General election: An independent Scotland would be run from Frankfurt – John McLellan

John McLellan finds himself agreeing with SNP stalwart Angus Robertson on a number of issues, with the obvious exception of Scottish independence.

Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 5:23 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 5:23 pm
Don't believe in unicorns, says John McLellan (Picture: Neil Hanna)

I rarely agree with ex-SNP MP Angus Robertson, but a happy exception is the argument in his Evening News column this week that today’s election is a straight choice between the SNP and the Conservatives.

The Liberal Democrats are “hardly liberal or democratic at all". Check. Not because they don’t support a second independence referendum but their autocratic pledge to ignore the EU referendum result and unilaterally revoke the Article 50 decision to leave is a democratic affront from any perspective.

“The Greens cannot win in Scotland.” Check. Or anywhere. Even with a proportional system, their Scottish poll average of 1.8 per cent would give them nothing.

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“The Labour leader who wants to renegotiate a new Brexit deal (!) won’t even say how he will vote in a future referendum.” Check. Jeremy Corbyn has tried to be tricksy, but has appeared at best confused.

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All Scottish Labour’s hopes are pinned on a man totally at odds with his anti-semitic party’s direction scraping home in Edinburgh South, and only if enough misguided unionists believe Ian Murray alone can keep the SNP at bay even though the price is another referendum. And judging by the daily dump of literature with no mention of Jeremy Corbyn, appropriation of private property or a taxation regime to induce bleeding from every orifice, Labour’s desperation is palpable.

The polls show Labour in England is being saved by the disastrous Lib Dem strategy which will deliver only a handful of Liberal seats on the back of isolated local campaigning, so Scottish Conservatives versus Scottish Nationalists it is.

Fan the flames of division

And this is just the beginning because there is little middle ground between a party determined to take Scotland out the UK and one equally insistent it should stay. Nor will there be a coming together when one party refuses to recognise the legitimacy of a UK-wide EU referendum because it never truly accepted the result of the independence referendum result in the first place.

Thinking ahead, the SNP will pin hopes on the weekend poll which suggested a narrow majority could back independence if the UK leaves the EU which, if there is a clear Conservative majority tomorrow, it will on January 31. Whether around ten per cent of today’s pro-Union party voters will switch sides when the sky doesn’t fall in on February 1 is another matter entirely.

The same Conservative majority also blocks another independence referendum, so while Nationalists have continued to lambast the “Toaries” they will be quietly hoping for a healthy Conservative majority to fan the flames of division and set up a battle royal for independence and a return to Europe in which they hope Remainers and separatists will find common cause.

But what kind of independence would it be when a country with a seven per cent spending deficit begs to be allowed into the EU needing more of a financial lifeline than two of the three biggest funding recipients Romania (2.6 per cent) and Poland (0.2) whose deficits are much smaller? The third, Greece, endured years of misery to get from 6.5 per cent to one under strict orders from the European Central Bank. Whether the currency would be the Euro, unofficial Sterling or a new bawbee, an independent Scotland wouldn’t be run by Edinburgh or even Brussels, but Frankfurt.

Ruinous nationalisation

So much of the SNP approach has been based on the usual Scottish exceptionalism, that anything for which the SNP is responsible is better than in England and all problems are caused by Westminster Conservatives. Arguments that England should spend the same per head on health as Scotland ignore geographical costs or what it says about the SNP’s stewardship when faults at one new hospital have killed young patients and kept another closed.

The slump in the Pisa international education figures left the Scottish Government with nowhere to hide so it camouflages the problem by manipulating the exam and university entrance requirements with the acquiescence of timid principals.

Far from tackling Scotland’s economic under-performance, now the SNP wants to embark on more ruinous nationalisation wheezes like Prestwick Airport and Ferguson Marine.

And our intelligence is regularly insulted by claiming Scotland’s £12-15bn fiscal deficit only exists because of Westminster and would disappear simply by dint of independence.

Even the SNP’s own Growth Commission predicted years of struggle to balance the books, a view confirmed by the Institute of Fiscal Studies this week whose associate director David Phillips said that the SNP’s manifesto promises would mean “cuts would have to be even bigger, or other taxes would have to be increased to pay for the proposed net giveaways".

Far from a bright new future of Scottish unicorns coming down from the Coat of Arms to prance in the glens and feed on ambrosia, a vote for the SNP and independence is a vote for more constitutional chaos just as the rest of the UK can move towards stability. It’s a vote for deep austerity just as the rest of the UK is set to invest. It’s a vote for sacrificing a 400-year-old trading union worth four times more to Scotland than the EU.

You can make sure it never happens and there is still time. Vote Conservative.