The Scottish Progressives

The SNP bandwagon rolls on relentlessly sweeping all before it.  Not only are the other parties failing to hold them to account, they would appear to be paralysed – caught in the headlights of the SNP juggernaut.  The inevitable result of the opposition's collapse at Holyrood is that many Scots feel that they no longer have a political party that represents their interests or reflects their beliefs.    

The Scottish Progressives stand for a small state, free-market economy.  In England we already see a move away from state intervention to a slimmed down and more enabling administration.  David Cameron refers to a ‘Big Society’ and he is on the right track.  Robert Owen, the renowned social reformer, said that “society is a machine to enable the individual,” however we have created a society which does just the opposite.  Enabling the individual leads to personal independence and self-reliance, something which could deliver a great deal more for Scotland than a messy and expensive divorce.

We are on a steep downward economic spiral and standards in our education and health services are falling.  Vanity projects such as trams cast doubt on our intelligence, obstacles to enterprise abound and the unscientific and unsustainable rush into so called "renewable energy" is causing enormous damage.  Hardly surprising then that Scotland is no longer regarded as a choice destination or even a good place to do business. A significant number of companies have already moved out, our children are emigrating and the added uncertainty of an independence referendum is not helping matters.  

Politicians have become overly fond of ambiguous language and playing safe. However, we must all accept that unpleasant events now lie ahead and have the courage to meet them head on.  Radical policies will be needed as the entrenched positions of all the Holyrood parties are outdated, dismal and unaffordable.

Despite the current focus on independence, it will be the economy that will dominate politics for years to come.  We are borrowing more than we can possibly afford in a futile attempt to prop up a broken system. Some already understand this but many more will soon realise that change is inevitable.

Scottish Progressives offer the following:

  1. Reform of the Devolution Settlement so that the roles of MPs and MSPs are combined.  It is patently wrong that democratically elected representatives cannot represent their constituents in both parliaments.  It is also confusing, inefficient and unaffordable.  All Scottish MSPs to share their time between the two parliaments.  Debating UK wide issues at Westminster and devolved issues at Holyrood, Scottish MPs would not vote on English issues.  This long overdue measure would increase the status of Holyrood and offer a much better option than going it alone.
  2. Public spending returned to affordable levels starting with overpaid officials and superfluous consultants.  The public sector has grown beyond need, reason or affordability and ways must be found to re-engage the electorate in an active civil society. This works in other countries and it used to work in Scotland as well.  Paying councillors simply created fiefdoms of incompetence saddled with a 'them and us' culture.  We propose replacing bureaucrats with enthusiastic stakeholder co-operatives working together for the common good.  
  3. Scottish Enterprise would be scrapped and replaced with an export office. Such agencies skew the market and are recognised targets for professional story-tellers. The proven, and indeed the only, route to a healthier economy, higher employment and more exports is through better education, less regulation, improved transport links and self-sustaining enterprise.
  4. Education; the state's monopoly on funding would be scrapped and funding would be made available to all qualified organisations.  State schools would remain, possibly as mutuals, competing on a level playing field with the private sector and to internationally recognised standards.
  5. The NHS in Scotland would be paid for treatment delivered rather than by block grant thus allowing it to work for patients rather than politicians. This would be facilitated by giving everyone state funded medical insurance. Allowing healthcare providers to compete would drive up standards and reduce costs. The NHS is well placed to complement and compete with the private sector and could, in time, be transformed into a Mutual Health Service.  Helpfully a blueprint for this has already been drawn up.
  6. The burgeoning renewable energy bandwagon is one of the biggest scams ever to be inflicted on the Scottish nation, it is a mirage. Not only is it hugely wasteful to spend money on old technology but in so doing we restrict funding for new technology and weaken other sectors.  A recent report by Verso Economics established that creating one Green job costs three jobs elsewhere.  It also places renewable energy workers in jeopardy as their jobs are wholly reliant on subsidy.  An immediate moratorium would be placed on public subsidy for renewables and carbon pricing would be reduced to international levels to maintain our ability to compete.  SNP targets for renewable energy will doubtless come to haunt them and us.  The first wave power patent was filed in 1799 but we still await a viable machine. Wind turbines cannot function without subsidies and have a maximum service life of only twenty years. There are already 14,000 abandoned wind turbines in the USA.  There can therefore be no justification for massive capital projects such as the new Beauly to Denny high voltage line costing some £600m.
  7. Our version of the Big Society is one of a more engaged society.  Scottish Progressives believe that empowering the individual offers an attractive and viable alternative to barren austerity.

These ideas are indeed radical, however the status quo – high taxes and borrowing being squandered on a huge public sector – has been tested to destruction.  More of the same will destroy any possibility of a recovery and ruin many more young lives. Some 300 young Scots are already being forced to leave every week to seek employment overseas, how much longer can we wait?

We are Scottish party offering visionary policies which none of the other parties would dare put on their manifesto.  However, what the other parties either do not realise or refuse to accept is that the system we have is no longer fit for purpose. Scotland is currently borrowing some £250 million each week to prop up a broken system.  Architecturally, Edinburgh is often referred to as the ‘Athens of the North’ but we now risk copying it in economic terms as well.  The economic crisis has created a need for reform but it has created an appetite to match.  The bar could hardly be lower, there are obvious improvements within easy reach and obstacles to reform will quickly disappear as the recession deepens and reality dawns.  

The policies outlined here are aimed at the heart of our current crisis and every one of them will draw an instinctive and vitriolic reaction from the usual suspects.  However, any sensible electorate will welcome reforms that it can understand and see a need for.   Scotland needs a bold and inspirational vision for the future and it needs it now, not at some dim and distant point in time.  

Scottish Progressives support workers co-ops;

Throughout the Western hemisphere there is growing financial and societal unrest.  The model we have no longer works and we are coming a poor second to emerging economies and dictatorships.  Socialism never has worked but strident Capitalism and Monetarism bring their own problems. What can work however is community led ventures and increased local autonomy.  The best way forward for education and healthcare may actually be mutualisation rather than privatisation.  Workers perform better and achieve greater job satisfaction as stakeholders.  Workers’ co-operatives have an excellent track record around the world and could provide a practical solution to some of our most intractable problems.  The Labour party made its own commitment to mutualise public services in March 2010 so what are we waiting for?

 2012 is the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives