I am a Norwegian who has been living in the UK for ten years and I understand the SNP looks at Norway as an example of how Scotland will be after independence. I have a number of friends in Scotland, love a good whisky and think the Scottish Highlands rival the beauty of my native country.
However, when pro-independence Scots look to Norway as a role model it’s obvious that they only see what they want to see and largely ignore the facts. It took us a long time to accumulate the wealth we now enjoy, and it wasn’t just a result of oil. Remember also that Norway voted on its independence in 1814, and the financial depression in the years that followed was the worst on record.
Our GDP per capita was consistently lower than Sweden, Denmark and indeed the United Kingdom every year since records began in the early 1800s until 1974. The few things that kept us going were unity, national pride and stupidity.
If Scots are willing to go through decades of hardship in order to build their own country, then fine, but no-one should assume that independence is a silver bullet that will automatically transform Scotland into Norway.
It is also worth considering the downsides of living in such a wealthy country as consumer prices in Norway are astronomical. VAT stands at 25 per cent, you pay £9 for a pint in the pub, and the price for a new, five-door Vauxhall Corsa is £20,490 (in the UK the same car is £9,600).
This is fine if you are a top earner, but I am sure no-one in Scotland believes that becoming independent will automatically lead to an accumulation of enormous personal wealth for the entire population.
Finally, if an independent Scotland succeeds it will be because it is totally united. When Norway wanted independence 99.5 per cent of the population voted Yes.
I don’t see that sort of unity in Scotland today, and for that reason alone there should not be a referendum at all.
Haakon Blakstad, Moore Street, London”
When I visited Oban on the west coast of Scotland for the first time, my Scottish friends pointed out “McCaig’s folly” which dominates the town. Built by a worthy local as a way of giving his fellow Obanians work, in these times of political correctness, it has been renamed McCaig’s Tower. Perhaps I’m getting bored, but this is what the independence debate is starting to feel like.