Localism will Save the Union

Localism will Save the Union

Following the Scottish Parliament election in May of this year, the question of independence has once again come to the forefront of Scottish politics. Beyond the borders of Scotland and occasionally within them, Scottish independence is often framed as a conflict of identity; of the Scottish existing in opposition to the English. In large part, a mischaracterisation of the reasons behind the independence movement of Scotland and ignores the fact that people’s concerns are primarily economic.

The desire for Scottish independence has arisen mainly due to the Conservative government of the 1980s overseeing the dismantling of Scotland’s industry, as was done in Wales and the North of England at the same time. Some will argue that industry was on its way out in Britain. While it’s certainly true that Britain’s industry wasn’t in the best of shape by the 1980s, the policies of the Thatcher administration sought to fully deindustrialise the country rather than attempt to help the ailing industrial sector.

Following this, Scotland’s economy has declined quite dramatically, and though it is in a far better place than it was twenty years previous, it’s nowhere near satisfactory. Unemployment is a substantial factor, but an even more significant problem is poor-quality jobs and underemployment. The service industry and retail have replaced more meaningful and impactful industrial professions. The retail sector employs a staggering 13% of the private sector workforce, with the majority of these jobs being poorly paid and lacking any significant contribution to the community. These poor-quality jobs are one of many ailments afflicting Scottish and Western society, contributing to the ever-increasing mental health crisis and endemic use of drugs in Scotland. 
It’s little wonder, then, that the people of Scotland are dissatisfied by the economic system imposed on them in these last four decades. The SNP certainly offers an appealing alternative to policies thrust onto Scotland by those who do not live there, even if this alternative isn’t a particularly spectacular one. The SNP’s economic agenda differs from Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and the Conservatives in only minor ways; the people of Scotland are aware of this, and the electoral success of the Scottish Greens shows that there is a substantial appetite for policies that offer significant change to the status quo.

Devolution has been a substantial success for Scotland despite the SNP’s lack of vision, however. Policies which deal with Scotland’s local problems have been largely successful, owing to the Scottish Government being more able to focus on the issues that affect Scotland in particular. It is far easier to legislate useful policies for five million people than it is for seventy million, after all.

With all of these things in mind, it is largely unthinkable for Scotland to remain a part of a Britain unwilling to change its political and economic systems radically. The success of Scottish and Welsh devolution for tackling local issues has only further demonstrated the necessity for decentralised government throughout Britain. If Scotland’s five million have a devolved government, why shouldn’t Yorkshire’s five million likewise have their own?

This is to say that there is no future for the union without the implementation of Localist policies. Any person strongly in favour of the union should also be firmly in favour of Localist policies. Britain can only be as strong as its constituent nations, regions, cities, towns, and villages are. Britain’s current economic and governmental policies are conducive to weakening these subdivisions and further weakening Britain as a result.

Localism will Save the Union
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