Profile cover photo
Profile photo
Scottish Research Society
the answers in black and white
the answers in black and white


Post has attachment
Daily Media Round Up Sept 18th #indyref 

Gordon Brown calls on No voters to stand up and be counted
VIDEO – Gordon Brown slams SNP over NHS lies  
If This Is Alex Salmond's Plan B, Scotland 'Would Fail Within A Year'  
Alan Cochrane: Why my support for the Union comes form the heart
Dishonest, unethical and wrong: Trainee surgeon whose mother’s life was saved by NHS demolishes Salmond’s NHS lies
Danny Alexander: No camp will deliver more powers  
An independent Scotland’s credit rating would be BBB – the same as Brazil and Poland!  
Yes campaign has shouted down free speech  
Forget the polls, the money is on a No vote
Why Scotland would need a new currency  
Threats, intimidation and abuse: The dark side of the Yes campaign
Fears of run on ATMs
Current situation is the best for Scots business says Sir Tom Hunter  
Alistair Darling: This is our only chance to save the UK
VIDEO – CNBC – Scottish independence sold on false prospectus  
The little things that you might not have thought of that would have to change after independence
What could possibly go wrong? Scottish pubs are granted special licences to serve alcohol all through referendum night - despite threat of violence breaking out
How would independence affect travellers?
Spain says Scottish independence would be a catastrophe
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Address Unknown: Scotland’s postal nightmare under Independence #indyref 

The SNP have made their plans for renationalisation of Royal Mail Group in Scotland clear ever since privatisation of Royal Mail was first mooted, and state in their white paper: “On Independence the Scottish Government will begin the process of renationalising the Royal Mail in Scotland”. It goes onto allow a degree of flexibility by saying “Our approach to nationalisation will be considered in the light of circumstances at the point of independence, including the prevailing structure of the Royal Mail.”

This raises some interesting questions. First, how do you nationalise a public company listed on the stock exchange of a foreign country? Second, will we also undertake to shoulder our share of the burden of the £29bn pension liability, the responsibility of which the UK government divested Royal Mail ahead of privatisation? 

All of which is secondary to the thoughts that must be on the minds of Scots Royal Mail customers, which is - will there still be the same level of service, at a reasonable price? In other words what will come of the Universal Service Obligation in an independent Scotland?

The answer in the government’s white paper Scotland’s Future is “Yes… [the USO] will be maintained at least at the level of service provision inherited from the UK on independence.” In answer to the question “Will the price of stamps be higher in an independent Scotland than in the rest of the UK?” the answer is: “On independence stamp prices will be the same as they are at the time in the rest of the UK. A Scottish postal service on public ownership would not need to generate profits for shareholders and so should be in a better position to ensure that postal services and deliveries meet Scotland’s needs. This applies to sending post and parcels within Scotland, to the rest of the UK and to other countries….It is our intention that postal charges to rUK will not be more expensive than to spend post within Scotland.”

This is more a supposition than a commitment, as the USO runs at an estimated £200m loss. The current agreement between Ofcom and the Royal Mail Group is for the USO to be a statutory obligation of RMG for ten years. 

As for price, there has already been some hefty increase over the last couple of years as a result of Ofcom’s decision to remove price controls from Royal Mail, while keeping a watching brief to ensure that RMG does not return to profitability by price increase alone without increasing efficiency or impairing the current service provision. Ofcom reserves to right to intervene if issues of affordability should arise, especially for the vulnerable.

Generally though the agreement runs like this: RMG is allowed more freedom to decide on the price of a first class stamp, but with 55p cap set on second class stamps, though it is allowed to increase in line with the Consumer Price Index for 7 years from April 2012. From April 2012 the cost of a first class stamp was increased from 46p to 60p, and the cost of a second class stamp fro 36p to 50p. Then in April 2014 stamps were increased from 60p to 63p for first class, and from 50p to 53p for second class. Which gives us a rough way of supposing how much prices might have risen by at the time of actual independence in 2016.

However these prices will bear no relationship to the actual provision of the USO in Scotland, without the economies of scale provided by the rest of the UK where routes are on average more profitable, especially in England, and subsidise the cost of delivery in the remote parts of Scotland, where routes are heavily loss making.

Gert Zonneveld, an analyst at stockbroker Panmure Gordon said in This Is Money last week that for this reason an independent Scotland would face soaring stamp prices and could lose Royal Mail services altogether if  Scotland was forced by EU law to establish its own postal service.

‘If Royal Mail will cover Scotland it will need to generate an appropriate return on sales, which may result in a significant uplift in prices for users of the mail system in Scotland.’

Mr Zonneveld was the first City analyst to publicly accuse the Government of selling Royal Mail on the cheap in last year’s privatisation. He was openly criticised by business secretary Vince Cable, but ultimately proved right when shares soared on the London Stock Exchange.

Yesterday he said a new postal service in Scotland would ‘result in a complete recalculation of costs’. It is not currently known whether Royal Mail would automatically pull out of Scotland in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote.
Government sources said it would be up to the Governments of Scotland and the rest of the UK to decide as part of the independence negotiations.
But in time Scotland will be forced to establish its own provider under EU law.

