What Will Happen to Whisky if Scotland Gains Independence?

What Will Happen to Whisky if Scotland Gains Independence?

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Scottish citizens are taking a big (and important) step for their livelihood by voting for or against freedom today. But an independent Scotland could have ripples that go way beyond a change in citizenship status. We’ve rounded up the ways that Scottish independence could affect food and drink in Scotland and the U.K. as a whole.

Retail prices could skyrocket. Amongst the biggest concerns is that suddenly grocery prices in Scotland could climb as supermarkets base prices off of wholesale costs; if Scotland is treated as an international entity, national pricing policies could change, thereby making Scottish residents pay more for the same spotted dick pudding, than their neighbors do.

New produce and trading opportunities. As an independent state, Scotland’s administration could set new standards for which countries they want to trade with, and which imports they want to prioritize. According to Food Navigator, Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said, “Independence will open new doors … break down trade barriers and allow Scotland to capitalize quickly on emerging opportunities.”

Scotch could be on the rocks. A big concern is how will one of Scotland’s major exports, Scottish whisky, be affected by independence? Those in favor of a “no” vote say that separating from the British pound could make for an uncertain future with inflated whisky prices, while those in favor of a “yes” vote say that smaller distilleries could benefit from the higher profile Scotland will have as an independent nation.

Scottish brands could be better promoted. If Scotland is independent, it could mean better international recognition for Scottish brands, now that they aren’t attached to the U.K., like Johnnie Walker, or Walkers Shortbread. “The global focus on Scotland as a result of the referendum, and right through to independence day and beyond, provides another fantastic opportunity to keep our produce in the global spotlight, increasing sales and exports as a result,” said Lochhead.

For the latest happenings in the food and drink world, visit our Food News page.

Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter@JoannaFantozzi

Election letters 2019 / Can Scotland afford independence?

This should be one of the main questions people ask themselves every time this subject comes up as the answers will vastly affect us all.

I don’t have the answers but can give out some facts that I find challenging to independence.

The SNP says Scotland want to stay in Europe as we have a large trading partnership with them, that’s not what their own export statistics tell us. In 2017 Scotland exported £48.9 billion to the rest of Britain, £17.6billion to the rest of the world and £14.9billion to Europe, so our biggest exporter is the one they want to leave. What country wants to chance of a fall out with their biggest exporter?

The SNP says leaving Europe will cost up to 100,000 Scottish jobs, it has never mentioned what it would cost in jobs if we left the rest of the UK.

To stay with Europe as an independent nation we would have to accept the euro as our currency, also their bureaucracy, loss of fishing rights and the cost of supporting Euro MPs.

If we do not join Europe, or more likely they will not accept us due to our high debt and inability to contribute to their coffers, the cost of setting up our own currency would cost us hundreds of millions of pounds for the privilege. The value of this on the international system would be hard to substantiate, being a new country with no record of valuation on the foreign markets, i.e. what would you get for your Scottish money abroad on holiday?

We are already in debt that we are struggling to pay off, this ranges between £9 to £13 billion, if we left the UK they will want to pass on OUR share of the national debt, mainly from the banking crisis, two of which were Scottish banks who swallowed billions of pounds of tax payers money with little chance of getting it back.

Figures vary for this, but it will certainly run into 10s of billions of pounds. Scotland is already paying out over £800 million a year on the interest for our debt now, so what would it cost the taxpayer for our share of the national debt?

To pay off this debt or even just the interest the Scottish Government would need to raise more money, through taxes and cutting services, we have just gone through the hardest bit of austerity with a Westminster government and could face even larger issues if independence happens.

The Scottish Government has taken on some of the services given over by Westminster, collecting their own taxes being the main one, which incidentally are now the highest in the UK.

The biggest and costliest system they have not asked for but will need to take on if they got independence are social services, this is a huge system that drains more money from the government coffers than the NHS.

How will Scotland who, as mentioned above will have huge debts, be able to run the same system that Westminster pays billions for at present?

The SNP have long argued that a system devised in the late seventies called the Barnett Formula must be kept by the British government, although it is not law and can be stopped at any time. The system was set up to ensure that the rural areas of the UK are not deprived of vital services, schools, buses etc.

Who will pay for this if we gained independence, for Shetland would that mean the discount on flights and ferries could disappear for islanders?

The other issue with this is that if Scotland can afford to be independent then why does the SNP argue to keep the Barnett formula, surely, we would tell Westminster to stop this payment as we do not require it to prove financial independence?

Is this not a tell-tale sign that the government is already aware that they will struggle to pay for an independent Scotland?

To get this information did not take long, a couple of hours sitting in front of the computer during a wet evening, but what I have seen would not only affect my generation but the next generations to come who would have to pay for the costs of independence.

Economics of Scottish Independence

A look at the pros and cons of Scottish independence from an economic perspective.

It is said you can’t put a price on freedom and cultural identity. But, when it comes to independence, economics seems to be one of the biggest factors to sway voters in Scotland. When asked in a poll, only 21% favour Scottish Independence if it leaves them £500 a year worse off. Only 24% favour retaining union with Britain if it leaves them worse off. (Economist)

Benefits of Scottish Independence

  • Oil and Gas Reserves in the North Sea are potentially a lucrative source of tax revenue and this has become more profitable with higher oil prices. According to the Scottish government, Scotland represents 8.4 per cent of the UK’s total population, but they generate 9.4 per cent of its annual revenues in tax — equivalent to £1,000 extra per person. (link) However, with dwindling reserves, income from oil and gas may dry up in future years.
  • Independence may give freedom to set low corporation tax rate and attract business from overseas.
  • Reform of tax and welfare system. Crawford Beveridge, chairman of the Scottish Fiscal Commission, claims that smaller countries, such as Ireland and New Zealand have considerable success in collecting tax. He argues an independent Scotland could scrap 1,000 tax exemptions and make the tax system simpler and encourage greater work incentives. “The UK tax system is complex and costly, and does not fully reflect the unique characteristics and needs of Scotland. There is considerable room for improvement in its design and operation.”
  • Some argue that independence might increase self-confidence of the country, attracting more business and tourism. It may enable Scotland to have a stronger brand loyalty for its traditional exports like whisky and tartan kilts.

