I’ve been somewhat sceptical as to some of the overtures being made toward the Nordic countries by the SNP, though their engaging with the prospect of a Nordic Scotland keeps them a step ahead of the Labour party who ideologically might be the expected natural proponents of such a project. The leadership of the SNP itself remains coy about the big scary tax word which overshadows the Nordic debate – a colleague of mine remarked that every single debate and panel discussion they have been involved in on Nordic economy has inevitably ended with the depressing assertion that you’d never get people to agree to even minor tax increases.
It is then particularly welcome that a group of academics, not Holyrood researchers, have come up with a blueprint for taking Scotland to a new developmental level which it could never possibly achieve under existing Labour, Conservative or SNP policy. The basics are reported here in the Herald, and some of the central pillars of Nordic economy and welfarism have been covered here on Better Nation.
It presents a rather interesting challenge to the constitutional referendum, in that it is a vision for Scotland which has not been directly produced by the Scottish National Party. The usual tendency is for any government or party-produced document to be dismissed as selective propaganda, and often with good reason. You’ll struggle to find a government policy primer in either Westminster or Edinburgh that would hold up to some critical peer review.
What the SNP need to get used to is the idea that Yes Scotland is not a vehicle for SNP policy but for the harnessing of a national appetite for change and innovation. It has improved considerably from when it was first conceived and is starting to find its own voice, which can only be a good thing and which will help to dismantle the myth that an autonomous parliament in Edinburgh is the sole intellectual property of the skirts and suits in the Holyrood tower. The job of the SNP is, after all, to govern the country well with the powers they have. It is up to people to decide what the country could and should look like in the future. A non-governmental vision for an independent state is exactly the kind of thing needed to articulate the opportunity afforded by a small state with a robust and transparent democratic process.