Mr Zonneveld said it was likely that Royal Mail would be kept on in Scotland ‘as an interim agreement’.
Using the firm, which already has an established network of postboxes and around 12,000 staff north of the border, would also be a cheaper option for a new Scottish Government than establishing its own state-owned service from scratch.

Mr Zonneveld added: ‘There is no doubt that something will need to change. But would Scotland on its own with a mail system have higher prices that the rest of the UK? You have to say yes.’

It is not known how much more expensive Scottish stamps could be, but a recent Citizens Advice Scotland investigation found that some parcel firms were charging up to six times more to deliver in rural parts of the Highlands.
A report from regulator Ofcom showed that Royal Mail charges business customers 27 per cent more if they are in rural areas than in urban areas such as major cities.

A spokesman for Royal Mail said: ‘The Scottish independence Referendum is a matter for the Scottish people and we await the outcome of the Referendum. Any negotiations following the Referendum would be a matter for the UK and Scottish Governments.’

A spokesman for Ofcom said: ‘Ofcom is independent of both the Scottish and UK Governments and has no position on whether there should be any constitutional change.’

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which rules on the universal service obligation, refused to comment.

Dave Ward, deputy general secretary of the Communications’ Workers’ Union, said: ‘It’s not clear what the implications would be on Royal Mail’s Universal Service Obligation in an independent Scotland, the pension schemes our members are enrolled in or how it would affect the roll-out of broadband services to the inaccessible rural communities in Scotland. 
'Independence would have a significant impact on the ability of these companies to invest in their networks.’

The UK Parliament’s business committee issued a report on 8th August looking at the implications of Scottish independence on business, stating that a separate Scotland would have to devote considerably expense to propping up the universal postal service.
The MPs said various witnesses in their inquiry called into question the sustainability of Scotland’s universal postal service given the highly rural nature of the country.
About 1m people live in rural Scotland, and 280,000 of these live in remote areas. The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee said the Scottish Government had not laid out a plan showing how the extra costs would be financed.
The MPs stated in the report: “We do not believe that the Scottish Government has set out a coherent body of evidence to show how it would maintain and pay for the Universal Postal Service in an independent Scotland. The risk to Scotland is that provision of the Universal Postal Service will come at significant additional cost, either to the taxpayer or to the consumer.”
Within the report, the MPs also called into question the Scottish government’s pledge to renationalise Royal Mail’s operations in Scotland following its breakaway from the union, reversing last October’s privatisation process.
The UK lawmakers said renationalisation might be an “attractive campaigning tool” ahead of September’s referendum, but the Scottish Government had not set out in detail how the costs of bringing the Scottish postal system back into public ownership.
“Included in that assessment must be an assessment of Scotland’s proportion of the historic pension liabilities currently held by the UK Government. Without that detail, the policy of renationalisation is nothing more than an uncoated aspiration,” the MPs added, referring to the £29bn of historic pension liabilities taken on by the UK government from Royal Mail ahead of its privatisation.
A further problem identified within the report was how cross-border postal rates would be arranged between Scotland and the rest of the UK.
The situation could become like mail going between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, where Royal Mail charges EU rates to send items between Northern Ireland and the Republic, but where An Post operates an all-Ireland rate, encouraging Northern Irish consumers to take their mail across the border to mail it to addresses in the Republic.
Scotland could be treated like the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, where postage rates are lower for sending to and from the UK than Europe.
Or, mail sent between Scotland and the UK could be classified as full international post, the MPs report suggested.
However, the report warned that the Scottish Government had not set out any detail on how it would deal with the financial pressures on cross-border postage in the UK. “Given that this will place further financial pressures on a Scottish Mail Service, the provision of this detail is a pressing matter,” said the Committee.
The Committee’s wider report concluded that remaining in the Union would be in the best interests of Scotland.
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Daily Media Round Up Sept 17th #indyref

Scottish NHS would face '£450m black hole' under independence
Salmond’s sums are implausible says one of world’s tip economists, Alan Greenspan
Salmond accused of more EU lies by Spain, France and Belgium
Female voters could save the union
The Seriously Nasty Party
Triple blow for Salmond on finance, the EU and the NHS  
Fears of mob violence as pubs open all night for vote count  
Why Yes means less  
Inspire the world with a vote for unity says Bill Clinton
Independent Scotland could become the next Greece
Scots still do not know the real cost of their independence  
Independence would spark major uncertainty in the energy sector  
700,000 to flee south if Scotland votes Yes  
Alex Salmond personally pressurised St Andrews University over independence concerns
The bullying and intimidation is worse than anything I saw in Ulster says Tom Bradby
Yes vote would mean financial ruin and plunge Scotland in unprecedented austerity
Campaign tactics that discredit the Yes camp
The farce of SNP’s military plans leave Scotland vulnerable
NHS leak fuels campaign clashes  
Alex Brummer: Independent Scots will have to pay more for their porridge, milk and eggs
Intimidation smears mar final days of the campaign
Foreign banks wary of investing in Scotland now
As a Scot, I despair of the Nats nasty streak writes Chris Deerin
Nationalists accused of 'patronising' older voters after producing guide teaching teenagers how to try and persuade their grandparents to support independence
What if the result is a dead heat?  
Betfair starts to pay out on No bets
Answers to seven less obvious independence questions  
The NHS Barnett formula explained  
Don’t be afraid to go out and vote for the Union
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Tomorrow, September 18th, let us reassert the true patriotic choice to be Scottish and British.

