17 November 2015

Scottish independence is dead, admits former Salmond aide


It is tempting to shout “yahoo, told you so” on reading the latest article written by Alex Bell, formerly a key aide to Alex Salmond. But I won’t, because it is a deeply thoughtful, important piece of writing if you are concerned about Scotland at all, which I accept some readers here are not, having heard way too much about it in recent years.

Bell departed Salmond’s service during the writing of the White Paper, that dodgy dossier published by the Scottish government as a blueprint for Scottish independence ahead of the referendum. Now, more than year after Scottish voters rejected independence to shreds, Bell has now torn it to shreds, declaring that the SNP idea of independence is dead. Just at the point when the party is dominant electorally, the economic case is a goner, he says. It was always a stretch; now it is an outright fraud on the Scottish electorate.

“The idea that you could have a Scotland with high public spending, low taxes, a stable economy and reasonable government debt was wishful a year ago – now it is deluded.”

Worse, he declares that the SNP approach to be “morally dubious.” This has the benefit of being true. While the SNP talks soft-left it subsidises the middle classes at the expense of the poor. Its autocratic instincts on policing, on land reform or land theft, and on dissent, are sinister. But that’s my view. Here’s Alex Bell:

“The interests of the SNP and the interests of independence have diverged. Independence needs facts and planning. The leadership fear those facts will rip the party apart. The SNP is growing comfortable in its role as the ‘Scotland’ party within a lop-sided UK, while pretending it is still fighting for independence to keep the party together. We are told the people are in charge, but the Government goes out of its way to deny the people information. This isn’t about Scotland, its about the SNP. The electorate aren’t stupid. They tolerate this contradiction for want of an alternative. Lets pray that alternative turns up before independence does. This is a morally dubious form of government. Posing as the defender of the poor against Tories when you have no credible alternative and don’t bother to research one is arguably immoral. More so when there is an explicit party policy not to reverse all cuts upon independence. The SNP’s ill-prepared version of independence does not plausibly offer any real alternative.”

I won’t extract the entire piece here. Alex Bell has started another new online venture to get good writing about Scotland aired, as traditional newspapers continue their long, painful decline. It is a brave, necessary venture called the Rattle. It deserves to succeed.

You can read it here, along with Alex Bell’s piece on the SNP. It is jaw-droppingly good.

Iain Martin is Editor of CapX.