Costs of Scottish Independence

  • Would lose ‘subsidy’ from Westminster. Scottish people get around £10,212 spent on them every year by the UK government, compared with around £8,588 — £1,624 less — for people in England. Independence may make it more difficult to maintain this spending. Independence may end some of the generous subsidies in Scotland for university education, trains and health care. However, this Scottish ‘subsidy’ is controversial as oil and gas revenues help give a Scotland bigger (£1,000) per capita tax revenue (New Statesman)
  • Debt Levels. After independence, UK debt levels would be share on a per capita or per GDP level. This would leave Scotland with a national debt of £80bn and growing. Although debt would be split according to the respective GDP, the recent experience of smaller countries on the Eurozone periphery mean that Scotland may struggle to meet debt payments
  • Higher administration costs for business who now have to do two sets of accounts for operations in Scotland and England.
  • Lower reserves for crisis. After the credit crisis, the UK government had to bail out the Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS with close to £70bn. A small independent Scotland would have struggled to raise this finance. It would have led to a similar situation to Ireland, where the bank bailout led to a government bailout.

Problems of Joining the Euro.

An independent Scotland would want to join the EU but other countries like Spain may raise objections because they fear their own independence movements (e.g. Catalonia in Spain) Also if Scotland wish to join the EU, it is likely to involve joining the Euro. Whearas once, joining the Euro seemed to be very attractive, there is now a great reluctance given the problems faced by peripheral Eurozone economies like Greece and Portugal. See: Problems of Euro for more details.

  • Higher bond yields. In the Euro, there is in theory no lender of last resort (though ECB have reluctantly started to buy bonds). But, it may prove the case that markets would become more reluctant to be buying Scottish bonds, if they fear greater liquidity problems. Debt levels would be much more closely scrutinised and this could lead to higher interest payments. (See: EU bond yields)
  • Debt Spiral. The big concern is that if the Scottish economy struggled, there is a greater danger of ending up like Greece, Spain and Portugal with rising bond yields and greater pressure for fiscal austerity, leading to a negative debt spiral.
  • The irony is that joining the Euro could severely curtail the fiscal freedom on an independent Scotland. It may find there is no room for Keynesian expansion in recessions or generous welfare payments.
  • Exchange Rates could be wrong. In a fixed exchange rate of the Euro, Scottish exports could become uncompetitive, as has happened in many European periphery countries..
  • Inconvenience of currency exchange with England

Those supporting Scottish independence argue they will try to maintain the Pound Sterling. If this is retained, it would make independence a smoother transition. However, if Scotland joins the EU as a new nation it may be expected to have the Euro.

Problems of being in a single currency with England (Pound)

If Scotland is able to negotiate continued use of the Pound Sterling. It will effectively be entering into a Single Currency with the rest of the UK. This will involve a common monetary policy. Interest rates will still be set by the Bank of England. In that case, an independent Scotland will stay face UK monetary policy.

The experience of the Euro, shows monetary union requires a high degree of economic and fiscal union to be successful. If the Scottish economy diverges from the English economy after independence, it may face a monetary policy which is unsuitable for the Scottish economy. It could also find its exchange rate becoming uncompetitive.

However, it is worth pointing out one difference between UK monetary union and the Euro. – There will be greater geographical mobility between England and Scotland than say between Germany and Greece. But, Scottish independence will give little freedom in terms of monetary policy.

What Would Stay the Same?

If Scotland was able to retain the UK’s opt-out from the Euro, many things could stay fairly similar. Presumably, there would be no new trade or custom barriers. For many people, things would go on as they were before.

How Would UK be Affected?

The UK could lose 80% of its oil and gas revenues. It would have less energy security. This would leave a gap in public finances, but it is a relatively small % and has been declining anyway. The UK may also become a relatively smaller player in the EU.

I was talking to a group of activists in Scotland last week and was asked this question. My answer was an unambiguous 'yes'. In this video I explain why.

14 Responses

Aye – a short concise and bang on the nail video Richard.

You are absolutely right to emphasise that this is a question of LEADERSHIP – about making the right decisions and making the minimum number of mistakes. Whatever the economic numbers may look like now we can make choices which reset the dials…..reading the runes on the dials as they are now does not foretell our future – we can choose the course we want to take for ourselves.

Well said – and what needs to be said fits neatly into a short message – not page and pages of quantitative data and analysis to be fought over in a macho intellectual (or is it?) tug of war.

I enjoy your articles very much Richard, very informative and educational.
Whilst your comparisons with other small countries is perhaps a reasonable starting point, may I say its not quite as straightforward as comparing us to other small countries?
As a proud Scot who is also proud to be part of the UK (and Europe!) I think there are several other issues to consider? Of those countries you mention, how did they handle the “divorce” from the “parent country” if they had one? I wonder what Scotland’s share of the UK National Debt is and how we would repay it? (ignoring CV19 costs which I understand UK has funded through our own National Bank). I wonder how it would fund the future public sector pension obligations it has (given we have a very high percentage of population employed in the public sector). In a strategically important position on the edge of the North Atlantic, and given the SNP rejection of Nuclear weapons, how would it defend itself? Just a few questions which don’t seem to get much “airtime” in the media…
Whilst Westminster is not covering itself in glory (Scotland looks at some of the Westminster Government almost like part of the cast of Monty Python’s Upper Class Twits of the Year) Holyrood is not overall not out-performing Westminster in terms of making the country better. Too much time and effort is going into the divisive planning for another referendum. Scotland’s education system has tumbled down the rankings, the health service is not in great shape… drug deaths have tripled in recent years.. I could go on, and no doubt Nationalists could cite success stories too there will be some. But it is not way “better” than it was…
Yes, we are annoyed at being pulled out of Europe – that is having a big effect on feelings here – However, I am not sure independence will mean we get right back into Europe.. a long road ahead for that…
Living in Scotland as part of the UK has always been great we can be a wee bit “different”, have our own customs and ways, devolved powers, as can Wales and NI, and yet be part of the same country as our friends in England. Because we are pretty much just the same as you.
It is not in any way obviously better under the SNP, with a lot of devolved power at their disposal to me the question goes way deeper than “could Scotland afford it”…

When Holyrood actually ahs remarkably littler control do you really exp[etc something radically different?

That it has managed something different – and clearly popular – is itself a massive achievement when dwarfed by Westminster

The rest are issues I have answered. For example, there is no national debt to pay, and cannot be

I am not an economist. Nor am I well versed in the mechanics of the “inter-country” finances of the UK (like most of the people who may have to vote in the next indyref). I simply asked some questions, and you have clarified that rUK controlling sterling “post independence” rules out any obligation that Scotland might have for a “divorce” settlement re the UK National Debt.

