Bill Carmichael: Voting ‘No’ in cold light of poll cubicle

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IT has been a week of high theatrics with all three main party leaders heading north to beg Scotland not to leave the UK and David Cameron, with tears in his eyes, saying he would be “heartbroken” if the Scots vote Yes.

Isn’t this all a bit – well – undignified? It reminds me of a spouse who can’t accept the breakdown of a relationship and clings sobbing onto the ankles of a departing partner: “Please don’t leave me – I’ll kill myself if you do!”

Get a grip for heaven’s sake! For what it is worth I believe a Yes vote next Thursday would be bad for the UK and an unmitigated disaster for Scotland.

But I, alongside all UK citizens who live outside of Scotland, don’t have a vote and have no say in the future of my own country. We are mere spectators as the drama unfolds.

But rest assured we are paying for the pleasure. Our politicians have decided that the best way to persuade the Scots to love us is to stuff their mouths with gold.

For example Scottish universities routinely discriminate against English students who are forced to pay £36,000 for a degree, while Scottish students – and those from every other EU state – pay nothing.

Scots also enjoy “free” social care for the elderly and “free” NHS prescriptions, which are not available in England. In reality, none of this comes “free” at all – it is paid for thanks to a £17.6bn a year subsidy that Scotland receives courtesy of harder working and more productive taxpayers in England.

Under the antiquated Barnett Formula, a well-heeled Edinburgh lawyer living in an elegant Georgian terrace in New Town is deemed more worthy of taxpayer subsidy than a poverty stricken ex-miner in South Yorkshire. Work that one out.

Now our politicians – panicking as a result of opinion polls showing momentum is on the Yes side – have decided to boost the No vote by promising Scotland yet more spending powers if they stay in the UK.

No prizes for guessing who will end up paying for that.

Most objectionable of all is the suggestion – regularly trotted out by the more swivel-eyed nationalists – that Scotland is throwing off the yoke of colonial oppression by voting for independence. This is complete nonsense. The Scots willingly entered into the union and have been active participants ever since. As a result the UK has been a force for good in the world, playing a key role in everything from the abolition of slavery to the defeat of Fascism.

For the Scots to pretend that they were some kind of subject race oppressed by the evil English colonisers throughout this period is utterly preposterous.

Don’t forget two out of three of our most recent Prime Ministers were Scottish and Scots occupy positions of influence in the British establishment far out of proportion to their actual numbers – so which country is the colony here?

Part of me wants the Scots to vote Yes just to see what would happen. The SNP is dedicated to the same borrow and spend policies that brought Britain to its knees under the last Labour government and has seen France grind to a juddering halt under President Hollande.

Can the Scots wean themselves off the teat of subsidy and pay their own way – just like a proper grown-up nation?

I suspect that eventually – as invariably happens – the Socialists will discover that they have run out of other people’s money to spend. How will the Scots react when all the “free” stuff disappears and there is no English taxpayer to pick up the tab?

It is tempting to want to find out, but the damage to people’s lives, particularly the most vulnerable, would be so disastrous that I hope it doesn’t happen and the Scots have the good sense to vote No. And here’s a prediction – I think that is the way the vote will go, despite the opinion polls putting Yes in the lead.

Of course voters will be swayed by the romance, the passion and the flag-waving nationalist fervour – who wouldn’t be?

But in the cold light of the polling cubicle the Scots will think about more prosaic things such as jobs, pensions, mortgages and the pound – and with 
a deep sigh the sensible majority will 
vote No.