Tuesday, 5 August 2003

The Quebec solution

George Kerevan's article on the SNP's leadership contest compares the situation here with that in Quebec where an election has recently been held:
In fact, Quebec had become the highest-taxed part of North America as a result of the PQ’s pandering to trades unions and activist lobbies. So the Liberals, who are normally mildly social democratic, campaigned on a populist platform of cutting taxes but also modernising Quebec’s health and education system. The Liberals won 76 seats in the 125-member legislature, while he PQ’s total shrank to 45.

But there’s a coda to this story. The Quebec election was also innovative because of the strong performance of a new radical party, Quebec Democratic Action (ADQ). Shades of Tommy Sheridan? Not a bit of it. ADQ has broken the mould of left-wing Quebec politics by being unashamedly in favour of lower taxes. It also wants more private involvement in health care, and state vouchers for individuals to spend as they like on schools.

Like similar libertarian parties in Scandinavia, it is supported by the young professionals, many of whom abstain in Scottish elections.

It sounds a bit familiar, doesn't it? Scotland has overtaken Sweden and has Europe's largest public sector, thanks to the same "pandering to trades unions and activist lobbies." If young professionals in Scandinavia and Quebec will vote for "libertarian parties", then why not here?

Kerevan proclaims:

What Scotland needs is something like the ADQ. A Scottish champion able to use the political machinery at Holyrood to rebuild the Scottish economy, willing to protect Scottish interests from Whitehall and Westminster, and all the while getting out of the way of restricting the personal freedom of ordinary Scots.
If the Wilsonite challenge to the SNP leadership is thoroughly defeated the leftists in the party may well move over to the Scottish Socialist Party. Have the mainstream Nationalists got the vision to seek an alliance with the Conservatives to create a Scottish version of the ADQ?