Alex Salmond was doing the rounds this weekend, talking about the inevitability of a Labour minority propped up by the SNP as the government post-May 7th, and hinting around what that would entail. That’s his wont, and I wouldn’t expect him to be doing anything else at this stage of the election cycle, the zombie leader of the Nats talking up his side’s chances. But I do hate the way he throws around the word “progressive”, particularly when nationalism so often stands in the way of progressive politics, even as defined by Salmond himself.
Take the way those who are broadly supportive of the SNP in Scotland but are not SNP politicians themselves (politicians watch what they say very carefully) talk about Britain. The academics, the journalists, the hangers-on. One thing you often hear about from these types is about how Britain is becoming like America, in that it has two very desirable parts of the country with a bunch of “fly-over” bits in the middle. In their analogy, Scotland is like one coast, London the other, with the rest of the country a sort of avoid it if you can hell pit.
That’s the way the Scottish nationalists see Britain: most of England outside of London is poor and knackered, and they don’t really give a toss. Given they’re nationalists and only care about their fellow Scots, the English poor may be someone’s problem – but they sure aren’t theirs.
By extension, any arrangement involving the SNP and Labour at Westminster would almost certainly hurt the English poor foremost. All of Salmond’s demands would obviously be concessions to Scotland at the expense of England; Labour would struggle, while trying to balance the budget, to really help the English regions in any meaningful way with Salmond standing in the way. Now, you could say that the Tories don’t care much about the English poor either. But then all you’re saying there is that the socio-economically deprived amongst the English should cosy up to UKIP even more as having a Tory government versus a Labour-SNP deal will effectively make no difference: they get screwed either way.
Salmond and the SNP can do what they like, it’s a free country. I just wish the Left would stop doting on them as progressive heroes in waiting. Take Natalie Bennett, talking about wanting a “progressive alliance” with the SNP. Just as UKIP don’t care about the poor of southern Europe, the SNP don’t care about the English poor. Nationalism stands in the way of any such feeling. All of things the Left supposedly wants to achieve in this country, the Nats want to tear down. Including, come to think of it, the very concept of that country itself.
David MacLean says
So in short your entire argument is SNP want Scottish Independence ergo they only care about the people of Scotland? So why would the Scottish Government have a foreign aid program to assist international development in Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia, Tanzania, Sudan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India? Or send humanitarian aid to Syria, the Philippines and Gaza? Insular nationalists? Aye right.
There are plenty of other arguments to be made that the SNP is not a progressive force (see policies on corporation tax and passenger air duty) but surprisingly I don’t see any of them here. Instead you seem content to display your ignorance of Scottish politics through your inability to distinguish between ethnic and civic nationalism. Poor journalism – you can do better.
This article is like a doughnut. Deep-fried, sugary rubbish around a big, empty hole. Why would policies which would benefit the poor in Scotland not also benefit the poor elsewhere in the UK? You don’t cite evidence, just make a sweeping, unsubstantiated generalisation based on how, “the Scottish nationalists see Britain”.
Take this month’s Industrial Communities Alliance’s (ICA) Report, “Whose Recovery”, as an example and its definition of “Old Industrial Britain”, which includes parts of Scotland as well as Northern England and Wales. Why wouldn’t policies targeted at specific issues in “old industrial” areas work as well in England & Wales as they might in Scotland. You say nothing about this – presumably because, in your rush to hammer out your next lazy stereotype, you haven’t actually bothered to do any thinking about this issue at all.
Surely the point is that, whilst there may exist a (or indeed several) policies that would be beneficial if applied to any of the old industrial areas, under an SNP supported government these policies (which I assume have significant cost) would be disproportionately targeted at areas in Scotland. There is nothing wrong with that, after all the SNP is a party which, as far as I understand it, is there to increase the welfare of the Scottish people.
Given UK government’s tend to reduce outgoings in one area if obliged to spend more in another, the claim is simply that this would lead to reduced spending everywhere (including on the english and welsh industrial areas).
I personally think there could be 2 outcomes. In the first, the government figures it can pass off this ‘industrial area spending’ as being UK wide in it’s rhetoric (in the budget, Ed Balls gets to say we spent x million revitalising old industrial areas). Therefore the government decides to spend less on regional investment in England and instead spends it on other vote winning policies.
The second, is that if these policies were very successful, then the government might be inspired to apply them everywhere else – with Scotland having performed the role of a kind of economic experiment. I think this is unlikely, and is conditional on them actually working, but it would be nice
Now, on the other hand if you are suggesting that the SNP is going to insist as it’s ‘quid pro quo’ that the government allocates more funding to all industrial areas rather than just Scottish one’s, then you are correct. But it would be the first time I understood that to be SNP policy.
Steve Peers says
Perhaps less-well-off English people have already figured this out, hence the huge Tory stress on criticism of the Labour/SNP alliance, which must surely be based on the results of voters’ focus groups.
I no longer have to contort my body when I get
up from the couch in order to avoid pain in my right hip.