Tartan Tories

As the Scottish Referendum approaches, I find myself increasingly irritated by the political spin presented by both the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigns. This is an example of something I think is particularly dishonest.


A persuasive argument put forward by the SNP is that independence means that Scotland will get the government it votes for. The point is continually made that Conservative governments have been imposed on Scotland for many years although Scottish voters have not elected a majority of Tory MPs since the 1950s. To my mind, this argument is the most compelling reason for voting ‘yes’ in the forthcoming referendum.

Alongside the argument for independence is the spin that independence will mean that Scotland can create a ‘fairer society’, with the implication that this will benefit poorer members of society, although those making the argument are very careful to avoid making any hard commitments here.  There is also the implication that current politicians are the best people to deliver this ‘fairer society’ after independence and policies such as the abolition of university fees and prescription charges are contributors to this.

The SNP’s PR have done a good job here in convincing people of their ‘fairness’ credentials but if we look a bit deeper, what we see are policies that benefit the salaried middle classes rather than poorer members of our society. The SNP have their roots in areas that were previously Tory and the epithet ‘Tartan Tories’ is, I believe still valid. Here are some examples of middle-class policies:

1.     Freezing of council tax. The more expensive your home, the more you save. Funded by cutting council services many of which are predominantly used by the old, sick and disabled. Benefit claimants did not pay council tax anyway so they gain nothing from this. This policy has been copied in England by the current coalition government.

2.     Abolition of university fees. Universities are dominated by middle class students so the savings accrue mostly to them and their parents. Funded by cutting college places that are mostly taken up by students from poorer backgrounds. In England there has been some (not enough) targeting of funding to poorer students.

3.     Abolition of prescription charges. Only 10% of people paid prescription charges and most of them could afford to do so. Loss of revenue to the health service that could be used to improve healthcare in general.

4.     Reducing corporation tax (a stated SNP policy in an independent Scotland). Predominantly will benefit business owners, many of whom may not even live in Scotland.

You may or may not be in favour of these policies but it is dishonest to suggest that these policies are contributors to a fairer society. The current SNP government has penalised the poor and those on benefits to try to preserve the incomes of the salaried middle classes.  This may be a good political strategy but it certainly isn’t fair.

Of course, independence is not about re-electing the current Government although I imagine they will reinvent themselves as an alternative political party in the event of a ‘yes’ vote. Perhaps they will be the new ‘Scottish Conservatives’?

Disclaimer: I am a home owner and require regular medication, which I no longer pay for, so I have benefited from the current Scottish government policies.

5 thoughts on “Tartan Tories

  • August 13, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    It could equally be argued that the UK gets the government it votes for.

  • August 13, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Good stuff. And those who say there can be greater equality are rather coy about how it will be paid for.

  • August 14, 2014 at 8:07 am

    I’m glad i don’t have to vote because i have so many questions that no 100% definite answers are available from SNP. Its all very grey and that’s such a worry. I’m quite sure folk North of the border have many more questions than me. Anybody who smiles about such a serious subject like Mr S. does and shows a general arrogance for people cannot be trusted.
    Will there be a General Election with new parties coming to the fore if its a Yes vote or will the SNP take it for granted that “its their ball and they are keeping it”.

    Ian, the word Daunering? Should it be Daundering? I am in two minds, like the vote of course.

    • August 14, 2014 at 12:09 pm

      There will be a general election in Scotland in 2016. If there is a ‘yes’ vote, this will be during the independence negotiations. The current govt. will be responsible for negotiations initially. The current SNP will, I am sure, continue in some form but a credible scenario is that people will be unhappy with the negotiations and vote in a different government. So we will have the bizarre scenario of a government that does not support independence negotiating the terms and conditions.

      Dauner is the Scots equivalent of daunder or dander.

  • October 4, 2014 at 9:17 am

    I understand where you are coming from with this.
    However, could these benefits (prescriptions/education/council tax freeze) not be considered in a more “universal benefit” manner?
    What I mean by this is that for each of these “benefits” there would be a price to administering means testing. By giving to all, not just some, those funds are saved.
    You claim that universities are full of middle class. Well at the end of the day, without free places, they would contain even less from working class backgrounds.
    Whilst yes, in theory, the bigger the house the bigger the council tax bill, but again, to freeze for some and not all would not be fair. Regardless of ability to pay.
    By keeping the “I’m alright jack” brigade happy, they cannot complain that the working poor are getting something they’re not.
    This in turn has also kept the welfare bill down as there has been no increase to council tax benefit claimed.
    As for the corporation tax thing, the stated reason was that it was an attempt to help create a further 27k of jobs. This in turn would potentially reduce the welfare bill, whilst also injecting new money back into the economy through taxation of salary, vat receipt through purchases and so on.
    so yes on the face of it, a tax drop for any business does look bad, but, if it had worked as intended, it would have been good for Scotland.
    If not, then i would have hoped they would have scrapped it.
    The original point you have made is right though, Scotland could have voted them out at the next election.
    But we will never know now!!


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