Google can’t predict Scotland’s future – it’s in our hands
By Tom Hunter
Last week I visited Google’s headquarters in London – and it blew my mind.
It’s their job to predict the future. I saw driverless cars, drones delivering parcels and contact lenses monitoring insulin levels in people with diabetes – all amazing.
But when I asked them to predict the outcome of our referendum they were stuck. Too close to call!
Sunday really saw this debate come alive when a poll said Yes were in the lead for the first time. We then had Gordon Brown come in with a timetable for more powers. There is no doubt this is late, but is it just in time? Or just too late?
The talk is now of more powers – but that got me thinking. How much do I and other voters really know about the powers we already have, the powers we are already guaranteed and the ones now – supposedly – on offer?
The powers we have at present give us control over important parts of our lives like education, policing, transport, environment and health and social services.
That is why we in Scotland can say that our students don’t have to pay university fees when those south of the border do.
That’s why we have free personal care for the elderly – not available down south.
That’s why spending on the NHS in Scotland is higher per head than in the rest of the UK – and is totally protected.
And the Scotland Act of 2012 will give us more powers. We’ll be able to raise or lower income tax by up to 10p in the £, we’ll have control over Stamp Duty on house purchases and Landfill tax. The Scottish Government will be able to borrow to finance investment. We’ll have power over air guns, drink driving limits and drug enforcement and we will have Revenue Scotland to replace HMRC for Devolved Taxes.
I believe the SNP have run Scotland over the past six years in a very competent way. Many people agree. Our own polling tells us that even in the event of a No vote, people who voted No would still vote for Alex Salmond to lead the next Scottish Government.
There is no question they have made a difference to our lives. Scotland, they tell us, is one of the most prosperous regions of the UK and the 14th wealthiest country in the world. And they have done it with the powers they already have
So, the big huge question is: why do we need to separate from the rest of the UK? What is it that we can only do if we are separate ?
I believe the majority of us in Scotland want a just and civil society. We want to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves. We believe in free tuition fees for our universities and free care for the elderly.
The two sides agree on that. I guess they disagree on how we are going to pay for it.
The Yes campaign says we need to be independent, to get our hands on all the taxes we pay and the oil money. Only by doing that can we guarantee to keep the advantages we have and go further.
Better Together says the risks are too high – the oil is running out and future taxes are uncertain. By staying in the UK and getting extra powers we can have the best of both worlds.
When the referendum was announced I was excited and a bit daunted. I really believed this was too important a decision to leave to the politicians alone to inform us. So we got some of the biggest brains in the world to look at these huge questions.
We made sure they had no side in this fight their findings are available in a free book which can be downloaded from our website.
There’s no political spin. I’m not trying to convince you of my point of view, simply putting facts into your hands so you can make an informed decision.
When we cast our votes on September 18 there will be no going back. Long after Alex Salmond, David Cameron and Ed Miliband have left the scene our children and their children will need to live with the decision we make. Good luck
Sir Tom Hunter is an entrepreneur and philanthropist. He established scotlandseptember18.com to provide facts and objective analysis on the referendum.
The free book, Scotland’s Decision, has been downloaded 60,000 times so far and is available on the site.