Bill Jamieson | The Scotsman
WE ARE hurtling head first into a vote on independence with no guidance from any reliable source, writes Bill Jamieson
So here we are aboard Air IndyRef. Among the passengers the mood is assuredly mixed. Some are bubbling with excitement. Some were grumbling before they even boarded. And then there’s the rest, whose fear of flying Air Indyref already has them gripping the arm rests. But the captain’s in jocular mood. The engines tick over as we wait on the tarmac for take-off. But here’s something the passengers don’t see. In the flight deck there are no dials. The altimeter’s missing, the fuel gauge absent and the compass blank. If we knew this, would we happily stay on board, lunge for the drinks trolley or demand to be let off?
Air IndyRef is like no other plane. And this no ordinary journey. This is its maiden flight. The route’s uncertain, the destination new to us and the skies overhead bubbling with turbulence. All the more reason, then, for Air IndyRef to be kitted out with a little more than tartan clad seats and a Saltire on the tailfin.
Across business, I hear one common and growing refrain. No-one knows where this flight is headed. The tax and regulatory framework for business is a blank. Neither the transition period nor the final terrain is clear.
We do not even know what the government’s spending and borrowing plans will be, or even the terms on which we will share a common currency and monetary policy with the rest of the UK – assuming there is agreement to share a common currency and central bank. The flight crew assures us all will become clear once we’re airborne and the landing date of autumn 2014 is closer.
We hope – and wait. It is odd, to put it no stronger, that Scotland is approaching a major constitutional decision so poorly informed. There is no independent agency to which we can turn for assessment. How might the various income and corporation tax policy options work? What trustworthy guidance is there on the costs and implications of tax and spending changes? Life beyond Barnett and those mind-numbing Consequentials is a tabula rasa already prompting urgent and searching questions.
What do you think? Share your comments