SNP is in touch

The Scotsman - - Perspective / Letters To The Editor -

The SNP still rep­re­sents more Scot­tish views than any other party. It has done so for most of the 21st cen­tury. There is noth­ing “mere” about a party which leads the deep Scot­tish dis­con­tent with West­min­ster, a dis­con­tent pre­vi­ously led by the Lib­er­als, and then Labour, for more than two cen­turies.

Martin Red­fern’s Friends of the Scots­man ar­ti­cle (25 Au­gust) seems to put the words “In­de­pen­dence tran­scends Brexit, oil and the econ­omy” into Ni­cola Stur­geon’s mouth. He mis­leads. She never said “the econ­omy”. She re­ferred only to our as­sets to­day (e.g oil re­serves, fac­to­ries, and build­ings). “The econ­omy” has a very much wider mean­ing. He also al­lows it to sug­gest that she does not care about the fu­ture econ­omy. That is con­trary to any­thing she has said about the econ­omy. Cen­tral to her views, as so of­ten ex­pressed, is that in­de­pen­dence should pro­vide a bet­ter and fairer econ­omy for Scot­land than does West­min­ster. Di­min­ish­ingly few sup­port­ers of in­de­pen­dence be­lieve the econ­omy to be sec­ondary; for al­most all it is cen­tral. Ex­pe­ri­ence of West­min­ster gov­ern­ment makes them ready to bet in­de­pen­dence can bring a bet­ter, fairer one. Surely that cen­tral­ity is plain to the most blink­ered of op­po­nents.

He also ac­cuses the SNP as hav­ing been “fo­cused on na­tion­al­ism for na­tion­al­ism’s sake”, what­ever he means by that, and then of “ques­tion­able eco­nom­ics and mas­sively in­flated oil fore­casts”. All eco­nom­ics are ques­tion­able.

The view be­hind Mr Red­fern’s ar­gu­ments is short and nar­row, like that of many op­po­nents of in­de­pen­dence. He ig­nores the so­cio-eco­nomic­caus­esoft­he­cen­turiesofdis­con­tent un­der­ly­ing sup­port of in­de­pen­dence, con­tin­u­ing to this day. Af­ter the 18th cen­tury we had the Scot­tish In­sur­rec­tion of 1820, and af­ter the 1832 Re­form Act in­tro­duced by the Whigs against strong Tory op­po­si­tion, Scots gave over­whelm­ing sup­port to the Lib­er­als un­til 1918, then to Keir Hardie and Labour – and now to the SNP, in de­spair. Lib­er­als and Labour sought, and to an ex­tent achieved, great rad­i­cal change, be­fore the Great War and af­ter the Sec­ond World War: elec­toral re­form, par­lia­men­tary re­form, pen­sions, so­cial in­sur­ance, em­ploy­ment law, a na­tional health ser­vice, and more. Where are these par­ties now? The Scots still want a fairer so­ci­ety. And then where have the Tories/union­ists/con­ser­va­tives in Scot­land ever been – in en­gag­ing in the broad brush of se­ri­ous so­cioe­co­nomic re­form? Seek­ing to stop it, most of the time.

DUN­CAN CLARK Western Har­bour Place

Ed­in­burgh

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