I am not sure, Richard, where your answers re the other issues can be found (eg Scotland not being able to be part of NATO post independence, funding of future Scots public sector pensions) but I would be interested in seeing them not to argue, but to try to understand better the implications for Scotland.

I live here. I have all my life. I don’t know where any of you live but I can tell you that the primary and secondary education system is NOT what it once was. (To be fair, thankfully, Uni Tuition fees are still met by Government). Our Health Service is NOT streets ahead of the rest of the UK (we have managed to spend something like £160m on a hospital that is not fit for purpose and is still not open there are 400 Consultant vacancies in NHS Scotland..). Nicola is a superb orator the person in the street relates to her, and Nationalism has grown on the back of the events of the last 12 months (COVID & BREXIT) with her daily TV broadcasts. But it is true to say that there are many, many proud Scots who are also proud to be British, to whom the Union flag means something, alongside the Saltire.

The SNP has created a real divide in Scotland, a divide which has an undercurrent of ugliness, with both sides vitriolic in their condemnation of the other. Perhaps that’s just politics. I fear that many are on the indyref bandwagon because they happen to “like” Nicola, feel they hate the English, but don’t try to out find out a bit more about what independence will actually mean.

Is a “halfway house remotely achievable? More devolved power to the 4 countries, but some sort of “Council of Nations” to deal with some of the common big ticket stuff (eg defence, social services). Or is that a complete non-starter?

But some claims are not mine. I did not mention NATO

And I make no claims for the SNP of which I am often critical, but equally I think you are ignoring the constraints it has to work within

Is there a compromise? I read not. Why? Because that’s been tried too many times and failed.

Scotland us not too wee, stupid or poor to run itself.

You may have missed this (candidly, you seem to have missed quite a lot), but rUK made very clear in 2014 that it was going to take full responsibility for sterling, with no consultation, no discussion and no debate. The principle is established and set in stone, and although the SNP (ill-advised) proposed to share the currency, in the event it accepted the rUK argument as the only realistic outcome.

rUK could only do this (taking Scotland’s currency) by making clear it was taking full responsibility that includes full responsibility for all the debt. It is the only way they can keep full control over the currency on a non-negotiable basis so Scotland has no obligation for the UK debt, over which it will have no say or control over whatsoever. You are simply misinformed, or the wish was father of the thought. The rUK proposal is just an undeniable fact. Scotland will either have to use Sterling (but without any control, which is simply not practical without unacceptable risk) or develop its own currency, which is both practical and viable.

Let’s not forget also that the financial crash was caused by rich greedy bankers in rich countries and that crash destroyed everybody’s economy in the western world so it’s only right that they pick up the tab of bailing the poorer countries out.

Actually Iceland itself is a great example of an ability of a small nation state to survive. It was absolutely wrecked by the banking sector collapse in 2008. Yet they have managed to shrug that off and prevail. Granted they had many years of capital controls and some economic pain as they could not move money out of the country. But its GDP is now above what is was in 2008 before the crash.

Scotland would be not starting from anywhere near such a handicap.

[…] same group of activists who recently asked me if Scotland could afford to be independent also asked me whether Scotland would be better or worse off than the rest of the UK after […]

If Scotland becomes independent but they retain the English trident nuclear submarine base they will be a target in any conflict England might get involved in. A country like Denmark is far more secure as it poses no threat to other countries. If there’s a land invasion of Scotland I’m sure the BlackWatch and other regiments will see them off no bother.

Targeted? Ha ha ha.
By whom? And for what?
Whisky? Haggis? Kilts?

It is clear that you can’t physically move a missile silo or a shipyard or a nuclear submarine base!
NIMBY would be a problem for the rump state.
Though there are many a dumping grounds to put them on where the voices of the local populace are easily ignored.

The bases/weapons of mass destruction in Scotland should remain Scottish – no Guantanamo Bay type leases.

The independent Scottish Government with its New Constitution and elected Head of State – No Royals, No oaths to the King/Queen, these who insist on retaining their subservience to that Crown can physically take themselves to ‘their’ land. Scotland should take full control over all such ‘assets’ – then UNILATERALLY DISARM these useless and rotting systems, for a safer saner world. Is there any mad leader anywhere who thinks the RoW would take it kindly upon them, their progeny, or their peoples for destroying life and environment for thousands of years by use of such weapons? Do you still think it is an option ? Does anybody. If so they literally need to be taken out of any position of decision making and put in a mental health facility for their own safety for their remaining days.

The skilled and experienced workforce should be turned into high tech high engineered resource making stuff that will be needed and valued by humanity – for profit of course, not for pointless deadly weapons systems.

Denmark! Bloody hell they are responsible for any amount of biological diseases with their industrial pig farming and also have plenty of nefarious activities.

Why not compare to ‘Taiwan’ ? You know that tiny ‘independent’ state that is at the top of the list of the neocon/libs current support for ‘Independence’ , because you know, they really care about Peoples independence , like the Catalans or Chagosians.

All true and independent minded Scots should not be distracted by the ‘if’ of Indy, they should be rushing to the ‘what’ that should be and rushing cross the t’s and dot the i’s of the Constitution that will make it the first modern advanced State of the C21st with the BEST such constitution.

Questions of allegiances, treaties etc should be addressed within that.

The only way to achieve the independence to believe that you have it and are only delayed until that Constitution is ready.

Stephen, I think you would find the wee book “Scotland the brief” very interesting which you can get via the Believe in Scotland website. It will give you answers to all of your questions. I note that you don’t rate the SNP government’s record on health and education (even though it seems to be a lot better than England’s on many measures). But if Scotland were to become an independent country you can vote for whichever party you like and we might not have an SNP government. The difference is that it will be up to Scotland to decide – not dictated by whoever happens to be in power in England. Glad to see you asking questions and doing research. Then you can make your own informed decision.

New Scottish independence referendum is &lsquowill of the country&rsquo, says Sturgeon

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to press ahead with plans for a new referendum on leaving the UK after saying there was no doubt elections to the Scottish parliament would return a pro-independence majority. Video: Reuters

Scotland’s First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon: ‘The only people who can decide the future of Scotland are the Scottish people, and no Westminster politician can or should stand in the way of that.’ Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Pool/AFP via Getty

Another Scottish independence referendum is the “will of the country”, first minister Nicola Sturgeon has insisted, despite her SNP failing to win an overall majority at Holyrood.

