Jim Sillars: Confidence to invest says it all

An artist's impression of the new St James Quarter. Picture: comp
An artist's impression of the new St James Quarter. Picture: comp
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There was me meant to be trembling with fear, reading the No side warnings about what will happen if we vote Yes

40,000 jobs going south from Edinburgh, our bankers, bless them, on the first train to London on the morning of September 19, companies closing, our credit rating the same as Botswana, the cost of mortgages soaring, the oil price collapsing, supermarket prices rising, Europe refusing to drink our whisky and eat our salmon, pensioners told there is no money, those wind turbines grinding to a halt, and the lights going out – then I pick up the Evening News and its startling front page.

Jings, could it be true? Is the Evening News having us on? Is this future basket case of a country really going to see £850 million invested in one project – the St James upgrade? How can it be? You only invest that kind of money in a retail project if you believe that people, that’s us, will have jobs to earn the kind of money that will be spent.

They are not talking about a host of charity shops in the new centre. Top brand names, mixed in with “high-end luxury stores”, with the cash registers expected to ring in £22m a year.

That cannot be in a country, Scotland, heading for economic disaster. People don’t invest £850m on a whim. They do their homework, engage in hard-headed analysis, market research, discussions with potential top brand names and luxury stores’ clients. None of that analysis could avoid the distinct possibility of Scotland becoming independent. The No camp’s Project Fear seems to have been dismissed by investors looking at reality, not fiction.

Then there is the report on May 3 from Barclay’s bank, that the Scottish tourist industry will grow faster than the UK average, and become a “tourist hot spot” by 2017, with spending by overseas visitors “expected to increase by 40 per cent”. I don’t think they will be coming to see a country on its knees.

In the next few months we Scots should do what the No side do not want us to do – think. Their strategy of Fear is meant to freeze our minds into a kind of terror, open only to the economic and social nightmares they conjure up daily. The antidote to that is to think, to question, to ask why?

Take the recent forecast of 40,000 financial sector jobs that will flow from Edinburgh to London and the South East if we vote Yes. Will the 40,000 be made redundant, or will these people, and their families, go to a new location? If redundant, how much will that cost? If they go south, how much will that cost in re-location expenses? If they are vital workers, they will need financial help with re-locating to the most expensive area in England. How much will that cost? If a number of highly skilled of them won’t go, will it be easy to replace them in the new London location? And how about the installation of the technology in the new location – expensive, reliable?

When you think about it, yes think, it is not so easy for any company to up sticks and go elsewhere, especially in the financial services 
industry.

The funny peculiar thing is that all of those telling us to say No start off with this kind of admission from Liam Halligan in his economic column in the Sunday Telegraph: “Of course a country of five million people, with a wealth of know-how, could survive and even thrive,” then go on to say that we won’t.

Do we lose the know-how somehow with a Yes vote? Just think.

India’s ‘project fear’ has some real big hitters

We’re not the only country having an election. India is in the throes of one.

Ajit Pawar, a government minister, has an unusual canvassing technique. If people don’t vote for his niece he threatens to cut off the village water supply.

Narendra Modi, pictured, a Hindu, expected to win and become the new prime minister, is going to ban beef production, something calculated to really upset the 248 million Muslim and Christian citizens, and bring ruin to thousands of restaurants.

As bad as our irrational decision to ban genetically-modified crops.

Labour’s word on powers not to be trusted

Beware the Labour promises of more powers for the Scottish Parliament. More powers equals a cut in the number of Labour MPs going to Westminster, which in turn equals a lower chance of English Labour forming a government there. Can’t see them doing that, can you?

DEATH, DRUGS AND FAILURE

Our troops went into Afghanistan to eradicate opium poppy growing in Helmand province, which accounts for more than half national production. Soldiers lost their lives there. Today the poppy crop is expected to be a bumper one. America spent $7 billion on the eradication programme. Total failure