CAB - 7 Oct 2020 - 10 Oct 2020 - Advice

Letters / Hope over fear

Alistair Christie-Henry (Independence will lead to austerity; SN, 11 January 2020) conveniently fails to mention that in the recent general election, the SNP won 80 per cent of Scottish seats with an explicit manifesto commitment for a second independence referendum.

As for vote share, surely Mr Christie-Henry can comprehend that if 43 per cent is a mandate for the Tories to get their Brexit done – for those that want it in this “union of equals” – then 45 per cent is a mandate for the SNP in Scotland?

The mantra that Scotland is too poor to be independent was wrong in 2014 and has got no less wrong with age. Liberal-Tory austerity was always a political choice, not an economic necessity. It failed on its own terms (which is why it was abandoned) and such a cruel and self-defeating policy would never be adopted by the SNP.

Scotland is a country rich in natural resources. Our businesses and citizens generate more wealth per head of population than the other three countries in the UK and Scotland supplies more to the UK exchequer than we get back in the block grant.

The UK does have a massive £2.3 trillion debt, but the Scottish Government did not create this problem. The debt was run up by Westminster, on things such as nuclear weapons, overseas military adventures, tax cuts for the rich and extortionate infrastructure projects like Crossrail, HS2 and a Hinkley Point nuclear power station that guarantees consumers will be paying through the nose for power, long into the future.

We’re also already paying the price for a Brexit that Scotland did not vote for.

While the UK has continued to run up debt, Scotland has lived within its budget and mitigated the worst of Liberal-Tory austerity, with for example free prescriptions, free tuition fees, shorter A&E waiting times and free care for the elderly. Scotland has achieved all of this with no borrowing capacity of its own, at a time when the UK government was transferring £435 billion pounds to financial institutions through Quantitative Easing.

In an independent Scotland, more of the wealth created by companies operating in Scotland would stay in this country, rather than being attributed to a London headquarters.

We will also be able to repatriate well-paid civil service jobs, running departments or processing cases on taxes, VAT, DVLA, etc. Powers in areas such as immigration, foreign affairs and security will come to Scotland and employees working in all of these sectors will pay tax in Scotland.

We will stop paying for things we don’t want, such as illegal wars and Palace of Westminster refurbishments, and choose instead to invest in our economy in a way that plays to our strengths as a country and takes serious action on climate change. None of this is considered in the analysis Mr Christie-Henry likes to repeat.

We need hope over fear here. An independent Scotland will be in charge of its own future. We can decide to be more like our progressive, modern Scandinavian neighbours and less like Victorian Westminster. Together, we can build a fairer and more sustainable society, as a prosperous European nation.

Tom Wills
Shetland SNP convener