Let us be clear we all benefit, Scots, English, Welsh and Northern Irish, from being part of Britain. The true Scot’s patriot is the one who understands that Scotland and the rest of the UK benefit mutually from being together. Our fellow countrymen south of Berwick have made it clear – they really want Scotland to stay. The moving rally in Trafalgar Square clearly demonstrated that. And what else could be expected, with Horatio Nelson looking down on the square; one quarter of his Navy was Scottish.

We have fought together and played together. To split our armed forces, in this most dangerous world would be vandalism. We together have been a force for good time and time again.

We have a seat at the top table as a United Nation’s security council member and as the fifth largest economy on earth genuine influence over both the US and EU. It is delusional to believe that Scotland, with less than 1% of the EU’s population can have any meaningful influence at all.  We benefit from being British.

Our great Scottish universities are world class. But by being part of the UK they benefit disproportionately from access to UK resources, cultural exchange and ultimately British research grants. Scotland, with an economy one twelfth the size of the UK’s simply could not hope to support the breadth of excellent research currently undertaken. We benefit from being British.

The BBC, for all its faults, remains cherished. Scotland would no longer be a partner in that and other cultural institutions. Sure Scotland could’ buy in’ programming but that is not the same as being part of the entity. There are not many southern Irish accents on the BBC today. Scottish voices would slowly disappear. Scottish culture is enhanced by being British.

One sees daily the unstable world we live in from Ukraine and Russia to the Middle East. Britain remains one of the world’s most significant military powers with an unrivalled security and diplomatic network. Scotland plays its full part in British defences but we could not possibly match the UK’s diplomatic, military and security reach alone. In today’s unstable and dangerous world we benefit by being British.

The NHS, despite what Alex Salmond would have you believe, was a British invention by Aneurin Bevan, a Welshman, in 1948. Scotland benefits from sharing resources with the rest of the UK. Scotland is not big enough to provide healthcare care for every eventuality. For example, although health spending is higher in Scotland, than in the rest of the UK, certain transplants and specialist cancer care is available only in other regions of the UK.  Scotland has no Ebola clinic, nor given our size would it not be sensible to do so. That sharing of facilities would be lost. We benefit from being British.

We have shared kith and kin. My father is Scots, my mother English. That is a typical tapestry.  Many leave to go to London, and many from ‘down south’ come to Scotland. We have similar cultural experience and shared history. We have fought side by side. The opportunities we all have to work and play are greatly enhanced by being a part of a united isle. We all benefit by being British.

The 21st century has seen borders start to come down; it would be eccentric to raise an artificial one tomorrow. So let us awake on Friday morning still with the pound in our pocket, still protected by our forces and still under the same flag.


Ewen Stewart is the Scottish Research Society’s economist and director of Walbrook Economics
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
For more information, research and findings please visit
Add a comment...

Add a comment...

Daily Media Round Up Sept 16th #indyref 

Historic pledge by Cameron, Clegg and Milliband giving Scots more powers if a No vote

Scots should say No with their heads and hearts

Alex Salmond is a bad gambler

Cameron, Clegg and Milliband promise devo powers to Scotland

Scotland’s most senior civil servant intimidated businesses against independence

Director of NHS England warns of risks to cross-border health if a Yes vote

No voters – Stand up to the bullies

When will the referendum results be announced?

Markets put chance of No vote at 81%

John Reid: Nationalists running misogynistic campaign against female No supporters

The Union fights back: Thousands flock to Scottish cairn to make emotional case against independence

Scottish nationalists live in a fantasy world

A Yes vote would be heartbreaking for the nation

Veterans and generals appeal to voters to reject independence

Party leaders in joint pledge to give Scottish parliament new powers

Cycling supremo Sir Dave Brailsford urges no vote 'for the sake of UK sport'

VIDEO – Cameron’s emotional speech to Scots to stay in the Union

VIDEO - CNBC – the No vote will prevail

Guide to referendum night

Scottish independence vote divides families

Police are preparing for unrest after vote

Why the English and Welsh are right to support No vote

Scottish independence: Defence is the new battleground

Would going solo affect the tourism industry?

Scottish independence could cause the average house price to fall by £30,000

Facebook is leading the social media referendum campaign

Melanie Reid: My grandfather the crofter and my fears for Scotland

Warm weather expected to boost polling turnout

Clean energy investment at risk from Scottish referendum
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Add a comment...
Wait while more posts are being loaded