It occurred to me that for the Unionist politicians striving to keep Scotland shackled to the corrupting corpse that is the UK, the Independence debate really boils down to a single issue.
It’s all about jobs.
“Well of course it is,” I hear you say. This is nothing new, the debate having touched on jobs in the Finance sector, the Oil and Gas sector, the Renewables sector and Shipbuilding.
The Unionist side has raised fears that an Independent Scotland would shed jobs across all sorts of industries. In fact, generating fears among Scotland’s diverse workforce has been one of the key attacks in the No side’s armoury. It is, of course, a quite legitimate area for debate. Even as a Yes supporter, I want to know what the future holds for employment. Thankfully, this has been answered by the Yes side, for instance the White Paper published in November, satisfied me that the future of Scotland has been well thought through. I have no fears regarding employment.
But still the No side are terrified about jobs, but let me be more specific. When I say the No side, I mean a small sub set of the Unionist family. Because there are Unionists who are generally terrified about job prospects in an Independent Scotland.
First of all, let me state what this concern for jobs is Not about.
It is not about the Finance sector, the Oil and Gas sector, the Renewables sector and Shipbuilding. In fact the concern that has certain Unionist tummy’s doing flips is absolutely nothing to do with jobs in Scotland’s economy. Your average Thinking Unionist politician knows and understands perfectly well that the fears raised by them are complete nonsense.
Jobs in an Independent Scotland are safe.
In fact we can state with considerable confidence that Independence will boost Scotland’s job sector. Employment will thrive.
The real fear is about the jobs of the current Unionist MPs and Peers, because common sense dictates that the current MPs and Peers representing Scottish constituencies and, for want of a better name, Baronages or Lordships, will be surplus to requirements. They are going to be out of a job!
Now I don’t want anyone to lose their jobs, but in the greater scheme of things I am perfectly relaxed about the Unionist MPs and Peers losing theirs.
So how many are we talking about?
These are the numbers of Unionist MPs Scotland sends to Westminster;
41 Labour MPs
11 LibDem MPs
1 Tory MP
Total – 53 Unionist MPs
There are 63 Peers in the House of Lords, representing Scottish Lordships (or whatever the term is).
So what is the loss to the Scottish economy? What do these MPs and Peers earn?
It’s a complex package, including salary and expenses to run offices etc. but the basic salary for an MP is £67060. So the Total wage bill for the 53 Unionist MPs is £3554180.
Trying to put a cost to the Peers is quite tricky, because they are not paid a salary. They are paid a daily expenses rate for turning up at the House of Lords. It’s £300 per day. I’ve absolutely no idea who turns up and how often but I can make a guesstimate for illustration purposes.
So a Peer who puts in an average of 100 appearances per year at £300 expenses per day will earn £30000 per annum. In all probability there are Peers who rarely turn up and then there will be others who practically live in the place.
A speculative amount then paid out to all Scottish peers will then look like this; Total £1890000.
These figures are a small price to pay for a successful Independent Scotland but if you are an MP or Peer pulling in a descent salary, then factor in the London lifestyle, the foreign travel and the other expenses, you won’t want to wave goodbye to this. You are going to do everything you possibly can to hold onto it.
In addition, there are the business connections that Unionist politicians appear to be very able at forming. It’s all very profitable for these individuals. Some Unionist politicians are very wealthy individuals indeed! Westminster looks after and rewards her own.
Westminster is also extremely forgiving of Unionist politicians who fall foul of the law.
The obvious example is Lord Watson, former Labour MP Mike Watson.
Jailed in 2005 for fire raising at an Edinburgh hotel he was released and retook his seat in the House of Lords in July 2006. He’s still there, pulling in the expenses. Not a bad little earner.
Now it is perfectly acceptable to hold a view that all this is value for money and a price worth paying for the Union. I don’t share that view.
So here is my tuppence worth on this system of political and well paid patronage.
I’m not going to mince words.
In Scotland we have food banks, poverty, run down housing stock, our old people struggling to keep a roof over their heads. We are constantly trying to justify a set of beliefs that I deem to be basic to human requirements, for instance a free Health Service, access to housing, good education. We aspire to a better society, we aspire to fairness and ethical foreign policy. We want rid of weapons of mass destruction and then we are disparagingly referred to and dismissed as separatists.
Yet 53 individuals, unbelievably selfish, greedy individuals, together with a handful of faceless Peers, have decided to stand in the way of the advancement of millions. These 116 politicians, whose self centred concerns for their cosy, taxpayer funded, lifestyles have exercised their energy to support a Union that does little for the constituents they purport to represent.
The next time you hear or see the next Project Fear story about jobs being under threat in an Independent Scotland just remember that there is, ironically a sliver of truth in it. The real Fear is from the 116 MPs and Peers who see their own personal Westminster Gravy Train coming to the end of the line.
Let us see an end to these 116 Unionist positions so that Scotland can prosper.