Why We Need The Progressives

Once at the forefront of Scottish politics, the Scottish Progressives are re-forming to offer a long overdue alternative to the mindless socialism that has wreaked such havoc in Scotland.

Progressives believe in small government, individual liberty and free enterprise.  We also believe that it is the duty of government to ensure that education and healthcare are freely available and fit for purpose and that outcomes are not limited or determined by the ability to pay.

The Progressive tradition goes back a long time. The Scottish Progressives first appeared in 1928 to counter the growing threat from socialism that accompanied the rise of the Labour party in major towns and cities. They dominated Scottish local politics for almost fifty years and as late as 1972 Edinburgh still had 21 Progressive councillors.  As the mainstream parties increasingly entered local politics, the role of the Progressives diminished.

Yet again, our political parties have become incapable of effective administration or responsible budgets. The SNP, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives are now just as locked in to unaffordable public spending as Labour and the National Debt has doubled under the Coalition.  High taxes, poor services, huge debts and petty regulations now dominate our daily lives. We also have a two tier society where many are left behind and young people struggle to get a decent start in life.  We have a growing underclass, we are failing to keep up with the rest of the developed world and we are well on the way to leaving our children and grandchildren with a crippling level of debt.   

Whatever Scotland needs, it certainly is not getting divorced from the rest of the United Kingdom. If you were to put the same questions on education, housing, healthcare and tax to people as far apart as Britain and Australia you would get similar answers.  The needs and aspirations of people across the world are broadly similar and there is no sustainable rationale for different parts of our small island to be governed as separate countries.  The issue with Scottish MPs voting on English matters is not that Scots are unintelligent or mightn’t have something constructive to add.  An English MP from Cornwall is no more qualified to vote on an issue at Carlisle than a Scottish MP from Dumfries. The problem arises when they are used as pawns by their political masters.  Scottish Labour MPs have often been used to force through English legislation and the SNP is now intent on using its MPs to further the break-up of the UK in open defiance of the referendum result. 

The most common argument used by independence campaigners was Westminster’s incompetence, a complaint we endorse. However, the ancient and undemocratic Westminster system is now under enormous pressure and major changes are inevitable.  If the House of Commons was more accessible and accountable, then the drive for devolution would probably not have gathered momentum in the first place  The Scottish Progressives are firm believers in localism and the transfer of more power to a local level. Throughout Scotland, town halls, once ably run by stakeholders, stand ready to serve again.  Devolved powers are already extensive and cover the things that most affect our daily lives.  Health, education, transport, enterprise, agriculture, planning and justice are all controlled from Edinburgh. However, instead of using these powers to help matters, the Nationalist government prefers to foment division with the UK

Not only has Holyrood has become a miniature version of Westminster with similar faults, it is heavily over-staffed.  Scotland’s 188 parliamentarians are numerically responsible for only 22,421 voters whereas English MPs are responsible for 72,414. It costs two million pounds every week to run Holyrood, a ridiculous amount that would be far better spent on schools and hospitals.

We therefore propose that the roles of MPs and MSPs are combined and their number set at 73 to match the number of constituencies.  We would then have 73 elected Scottish MPs able to go to Westminster. With appropriate timetabling, they could easily share their time between the two parliaments.  If sufficient power is devolved to a local level then Holyrood’s workload will be slashed in any event. We also support constituent based MP recall and the abolition of parliamentary whipping to shift the balance of power back to the electorate.  

The Scottish Progressives believe that individuals should be free to organise their lives, educate their children and make provision for their healthcare and old age in a manner of their choosing. The primary role of government is the safety and protection of its citizens. It also has a duty to ensure that the young are educated, the sick are healed and the weak are cared for.  We believe that Scotland’s success will not be determined by the location or the mantra of its leaders, but by whether or not these leaders are bold enough to free its people from excessive regulation, crippling taxation and constant meddling.  The vast majority of people want little involvement in politics and will tolerate a great deal to get on with their own lives.  However, if information technology was properly utilised, the electorate could easily play a greater role in in the decision making process.  This would unite people and give them a sense of purpose rather than causing division, as with the referendum. 

The Scottish Progressive party will bring together people from all walks of life who share our ambition to return Scotland to the well-educated, dynamic and prosperous country we once knew.  We shall meet the aspirations of ordinary people, not with meaningless rhetoric or borrowing money, but with far reaching and challenging reforms that the other parties don’t even dare discuss. Free medical insurance for all will protect patients from politicians and improve outcomes. Means tested school vouchers for parents will help close the gap between rich and poor and drive up education standards. Healthcare and education are two of the biggest victims of socialism; rather than national treasures, both are fast becoming a national disgrace. The Scottish Progressives would also put an end to the march of wind turbines across our iconic hillsides. These useless contraptions serve only to transfer cash from the poor to the rich and destabilise our power supply.

Until more of us accept the need for an effort-based civil society prepared to live within its means, it will be beyond the power of any political party to deliver economic, social or personal well-being. At the end of the day, the only people who can deliver success are the ordinary men and women of Scotland.  The Scottish Progressives very much look forward to helping them make that journey.