The Instigator
Smidday
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
DudeWithoutTheE
Con (against)
Winning
8 Points

Should Scotland become an Independent Country

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
DudeWithoutTheE
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/2/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,675 times Debate No: 28829
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (3)
Votes (2)

 

Smidday

Pro

This may not be on top of everyone's political agenda, however coming from the UK and more importantly Scotland, I would like to debate on this topic to see what other views people may or may not have on the upcoming Referendum in 2014.

Now I would like to state that this round is only an acceptance round and to clear up any grey areas on the matter.

Here are some rules to clear up anything.

1. This argument is regarding dissolving the 1707 Acts of Union between the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland treaty, NOT the Acts of Union 1603 between England and Scotland treaty declaring British Union, Monarch and Head of State.

2. Because of point 1 this means that Scotland whilst being an independent country is still answerable and loyal to the Royal Windsor Family and Queen will still be Head of State, the only difference will be within its parliament and what decisive powers it maintains as a country and will be answerable to no other power than its own government body, Scotland shall also be known as its own country as opposed to Region of Great Britain.

3. We will still maintain Sterling (Pound Coins) and not submit to the Euro unless agreed upon with both parties (EU & Scottish Parliament) if this poll of independence is successful.

4. Scotland still have the opportunity to remain in the European Union and keep the Sterling currency.

5. Scotland will still maintain its current Military Force and may withdraw or engage in any combats it is decided within government, although keeping many of its existing Allies.

6. Scotland can still be an existing member of NATO despite withdrawing all of its Nuclear Arms and Weapons, and shall be decided on a vote October 2014.

7. Scotland, should it become independent, shall have to take its fair share of the UK debt along with it, this shall be discussed as to how it will be divided up among governments.

If I have missed anything or you want something cleared up please leave a comment in the comments box before accepting.

Thank you and Good Luck to my opponent I look forward to your debate
DudeWithoutTheE

Con

Accepted. Some of your premises are debatable in themselves, but I'm fine with taking them as true for the purposes of making this debate about the important stuff rather than the minutiae. You didn't mention BoP so I assume shared. Also I am taking this as being an in or out debate (ie status quo vs full independence) therefore devo max is not relevant on either side. Best of luck!
Debate Round No. 1
Smidday

Pro

I would firstly like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate.

My main argument is based on the fact that Scotland could survive on its own without reliance on the UK Government, due to North Sea Oil, Gas, Whiskey, Tourist and Golf Attractions, upcoming events such as the Commonwealth Games and Masters tournament and of course Scottish fishing trade. These are trades and industries that have sustain not only Scotland but the rest of the UK through these world renowned products and services.

A lot of people believe that, we Scots are living of off English tax revenue and further dragging our economy into debt. Now if you look at the facts Britain has a population of [1]62.641 million in 2011 and of that [2]5,295,000 are from Scotland. Now if we looked at the facts the UK Public Spending is [3]$1.04 Trillion according to HM Treasury. "1,040,000,000,000 divided by 62,641,000 would cost "16,603 per head, now if we took Scotland out of this equation 62,641,000 subtract 5,295,000 equals 57,346,000 so this means that Scotland only equate to 8.45% of the UK population so if we calculate 8.45% of $1.04 Trillion this is [4]$8,788,000,000 = "5,406,667,604.

Scotland in 2012/2013 will spend [5]"28.5 billion on public sector spending, this proves that Scotland could easily clear its debt. However I understand that this may seem like the whole of the UK is subsidising this but if we look at the North Sea gas and oil revenue,

"Detailed research of the money brought in by the UK oil and gas fields suggests that Scottish waters " defined by the line of demarcation used in the fishing industry " accounted for 91.1 per cent of UK North Sea revenue in 2008/09.

If calculations are made on the basis that those assets are Scottish rather than British, they increase Scotland"s contribution to Treasury coffers by "11.7 billion, wiping out the "10.5bn deficit and leaving Scotland in the black to the tune of "1.3bn." [6]

These facts alone state that Scotland is an independently rich country and that we could cut off any dead weight i.e. debt from the UK by choosing independence.

