Tuesday 9 January 2024

When do I get my £10,000?


It doesn’t much matter whether the General Election is in May or November or even as late as next January. The result has probably already been decided. Rishi Sunak ought to have been a better Prime Minister than he has been. He is intelligent and highly educated and has experience of business at the highest level. But it hasn’t worked. I’m not sure anything would have worked. The country is in a mood for change. The Conservatives have been blamed for lockdown, for scandal and for going through three Prime Ministers in five years. What could change that judgement this year?

Worse it’s naturally Conservative voters who are sick of the Conservatives too. Some of these voters may choose a party like Reform, but while such a party can certainly harm still further the Conservatives chances it won’t win a seat and certainly won’t win a seat in Scotland.

It ought to be so simple for the Conservative Party. Gradually shrink the size of the state, reform public services, lower taxes, encourage business and trade and obtain growth. But no, the party is too full of centrists to even attempt Conservatism and so will not only lose its own supporters but everyone else too.

If the SNP really wanted Scotland to better resemble Denmark and Norway it would have to do something similar.

It is ridiculous to suppose that the mere act of becoming an independent state changes anything economically. Some European small states are wealthier than Scotland at present, some are poorer. They are what they are as a result of their culture, their history and the economic choices of successive governments. If Scots had invented Amazon, Google and Microsoft we would doubtless be wealthier than we are, but we didn’t partly because it is Scottish culture to punish people who create wealth with higher taxes. We prefer our successful people to work in the professions or the public sector and rather sneer at those involved in trade.

The argument that Scotland would be wealthier if it was a small state like Denmark can not merely be countered by pointing out that we might equally become a small state like Slovakia or Portugal. Being in Northeast Europe doesn’t automatically give you money, not unless you think there is something about being Germanic that gives you an inherent advantage over southern Europeans and Slavs.

But anyway, the converse argument can equally be made. Take a US state of approximately five million people like Minnesota or South Carolina. Such a state will likewise be better off than Scotland. Does that mean Scotland should join the USA?

There are any number of places like California and Bavaria that are doing better than most countries, which looks awfully like an argument for uniting places into a larger whole. Alternatively, there are any number of tiny states that do better than Scotland, which would suggest that Shetland would be better off if it became the Faroe Islands or Skye became an economy like Macau.

This rapidly becomes a very stupid argument indeed. Anywhere potentially can become wealthier. How do you do that? By economic growth. So why doesn’t the SNP argue that Scotland should become like the European countries with the highest growth rate? Well, that would be

Montenegro 4.5%
Turkey 4%
Malta 3.8%
Albania 3.6%

This is the problem for the SNP. Scotland is already a developed country, and our economy is closely integrated with the other parts of the UK. To obtain high growth rate we would have to do something different from merely becoming independent, we would have to cut public spending and lower taxes. We would have to make more Scots work and work harder, by for instance making it more diffiult for people to live on benefits indefinitely. But it is precisely these sorts of things that the SNP doesn’t want to do. Instead, it does the opposite.

But then how does the SNP suppose it will make Scotland wealthier. It might hope to find a gold mine under the Cairngorms, but I don’t see how otherwise it could achieve growth by increasing public spending and raising taxes. No country has become wealthier by doing that. It’s more likely to lead to recession.

The only way for Scotland to sensibly become an independent state is to by making itself cease to be dependent on money from the Treasury. The SNP admits that its budget depends on what the UK Chancellor does because of the Barnett formula. Tax cuts in the UK can mean tax rises in Scotland. Well, the first stage on the path to independence is no longer to need money from the UK Treasury. At that point Scotland might actually be ready to start to become Denmark. But then why has the SNP made no progress since 2007? Doesn’t it actually want Scotland to be independent?

If the SNP could grow the Scottish economy to the extent that it made a profit, it might then be possible to argue that one day it might be like Denmark. But at the moment Scotland isn’t remotely like Denmark. I studied in Copenhagen where I learned the language. The culture and the history are quite different to here. Only someone who is ignorant of the real nature of Scandinavia thinks that it can be copied. You cannot clone countries. As if Scotland were Dolly the sheep.

I have the sense that the SNP has become desperate, and it is similar to the desperation of Rishi Sunak. He will wait for something to turn up, but it’s already too late the Conservatives have been in power since 2011.

The same applies to the SNP. It has been in power since 2007. If you didn’t get your £10,000 yet, but instead find yourself paying higher taxes for worse services, whose fault, is it?

Either the SNP has no power in which case why vote for it? or it is to blame in which case why vote for it?

Oh, but if only we were independent, we’d be like Denmark? Really do you think the Danes became wealthy by saying if only we had oil we’d be like Saudi Arabia. It’s precisely this sort of lazy thinking that believes wealth is dished up without any more effort than putting a cross on a ballot paper that keeps Scotland poorer. If you think that the streets of Copenhagen are paved with gold and Danes just have to reach down to get £10,000 when they want it, you should visit and discover they don’t think that way. That’s why they are different from Scottish nationalists.

The real desperation for the SNP I think however is this. It would have been far better politically if last year’s issue with camping had been resolved one way or another. Voters have short memories. But instead for reasons that may or may not be murky, it is liable to burst out in the middle of a campaign and even if it doesn’t the SNP cannot really move on. No one knows why Sturgeon resigned and for that reason it continues to smell like a decomposing Dolly the sheep.

The SNP cannot get rid of Humza Yousaf until he loses badly enough meanwhile, he waits likewise for something to turn up. But it’s rather less likely to be £10,000 for every Scot than another high-end rich person’s motor vehicle that landed here from nowhere because we wanted to be rich like Denmark.

But Danes rely on hard work to get rich rather than motor vehicles from Heaven.

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