This last week of the referendum debate has grown ever more heated. Despite 99% of those engaged in campaigning keeping the heid, there have been some idiots on either side. Even some intending no malice have had their exhuberence seen as intimidation by opponents. But, given what’s at stake and the sheer scale of activity, we should perhaps be grateful that the worst violations of good grace have been limited to robust heckling and at least one egging.
There has never in history been an independence movement like this—come so close to succeeding without serious personal injury, let alone any loss of life. Whichever side wins, once emotions cool both sides will look back on this with pride, irrespective of outcome.
But part of the problem has been debates too light on facts. Both sides have been guilty of this—the Yes campaign declining to answer gaps in the White Paper and the No campaign projecting doomsday scenarios for which it failed to provide much evidence.
So, before the polls open and the hour grows too late, allow me to distill a series of hard facts, as gleaned by the respected Economist Intelligence Unit, comparing countries on a number of key parameters of success for its citizens. Most are extracted from their World in Numbers 2012 booklet. Together, these rankings summarise which countries are successful in bringing a rich, safe, comfortable and fulfilling life to its citizens.
Brought together in the table below are ten countries roughly comparable to what Scotland might become as an independent nation and the UK as a whole. While there is no clear winner, these cold numbers make it abundantly clear how much more successful these Scotland-sized nations are in every category. Any conclusion drawn on Scotland’s future must include consideration of these facts that are, in Burns phrase, chiels that winna ding.
While it may be difficult to see which country does come out on top, it is most certainly not the UK. But the whole point of independence is for a country to choose its own destiny and not live by someone else’s priorities. Socially-conscious Scandinavia to bustling Singapore is all possible but we’re bonkers together.