The Scottish Referendum: why Salmond wants to lose and Cameron wants him to win.

A referendum on whether Scotland should be an independent country will take place on Thursday 18 September 2014.

Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish National Party [SNP], appears to want a YES vote. David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party, appears to want a NO vote.

I suggest that, in reality, Salmond wants a NO vote and Cameron a YES vote.

The SNP is committed to a referendum on Scottish independence and Salmond has no alternative but to appear to support that. However, Salmond is a very astute politician and he must realise that independence would be economically disasterous for Scotland.

In addition to not being able to use the pound as its currency, Scotland would find it very difficult to join the EU.

'European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has said it would be "extremely difficult, if not impossible" for an independent Scotland to join the European Union. He said an independent Scotland would have to apply for membership and get the approval of all current member states.'

 There are several major EU states that are worried about parts of their own countries splitting off.  They would not want to encourage that by giving Scotland an easy entry. They would want to make an example of Scotland to discourage imitators.

Despite all the SNP blustering they must realise that even if Scotland managed to get EU membership it would be on disastrous terms. It would include none of the special deals that Britain has negotiated. It would have to take what it was offered, on tax and other matters.  Imagine the howls when independence enthusiasts realised that part of the deal included putting VAT on food and children's clothes.  Or when they realised that independence, whether in the EU or not, meant fewer jobs and higher taxes.

As Walpole said of another event, "they are ringing their bells, soon they will be wringing their hands"

The SNP is in government now but with a very slender majority [the Scottish electoral system makes it difficult for any party to get a big majority].   When the hoopleheads who had voted YES realised how much independence was costing them I suspect there would be a big swing away from the SNP and we would see the newly independent Scotland ruled by either Labour or a Labour/LibDem coalition. It might be a very, very long time before the SNP got back into office.  

Meanwhile, Cameron is in a 'win' or 'win big' situation.

If there is a NO vote then the threat of Scottish independence is removed and London can afford to be much more dismissive of Scotland. No more need for appeasement. The SNP would have shot its bolt. In fact, by going for a referendum the SNP has screwed itself whether it wins or loses the vote.

If there is a YES vote and Scotland becomes independent then there would be no more Scottish MPs in the Westminster Parliament. The Conservatives would lose one MP but Labour would lose 41 out of 258.  That could be enough to give the Conservatives a clear majority at the next election and much better prospects at all future elections.

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