Jeremy Corbyn got a lot right on his trip to Scotland this week. He was right to attack Theresa May and her Government of attempting to create a bargain basement Britain by cutting corporation tax to the levels of Ireland. At a cost of billions to the Exchequer in the hopes of luring businesses from Europe.
Corbyn was also correct to attack the SNP Government in Scotland on their cuts to Local Authority budgets and their tendering of ScotRail to Dutch Company Abelio despite clear authority through section 23 and 24 to change franchised lines being devolved as a power to the Scottish Government pre this deal.
I have always respected the politics of Jeremy since he was a back bencher. We probably agree on 99% of policy although perhaps disagree on the best avenues sometimes to move forward to achieve this. That’s why I was so confused by his ill thought rhetoric this past week. That independence will lead to ‘turbo austerity.’ Such comments fly in the face of Jeremy’s own economic policy.
Much like Scotland, Jeremy has quite rightly identified that the way to recover the UK economy was to increase government spendng in infrastructure and green energy sectors. To introduce an National Investment Bank, to increase the level of employment with well paid jobs. Corbyn knows that initially this will lead to an increase in debt and the states deficit. But that eventually due to revenue coming in through social housing and an increase in tax revenues and spending power thanks to better paying jobs that the deficit would decrease. Corbyn also plans to rebuild the manufacturing industry and as such would (at least pre brexit) expect the UK balance of trade to increase.
Where Corbyn makes the mistake in Scotland is that he sees the current operations under a UK Government imposing austerity and a devolved Government passing on much of this austerity to Local Authorities and then makes an assumption based on the deficit announced last year of £15bn. So Corbyn’s assumption of turbo austerity is based on figures of Scotland WITHIN the UK with a Tory Government passing on austerity through the block grant and to a certain extent the SNP not using the full powers available to them within the Scottish Parliament. If anything the current deficit for Scotland is a viable reason for independence to allow us to control our full fiscal and monetary policies including industry and employment.
Jeremy also allows himself to fall into that unionist guilty pleasure of aligning an independent Scotland with the SNP. Any future independent Scotland would democratically elect their government giving them a mandate to introduce a far reaching investment in public infrastructure, social housing and green energy. For Corbyn just to accept the SNP vision of independence as the only vision is either ignoring his own economic and political ideology or deliberately ignoring what could be one of the very few solutions to this current crisis.
Nicola Sturgeon is cautious by nature and as such has been disappointing in her role as First Minister. She has had an opportunity to set an example of what independence can do for Scotland. Much like the rest of the UK. Huge infrastructure projects are indeed required. However, Scotland, unlike the rest of the UK would begin from a much stronger position with a trade balance in surplus and incredible untapped resources in the renewable field.
Should Scotland become independent I would hope for a Labour Party to be elected into government to lead these radical changes required. The irony is that Scottish Labour is more akin to New Labour which would go over better down south while Corbyn’s UK Labour would find their message much more receptive as Scottish Labour. It is therefore clear that the Scottish Labour Party needs to lead the charge from the left embracing the politics of Corbyn which are ostensibly real Labour values in Scotland.
Jeremy Corbyn’s economic plan for the UK is one which would make a real lasting difference to the privatisation, austerity laden current unelected Prime Minister’s vision of destroying our health service and public services, of high living costs and low wages and hard Brexit. But the chances of a Corbyn election look slim with a media of vested interests keeping his message from getting out. Corbyn needs to think outside the box. The current union is not fit for purpose. But that does not mean we wont retain our solidarity in independence.
An independent Scotland run by a real Labour Party would be a shining vision to South of the border of the economic plan Corbyn seeks to implement which is all too often ridiculed in the Mainstream media. It would be far more difficult for the press and public in the RoUK to ignore the potential of a socialist government with the successful implementation north of the border