Independence: A generation is too long to wait for its ‘rewards’ – John McLellan

Thirty years is too long to wait for a vague promise that independence will transform Scotland, writes John McLellan.

Thursday, 1st October 2020, 12:30 pm
Sustainable Growth Commission chair Andrew Wilson outside the Scottish Parliament with its report. (Picture: Gordon Terris/The Herald/PA Wire
Sustainable Growth Commission chair Andrew Wilson outside the Scottish Parliament with its report. (Picture: Gordon Terris/The Herald/PA Wire

There is nothing more important than independence, we were told by the city’s housing convener, although apparently those of us not members of the SNP’s Edinburgh East branch weren’t supposed to be listening.

But rather than me analyse what this means, let’s instead turn to Andrew Wilson, former MSP, ex-RBS economist, lobbyist, SNP Growth Commission chair and a close associate of the First Minister.

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“Transformation in productivity will take a generation to reap its full reward,” he wrote in last weekend’s Sunday Times. Although the SNP’s definition of a generation is as little as six years, most people would agree on 30, which is a long time to wait to see if he’s right.

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Mr Wilson estimates it would take two years to set up all the machinery of government, which seems somewhat optimistic when it takes the council more than two years to perform the simplest change, but what does he say it would involve?

“The SNP. . . accepts our responsibilities and obligations to the people of the rest of the UK,” he wrote, identifying the UK Government has about £2.5 trillion more liabilities than assets. “The key negotiating point is not what Scotland can get from the assets of the UK, but rather what liabilities Scotland will agree to shoulder.

“The SNP approach is to assume responsibility for all our pension liabilities and to agree an annual solidarity payment from Scotland to the UK. This would contain a yet to be agreed share of debt interest charges.”

He ends with all the usual over-the-rainbow stuff about transformational benefits, but I doubt the people of Lochend, Restalrig and Craigmillar have a 30-year wait for a vague promise to be honoured in mind. Still, there is nothing more important than independence.

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