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Alienating voters with repetitive arguments would be tragedy - Hunter

TYCOON Sir Tom Hunter has warned it would be "the biggest tragedy of all for Scotland" if voters turned away from the referendum out of frustration with the repetitive arguments and counter-arguments of our politicians.

Sir Tom Hunter has contributed to the new ebook on the independence debate
Sir Tom Hunter has contributed to the new ebook on the independence debate

The Ayrshire businessman makes the comment in a new ebook he has helped produce to help inform voters in an impartial way about the key issues around the September 18 ballot.

In the foreword of "Scotland's Decision: 16 Questions to think about for the referendum", Hunter says that, like many people, he remains "genuinely undecided" about how to vote.

"I want to make the best choice I can for myself, my family and for Scotland, but I don't feel the campaigns so far have given me the facts and unbiased assessment to make a properly informed decision.

"I know I am not alone in thinking this way."

Earlier this month, a poll for The Hunter Foundation found 56% of undecided voters didn't feel they had enough impartial information to make their choice, while 45% of all voters distrusted both the UK or Scottish Governments.

"This is deeply worrying and also a sad indictment on the debate to date," said Hunter.

"As politicians continue with argument and counter-argument it's easy for voters to turn off, but that would be the biggest tragedy of all for Scotland. Scotland's future is not in political hands, it's in the hands of this great nation's people.

"Whatever we choose, the day after the referendum will be a day when we must unite around our common future - but for now we need to choose carefully what that future will be."

Written by 20 academics with no declared position on independence, the new ebook is designed to help people make up their minds by covering the arguments around the economy, currency, international relations, business, energy, defence, welfare and benefits.

It opens with a quote adapted from the Scots philosopher David Hume, "A wise person proportions his/her belief to the evidence", and a suggestion voters should treat the UK and Scottish governments' promises sceptically.

Referring to the day in May when Alex Salmond predicted a £1000-a-head "independence bonus" while the Treasury offered a £1400 "UK dividend", editors Charlie Jeffery and Ray Perman say: "There is probably only one certainty in all this, and this is that the forecasts on both sides will prove inaccurate."

The book also offers uncomfortable reading for the SNP on the key issue of the currency.

Economists Angus Armstrong and Monique Ebell of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research say the electorate "faces an extraordinary impasse on the most important economic question of the referendum" because the UK refuses to share the pound, and the Scottish Government insists the UK is bluffing.

Armstrong and Ebell echo the argument of the UK Treasury that a currency union is risky, as its collapse would be disastrous.

They write: "Avoiding a financial crisis from a compromised currency must be the overriding objective ... While introducing a new Scottish currency has serious transitional challenges, it may be the best option for a prosperous independent Scotland." The ebook is being published as the UK and Scottish Governments prepare to bombard voters with their own referendum material.

From tomorrow, 2.5 million homes will receive a 12-page copy of "Scotland's Future - What Independence means for You" from the Scottish Government in order to promote a Yes vote. The leaflet drop will cost taxpayers £550,000.

SNP ministers say it will explain how Scotland can afford to be independent given its tax revenue, how it would create job opportunities, save £600 million by scrapping Trident, and bring "greater financial security for families" with a higher minimum wage and better childcare.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "It is crucial that everyone in Scotland is armed with the facts and has a clear picture of the opportunities to change their lives for the better with independence.

"Scotland has the people, skills and resources to be a strong independent country, and this guide will set out how we can build on that."

The UK Government will next week issue a second information leaflet to homes on the five main benefits of remaining part of the UK: keeping the pound, cheaper energy bills, more jobs, more support for public services, and a guarantee of more powers for Holyrood. The cost of printing the leaflets is £300,000.

LibDem Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said: "With every passing week it becomes ever clearer the Scottish Government has not thought this through properly."

Scotland's Decision: 16 Questions to Think About for the Referendum on September 18 is available for download from Amazon for £2.05.

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