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Scottish Independence: It's All About Trust

19/02/2014 22:34 GMT | Updated 21/04/2014 10:59 BST

Politics is showbiz for the ugly. Or so they say. In reality, it is much more than that.

Politics is about running a country, or at least trying to get into government in order to run a country. That is why there is one question that really matters if you are voting in Scotland's independence referendum.

Can the Scottish government be trusted to run a country?

Providing an answer is no easy task. You could argue that the SNP has been in power since 2007 and the country has not imploded, but you could claim that total implosion is unlikely as it is propped up by the UK government. Either way, the unprecedented nature of the debate makes judging on track records a potentially perilous endeavour.

Instead, let's look at current events and recent press coverage for indicators. It isn't unreasonable to judge a government by economic policy. For Scotland, there isn't much to say on the economy that has not been said in the past week. The currency union fiasco has been well-covered. Alex Salmond's plan was categorically torpedoed by anyone and everyone that matters in UK politics.

Even the battle-tested Nicola Sturgeon was unceremoniously mauled by Andrew Neil on the Daily Politics Show. It was reminiscent of the infamous Paxman-Howard interview. It was embarrassing, cringe-worthy and borderline unwatchable. It reached the point where even the most militant unionists must have started to feel a bit sorry for the normally formidable SNP Deputy Leader.

But everyone makes mistakes, even if they don't admit to them. So what else can we judge on?

Let's take the other recent media obsession; an independent Scotland's membership of the European Union. This is another topic on which the Scottish government is unscrupulously intransigent and unbearably misguided. They argue that an independent Scotland would seamlessly transition to being an EU member state.

False.

Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, already quashed Alex Salmond's assertions of an inherited EU membership back in 2012. This week, he did it again. The media were whipped into a frenzy when Barroso stated that it would be "extremely difficult, if not impossible" for an independent Scotland to obtain universal support from existing EU member states if applying to join the EU. So who do we trust? The de facto head of the EU or a party that has already been caught lying about the legal advice they have received on EU membership?

The astoundingly bad week for Alex Salmond and the SNP didn't end there. Adding insult to injury, the UK energy secretary excoriated the SNP's energy strategy in the press. He slammed their renewables vision, warning of higher bills and potential blackouts. Bear in mind that this is the same energy secretary whose support for renewables is so ardent that he is often publicly at loggerheads with other ministers in his own department. He is no 'nimbyist', sentimentalist' or 'climate denier', but even he is mystified by some of the SNP's ambitions.

As secretary of state for energy, Ed Davey made it clear that the shared single energy market would end with independence. He confirmed that English, Welsh and Northern Irish consumers will not continue to subsidise renewables in Scotland. He also warned that in sustained periods of low wind, an independent Scottish government's intense focus on industrial wind turbines would mean that they may end up having to import costly electricity from English power stations in order to keep the lights on. This is because wind is not an uninterrupted energy source. Amongst other things (as shown in the video below), it is inherently intermittent.

So an independent Scotland would neither have an uninterrupted source of energy nor affordable bills. Remembering that the International Energy Agency defines energy security as 'the uninterrupted availability of energy sources at an affordable price', does this then suggest that an independent Scotland would not be able to ensure its own energy security, something which is a key priority for any functioning government?

Inevitably, these arguments will be dismissed as conjecture and branded as 'scaremongering'. That is always the first defense of someone who doesn't like your argument but can't provide a suitable rebuttal. However, the fact remains that the chancellor of the Exchequer confirmed that there won't be a currency union. The president of the European Commission reaffirmed that there is no easy route into the EU. The secretary of state for energy warned that there will be no single energy market.

With the referendum fast approaching, there is no longer a place for 'your word versus mine' politics. Ignoring reality helps no one, not least the voters. Answers are needed. What is Plan B if there is no currency union? What are the implications if Scotland has to apply to join the EU? How will energy security be achieved if there is no shared energy market?

It is Alex Salmond, the SNP or Yes Scotland who must answer these questions. If they cannot, the can they really be trusted to run a country?

The answer is a resounding 'No'.