Thursday 31 July 2003

A coalition for independence?

Some campaigners for Scottish independence are planning the creation of a national movement to act beyond the confines of the existing political parties:
Taking as their model the Scottish constitutional convention which led to home rule, the organisers - mainly SNP activists - believe a cross-party coalition could move Scotland on from devolution to independence. Support for an independence coalition has found broad agreement inside the divided SNP, now preparing for a leadership contest amid accusations that it has lost its way
This may seem to make sense for nationalist activists. There is not too much ideological difference between the left wing of the SNP and the Scottish Socialist Party, whose leader Tommy Sheridan is to address the group's first meeting - to be held during the SNP's conference. The Greens and independence-minded Labour supporters are expected to join in. The downside for the SNP is that most of their voting strength is to be found in rural and small-town Scotland - traditionally anti-socialist areas that used to be held by the Conservatives.

Scotland's biggest problem is its depressed economy:

The executive said gross domestic product north of the border fell by a seasonally-adjusted 0.3% in the first quarter. Comparing the year to March with the preceding 12 months, there was no growth at all in Scotland, but expansion of 1.7% in the UK.
The Scottish economic numbers are perhaps not quite so poor on a per-capita basis, given our static or declining population compared to the population growth in England. Nevertheless, the economy needs improving. If there were a case for Scottish independence it would be to create a low-tax and radically pro-business economy. Such a Scotland could retain our most ambitious youngsters, so many of who now emigrate. Socialism is a dead end. Instead of wasting their time with the Scottish Socialists, the SNP should become "radicals for a capitalist Scotland" - if necessary in league with the Conservative party.

Now that would be something to stir up their conference.