Another flaw in the UK that I would like to point out is its mass increase in immigration ever since the EU was introduced also adding weight to our debt and rendering our society unmanageable due to the illegal as well as legal immigrant rate, census's only show half to 1 million REGISTERED and LEGAL immigrants [7] this however does not include illegal immigrants and travel and tuition visas. This is a heavy weight on our welfare budget and housing as immigrants need to be re-homed find work or failing that sign on, a smaller population the size of Scotland's for example would be far more easier to manage.

Thank you I look forward to my opponents rebuttal.

[1]https://www.google.co.uk...
[2]http://www.bbc.co.uk...
[3]http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk...
[4]https://www.google.co.uk...
[5]http://www.telegraph.co.uk...
[6]http://blogs.channel4.com...
[7]http://www.ons.gov.uk...
DudeWithoutTheE

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for presenting his arguments promptly. I would like to note that he begins by suggesting the main thrust of his case is that Scotland could survive on its own without the United Kingdom (UK). I do not see this as being the issue on which this debate turns, since no-one believes an independent Scotland would become Somalia overnight. The question at hand, rather, is one of whether Scotland is better off in future as an independent state, or part of the UK. I will present the case for the latter.

THE QUESTIONS OF TAXATION, SPENDING AND NORTH SEA OIL

If this debate had taken place 40 years ago, the North Sea oil argument might have been persuasive. The problem here is that the oil is running out. Production in the Scottish sector has fallen by 6% a year for the last decade [1] and is likely to run out entirely within thirty years of independence. The academic consensus is that Scotland's balance sheet would be largely similar to what it is now with the repatriation of oil money but the loss of English tax subsidy.


Even when a geographic share of North Sea revenue is included, Scottish public spending still exceeds receipts.

This graph shows that even factoring in North Sea oil, government in Scotland still spends more than it raises in revenue.
As David Phillips of the Institute of Financial Studies (IFS) concludes, "In the short run its higher public spending than the UK average could be covered by oil and gas revenues if these are assigned on a geographic basis. In the longer run the loss of these revenues would lead to tougher choices than those faced by the UK as a whole."[2] There are also significant risks when a country is overly reliant on a single industry, particularly resource extraction - I will develop this point further in subsequent rounds.

In addition, there are significant costs associated with the North Sea which my opponent has ignored. By 2040, all the current platforms will need to be decommissioned and the costs of this are estimated at £30bn. [3] Currently these costs will be born largely by Westminster- an independent Scotland would presumably be on the hook for most if not all of them.

MONETARY UNION WITHOUT POLITICAL UNION IS HARMFUL TO THE SMALLER PARTNER

Under Pro's proposed model, Scotland would remain in currency union with England, while dissolving the political ties. This would harm the Scottish economy. Why? Under this model, as with the status quo, Scotland would be required to follow the interest rate policies prescribed by the Bank of England. It would be in the same position vis-a-vis England as Portugal or Greece are in relation to Germany. The difference would be that without political union, the Bank of England would no longer factor Scottish conditions into its decisions, and English taxation revenues would no longer be available to stabilize the Scottish economy should a crisis hit Scotland particularly hard. The first of these issues means that if the English economy is going well while Scotland's was going badly, then the Bank would be able to pursue high interest rates with no concern for the fact that this might retard recovery north of the border. Conversely, if England was struggling while Scotland succeeded, Scotland would be faced with the risk of inflation. On the second point, The UK government in the last few years spent £45m bailing out the Royal Bank of Scotland, and £20bn on Lloyds (which had taken over Halifax Bank of Scotland in order to save it).[4] £65m is more than Scotland's annual tax receipts. Therefore, an independent Scotland would have great difficulty bailing out institutions of that size. Accordingly, either the Scottish banking sector would have to contract significantly, which would cost thousands of jobs, or Scotland would risk ending up in the same position as Iceland if another crisis hit its financial sector. Neither of these outcomes are good for Scotland. Pro mentions several sectors of the Scottish economy which might sustain an independent nation. What he does not do is offer any analysis for whether or how independence would benefit these sectors, which already exist. Contrast with the significant harms of no longer having the UK government around to prop up things like the banks.