The SNP won a total of 64 seats in the Scottish Parliament – one more than in 2016, but one short of the total needed for a majority.

But with the Scottish Greens having their best ever Holyrood performance, returning eight MSPs, the Parliament now has 72 MSPs who support a second independence vote.

However former first minister Alex Salmond’s Alba Party – which had been campaigning for an independence “supermajority” – failed to get any MSPs elected.

Speaking on Saturday, the first minister said her first focus would be on the coronavirus pandemic, but that the people of Scotland should be able to decide on the constitutional question “when the time is right”.

An independence referendum was pledged in the manifesto of both the SNP and the Scottish Greens, and Ms Sturgeon declared: “It is a commitment made to the people by a majority of the MSPs have been elected to our national parliament.

“It is the will of the country.

“Given that outcome, there is simply no democratic justification whatsoever for Boris Johnson or anyone else seeking to block the right of the people of Scotland to choose our future.

If the request is rejected, Ms Sturgeon said, “it will demonstrate conclusively that the UK is not a partnership of equals and that – astonishingly – Westminster no longer sees the UK as a voluntary union of nations”.

She added: “That in itself would be a very powerful argument for independence.”

She also appealed to independence supporters, telling them they must “patiently persuade our fellow citizens” of the case for an independent Scotland.

British prime minister Boris Johnson and newly elected MP Jill Mortimer (left) at Jacksons Wharf in Hartlepool, England, following Ms Mortimer’s victory in the Hartlepool parliamentary by-election. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

‘New greener future’

The win by the SNP, the fourth consecutive victory for the party, saw more votes cast for them in local constituencies than in any other election since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Tories returned 31 MSPs, equalling their 2016 performance. Meanwhile Labour was down two on 22 MSPs and the Liberal Democrats saw their number of members reduced from five to four.

Earlier on Saturday, British prime minister Boris Johnson insisted it would be “irresponsible and reckless” to have such a ballot as Britain emerges from the coronavirus crisis.

He told the the Daily Telegraph his impression was that Scottish voters had “moved away from the idea of a referendum”.

But Scottish Green co-leader, Lorna Slater, said as part of work towards a “new greener future” for Scotland there must now be a referendum.

She said: “Voters have delivered a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament, with the Scottish Greens playing a vital part, and it is now incumbent on Boris Johnson to recognise that democratic mandate.”

One of the seats taken by the SNP was in Glasgow Kelvin, where Kaukab Stewart became the first woman of colour to be elected to Holyrood in its 22 year history – with Tory Pam Gosal later joining her as an MSP

Lost seats

Meanwhile Labour’s Pam Duncan-Glancy became the first permanent wheelchair user to be elected to Holyrood on the Glasgow list.

Earlier on in the day, the Tories had held the key seats of both Aberdeenshire West and Galloway and West Dumfries.

And although Ms Sturgeon’s party made other gains in the constituency votes at Holyrood on Friday, their success in gaining Ayr and East Lothian, from the Tories and Labour respectively, meant they lost seats on the South of Scotland regional list – with the energy minister Paul Wheelhouse ousted as a result.

While Labour recorded its worst performance in the Holyrood election campaign, new leader Anas Sarwar, who took charge less than three months ago, said the party had something “to build on for the next five years”.

He stated: “We are significantly ahead of where we were just 10 weeks ago, and I’m incredibly proud of everything our activists have achieved.

“Our campaign for a national recovery defined this election campaign, and we will take that energy into the Scottish Parliament.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie conceded it was “frustrating” his party had not been able to gain more votes, even though he said that “our message clearly got through and had a big appeal on the doorsteps in our strongest areas”.

He added: “The issues we highlighted will be important in the next five years. Those are mental health, early years education, an industrial strategy for recovery, and action on the climate emergency.” – PA

How would Scottish independence change Westminster?

Of the 650 MPs currently in the Westminster Parliament, 59 represent Scottish seats. If Scotland votes for independence, the presumption is that at some stage they will leave, bringing the number down to 591.

How and when would it happen?

There is some debate. If there is a yes vote the Scottish National Party wants the country to become independent in March 2016. This would be about 10 months after the next UK general election. The SNP has said the election should take place as normal, with Scotland's candidates competing for curtailed, 10-month terms as UK MPs. Others disagree, pointing out that there would be a possible scenario where Labour had a small majority with Scottish MPs in place, but lost it less than a year later when their Scottish MPs disappeared. The SNP's Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, has also suggested an alternative that the UK general election could be put back by a year instead. Some have argued that Scotland should lose its Westminster MPs immediately, if it backs independence. Lib Dem Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael has said this is unlikely and, at the moment, there is no plan agreed on what would happen.

Who would see their Westminster seats disappear?

Some of the best known names in Parliament would have to leave the Commons, including:

  • Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown
  • Ex-Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy
  • Former Chancellor Alistair Darling
  • Current and previous Scottish secretaries Alistair Carmichael and Michael Moore
  • Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander
  • Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander

How would the parties be affected?

Based on the 2010 election, Labour, which won 41 Scottish seats, would be the hardest hit, followed by the Liberal Democrats, who took 11. The Conservatives would lose only one seat. Meanwhile, the SNP would lose all six of its Westminster MPs.

Would the Conservatives have a majority at Westminster without Scotland in the UK?

All other things - that is, the situation in the rest of the UK - being the same, yes. Rather than having to form a coalition with the Lib Dems, David Cameron would have had a majority of 21 seats in the Commons, according to the BBC's Political Research Unit.

Analysis shows that most general election results would have been the same, albeit with changed majorities. In recent times, Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives would have enjoyed a massive 174-seat majority in 1983, bigger even than the 144-seat majority they achieved. In 1992, Tory John Major would have had a 71-seat majority, as opposed to the 21-seat majority which occurred. And, without Scotland, Tony Blair's Labour majority would have been cut from 179 to 137 seats in 1997, from 167 to 127 seats in 2001, and from 66 to 43 seats in 2005.

Would the West Lothian Question finally be solved?

