Wednesday 28 January 2015

I wrote this over on the Libertarian Alliance website

Nigel gets it.

Over the years, opinion polls here show that Scotland is only one or two percent more socialist than England – when the questions are about specific issues rather than about Labour v Conservative.

Since the war, only the Tories have won more than 50% of the Scottish vote in a UK general election. Except that it wasn’t really the Tories: it was the Scottish Unionist party that won in 1955. Replacing the Unionists (seen up here as Scottish patriots) with a London-centric Conservative party was a huge mistake. Almost everyone here thinks that Scotland is a nation, albeit one that can be happy in a union with the rest of the UK. But the Tories are not seen as embracing that primary loyalty to Scotland. This explains why so many folk in traditional Conservative areas now vote SNP.

Another thing to consider is that we have a four party system up here. The Labour vote is efficiently distributed in that they get few votes in rural and small town Scotland but lots in the cities. That enables Labour to mop up Westminster first past the post seats often with less than half of the vote. But now we have PR in Scottish local elections. In Glasgow in 2003 under first past the post Labour won 71 out of 79 council seats. A Labour city? But they only achieved 47.7% of the vote. In 2012 under PR Labour got 46.72% of the vote but only 44 seats. Not so Labour as you might have thought. And that’s why Labour is now panicking. The first past the post system in May could wipe out large numbers of Scottish Labour seats at Westminster.

Sean said that Scotland is more community minded than England. I’ve lived in both countries and am half English and half Scottish. I think that Sean is correct.

But why?

In the Highlands and Islands – the romantic heart of Scotland – the land is poor and the seas rough. Crofters and fishermen have always had to co-operate for survival. Community mindedness is essential.

In small town Scotland – in which I grew up – a sizeable proportion of the population never move away. I was at a funeral a year ago and almost all of the attendees still lived in my old hometown. That inevitably leads to a greater sense of community than in the ever-changing suburbs of London, Manchester or Birmingham.

And even in the cities there is a simple explanation too. Glasgow and Edinburgh are far more like continental cities than English ones. The West End of Glasgow and the New Town of Edinburgh are among the most desirable and expensive residential areas in the UK. But they are communitarian because of the shared nature of the buildings many of which are occupied by the Scottish middle class elite. Scottish life is either remote or concentrated – so unlike suburban England.

But communitarianism doesn’t necessarily imply socialism, does it? As Hans-Hermann Hoppe teaches us, a libertarian society would of necessity be more communitarian.

But without the state.

How to get there is the question.