Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Yes chief praises small economies

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Media captionBlair Jenkins, chief executive of the Yes Scotland independence campaign, answers your questions.

The most successful countries in the world are small, according to the chief executive of the Yes Scotland campaign.

In the first of a new series of BBC Scotland webcasts, Blair Jenkins said small economies were more nimble and able to adapt quicker.

He also suggested that the financial crisis might not have happened if Scotland had been independent.

Mr Jenkins took readers' questions on a wide range of subjects such as broadcasting, Europe and passports.

In an interview with BBC Scotland business editor Douglas Fraser, the former TV news chief answered questions from news website readers.

In response to a question about the viability of smaller countries, Mr Jenkins said there would be a "greater coherence and unity of purpose" in an independent country.

Financial regulator

When asked how Scotland would have dealt with the financial crisis and the near-collapse of the banks almost five years ago, he said: "We might very well not have had the financial crisis had Scotland been independent."

He said people in Scotland had been depending on the UK government and the UK financial regulator to be looking after their interests.

"It turns out they were actually asleep at the wheel and Scotland is still paying the price for negligence at a UK level," Mr Jenkins said.

"I believe that had Scotland been independent, as a smaller country, we would have been paying closer attention.

"It is not to say it necessarily would not have happened but at least you make your own mistakes. You don't pay the huge price of the mistakes other people made on your behalf."

Image caption Blair Jenkins is the chief executive of Yes Scotland

On the specific question of whether Scotland would pay off the debt which was taken on when rescuing the Royal Bank of Scotland, he said Scotland would be responsible for a population share.

But he said the main operation of RBS was in the City of London where it "bought into the anything goes, casino banking" attitude which caused so many problems.

Other issues covered in the webcast included broadcasting, an area of expertise for Mr Jenkins who was the former head of news at BBC Scotland and at STV.

He said that Scotland would continue to get all the programmes and services that people are used to receiving from the BBC but there would need to be a "new arrangement".

Mr Jenkins said: "There would be no appetite in Scotland for a bigger licence fee than presently.

"So the issue would be how the current licence fee is allocated between a new Scottish public service broadcaster, which I think would be required, and whether there is still a case for part of the licence fee going to the BBC.

"Those are the areas in which I believe there would be negotiation."

On the issue of passports, Mr Jenkins said he anticipated it would not be a problem for Scots living in other parts of the UK to have a two passports.

The same would be true for people born elsewhere in the UK, who are living in Scotland.

Single currency

This led to a question about who was eligible to vote in the independence referendum, with many readers expressing disappointment that they would not be balloted if they were not living in the country at the time of the election.

Mr Jenkins said it was "international precedent" that the vote was based on "those who are resident and on the electoral register in that country."

"To be eligible to vote in a Scottish referendum should not be about ethnicity, it is about residency," he said.

"I have family and friends who live overseas and would love to be here to vote Yes in October/November 2014 and who won't be, and I'm sure that is true of people who are on the other side of the argument, but the basis of the franchise for the referendum is agreed between the parties."

On Europe, the Yes Scotland chief said Scotland would continue to be a member of the European Union and could not be "compelled" to join the Euro single currency.

He said the decision on Scottish membership would be a political one and not a legal one.

But he added that a mature democracy like Scotland, which has been a member of the EU for 40 years and has many natural resources, looks like a "gold-plated member of the European Union."

He added: "The fundamental narrative of the No campaign is this assumption that the rest of the world will want to make life difficult for Scotland and that we will be emerging into a hostile environment where people will be irrationally hostile towards us.

"The truth is the rest of Europe will be very keen to have Scotland as a member of the European Union and we will negotiate the new terms and conditions from a position of being inside."