Not necessarily. This expression, first used by the Scottish Labour MP Tam Dalyell in the 1970s, refers to the apparent unfairness with devolved government, where a Scottish MP can vote on policies covering things like schools and hospitals in England, but English MPs have no say on how these are run in Scotland, because the Scottish Parliament takes care of them. Scotland becoming independent would, therefore, end the need to wrestle with the West Lothian Question. But, while Tam Dalyell invented the term, he was by no means the first person to ponder such problems. The debates over Home Rule for Ireland in the late 1800s and early 1900s covered much the same ground. Such constitutional questions have exercised the finest minds known to politics for more than a century. Even if Scotland leaves the UK, Wales - with its devolved and increasingly devolving system of government - remains, as does Northern Ireland. Perhaps it could be re-named the West Glamorgan question?

Would Westminster treat Scotland as a foreign country?

Presumably yes. There would be no more Scottish secretary or Scotland Office, so the relevant Commons select committee scrutinising their work would go. An all-party parliamentary group on Scotland - like that enjoyed by countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe - could be set up. But others involved in specific aspects of Scotland - like the group on Scotch Whisky and Spirits - might have to go. Expect an outcry.

Finally, what about the House of Lords?

The situation here seems even less clear than that in the Commons. Peers do not represent anywhere in particular, despite names linking them to parts of the country, but around 60 are residents of Scotland. The current rules state that any peer must be a UK taxpayer when it comes to income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax. Lord Wallace of Tankerness, leader of the Lib Dems in the Lords, said recently that people would have to think whether they "felt that it was worth paying income tax in two separate countries to continue their membership of the House of Lords". But the House of Lords is self-governing and would have to decide how its own rules should change.

5 Reasons Why Scottish Independence Would Be An Economic Disaster

Speaking as a Scot who lives in England, I have divided loyalties in this debate.

But speaking as an economic commentator, I am amazed at the naivety and short sightedness of the Scottish National Party (SNP). Here’s 5 reasons why.

Not long ago (in 1999), SNP leader Alex Salmond described the pound as a ‘millstone around Scotland’s neck’ and derided the currency in 2009. Today he is desperate to keep it, realising that an independent currency would be so volatile and problematic that it would dissuade investors, reduce trade with the rest of the world and threaten to turn Scotland into an economic backwater.

The European Union has effectively ruled out Scotland joining the euro (or even the EU) for many years, leaving Salmond exposed and blustering.

2 Delusions of oil grandeur

The SNP’s main economic platform is that Scotland should own the revenue from North Sea oil and gas, making it a petro-dollar paradise equivalent to Norway. Although they have similar populations (5.05 million for Norway, 5.3 million for Scotland), the hydrocarbon revenues are massively different. Norway’s government gathered $40 billion in 2013 (according to the BBC) while the UK made $10.8 billion (according to the Financial Times), a fall of 40 per cent from 2012. Current predictions? Further falls, to £3.3 billion ($5.5 billion) in 2016/17, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

There’s no amount of careful stewardship that is going to magic $5.5 billion into $40 billion, when many of the North Sea rigs are at the end of their life and production levels are falling.

3 Financial mismanagement

Scotland’s banks have become a byword for chaos and catastrophic losses, after the hubris of the 1990s turned into the near-collapse of the mid-2000s with massive rescue packages needed for Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds (both of them based in Edinburgh). The SNP announced in November 2013 that, under future independence arrangements, the Bank of England ‘would become a lender of the last resort’ following any future crises.

This would mean taxpayers in the rest of the UK bailing out Scottish banks, despite them being in an ‘independent’ country. The evident nonsense of this position seems to be lost on the Scottish National Party.

As one website remarked, Alex Salmond believes he still has the right to use gym equipment, despite giving up his membership. ‘I have been a member for many, many years, so why they think everything in the club is for the exclusive use of the remaining members is completely beyond me,’ the website imagined him wondering.

4 Loss of credibility

The UK has sunk an awful long way since the height of empire in the 19 th century, but it remains the world’s sixth-largest economy and the second-largest in Europe behind Germany. This confers all kinds of useful benefits, including low interest rates, a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, leadership in NATO, a major role at G20 conferences and in the WTO, among many others.

For decades, even centuries, Scots have been at the heart of this economic presence, as Chancellors of the Exchequer (Gordon Brown, Alastair Darling under Labour, Norman Lamont under the Tories) or as Prime Minister (Brown again, Tony Blair – even David Cameron has Scottish roots). They also helped to build and maintain the Empire.

So instead of a seat at this high global table, Scotland seeks to become… what? The new Slovakia (population 5.4 million, average income $24,000)? It’s an instructive parallel. Slovakia became independent of the Czech Republic in 1993 because the Czechs wanted rid of their poorer partner under the forced communist marriage of Czechoslovakia. The SNP, by contrast, is under the illusion that Scotland would emerge a wealthier nation than it is today by ditching its richer partner. The logic is perverse.

At least Slovakia is part of the European Union, with all the benefits that brings. An independent Scotland could not guarantee that its citizens would be able to live and work in the rest of the UK.

5 Lack of natural resources

Once the oil runs out, what does Scotland have that will sustain its fabulously wealthy future? It has whisky, but even with this contribution of £3 billion ($4.8 billion) across the economy, as estimated by the Scotch Whisky Association, it’s small beer. The ability to attract major industries – manufacturing, IT, finance – to the country would be diminished by independence, for all the reasons listed above.

The insurer Standard Life has already warned that it could relocate its headquarters in the event of a Yes vote for independence, endangering 5,000 Scottish jobs. Many more companies are doubtless thinking along the same lines.

I once asked a politician who represented the Western Isles of Scotland why people living in these remote and hostile places should receive subsidies. ‘To keep a diversity of culture,’ he replied. You could say the same of Scotland as a whole. The rest of the UK is content to subsidise this rich and ancient culture. But take away that subsidy and there would likely be massive depopulation. ‘Go to Scotland and there’s nobody there,’ as the country’s best-known comic Billy Connolly succinctly put it.

All these arguments pale into nothing for nationalists, whose blood is up and who scent a kind of revenge on the English for centuries of (as they see it) domination and exploitation. They’re determined to cut off their nose to spite their face.

As a Scot, a yes vote at independence would feel like my parents divorcing. As an economist, it would feel like a regressive, small-minded, self-inflicted act of exile from the 21st century.

10 Reasons To Oppose Scottish Independence -->

The desire of smaller groupings of people, in democratically run and generally well-off states, to pin their futures on self-affirmation and self-government, appears to be growing. Some of the sought-after gains may be illusory. However, the potency of the hopes behind them is real.

