Neil Findlay: The Growth Commission has revealed the SNP’s neoliberal politics

In his regular column, Neil Findlay says that the small state conservatism of the Growth Commission presents a grim contrast to Labour’s vision.

Last week corporate lobbyist Andrew Wilson delivered his long awaited Growth Commission report on the prospects for an independent Scotland to Nicola Sturgeon, her reaction to it has been muted to say the least.

But the reaction from sections of the Yes movement have been both vocal and damning.

Influential writers and activists on the left of the independence movement who saw independence as a route to a “socialist” or “left wing” Scotland have been left angry and let down after the report was published.

I completely understand their anger. Independence did present something bold and exciting for many people turned off by stale party politics, but if this is the independence we can look forward to from the SNP, they can forget it.

Iain MacWhirter, Mike Small, Robin McAlpine, Darren McGarvey, Jamie Maxwell, Jonathon Shafi, Ben Wray and former SNP treasury spokesperson George Kerevan are just some of the journalists and writers who have been scathing in their analysis.

George Kerevan an economist and former SNP MP said “Andrew Wilson’s conservative economics might win dubious praise from the professorial superstars of a failed bourgeois economics.”

The Herald’s Iain MacWhirter followed with “Nicola Sturgeon, who was always thought of as a dedicated left-winger, has found herself defending a document that reads in places like one of George Osborne’s Budget speeches”

Robin McAlpine of The Common Weal advised “The commitment to a deficit reduction programme, an incredibly low public debt ceiling and a commitment to peg public spending below the rate of GDP growth already has a name – it's called austerity.”

It appears these commentators are surprised that a former RBS senior adviser, Director of lobbying firm Charlotte Street Partners, which is financed by Merchant Banker Sir Angus Grossart, and whose client list includes some of Scotland’s wealthiest business people - would write a single word that would offend corporate Scotland.

Of course Wilson is a true believer in right wing, free market, neo liberal economics. In that he is not alone – Mike Russell (read his book Grasping the Thistle), Fergus Ewing, Derek MacKay and John Swinney all hail from this school of thinking. Socialists, or even social democrats, they are not!

The reports co-authors include Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay, Education Minister, Shirley Anne Somerville, Senior SNP councillor Marie Burns, and MSP Kate Forbes amongst others. Its content is supported and endorsed by people at the top of the SNP. That should alarm many who put their faith in that party to deliver a progressive vision for Scotland.

Their vision is of a neo-liberal Scotland, a Scotland of fiscal restraint, of austerity and cuts, of a country whose interest rates and monetary policy are set by another state, where trade unions don’t even get a look in.

Compare this to the vision of Labour’s leaders in Scotland and the UK and the progressive choice is obvious.

Richard Leonard “Our party’s mission is not simply to secure a fairer distribution of wealth from the existing economic system, it is to fundamentally change the existing economic system…That is the only way to end the stark inequality of wealth and power that confronts us in Scotland today.”

Jeremy Corbyn “The great problems of our age: fighting for people’s rights and living standards against the power of international capital… have been fought for and defended by people on the ground for generations. These are problems which individual nations cannot deal with alone.”

In contrast to the small state conservatism of the leading lights of the SNP, Labour stand for a society committed to:

- The redistribution of wealth and power
- An investment led economy
- Full employment
- A £10 an hour living wage
- An active industrial strategy
- Public ownership of rail, energy, Royal Mail and more
- Progressive taxation 
- A real Scottish Investment bank with £10 billion to spend plus another £10 billion for a national infrastructure fund
- Investment in our NHS
- A social care system based on a care and compassion
- An end to rip off rents
- ½ million new council or social houses
- Controlled private sector rents
- An overhaul of workers’ rights and increased trade union recognition

And that’s just the beginning.

The vision of hope and aspiration for all our people presented by Labour, not just the corporate voices who Andrew Wilson seeks to reassure, is radical and refreshing.

The choice now in Scottish politics is between more economic managerialism delivering the same failed economic orthodoxy or a Scotland of real change delivering progressive policies for the many not the few.

I reach out the hand of friendship and solidarity to my friends, relatives and fellow Scots to come and join us and help make a reality the forward thinking country we all dream of.

I say to you genuinely, Labour is your party. Come and help us change Scotland.

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