BY EFFIE DEANS
Nicola Sturgeon thinks that If Scots could have predicted what would happen after 2014, we would have voted for independence. In that case we would indeed have been wealthier, happier and fairer, but not for the reason she thinks. We could have bought Bitcoin when each one cost less than a pound. We could have predicted the winner of the Derby and bet the whole of Scotland’s GDP on the winner. We could have bought only shares that were going to rise and dumped all the shares that were going to fall. You don’t need independence to be wealthy if you can predict the future.
Many Scots were indeed disappointed by Brexit and Boris Johnson’s Government. But we were pleased indeed to receive furlough and billions of extra funding during the pandemic. We were grateful for the vaccine that was developed because the UK had left the EU and because the British Government decided not to join the EU’s programme as the SNP at the time wished. This meant that the UK was one of the first countries to vaccinate its population, which saved many lives.
So, a Scottish voter looking into the future in 2014 would have needed to figure out how an independent Scotland just a few years after separation would have dealt with the pandemic. Would Scotland have been able to borrow at a similar rate to the UK Treasury and if not, how could we have afforded to stay at home? Not every country even in Europe could afford such generosity.
The present cost of living crisis is mainly a result of Covid and the war in Ukraine. In addition, over the past decades the UK has not done enough to secure its own energy supplies by digging coal, drilling for oil and gas, fracking and building nuclear power stations. If we had done so, we would not now have to rely quite so much on expensive imports.
It was inflationary for people to sit at home watching TV while the Government borrowed money to pay them. But Nicola Sturgeon did not oppose this at the time. Instead, she wanted Lockdown to last longer and for furlough to be more generous. Every time the British Government decided to allow people outside or go back to work or cease wearing masks, Sturgeon delayed. So, if she had been in charge of an independent Scotland, inflation would have been worse.
The SNP also opposes drilling for oil in the North Sea. It opposes fracking and building nuclear power stations. So, it is entirely unclear how Sturgeon thinks an independent Scotland would have cheaper energy than we do at present.
It is in part because of the UK Government’s desire to be green that it failed to make Britain self-sufficient in energy, but Sturgeon far from repudiating this strategy would have gone further and faster in the drive towards Net Zero.
Things are more expensive and we have less money to buy them because we have forgotten the basic lessons of the past. The route to wealth is through working harder, spending less, producing more, lowering taxes and increasing private ownership.
But Sturgeon would like people in an independent Scotland to work less. She wants them to be paid a universal basic income so that they can choose not to work at all. Every problem that ever existed she thinks is to be solved by higher public spending funded by increased taxes. Far from wanting to increase private ownership she wants to nationalise failing industries and subsidise them with public money.
Newly nationalised Scotrail will thanks to Sturgeon pay its employees even more, which will mean fares will either have to go up or be subsidised by the tax payer. But how will giving in to trade unions make Scotland wealthier any more than paying shipyards not to build ships?
It’s easy for Sturgeon to predict that Scotland would be wealthier, happier and fairer, but we don’t need a crystal ball to see that the problem is not so much what currency Scotland would use or how it would deal with a hard border caused by Scotland being in the EU while the former UK was not. These problems and others are bad enough, but they are nothing compared to having the SNP running everything rather than merely a devolved administration.
The first election after independence would almost certainly see the SNP returned to power. If he had won in 2014, it is unimaginable that Alex Salmond would not have been the first leader of Scotland. But in subsequent years Scots may have chosen someone else. But Scottish Labour would be indistinguishable from the SNP after independence. The Greens would be even more Left-Wing and Scottish Tories are so wet and wibbly they are in need of an airing cupboard and a hair dryer as much as a backbone.
So, Sturgeon thinks that after giving up the free money Scotland gets every year from the UK Treasury and leaving the UK’s internal market even though we trade more with the UK than anyone else, we will be wealthier by electing a Scottish Government so Left-Wing that it thinks the solution to every problem is to pay Scots to do nothing while nationalising everything, increasing public spending and paying workers not to build ships. Even the Scottish Tories would be telling Sturgeon to spend more, increase benefits and abolish private property, because it’s theft.
Scotland might indeed be fairer with every one of us on a universal basic income locked down whenever someone sneezes with the flu, but we would be equal in our poverty. Why build anything when Sturgeon pays you just the same to not build it? Why be more productive when Sturgeon pays you more to drive empty trains than full ones?
There isn’t anyone in the Scottish Parliament at present who favours any policy that would actually lead to wealth creation. There isn’t one of them who wants to spend less, tax less and work harder. Not one of them wants to get rid of regulations that hinder business or lower tariffs so we can trade more freely. But if no one in Scotland is in favour of the free market policies that might actually lead to wealth creation how do they expect with such people in it that their Brave new Scotland would be wealthier?
With modern monetary theory paying us all to sit at home shooting up Buckfast the only people making any money would be the monks.
The excellent Effie Deans writes at Lily of St. Leonard’s here.