At times in recent months, it has appeared as if the more lucid the arguments deployed against a Yes vote, the greater the Nationalists’ success in turning them to advantage by branding them as worthless or self-serving propaganda.

Nine months on, it is time to say that a Yes vote would have 10 major consequences for Europe and the world – nearly all of them negative.

1. A Yes would make Europe more divided and less able to play positive role on the world stage

It would probably increase the likelihood of the remaining UK leaving the EU in a future referendum decision and would heighten the importance of separatist politics elsewhere in Europe.

Most European leaders know the break-up of an important EU state would worsen Europe’s problems and diminish its importance, in the eyes of the world.

A Scottish shift would have global consequences, making it harder, for example, for the UK (and probably France too) – in contrast to India, Brazil, Germany and Japan – to justify a permanent place and veto on the UN Security Council.

2. A separated Scotland’s would be weak and palpitating

Monetary arrangements form any state’s heart. It is idle to believe that the Scots could carry on using the pound as though nothing had happened.

Centuries-long experience shows that a successful currency union requires political union, unless one region wishes to be permanently held in check by the more dominant player. It would be illogical for Scotland to vote for independence and then, in its fiscal and monetary relationship with England, take on the subservient part of a Liechtenstein in its link-up with Switzerland.

3. Brains, money and jobs would hemorrhage southwards

Scottish banks and financial service companies would not be the only ones to move bases, business and people to Manchester, London and Carlisle, to Leeds, Birmingham and Newcastle.

By voting Yes, the Scots might manufacture a similar reason for the kind of destabilizing population flows that unification between East and West Germany in 1990 sought to forestall.

‘If the D-mark doesn’t come to us, we’ll come to get it,’ was the East Germans’ slogan as they forced the West German authorities to bring in Europe’s quintessential hard currency and then to reunite the country in 1990 to choke off massive streams of westwards migration.

Sterling may not be the D-mark, but the British currency, in recent years (for a mix of reasons) harder than the euro, has its attractions.

The exodus this time could be across not Berlin’s Wall but Hadrian’s.

4. Independence would exacerbate, not alleviate, Scotland’s economic problems

Whether in pensions and social provision, research and development, commerce, trade and investment or their shopping bills, the Scots would probably soon find self-harm lurking behind self-determination.

This could be a bizarre re-run, in reverse, of the English-Scottish monetary union 307 years ago, after well-off Scots bankrupted the country and drove it into the arms of the English following a display of misplaced confidence in a capricious investment scheme to colonize the isthmus of Panama.

The ‘re-energization’ of Scotland promulgated by the Nationalists might one day happen, but, in view of the large number of anticipated initial problems, the Scots would probably have to wait a long while for the promised benefits.

5. The early political outcome of a Yes vote in the UK would be destabilizing

Nationalist leader Alex Salmond’s victory fruits would not last long.

Despite the charm, pugnacity and skill with which he has deployed his campaigning talents, Salmond could risk ending up, like many revolutionary leaders, a disappointed figure. A better result, for him and for Scotland, would be to lose the referendum but win compensatory powers from Westminster.

If the Yes side wins, David Cameron, brimming with blandness yet bereft of foresight, would go down in history as a latter-day Lord North, the 18th-century prime minster who lost Britain’s American colonies.

A difficult stretch of negotiations with Scotland about implementing the separation, and especially on dividing up the UK’s assets and liabilities on a basis that all sides find equitable, would be conducted in an atmosphere of bitterness and recrimination that could poison relations for many years.

Cameron’s Conservative party probably would tilt further to the right and further from the EU. Ed Miliband, the Labor leader, would hardly profit. His party would lose a northern foothold that was too small to turn the referendum tide yet could be sufficiently large to deprive the party of a majority in any future rump UK election.

6. A separate Scotland would not find immediate solace or support in Europe

The present UK’s successor state would have its seat in London, not Edinburgh. Other European governments are worried about secession in Catalonia, Flanders and elsewhere.

Salmond’s ruse to blackmail the English into accepting currency union, by otherwise refusing to accept Scots’ share of the UK national debt, is unlikely to succeed.

So Salmond would have two choices. He could fulfill his threat and renege on Scotland’s share of the hitherto all-UK national debt, which would negatively affect the division of all other assets and liabilities with the remaining parts of the UK. Or he could accept Scotland’s inherited and somewhat exacting debt burden, without fully adequate banking and currency arrangements.

Either path would reduce Scotland’s status and its negotiating leeway with the EU.

7. The issue of Scottish debt

The debt issue would overshadow not just the relationship with Brussels, Frankfurt, Berlin and Paris, but also the entire workings of a separated Scottish government.

The greater the questions over the new state’s willingness and ability to honor its debts, the higher the interest costs demanded by investors in the debt of a future independent Scotland. And the greater the difficulty, too, of maintaining Salmond’s welfare, pensions, educational promises – yet more black marks against a separated Scotland’s economic proficiency and political credibility.

8. The frequently over-stated riches of North Sea oil cannot represent Scotland’s salvation

A separate Scotland can negotiate revenue streams for new concessions. But – short of summary nationalization that has gone out of fashion even with African and South American revolutionaries – there will be no retroactive rewriting of valid legal agreements, no re-diversion of already-agreed revenues and no sudden windfall to swell Scots’ coffers.

Strong-arm methods against globally-operating energy companies at a time when the oil price is tending below $100 a barrel are not likely to achieve beneficial results for Scotland and its people.

9. A Yes vote would impair the defense arrangements of the UK and its allies

Europe and NATO would be less able to intervene in the world’s trouble-spots.

A separated Scotland would dismantle the Trident submarine base at Faslane on the Clyde, confronting the London government (and NATO) with a new dilemma over the future of the strategic nuclear deterrent.

The 15,000 Scots in the 100,000-strong UK army mainly live outside Scotland, reflecting UK policy of basing soldiers away from their homes. They have not been given a vote to express their loyalty to the state they help protect, despite efforts by leading military figures to persuade the UK government to give them one. This would be just one of the factors hampering the army’s cohesion after a Yes vote.

10. History is littered with cases where such uncontrolled processes have led to disaster

Whatever happens, the procedures for establishing the referendum and the terms under which it is being held run counter to best practice in mature democracies.

Many, now and in the future, may look with incredulity at Cameron’s decision to go ahead with the poll and make the result legally binding without any reference to the UK parliament and without the normal democratic prerequisites of constitutional change such as super-majorities and second-vote reconfirmations.