BORROWING COSTS

It is safe to assume that an independent Scotland would have to take on a share of the UK debt in proportion to its share of population, or about £90bn. Brian Ashcroft at Scottish Economy Watch [5] notes that an independent Scotland could be expected to have higher borrowing costs on its debt than the UK as a whole, for three reasons:

- The Scottish government does not have hundreds of years' worth of track record of fiscal responsibility as does the UK
- Smaller nations in general pay a premium for borrowing because they are by their nature less economically diverse
- Scotland will not be in control of its own currency (see the monetary union argument above) and therefore cannot loosen its own monetary policy during a downturn.

Higher borrowing costs mean less money to pay for things like schools, hospitals, and pensions.

IMMIGRATION

Free movement of people as well as goods and services is a central tenet of the EU and permitting it a requirement of membership. "All Union citizens have the right to enter another Member State by virtue of having an identity card or valid passport. Under no circumstances can an entry or exit visa be required."[6] Since his model involves staying in the EU, this would still be the case in an independent Scotland. Pro has therefore not shown any link between independence and reduced immigration, even if for the sake of argument we accepted that this would be a good thing (which is highly debatable given that Scotland has anaemic population growth and an ageing workforce).

[1]http://www.economist.com...
[2]http://www.ifs.org.uk...
[3]http://www.economist.com...
[4]http://www.guardian.co.uk...
[5]http://www.scottisheconomywatch.com...
[6]http://europa.eu...
Debate Round No. 2
Smidday

Pro

Smidday forfeited this round.
DudeWithoutTheE

Con

So yeah, PRO forfeits this round. I'm not massively bothered if this is just a time thing and he is able to submit an argument for round four, three rounds of argument should be enough. A second forfeit should obviously be seen as forfeiting the debate as a whole.
Debate Round No. 3
Smidday

Pro

My apologies to my opponent for not responding on time.

Now addressing the North Sea Oil, now a point that I would like to point out is the loss of revenue over the past decade has one big overwhelming factor, the war in the middle east, fighting over oil reserves and establishing relationships with places like Qatar where the oil reserves are plentiful will surely drive down the cost here in Scotland as we would have to compete with ridiculous prices, this however does not confirm that North Sea Oil is running out. Also Con's argument stating that the reserves would expire in 30 years or so isn't even mentioned within his evidence. Now an interesting point I would like to highlight is the fact that his own evidence states, "an independent Scotland would currently gain roughly as much in taxes as it would lose in subsidies" this to me counteracts the whole argument that Scotland needs the Union, and how much of this revenue stays in Scotland? Hardly any if the HMRC are involved.

http://media.economist.com...

This also shows that Scotland isn't as bad as other regions of the UK.

Now to establish my point on HMRC. This parasite bleeds our country dry, now Con may argue that this provides public funding et cetera however bearing in mind that our Duty Tax is around [1]60% (Please note that this statistic is old and is probably much higher) this has a huge impact on industry overheads, we also have corporate tax, income tax, PAYE, VAT Tax, to be honest from a global business point of view it is financial suicide to even set up a business in the UK, with the recent exceptions of [2]Vodafone, Amazon, Starbucks and Google, all companies that can afford to beat the the HMRC with their legal teams. Also recently the HMRC managed to destroy a whole company despite failing twice prosecuting other companies of using EBTs (Employee Benefit Trusts), Rangers Football Club which as a result was liquidated after 140 years in business. This case was a complete waste of taxpayers money in which they are still appealing despite LOSING this tax case. Scotland would be far better off without this furnace of tax money.

Now if Scotland was an independent country it could become a tax haven if its government decided to abolish most of these ridiculous taxes, if we look at for example Starbucks, if they had lost they're case they would have withdrawn all of its stores, further impairing the British economy. Creating a haven free of tax, we would be flooded with businesses wanting to set up shop, bear in mind if things are cheaper in Scotland, English and Welsh will come to Scotland to save money.

Another point my opponent addressed is that relying on one industry is harmful. I agree however I never said that Scotland would rely on one industry, we have many other trades and changing our way of taxing can tip the commercial scales in our favour as well as relying on our expensive whiskeys and world known fisheries and golf courses, as well as Deer Stalking [3] this alone delivers over "70 million a year for Scotland alone ("105 million a year for UK). This is a simple yet effect production of money as Scotland is overrun with deer affecting our wildlife, basically killing two birds with one stone. These points are just illustrating that Scotland is still a prosperous country without its oil.

