Most Indy supporters are far from deluded
I say most Indy supporters because some clearly are deluded. You know the ones. They copy and paste ‘SNP 1/2, it’s the only way, you can vote for the Greens/Rise after we get our Independence’ under every nonconformist opinion. They place the whole blame for every single thing that is wrong in Scotland at the door of Westminster even if it is a devolved issue. They would still vote for Independence, even if the democratic deficits in the UK were fixed and it could be demonstrably proved they would be better off remaining. You find these fundamentalists in any movement. Although, reading the media, you would be forgiven for thinking the Scottish Independence movement was somehow unique in being solely comprised of dummies.
This week the line peddled by hundreds of articles, reports and comments across the web has been that the sensible No voting majority has prevented a sizeable deluded minority from dragging this country into a fate even George Robinson would struggle to conjure up. This view, ubiquitous in unionist circles is exemplified by these articles by Alan Cochran and Brian Wilson. These two men excel at unashamedly peddling short-sighted, narrow-minded paternalism to the dwindling band of small “c” conservatives who still read the Telegraph and the Scotsman.
They and the many others who have danced a ungracious victory jig on the grave of self determination have no qualms about displaying a breathtaking level of stupidity in public. To write Scotland off based on one year’s economic figures is not sound economics. We may well be better off staying in the Union, but the only way we could tell would be to have two parallel versions of reality running for a thousand years. And whatever the result of that impossible experiment, it would never show that the majority of those who seek Independence were deluded.
What is clear is that Scotland has been punching above its weight for the previous 35 years and would have a surplus now if we were not in the union. However, that is the past, and the neglect of our economy has been disguised by high oil revenues. It is clear that the present doesn’t look as rosy and about that we are focused.
We know that we now have a massive share of UK debt and a whopping great deficit to contend with. We know that this would make the first years of being an Independent county difficult. We get the whole “broad shoulders” analogy. We just think we can do things better if decisions about Scotland’s economy were made in Scotland.
We beleive the economic question facing Scotland is not ‘how to’ get our finances back on track but ‘who will’. Is this such an outlandish concept?
The current Scottish budget deficit is lower than the UK deficit was in 2010 but nobody was doubting Great Britain’s ability to run its own affairs. Since 2010 the UK has implemented an economic plan in order to reduce the deficit and it has fallen from 11% GDP to around 5%. This shows that a country that has full control of its finances can quickly reduce a double figure budget deficit. The problem is that as the UK deficit as a whole has decreased, the one in Scotland has increased. And this is because UK policy is by definition not interested in reducing the budget in any given region. It is looking at the whole picture. For hard-line Unionists this may not be a problem, but I have no shame in saying I want Scotland to have as strong an economy as possible and the only way to do that is to have policies tailored to Scotland’s particular needs.
This could happen in the Union, and I would love to see a more federal UK where each country or region manages their own economy for their particular needs. This would be as advantageous for Yorkshire, Wales, The North East or the Midlands as it would be for Scotland, but I don’t see that sort of solution on the horizon.
The current devolution settlement is a bit of a mess and probably detrimental to clearing our deficit. Even post Scotland Bill implementation, the majority of tax altering powers will be at Westminster while 60 percent of spending power will be in Scotland. Having these key economic powers split between two ideologically opposed administrations is no way to bolster an economy.
We could carry on with the current model where, a succession of unrepresentative administrations enforce a one size fits all Neoliberal race to the bottom on all of us, a model that led to the 2008 crash and the near decade long stagnation that continues to this day. A model that has brought zero growth, rising inequality, perpetual resource wars and colossal levels of debt. Where wages are stagnating, houses are unaffordable and employment for many is low paid and unreliable. Where State assets are sold to the highest bidder and their profits are moved off shore. Where social security is being cut to the bone but billions of pounds are taken out of the economy by the rich and the large corporations deliberately avoiding tax.
If I saw a UK government willing to change this I would be happy to stay. But the voting system means that we are governed by zealots who command less than 30 percent of the popular vote. They don’t need to work for us as we never voted them in anyway.
Or we could go it alone, with our small dynamic representative social democratic system. Having a government that is forced to make tailored decisions in the interest of the majority is surely the best way to make them adopt an economic plan that actually clears the deficit in a way that encourages prosperity for all. We want a government that is willing to guide the invisible hand by investing in and protecting the rights of workers, one that is able to react quickly and provide bespoke solutions to the uniquely Scottish economic problem. It is a representation problem as much as it is an economic one. We know it can work as we see it happening in other small thriving countries.
As Robin McAlpine said this week;
Why don’t we make things? Why do we regulate for such a low-pay economy? Why do we have such awful industrial democracy laws? Why do we allow such massive exposure to overseas corporations in almost every aspect of our supply chains?
Why do we accept such low productivity and such a low rate of investment in research and development? Why is so much of our land unproductive (and owned by people happy to keep it so)? Why is it so hard to get access to Scottish products in Scottish markets? Why is it so hard for Scottish producers to get access to customers in Scotland?
Why aren’t we investing more in tourism infrastructure, not least better transport networks across Scotland? Where’s our National Investment Bank? Why aren’t we throwing money at design education? Why do we rely so heavily on retail and why do we allow so much gender segregation with women channelled into low-pay work?
We don’t because we have little control over who governs us. And those who govern us, whatever party they represent, are worshippers of a failed economic dogma. And even if they weren’t, under the current system, a UK government would never be able to tailor a policy to solve our problems, as the solution in Scotland is different from the solution in Greater Manchester which is different to the solution in Northern Ireland. Those who describe us as deluded are trapped within the narrow confines of an antiquated system. They have no vision to realise there may be better ways of doing things. The only way to solve the problems of the Scottish Economy is to have people who are directly elected by and representative of the people of Scotland make the key decisions that affect us. Otherwise, we are going to be the only thing those paternalistic journalists can imagine – an infantile pretend country reliant on handouts from the rest of the UK.
Please comment below and enter an email address to receive notifications of new articles. Also, if you enjoy our content you can support the site for less than one pound per month by clicking here.