The economy is likely to be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the coming referendum on Scottish independence. Most commentators and most of the polling evidence seems to point in this direction. So it is a great pleasure to welcome the arrival of another pro-independence website – Wealthy Nation. A double welcome in fact. The choice of name for the website highlights the importance this site will give to the economic side of the debate. It is in part to honour the great Scottish economist Adam Smith and his Wealth of Nations. But mainly it was chosen to emphasize that Scotland is a Wealthy Nation. As they put it themselves, “The second reason for choosing the name Wealthy Nation is that it actually describes the Scotland we live in, with its abundant natural, industrial, financial and human resources. But what we would add is that these resources are not being used to the best advantage of our people. Policies imposed on us from Westminster, and run in the interests of the South East of England, distort our economy and stop it from reaching its full potential.”
This is a view that no-one in the wider Yes campaign would disagree with. Unfortunately it needs to be repeated again and again. For the whole basis of the No campaign is that Scotland is not really a wealthy country. The only hope for the No side is to instil enough fear into the minds of a majority of Scots. Hence the constant barrage of reports on how small and fragile Scotland’s economy is and how risky independence would be. A complete distortion of the facts, but the facts have rarely figured much in the No campaign. Just how ingrained this perception is can be seen in a recent article on Conservative Home, the inhouse magazine of the Tories. The article accepted uncritically claims that Scotland is effectively subsidised by English taxpayers. To the readers of Conservative Home this is accepted as an established fact.
I mentioned the article in Conservative Home because the new Wealthy Nation is a home for people on the right centre of the political spectrum. With their impeccable right of centre credentials, the arguments from Wealthy Nation cannot be dismissed out of hand as the wishy washy ramblings of pinko crypto socialists. So we can only hope that Wealthy Nation finds a warmer welcome from the media than most pro-independence websites.
The other reason to welcome Wealthy Nation to the campaign is precisely because they are from the right of the spectrum. Not where I am to be found, but the campaign for Scottish independence is not the preserve of one political view. The key point of independence is that in future it will be the people who live in Scotland who have the final say on what policies to pursue, and thus what kind of Scotland we will all live in. Only independence opens up the prospect of a different Scotland, one made in Scotland and not one imposed on us from Westminster, and run in the interests of the South East of England.