex “And we intend to keep it.”Alarmingly, it seems that he intends to keep the pound illegitimately, like Panama uses the dollar or Montenegro the Euro. He says that Scotland will default on its share of the national debt, turning us at a stroke into a pariah nation and destroying over 200,000 jobs in our financial services sector. Pensions will be undermined and mortgages will rocket by over £1600. Taxes on middle-income earners will soar to meet the proposed £3 billion additional expenditure planned by the SNP.
As a new EU Member state, we will lose our ability to apply zero rated VAT on books, newspapers, magazines, children’s clothing and a host of other items.
We will lose our share of Maggie Thatcher’s hard-won budget rebate, making EU membership more expensive for every Scot. We will face border controls with our neighbours in the rest of Britain.
As an integral part of the UK, Scotland is already in a stable currency union. As a strong, progressive nation we are respected worldwide. As part of the UK, Scots have a distinguished voice in the UN Security Council, the G7, G8 and G20. We are seen as one of the big players in the EU, not least because the UK is the second biggest contributor to the EU budget. An independent Scotland would never enjoy the same international clout.
As part of the UK we currently benefit from full diplomatic representation in 267 embassies and 169 trade offices around the world. In contrast, Alex Salmond’s vision is for an independent Scotland to finance around 70 to 90 embassies and 27 trade offices.
Instead of a bloated SNP-run public sector sucking the lifeblood from private enterprise in a heavily subsidised independent Scotland, we need to fight for our vision of a vibrant and dynamic Scotland, playing a central role in a modern and successful United Kingdom.
So the chips are down. We face the biggest fight of our political lives for the future of Scotland and for the future of the United Kingdom. Giant pandas, aliens and driving on the right are the least of our worries. The scariest thing of all is Alex Salmond and the SNP!
So it’s up to us to make our voices heard. Let us tell Alex Salmond that we don’t want to join the Euro. We don’t want borders between us and England. We don’t want thousands of useless wind turbines littering our coasts and countryside driving Scots into fuel poverty and crippling business and industry. We don’t want independence. NO THANKS, ALEX. IT’S OUR UK AND WE’RE GOING TO KEEP IT!
(Conservative Euro MP for Scotland 1999-2014)