Scottish independence: Think inflation is bad? SNP's plans would put Scotland in Venezuela territory – John McLellan
It’s the party of aspiration, sound money and patriotism; more home ownership, scrapping business rates, paying down debt, backing Brexit and Nato, and belting out God Save the King. And no deals with the SNP.
No, not a preview of next week’s Conservative conference in Birmingham, but Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s instructions to his party faithful at their gathering in Liverpool on Tuesday. The man who did his damnedest to put an anti-semitic, IRA-supporting Marxist in Number 10 has told his party to put on a proper suit, do up its tie and sing the National Anthem.
While some of the bedroom revolutionaries elected in Edinburgh under a false Labour flag will remain to be convinced, the polls this week indicate a massive surge in the number of people who now believe Labour has been transformed from a party which would struggle to win student hustings into one on the threshold of power.
Propelled by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s decision to scrap the 45 per cent income tax band for earnings over £150,000, opposed by 69 per cent of 2019’s Conservative voters, YouGov puts Labour 17 points ahead, its biggest lead since 2001, so centrists like their sole MP, Edinburgh South’s Ian Murray MP, should be cock-a-hoop after years of fending off attacks from the lunatic left while watching the council group lend credibility to a hard-left, anti-business Edinburgh SNP.
There’s no glossing over the difficult position Scottish Conservatives are now in, but that Labour was finished by 2019 and has reversed its fortunes in under three years shows how quickly things can change.
Similarly, from cocks of the walk in 2001 to feather dusters by 2011, Labour’s recent history should serve as a warning to an SNP which looks as bereft of ideas as Scottish Labour was by 2007.
The SNP now faces a pincer, with what looks like a viable alternative for the anti-Conservative vote they have monopolised, and the unexpected illustration of what their plan to fund an independent Scotland through high borrowing to cover expenditure Scottish taxation doesn’t cover (up to £15bn) would mean. Without a central bank controlling a currency to manage inflation, the alternative is a new currency neither traders nor voters would touch.
It doesn’t matter if an independent Scotland’s priorities would be different to those now pursued in Westminster, the markets are demonstrating that unfunded borrowing without a costed growth or savings plan goes down like a granite glider.
Increased taxation to help bridge the gap would kill any chances of growth generating new tax income and very quickly the plan would put Scotland into Venezuela territory, where inflation was just 114 per cent in August and you get over 800,000 Bolivares to the dollar. And that’s a country prepared to exploit its oil reserves.
For all that nationalists might deride Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s optimism that his plan will work, the SNP’s central goal relies on a blind faith which would make the current UK economic gamble look like a fiver each way on the Grand National.
The challenge for Scottish Labour is they must rely on Sir Keir sustaining gains in the South while they concentrate on ousting the SNP, because without Scottish seats he’ll never be Prime Minister.
And that’s a lesson the local dunderheads were pitifully slow to understand.