Scotland needs liberty

Scotland has for too long been governed by statists.

For a generation the political debate in Scotland had revolved around Labour and the SNP arguing amongst themselves about which one is more left wing. Since the SNP took power in the Holyrood elections nine years ago the size, scope and power of the state has increased. For a party that claim to champion localism the SNP have been a remarkably centralizing force for Scotland in Government.

Until recently, Scotland had eight different police services, to accommodate Scotland’s surprising geographical and cultural diversity. Under the SNP these have been amalgamated into “Police Scotland”, a single force that is expected to enforce the law and serve the public in places as diverse as the borders, the highlands, Glasgow and Aberdeen. This is rank hypocrisy coming from a party that claims to be rooted in local democracy supports the people who make decisions for a given area being elected from the people in that area. The monolithic Police Scotland is already struggling with tasks as basic as call handling – let alone the more challenging tasks a Police Force are expected to carry out.

All over the world, it has been proven time and again that low taxes are the most conducive to economic growth and to improved standards of living. Just in the last few years, France has seen its economy begin to implode due to President Hollande’s “soak the rich” tax policies – at the end of the day if you don’t let your producers produce, they’ll stop producing, or go elsewhere. But the SNP have largely built their argument for separation on the need to distance itself from allegedly right-wing, Tory (code for low tax and free-market) England in favour of its own “…centre-left, social-democratic…” (code for high tax and big government) programme that is failing across the continent, while low tax countries like Hong Kong and Singapore thrive.

Above all, their so called “getting it right for every child” policy, with its named person scheme, where by every child in Scotland will have a “named person” selected for them by the state, ostensibly to look after their welfare, but with the parents of the children denied the right to opt out of the project, is a most draconian and outrageous violation of family life. Nowhere else in the democratic world has there been such an intrusion by the state into what has traditionally been seen as a private realm.

Happily, the recent election results can give us some hope that change is finally in the air. By electing a record 31 MSPs to Holyrood the Scottish Conservatives have stripped the SNP of their overall majority and superseded Labour as their official opposition. Every one of the 31 Conservative MSPs were elected on a manifesto of resisting further SNP centralisation, making sure Scottish taxpayers don’t pay a penny more in tax than their English counterparts and opposing the Named Persons scheme. But that’s not enough; although we had a great campaign by standing with the majority of Scots for Scotland’s place in the Union, against a second separation referendum and highlighting the SNP’s weak record in government, you can’t build a sustainable political movement on what you’re against. This is why the formation of the Scottish branch of Conservatives for Liberty is so exciting; with a strong CfL in place the Party won’t be allowed to forget it’s traditions of limited government, individual rights and free markets.

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Euan McHardy is Head of CfL Scotland, a politics student at the University of Glasgow and Ayn Rand evangelist. Follow CfL Scotland on Twitter here