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Scotland votes no

The Campaign as such never had a view on whether Scotland should be independent. Scotland suffers from the disadvantage of being distant both from the main centres of population in Great Britain, and also from the ports in the South-East that provide easy connections to mainland Europe. Thus, since the decline of the heavy industry which was the mainstay of the Scottish economy, the country has been struggling. This must surely have been one of the driving forces behind the independence movement.

It is not, however, just Scotland that suffers from geographical disadvantages; the same can be said of most of England north of about Leeds, as well as Devon, Cornwall and most of Wales and Northern Ireland. Ricardo’s Law of Rent can be seen here having its effect at a country-wide scale, with these peripheral locations being at the margin.

One of the many shortcomings of the tax system is that it takes no account of locational advantage and disadvantage, and consequently it attempts to levy taxes at the margin. This is by definition impossible. The result is that economic activity is unviable over large tracts of the country, which then become a commercial and industrial wasteland. In Newcastle city centre, for instance, it seems as if estate agents’ boards are sprouting from every other building, whilst Devon and Cornwall – and indeed much of the south of England – only survive on their seasonal coastal tourist trade. Increasingly, the population, and most of Britain’s economic activity, are concentrated into the bottom-right hand corner of the country, which in turn imposes costs as infrastructure is overloaded and the demand for housing becomes insatiable.

We hate to have to keep on repeating this, but a shift from existing taxes to a tax on the rental value of land is the only way to deal with this problem. That ensures that taxes are highest where there is the most ability to pay. This reform effectively creates tax havens precisely where they are most needed. No taxes are levied at the margin, and so economic opportunities would be opened up where, at present, commerce is stymied by the tax system. In this way, the people of not only Scotland but also all the other peripheral regions of the country would be better able to make a go of things.