In the build-up to the 2014 independence referendum the SNP issued every home in Scotland with a fake newspaper. The nationalists were not silly enough to put Alex Salmond on the cover, but what was there alongside a quote from Nicola Sturgeon saying the referendum would be “a once in a lifetime opportunity” was a claim that every Scot would be due a “£600 Indy Bonus” if we voted Yes.
Of course, this claim was cobblers as no independent expert was willing to say we’d be wealthier if Scotland left the UK. Although it was always clear to me that we’d be poorer with independence, like many others, I’d have been much more likely to consider voting Yes if the SNP had been honest about Scotland’s finances.
In the intervening time much has happened. The oil price crashed. The UK voted for Brexit. The SNP’s record in Government caught up with them. Rather than deal with these issues, the nationalists have put independence back on the agenda.
This week the SNP published their “Sustainable Growth Commission” report to restart the divisive independence debate. It is important to note that this is a report for the SNP, written by people who support the SNP with the aim of telling Nicola Sturgeon exactly what she wants to hear. Nonetheless, despite making a range of optimistic assumptions and allowing people to conclude we’d all be better off by £4,100, the report concedes that independence would come with at least 10 years of cuts and over that period we’d let the rest of the UK set our interest rates. Is this really a surprise to anyone?
What’s now clear is that independence won’t deliver the real change many people who voted yes wanted. The Commission’s report does make it clear that there is much that can be done with Scotland’s existing powers if the SNP had the courage to use then. Indeed, we already have the economic and welfare powers needed to tackle in equality in Scotland. The only thing that is stopping us is a timid government obsessed with our constitution, not our people.