IN the last few Open Minds articles we have presented evidence on how the UK Government loaded Scotland’s accounts with debt spending that Scotland did not benefit from. We showed that smaller, more agile independent nations almost universally outperform the UK across all economic measures and therefore outperform Scotland’s economy as part of the UK to the tune of many billions a year.
These facts negatively impact Scotland’s accounts (GERS), which we are told demonstrates that Scotland can’t afford independence. In fact, any reasonable analysis leads us to believe that Scotland can’t afford to stay in the Union.
Now that those hard economic facts are established we have to ask ourselves what would we do differently, what sort of country do we want to live in and what could our economy and sociality look like if were to design it around the values, hopes and dreams of the people of Scotland rather than the needs of the city of London? This is the key question for anyone thinking about how to vote in the next referendum on Scotland’s future.
The global health crisis has changed everything. People have come to realise we cannot continue with the old failed way of managing our economy. The system championed by Westminster is creating huge inequalities, reducing social mobility, trapping families and pensioners in a cycle of poverty, keeping wages low while prices rise and negatively impacting climate change.
If we have learned anything from the banking crisis, Brexit and Covid-19 it’s that our economic system and our way of organising society is unsustainable and needs to be reset to focus on the wellbeing of the people, society, the economy and the environment. We need to move away from the concentration on the wealth of nations and focus on the wellbeing of nations. Believe in Scotland is leading the thinking on this and is developing a Manifesto for Wellbeing.
In our first Open Minds article, we shared the hopes, dreams and aspirations of a selection of our members stating why they believed in Scotland. It was visionary and heartfelt. We want our vision for Scotland to be just as visionary.
READ MORE: Open Minds on Independence #1: 21 reasons to Believe in Scotland
We looked at nations around the world that were talking about pivoting to wellbeing: Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, New Zealand and even Scotland and Wales. None had fully developed ideas but all had suggestions to pick and choose from. We created a wellbeing policy framework, polled 1000 voters living in Scotland and found there was majority support – mostly more than 75% – for each of the policy positions in our manifesto.
Based on the December 2019 General Election results, you might expect Labour, Green and SNP voters to agree with these statements. LibDem voters also agreed with them, albeit to a lesser degree. But would you be surprised to find that Conservative voters also agreed with all of the principles and even came out top on one of the key values? Have a read below and ask yourself: wouldn’t you like to live in a country with a social/economic/environmental policy framework based on this set of values? Wouldn’t you like to be able to vote to create such a nation?
Believe in Scotland’s Manifesto for Wellbeing
- Quality of life, equality, fairness, happiness, and health are all economic outcomes that should be given equal weight to economic growth.
- The focus of the economy should be to serve the needs of the people and society more than the needs of big business and finance.
- To be able to live with dignity while experiencing wellbeing and security should be a basic human right and not something that comes only with wealth.
- You cannot have a thriving economy without a thriving society and you cannot have a thriving society without a thriving economy.
- Austerity has failed, slowed economic growth, harmed people and society, and made the country more susceptible to economic and health crises.
- Post coronavirus, our economic policies need to be re-engineered to generate higher levels of equality in health, wealth, wellbeing and access to opportunity.
- If we build society and our economy more successfully after coronavirus, we can create a new economic approach that will allow both our economy and our society to thrive and be more resilient in the face of economic crises.
- The nature of work is changing and we need to invest more heavily in innovation, encouraging better business practices and preparing for the future of work.
- Education is an investment in our children and young people and should be free and open to everyone.
- Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. Greater government investment in creativity and innovation is needed to help them grow and create better quality jobs.
- Government expenditure on welfare and health is higher due to the inequalities in the current economic system and a wellbeing approach would reduce those costs.
- Economic success being more equally shared amongst society would result in better growth.
- Greater access to personal development opportunities for all will increase social mobility and benefit the economy in the long-term.
- Ending poverty, inequality and unfairness, while increasing minimum wage and job security will boost the economy.
- People need to feel more secure in their livelihoods. A universal basic income for every adult citizen would provide that security and end in-work and pensioner poverty.
- Decision making should be less centralised to give people a greater democratic voice in local issues.
- We need to reduce our economy’s carbon outputs and waste, make transport more sustainable and make recycling and repairing far more prominent.
Independence is a normal state of affairs for a country. With all the powers of a normal independent nation, we can create a more prosperous, fairer, greener, happier and healthier nation.
Scotland is for the people of Scotland, but not just those who were born here or who currently live here. Scotland can be reborn in our newest Scots.
20. Scotland’s civic nationalism defines us as a people. It’s inclusive, internationally-focused and welcoming. It rejects exceptionalism. We are not “better” than anyone else by virtue of being Scottish. We simply want the chance to use independence to create a nation that reflects our political, economic, environmental and social values and thus enhances our nation’s wellbeing in ways that cannot be achieved without nation status.
This is just a snapshot, an exclusive preview for Open Minds readers of our emerging values position. The Manifesto for Wellbeing is work in progress. If you decide to support independence you become one of the people doing that work.
Of course we can’t guarantee all this will happen immediately with independence. We can, however, guarantee it will not happen at all if we don’t become independent. We do know that elements of the Manifesto for Wellbeing will form part of the case for independence put forward by the main independence supporting parties. Believe in Scotland will keep campaigning after independence to make sure that all these values and ambitions are incorporated into the foundations of our new nation. It’s time to press reset – it’s time to believe in Scotland.