Meanwhile Westminster Sits on its Hands
Whether it’s paralysed by Brexit conflicts, scandals or fighting, Westminster has proven itself incapable of delivering for people and communities, especially in Scotland. It is a creaking, outdated parliament, trapped inside its own bubble, which isolates it from the priorities of the people it is supposed to serve.
And as the cost-of-living crisis has spiralled, both the UK government and the so-called Labour ‘opposition’, have only been selfishly focused on their own electoral prospects.
Contrast that with the Scottish Parliament – delivering sweeping economic and social change since its inception, it is a fresher and more ambitious institution that seeks to connect itself with the people it represents.
Imagine what momentous change that parliament could deliver with the powers Westminster refuses to devolve. While Scotland’s people are ignored by London politicians in the Westminster bubble, the cost-of-living crisis worsens and the fiscal levers at the UK’s disposal remain neglected and unused.
The Scottish Parliament has already proven to voters in Scotland that its ambition and efficiency is head and shoulders above that of Westminster. But with the powers of an independent country, it could deliver so much more
Social Security Powers
Since 2010, the Tories have wreaked havoc on the UK’s social security support systems.
Support payments have been merged or abolished. The benefits system has been replaced with the infamous Universal Credit, a framework designed by the Tories to remove any trace of compassion and care. As a result of Westminster’s callous and calculated plans, more families are in poverty, homelessness has skyrocketed and services have been cut to the bone. Those in need of state support have been denigrated and demonised, while the Tories have wasted money on dead end schemes and corrupt contracts.
This ideological cruelty has not only made the poor even poorer, it has suppressed economic growth and left swathes of the population vulnerable to the Tories’ cost-of-living crisis. Parents forced to choose between heating their homes or putting food on the table.
And instead of providing families with hope, Labour have hung them out to dry. Keir Starmer’s increasingly right-wing, pro-Brexit party has refused to abolish the toxic two-child cap, the abhorrent rape clause and even the bedroom tax. They offer nothing but more of the same.
It doesn’t have to be this way. An independent Scotland would have the full levers of the welfare state at its disposal, using social security support to actually lift people out of poverty and disadvantage, and back into well-paying work and decent housing.
This isn’t just the right thing to do – it boosts productivity and contributes to a stronger Scottish economy.
The benefits currently administered by the Scottish Government are fairer and better than those reserved to Westminster, with a focus on improving lives rather than punishing the poor. With full powers over social protection and income support, we could do so much.
Taxation & Fiscal Autonomy
The UK’s withered tax system rewards the ultra-rich and persecutes hard-working voters. It has seen few major changes since Margaret Thatcher’s crusade to turn the UK from a compassionate society to one driven by competition, individualism and self-interest.
Even in 13 years of power, Blair and Brown failed to make the tax system properly progressive. And Keir Starmer’s Labour offer no alternative, recently ditching their pledges to raise income tax for the top 5% of earners and introduce a wealth tax.
With full powers over tax, the Scottish Parliament would not need Westminster’s consent to introduce new revenue-raising ideas currently ignored by Westminster.
Scotland would be able to make our tax system fairer and more sustainable, ditching the Tories’ economic orthodoxy, that is harming economic growth, and to which Labour are now fully subscribed.
But with the Westminster cost-of-living crisis set to stretch on into the future, its vital that those fiscal levers are at Scotland’s disposal as soon as possible. Westminster has already legislated for corporation tax to be devolved to Northern Ireland, but hoards these powers when it comes to delivering for voters in Scotland.
Scots have been neglected for far too long by this creaking, incompetent parliament – it’s time for Scotland to take control of its fiscal powers to offer hope and ambition, where Westminster can offer only failure.
Scotland’s unique, diverse economy is being utterly failed by Westminster’s hard Brexit and the ideological rejection of immigration that permeates the UK establishment.
Immigrants from Europe and around the world make a positive contribution in Scotland, supporting our economy and making a difference. From healthcare to hospitality, they play a vital role in Scotland’s past, present and future.
Refusing to devolve powers over immigration and citizenship, Westminster has neglected the contribution immigrants make in Scotland and the dreadful impact of the Tories’ Brexit has left our economy reeling.
The Scottish Government is doing all it can within the narrow confines of devolution, supporting businesses and fostering growth. But Brexit casts a long shadow.
It’s clear that Westminster’s aversion to an economy that respects the contributions of immigrants is not going to change. Scotland is a tolerant, welcoming country. But to ensure our new Scots are respected and our economy is productive, we have to escape the shackles of Westminster for good.
Scotland is already missing out on Europe’s enhancement of workers’ rights thanks to Westminster’s hard Brexit.
And this is the same Westminster that ensures the UK’s sick pay is one of the worst in Europe.
Workers have been subjected to years of neglect by the Tories, while Starmer’s Labour offer no difference. The Labour Party, now lurching to the right and embracing Brexit, has ditched all of its commitments to enhancing workers’ rights, consigning yet more policies to the dust while they chase votes on the hard right.
Recent figures show that 109,000 people in Scotland are trapped on “exploitative” zero-hour contracts, a travesty that the Scottish Government would immediately move to fix – if it had the powers.
Refusing to devolve employment law while simultaneously doing nothing to help Scotland’s workers amounts to deliberately failing them – all to make a petty political point.
Labour have refused to even consider giving the Scottish Parliament employment powers if they win the next election, making them just as bad as the Tories.
Workers will always be denied a fair deal by Westminster, a parliament in the pocket of big companies, chief executives and city bankers. With the full powers of independence, the Scottish Government could – and would – go above and beyond for Scotland’s workers.
For real change, Scotland needs independence
Westminster may be determined to ignore voters in Scotland – but this ramshackle, redundant parliament can’t ignore Scotland forever.
With independence, Scotland could build a better, brighter future, with a competent and ambitious parliament striving to succeed where for decades, Westminster has utterly failed.
Independence would offer real change, a chance to unleash the potential for our economy and raise the living standards of every family in Scotland. Labour and the Conservatives are now one and the same, agreeing on everything from Brexit to the economy to their anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Keir Starmer is even matching Rishi Sunak in his pursuit of refugees, promising to ‘stop the boats’. Labour is indistinguishable from the Tories, a fact that will only get clearer as Labour u-turn on more of their policies.
Scotland need not choose between the same toxic, tired, Thatcherite views of the two Westminster parties.
They will both only fail Scotland again and again, as they’ve done for decades. That’s why we need independence. Now, more than ever.