Also my opponent states their point, "There are also hidden liabilities in the North Sea. Decommissioning the installations there, most of which are in Scottish waters, will cost more than "30 billion by 2040, predicts Oil & Gas UK, a trade body. Westminster is currently on the hook for more than half that sum in tax relief, a bill it would happily hand over to Holyrood."
This is merely speculation made by a government body, a government which DOES NOT want to lose its links to the North Sea Gas and Oil, really how reliable does this statistic seem?

Now in regards to the Bank of England I agree London would have the upper hand here but this is a mere suggestion stated by the SNP, now we can relate to alternatives such as joining the Euro or creating our own currency, after all we do have Bank of Scotland currency that isn't accepted widely in England, so we're half way their in making our own currency.

In regards to the immigration policy within the EU stating that my "Model involves staying in the EU" I actually stated, "4. Scotland still have the opportunity to remain in the European Union and keep the Sterling currency." This means we still have the option should we want or completely cut off all ties with the EU and its dying economy, thus forcing out anyone who chooses to reside here just for our welfare and charitable accommodation.

1]http://www.petrolprices.com...
[2]http://metro.co.uk...
[3]http://www.bbc.co.uk...
DudeWithoutTheE

Con

I would like to begin by pointing out that PRO has dropped my point about Scottish borrowing costs. Now some rebuttal.


Firstly, PRO contends that the 'big overwhelming factor' in the loss of oil revenue over the last decade has been the Iraq war. This point is flat-out untrue. The decline in oil production in the North Sea has absolutely nothing to do with the war in the Middle East. It has everything to do with the amount of oil in the North Sea being finite, and running out. International oil prices rose in the aggregate over the last decade, as this graph shows. The change in oil prices since 1998.
Revenue fell even though the price per unit went up -even at its lowest point during the 2000s, the oil price was roughly double what it was in 1998. As a result, this loss of revenue cannot have anything to do with the war in the Middle East pushing down prices, but is rather a North Sea specific effect due to depletion of reserves. Even if oil prices WERE falling due to development of the industry elsewhere, we could expect this effect to persist in future (increased supply reduces prices in general), therefore either way PRO's argument on this point fails.

Secondly, PRO says that my figures showing the Scottish financial situation would be pretty much the same in the short run and worse in the long run proves that it 'Does not need' the UK. Again, my contention is not that Scotland 'needs' the UK, it is that it is better off within the UK, which is true in the long term. Most married people could live without their spouses. It doesn't mean they should all divorce. PRO appears to be working under the assumption that independence, provided Scotland can survive alone, is a good thing. That, of course, is exactly what he is supposed to be proving, so he cannot rely on it as an argument.

PRO suggests that Oil & Gas UK is a government organisation and therefore biased. That is simply untrue. It is a trade association of companies working in the sector. It takes no position either way on Scottish independence.[1] He contends that the evidence I supplied does not support the contention that oil is running out. Allow me to quote:

"The North Sea is gradually running dry. Many fields will stop producing in the 2020s; by the 2040s oil is likely to be dribbling rather than gushing forth."[2]

and

"The richest reserves have already been exploited, leaving inaccessible oil that becomes uneconomic when prices fall."[3]

In other words, the oil costs more to get at, and so any downward fluctuation in the oil price at all would leave it costing more to extract than can be made from selling it.

PRO also suggests that he is not committed to the idea of retaining Sterling. That is disengenuous, since it was one of the premises he set out in round one. If he wishes to argue joining the Euro, then that has all the same disadvantages as Sterling, only worse. If he wishes to commit himself to contradicting his earlier premise and having Scotland establish its own currency, he must say so. Similarly, with regard to the EU, PRO is now suggesting that Scotland could leave the EU. I would like PRO to commit to this, since there are clear downsides to this course of action, and it is unfair to change your proposed method of achieving the resolution every time I point out a problem.

WHY SCOTLAND WOULD BE OVERLY RELIANT ON OIL, AND WHY THIS IS BAD

PRO argues that he did not say that Scotland would rely on one industry. Nonetheless, it's true. An independent Scotland would rely on oil and gas for 18% of its GDP[4], which is a very large amount to come from any one sector. Oil contributes over 20 times as much to GDP as does whisky.[5][6] My argument was not, and should not be construed as, being that Scotland has no other industries whatsoever. Why does 18% of a country's GDP coming from one resource lead to economic risk?

