One of the on-going irritations of the Scottish independence debate is the claim by Yes campaigners that their cause is progressive whereas the No side is suffocatingly conservative.
Against this, it seems to me that there is no progressive cause that would be helped by Scotland becoming independent. Further, the majority of the Yes side, for all their rhetoric, seem uninterested in policies that could change Scotland in any way whatsoever.
A reasonable estimate given currency issues and projected oil prices is that independence would lop around four to five billion pounds off the Scottish Government’s budget. Anyone who is minded to vote Yes in order to promote spending on health/education/benefits is deluding himself.
The SNP in government have proven themselves averse to any policy that will significantly alter Scottish society. Judging by Scotland’s Future, this seems unlikely to change following independence. The document contains various small sweeteners like expanding childcare and reversing the bedroom tax. It’s hardly a recipe for a bold new direction for Scotland.
To make matters worse they have now managed to largely implement both of these policies within the existing constitutional settlement. In policy terms, why do the SNP now want independence?
Obviously, the people of an independent Scotland could elect any government they like. If Scots are minded to support a more radical regime than the one provided by the SNP there is nothing to stop them voting for one. The problem with this is that poll after poll shows that Scottish political attitudes are reasonably similar to the rest of the UK population. The conservatism of the SNP is popular.
For people who are interested in progressive politics, cutting Scotland off from the rest of the UK won’t make the task of changing attitudes any easier. At least within the Union we’ll have more money to play with.
Nationalists support an independent Scotland for its own sake. For anyone who is uninterested in nation states, as the Left in Britain historically has been, there is no reason to get involved with their campaign.