Independence Will Drive Fairness and Prosperity
by Stewart Hosie MP
When the UK Government coalition was cobbled together in 2010 they inherited £87 billion of tax increase and spending cuts.
By the time we get to 2016/17, they will be taking £155 billion out of the economy every year – this, they argue, is to tackle the UK’s unsustainable deficit – others, like me, argue that this is too much, too fast and is destroying any real chance of recovery.
Danny Alexander, the UK’s Chief Secretary glossed over the scale of tax rises and cuts on his visit to Dundee last week settling instead to claim the UK Government was ‘making progress’.
And while he was right to praise many of the things happening in Dundee, it was more than a little disingenuous to claim credit for the belated assistance to the Computer Games Sector when one of the first actions of his Government was to cancel the original £190 million package of help which was already planned!
Of course, he took the opportunity to play politics with our future – claiming, wrongly, that independence would put up ‘barriers’ and suggesting that we are somehow ‘stronger together’.
The SNP have been putting a positive case for independence and we will continue to promote our vision of a fairer, greener and more prosperous Scotland. But the anti-independence sound-bite that we are somehow “stronger together” cannot go unchallenged.
The debate needs to be based on facts, not fiction, and the facts show that Scotland is being undersold by the current set-up.
On defence, how can we be stronger together when Scotland has only 4 of 148 major regular army units based in its territory? We have seen a disproportionate decline in Scotland’s defence footprint, with an underspend of over 5.6 billion and the loss of more than more than 11,000 jobs over the last decade.
That’s not stronger together – that’s being sold short.
On pensions, where is the strength in a union when the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander effectively threatened the Scottish Government with budget cuts if it didn’t impose UK reforms on the Scottish public sector, restricting what it can do with its own workforce and budget?
That’s not stronger together – that’s being held over a barrel.
On energy – how can it be in Scotland’s interests to charge for electricity transmission based on distance from population centres, so a generator in Aberdeenshire is charged £21.49 per KW to connect to the grid, while a London-based generator receives a subsidy of £6.85? This policy is damaging rural Scotland’s vast renewables potential.
That’s not stronger together, but being hung out to dry.
And on the oil industry, the Treasury’s cash cow, what did Scotland gain from the decision to unilaterally hike up the supplementary charge from 20% to 32%, threatening jobs and investment in a crucial industry for a quick buck?
No independent Scottish Government would ever treat the industry in this way. That’s foolish economics, not strength.
These and countless other examples provide evidence that the best people to make decisions about Scotland are the people who live here. Scotland will be stronger when policy decisions are made in the Scottish Parliament.
After independence, Scotland and the rest of the UK will all benefit from a new partnership of equals on these isles, based on strong social bonds and mutual respect.