Firstly, when that resource is finite, as covered above, when it runs out the country loses the entire benefit of it, and is left with redundant infrastructure that will require decommissioning. Secondly, it means that the Scottish government's revenue streams would be highly vulnerable to fluctuations in the market price of oil. This will make it difficult for Scotland to plan its finances long term, and require Scotland to borrow large amounts of money to sustain its levels of public spending should there be an unexpected downturn in the price of oil, which there is pretty much bound to be at some point given the nature of commodities markets. This is problematic due to the (dropped) argument from the last round about how it will cost Scotland more to borrow money than it costs the UK. Being part of the UK means being part of a more diversified economy, therefore better able to deal with a price shock in one sector.

WHY THE TAX HAVEN IDEA IS UNLIKELY TO COME ABOUT AND WON'T WORK ANYWAY

The current governing party in Scotland is the Scottish National Party, which is considerably to the left of either of the major UK parties. [7] As noted in the last round, Scotland has higher levels of government spending than the UK as a whole, and First Minister Alex Salmond has promised an expansion of government-funded childcare and a large rise in the minimum wage for local government employees in the areas controlled by his party.[8] The major opposition party in Scotland is the Labour party, which is the more left-wing of the two main UK parties. Therefore, there is clearly not the political will to restrain government spending north of the border.

As Michael Keating of Aberdeen University argues,

"In Scotland, such a [Corporation Tax] cut would provide a windfall benefit for existing businesses without attracting much more. The argument that it would pay for itself depends on the implausible assumption that business activity would more or less double in a very short period.”[9] Therefore, the Scottish government would have to either cut back on spending, and I've just shown why this won't happen (and would make the average Scot worse off if it did). The other option is to continue spending more than it earns in taxes and borrow even more money. I've explained why this will be more expensive for an independent Scotland than the UK as a whole, and is clearly unsustainable, especially in a small economy. This is exactly what Greece did that lead to the current crisis. [10] Is this really what we want for Scotland?

The same, incidentally, applies to immigration law. The UK national party which takes a harder line on immigration and favours lower taxation is the Conservative party, which is barely relevant in Scotland. It is ridiculous to assume that a collection of parties which have taken generally liberal positions on immigration historically will suddenly start kicking all foreigners out just because Scotland is independent. If that's what PRO wants to see in Scotland, then he is better off supporting a continued Union with a country where such ideas are more popular.

HMRC

I am confused by PRO's argument here. Does he seriously believe that Scotland would not have a revenue service, or that it would cease to pursue tax avoiders if Scotland became independent? PRO appears to be arguing for a massive tax reduction across the board, and as noted, that's even less likely to happen in an independent Scotland than it is in the UK as a whole.

[1]http://www.oilandgasuk.co.uk...
[2]http://www.economist.com...
[3]http://www.economist.com...
[4]Ibid
[5]Ibid
[6]http://www.scotlandoffice.gov.uk...
[7]https://www.princeton.edu...
[8]http://www.scotsman.com...
[9]http://www.qfinance.com...
[10]http://www.lapasserelle.com...
Debate Round No. 4
Smidday

Pro

Smidday forfeited this round.
DudeWithoutTheE

Con

Two round forfeit = total forfeit. Extend all arguments, vote Con.
Debate Round No. 5
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by DudeWithoutTheE 4 years ago
DudeWithoutTheE
Gonna try to get to this when I get home tomorrow.
Posted by Smidday 4 years ago
Smidday
Yes new comments and rebuttals are allowed in round 5 and it should be down to whoever has the best argument for their case good luck
Posted by DudeWithoutTheE 4 years ago
DudeWithoutTheE
Can you clarify format? I will assume first round for acceptance. Do you intend to include a specific rebuttal round? Are new arguments or new rebuttal permitted in R5, or is it just a summary? Etc etc.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by 1Devilsadvocate 4 years ago
1Devilsadvocate
SmiddayDudeWithoutTheETied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: F.F.
Vote Placed by Mak-zie 4 years ago
Mak-zie
SmiddayDudeWithoutTheETied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: FF