Alex Massie Alex Massie

Independent Scotland: socialist paradise or neo-liberal nirvana? – Spectator Blogs

Well, probably neither actually. But there’s every reason to suppose that just as some Unionists are fooling themselves when they discount the possibility of dear old Scotia thriving as an independent entity so some backers of independence may be deluding themselves if they think independence is a one-way ticket to a socialist paradise.

That’s the premise of this week’s Think Scotland column, written in the aftermath of Jim McColl’s decision to be out for independence. McColl, Heid Neep at Clyde Blowers and reckoned worth a billion pounds or so, is Alex Salmond’s latest boardroom success.

Admittedly McColl’s support is less than whole-hearted. It’s predicated upon Unionist reluctance to move much beyond the recent Scotland Bill. Independence is McColl’s preferred second prize. Anyway: I fancy an independent Scotland could prove more Thatcherite than the Thatcher years. The revolution will just have been delayed thirty years. A neo-liberal nirvana? Well perhaps that’s putting it too strongly too. Nevertheless:

If some Unionists make foolish arguments that can be distilled to an essence of Too Poor, Too Wee, Too Stupid to be independent so some nationalists err on the other side of the balance. I rather doubt that independence guarantees a Warmer, Bigger-Hearted, More Decent, Better Scotland. By which they mean, of course, a more left-wing Scotland. It may not actually turn out like that.

Even if one allows that a transition to independence passed smoothly, it’s plain that an independent Scotland’s finance minister would enjoy relatively little room for manoeuvre. This is the case even if concerns – quite reasonable concerns, it might be said – about monetary policy are settled in some satisfactory fashion.

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