Wednesday 23 April 2003

Labour opposes responsibility

I think that it is fair to say that Iain Macwhirter is on the "left" side of the political divide. In today's Glasgow Herald Macwhirter discusses Gordon Brown's recent electioneering visit to Scotland. It is amusing to read that Brown claimed that the Scottish Nationalists were:
promoting far-right "minimal state" doctrines.
The minimal state is not, of course, a doctrine of the "far-right" but let that pass for the moment. What is interesting is that Macwhirter seems to see that financially irresponsible politicians are not good for our economy:
Intellectual Nationalists like Andrew Wilson, who can give Brown a run for his money, believe that Scotland's poor rate of business formation and lack of an enterprise culture have arisen from decades of dependency on financial hand-outs from London.
Macwhirter writes that "right-wingers" originally supported Scottish fiscal autonomy as a way of attacking the very idea of devolution, but he then points out that:
Tory commentators like the historian Michael Fry started recasting fiscal autonomy as serious policy. He has gradually persuaded many in his party that Conservative values could be reborn in a low-tax, low-spend, post-devolution Scotland.
I recall that Michael Fry advocated a No, Yes vote in the two-question devolution referendum: that is, he was against the establishment of a Scottish parliament but, if there was going to be one, it should be responsible for raising its own revenue. I agree entirely. So do the Nationalists and many Tories and, increasingly, the business community. Just what is Labour afraid of?