September 18th 2014 | Scotland

Better Together Response: If different respected economists cannot agree which side has the strongest case, how seriously should the public take their opinions?

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A constant feature of this referendum campaign has been the number of experts on one side of the argument, and Alex Salmond on the other, telling them he’s right and they are wrong.

Last week Professor Ronald MacDonald, one of the world’s leading experts on currency made clear that Alex Salmond needs to name his Plan B and warned that using the pound informally, as the First Minister has hinted at, would be ruinous for Scottish jobs, wages, pensions and savings.

Professor MacDonald has also said that Alex Salmond’s Plan A of a formal currency union would not work for Scotland. It has been ruled out by everyone who would be involved in the decision for sound economic reasons – you cannot have a monetary union without a political union, which is exactly what the nationalists are trying to break up.

Despite Professor MacDonald being a world renowned expert on this issue Alex Salmond has never asked his opinion.

If you can’t get the basics right, then everything else you say lacks credibility.

Like the nationalist’s recent scaremongering over our NHS.

This tactic, which smacks of desperation as the vote gets closer, ignores that the NHS in Scotland is wholly devolved to the Scottish Parliament. It is an insult to the intelligence of the electorate.

Nor is the SNP scaremongering backed up by facts or by the experts.

Today, public services like our schools and hospitals, are funded through the pooling and sharing of resources from across the United Kingdom of 63 million people, rather than just Scotland with 5 million people.

Separation does not just put this at risk, it offers austerity plus.

Cuts to our public services that, under independence, will be far bigger and harsher than Alex Salmond is telling people.

Take for example, the expert Institute of Fiscal Studies, who have said that a separate Scotland would need to find £6 billion in either tax rises or public spending cuts.

To put that in context that’s about half our entire NHS budget.

Or the impartial think tank Fiscal Affairs Scotland. Their expert research found that a separate Scotland could be up to £900 per person worse off.

Again, to put that in context – currently public spending in Scotland is about £1,200 per person higher than in other parts of the UK.

There is no credibility in what the SNP is claiming, and experts have been moved to speak out to condemn the scaremongering. These experts include Mike Dixon, Professor of Surgery and Consultant Surgeon at the Edinburgh Breast Unit at the Western General Hospital, who said that the NHS was not an argument for separating.

The people of Scotland are far cannier than Alex Salmond is giving them credit for, his scare stories will not work and he cannot continue to argue against the sheer volume of expert opinion who tell him he is wrong.

On 18 September I believe that the people of Scotland will see through this assertion, bluff and bluster, and say No Thanks to separation.

Jackie Baillie MSP

Reproduced from an email sent by Better Together, promoted by Blair McDougall on behalf of Better Together