Not least for the UK’s European partners, the carousel-like development under which a residual UK shunned by Scotland might tilt further away from European integration should give rise to foreboding.

Thoughtlessness, expediency and a vein of unscrupulousness have coalesced to make possible a risky experiment of great destructive power. Onlookers with a stake in the outcome, but no direct role in Thursday’s referendum, can do little but hope that this will not be another one.

Editors Note: Sir Andrew Large, John Plender and Jack Wigglesworth also co-authored Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum.

How can I go long on Scotland?

A referendum on Scottish independence is within reach given the recent victories of the SNP and the Greens in parliamentary elections. In 2014, the pro independence coalition lost 55/45 with the key issue among no voters being the retention of the pound sterling as national currency. Since the Brexit debacle, a lot of the brokenness of London politics has been laid bare. I fully expect the independence vote to be successful.

So the big question is how do I go long on Scottish independence and possibly a new Scottish national currency?

A supplementary question would be how do I short the UK considering this along with Brexit?

Highland toffee, heroin and deep fat fryer calls

Buy credit default swaps on credit default swaps for the Scottish mortgage backed securities market.

Or buy shit tons of Glenfiddich and go all in long on alcoholism. You won't get this much % gains anywhere else. /s

short pound with 5X leverage

youre gonna lose your shit though. its not gonna pass

It's more likely now than before, after all the shit with England I wouldn't be surprised if it does honestly

I thought they already had their own currency- the Poond

Basically any independent Scottish state is going to bankrupt itself very quickly Bet on failure and the collapse of their currency

Haha as a Scot who voted yes in ‘14. I can assure you a second independence referendum would fail, I’d vote no and so would LITERALLY everyone else I knew who voted yes. Yet most people I know voted SNP. Not every vote for SNP is a vote for independence, that’s just wee Nicola says as she’s obsessed with another vote.

Unless they answer some basic economic questions it’ll be a no vote again. What currency do we use, would we rejoin the EU? Should we have another referendum on that? Will there be a hard border? What will the deficit be like now that oil prices have proven to be far too low to support a surplus in an independent Scotland?

Even if I am wrong, and we become independent you want to short Scotland, not go long on it. We have literally fuck all going for us. We will be borrowing substantial amounts from the get go unless we live off of European aid and that’s if they let us back in straight away. The SNP will tell you we can run our economy off of whiskey and tourism but that is pure fantasy.

If you decide to go long and we get independence, post lost porn in 2026 and tag me.

Six Scottish whisky legends and stories

So, it'll come as no surprise to find that there are some great stories, myths and legends surrounding the uisge beatha.

Byeway the Glenrothes distillery ghost

As an orphaned child found under a bush on a track in Africa during the Boer War, Biawa "Byeway" Makalaga was rescued at the turn of the 20th Century by Colonel Grant of Rothes who took him back to Scotland. When he grew up, he became the Colonel's helper and was a well known and loved figure in Rothes, at one stage playing for the village football team.

Seven years after his death in 1972, following the installation of a new pair of stills at the distillery, the ghost of Byeway was said to have appeared on two separate occasions in the still room. Nothing sinister happened but sufficient concern was caused, which in turn encouraged the calling upon of Cedric Wilson, a university professor to investigate.

Wilson arrived and stood for some minutes outside the distillery's neighbouring cemetery in silent contemplation. He then went straight to a single gravestone some 70 yards from the distillery. He appeared to be talking to the deceased. After a few minutes he returned announcing that the issue could be amicably resolved by the correction of the placing of the stills. Apparently Wilson had discussed the matter with Byeway at his grave and found that his restlessness was down to the misalignment of the stills. Byeway apparently feared this would affect the spirit produced.

The stills were duly fixed and the ghost of Byeway has not been seen since and as a sign of respect it has become a tradition at the distillery to 'Toast to the Ghost' with a dram of The Glenrothes. (Source: Glenrothes distillery)

Picture: Yves CosentinoFlickr

The White Stag of Arran

The story of the white stag is also well known to the inhabitants of Arran. Standing proud and tall, this almost ghostly creature has been spotted throughout the island down the centuries. Whether it is the same stag or not is impossible for people to say, but many say that it is.

It has long been recognised that good fortune and luck come to those who spy the white stag and many look for it when they visit. The white stag is the king of all the deer that live on the island - of which there are many - and young stags compete to challenge this monarch during rutting season.

As yet undefeated the white stag retains first choice of the island’s hinds and is often spotted with four or five doe in its company. On the morning that Arran Distillery opened, the white stag was spotted in the meadow in Lochranza overlooking the new distillery building. It was seen by the distillery manager and head distiller and has brought them good fortune ever since. (Source: Arran whisky)

Picture: Bill HintonFlickr

Dougal and the Giant of Atholl

A long time ago, a great giant was said to terrorise the land of Atholl (what is now the upper parts of Perthshire). The giant – creatures that were apparently a common problem in those days – had nothing but contempt for humans and would often steal cattle. Worse, the giant would empty any grain stores he found, filling his great sack and leaving entire communities to struggle to survive through winter.

Fed up with the constant predations of this bothersome giant, Dougal, a young hunter from one of the many clachans surrounding the giant’s glen, hatched a daring plot to rid the lands of this nuisance.

Dougal was smart enough to know that to fight the creature head on would be foolish, as many had tried and their bodies were by now scattered across the glens.

Instead, Dougal sneaked down to where the giant kept his ill-gotten gains, finding there sacks of oats, jars of honey and incredibly, several small casks of whisky. It was then he began to formulate a plan.

Using his knife he cut open the sack of oats, he poured them into what was clearly the giant’s drinking cup (a hollowed out boulder that rested before a stone well), before adding the honey and both of the casks of whisky.

Coming across this bountiful surprise the giant drank his fill, and eventually fell asleep beneath an ancient oak tree. Seeing his chance, Dougal slipped out from his hiding place beneath the sacks of oats and slew the giant as he slept.

Dougal returned to his homestead as a hero and his recipe for the Atholl Brose was passed on from generation to generation.

The Highlander and the Devil

A few centuries ago a young Highlander called Tom Campbell left his home in Wester Ross to become a sailor as many of his kinsmen did in those days. Joining a ship in Ullapool, Campbell travelled far and wide before returning home to Wigtown where, falling in love with a local girl, he decided to settle down and raise a family.

