The Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, gave his speech to the annual Scottish National Party Conference this afternoon. With a referendum on Scottish independence less than a year away, one might have thought he would be seeking to widen support for this cause. However, the main theme was socialism.
Despite Labour lurching off to the Left under Ed Miliband, the clear message from Mr Salmond was that it wasn’t left wing enough. On welfare reform, taxation, nationalisation and state control, Mr Salmond kept pushing for explicitly socialist policies. There was even a warm embrace of EU regulation and spending. So much for a supposed belief in a self governing democracy.
He said that “one of the first acts” of an independent Scotland would be to restore the spare room subsidy. There was reference to “protecting the NHS from privatisation”. A nationalised water industry and a lack of tuition fees were highlighted as great Scottish achievements.
In another policy announcement he said:
If elected in an independent Scotland I give this pledge:
An SNP government will bring our Royal Mail back into public hands.
On taxation he condemned “a Westminster Government that people in Scotland overwhelmingly rejected is giving tax cuts to millionaires at the same time as cutting the income of the low paid.” There is already a power, which hasn’t been used, to impose a Tartan Tax – an increase of three pence in the basic rate. The implication of Mr Salmond’s remark is that an independent Scotland would use their wider tax power to put a higher tax on the rich – pushing wealth creators south to England just as French wealth creators have been heading north.
In a joke about Andy Burnham, Mr Salmond said:
Last month he actually said he is opposed to independence because he doesn’t want to drive up the M6, get out his passport and start driving on the right when he comes to Scotland.
Mind you, I thought Labour has been driving on the right for some time.
I suppose the strategy of outlining how socialist an independent Scotland would be may be cynical. The calculation could be that Labour supporters need to be persuaded to vote Yes.
Alex Massie blogged earlier this year:
The SNP have targeted erstwhile Labour supporters in western Scotland at the same time as they have consolidated their power-base in
distinctly non-socialist Aberdeenshire and Perthshire. This has been a good trick, played well.
Mr Massie added that “of course the SNP is not led by socialists”. I wonder if after the speech this afternoon, Mr Massie would still make that claim.