Saturday, 28 May 2011

Independence for Scotland

Since the 1970's, the SNP's flagship policy has been a fully independent Scotland. Now they have a majority in the Scottish parliament, their dream is a whisker away from reality.

It's surprising how far they have come, from a staunch-nationalist one-issue party to the leading party in a devolved Scottish parliament. Today, they are a left of centre, libertarian party with around 45% of the public vote.

They won these votes not solely on merit. The LibDems are viewed as being in bed with the Tories - a party hated because they tested policies on Scotland before implementing in the UK under Thatcher, and, well, Labour who wrecked the economy. SNP therefore are the best of the rest. A protest vote for many. This is important for any vote in independence. Not everyone loves the SNP - they just hate the others more.

Some of the recent polls around who would vote for independence, place a figure of 30-35% in favour. If this is true, welcome to an independent Scotland. No budgets, no plans, no vision has been released to suggest what an independent Scotland would mean, so a third of the remaining voters switching to yes would swing it which doesn't sound unreasonable with such a high core vote.

Would an independent Scotland be positive for Scotland? As it is now, too many people work for the state rather than private revenue generating and generally resource efficient companies, oil tax revenues flow to the UK Government, tax rates are too high to attract enterprise over other countries in Europe, the culture resents anyone who stands out and Scotland on a cash basis, gets a good deal under the Barnett formula.

That said, if the SNP, like they are attempting to do, get corporation tax and other taxes devolved, they could attract a lot of business from England and Ireland which would normally have located there, which will increase private jobs and make the country a bit more balanced improving the conditions for an independent country.

Alex Salmond, as ex-Chief Economist of RBS knows this fine well. Change society from a socialist state to a capitalist country and we'll buy into his vision for Scotland. This is why he's pushing for these powers.

From my perspective, Alex is a charming trustworthy politician. It's why the Scots like him. Unfortunately, this charm might just about mask the risks in the direction he is taking Scotland and without any challenge from Labour or LibDems in Scotland, independence could just be a formality. Hopefully my Scottish passport will allow me in to England if it doesn't work out as planned.

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