Tom took a job with the local blacksmith and soon, he and his wife had three lovely bairns. Now Tom, being a Highlander and all, was fond of the usige beatha and would often take in a nip or two when he had finished a hard day of work.

And hard work it was, for the town had become besieged by a plague and Tom was one of the few able bodied men left who hadn't succumbed to the sickness. Following a late shift Tom stopped at the local tavern and purchased a bottle of the finest whisky he could afford, in fear that he would have to spend more time at home should the plague worsen.

Before he left he held a toast saying: "The plague is devil's work right enough! But he'll not get the better of me!"

On his way home, the way was dark and only the light of the full moon gave him any bearing. Suddenly, he heard a coarse laugh and turned to find himself facing what he had at first mistook for a Highland coo but in fact out to be the devil himself.

"Tom! I hear you have been having a laugh at my expense! Now it is time to pay." He let out a huge roar, intended to cow the young man. However, he had misjudged the Highlander.

"Och it's you," Tom said,"I expected more to be honest. Will you take a drink?"

With that Tom pulled from his coat his fine bottle of whisky and offered it to the Devil. Tom didn't know what sort of spirit the devil was used to but the young Highlander could tell he'd never drank anything like what he was currently tasting. Before Tom knew the devil had sunk nearly half the bottle.

"Save some for me!" Tom cried and took back the bottle to sup some of the whisky himself. The devil staggered slightly and Tom thought to himself that the devil was clearly not used to imbibing the good stuff.

"Well now," boomed the devil "We will fight for your soul by the code of the cothrom na feinne, the fair play of the Fianna."

By this he meant the ancient Highland code of fair combat. Tom nodded and the devil continued, "If I win, your soul will be mine."

"And if I win?" Tom asked, to which the devil smiled, confident that the Highlander would lose.

"Unlikely, but name your prize."

Tom continued: "If I win, you will remove the plague and leave the people of this area alone."

The devil agreed and the two squared up to wrestle. Tom had a few inches on his nefarious opponent but the devil had the greater bulk. The two wrestled for hours and Tom took strength from the sips of whisky he had consumed, while the devil seemed to be struggling with the effects of drinking so much of the powerful spirit.

Finally, as the dawn's light began to shine and the two wrestled on the beach, the devil's foot slipped and Tom tossed him onto his back. The Highlander let out a loud whoop of celebration and the devil cursed before disappearing.

Exhausted, Tom slumped to the ground and, taking a final swig from his bottle, he passed out. He was awoken hours later by the local priest who had been searching for him with Tom's wife. The priest tried to raise him as his wife approached.

"This is a double boon indeed," the priest cried, "for we have found your husband!"

"Double boon?" Tom asked groggily, as his wife hugged him.

"The plague, my dear man, it lifted this morning, the people are no longer sick!"

Though none believed him, Tom knew that, with the help of the uisge beatha, he had bested the devil that night and saved the people of Wigtown. (Source: Stuart McHardy)

A fateful meeting on Islay

An unnamed ileach (resident of Islay) who had been known to make whisky for years, had become tired of avoiding the gaugers (excise men) and decided to give up his life of illicit distilling.

The man carried out his distilling in the hills which abound the Glen Road on the south east side of the island. His hideout was also a cave right in the heart of the hills from whence he carried his whisky and sold it to local buyers on the quiet.

One day he took the last lot of whisky which was in a hidden keg under his arm, crossed through the hills and was stepping on to the road when he was apprehended.

The carriage had come on him unaware and he had no chance to run and hide, so he decided to brazen it out.

He knew an excise officer when he saw one and went boldly forward to meet him. The officer, clearly surprised to see him, asked him where he was going and why he was carrying a keg of whisky under his arm?

The man replied that a few years ago he made his own whisky but since the new distilling laws came to force, the time had come for him to destroy his still and do away with the whisky he had in hand. "I am now," he says, "on my way to the village of Bowmore to hand over this keg to the Excise Officer and to inform him that I shall never make any more whisky again."

The officer congratulated him on his honesty and informed him that indeed he was the Excise Officer from Bowmore.

The Ileach put on an act of surprise and was going to hand over the keg with great reluctance when the following words stopped him.

"Well, my honest man, you have said that you are going to Bowmore. Would you kindly go to my house and deliver that keg to my wife and put it under the bed beside the other one I have there."

He received a tip and kindly gesture from the officer, so off he went to Bowmore and sold the keg of whisky to a buyer he knew well.

Next he went to the Excise house where he knocked at the door and humbly told the good lady that he met her husband on the road and that he told him to collect the keg of whisky for him that was upstairs under the bed.

"My good man, come in and go upstairs, for the keg will be too heavy for me to handle." He went upstairs, collected the keg and was warmly thanked by the good lady who graciously handed him a tip for all his trouble.

Disbelieving of his luck, he promptly sold the keg of whisky and disappeared into the hills where he came from. Of course, the exciseman tried to trace he was nowhere to be found. (Source: The Islay blog)

The open moors and rugged hills. Picture: Becky WilliamsonGeograph.org

Being late for one's own funeral

In Scotland, it is customary for a fair amount of whisky to be consumed at a funeral, which often leads to quite spirited services. Indeed, the custom has even led to the saying 'A Scottish funeral is often merrier than an English wedding.'

In the years before motorised transport, the recently deceased would be carried from their homes to the local kirk, and funerals would often involve the entire community, who would share drams and stories of the recently departed as the coffin was carried along on its fateful journey.

One such funeral was that of Miss Jessy Colquhoun of Angus. The community had gathered to see her off and the men had raised her coffin to carry her to the kirkyard.

Led by her brother Jamie, the men set off on the four mile journey to the kirk. In those days, it was customary for the men to stop at each inn they passed to toast the deceased and to take a rest before resuming the journey.

At each stop the coffin would be laid upon Lecker stanes, flat stones designed for just such a job. The funeral party set off at just after noon and made a stop at each of the three inns on the way to the kirk.

Arriving at the kirkyard and now nearing sunset, Jamie apologised to Auld Tam the gravedigger for being late, swaying slightly as he did so.

Auld Tam nodded before saying: "That's aw very well but where's Miss Jessy?"

Jamie turned to look at the party, which by now had swelled to almost a hundred strong, only to realise they'd left the coffin at the last inn. Six of the youngest (and soberest) boys were dispatched with haste to retrieve her.

It is from this story that many believe the phrase 'being late for one's own funeral' arose. (Source: Stuart McHardy)