It is difficult to dispute anything George Kerevan says about the need to address the economic questions around independence. He is undoubtedly correct about the need to have ready and convincing answers on matters such as currency, fiscal management and medium- to long-term economic planning. If, that is, we are to allow that #indyref2 be turned into a joyless joust in which troops of mercenary experts garbed in the drab armour of academic authority have at each other with brittle lances of arcane equations and flimsy swords of statistical data.
If it is proposed that, as with the first independence referendum, the debate be reduced to an arid contest of contrived cost benefit analyses, then Mr Kerevan makes some critical points.
If, however, we aim to keep the debate on constitutional ground where it belongs – and, not at all incidentally, where unionists are weakest – then these economic arguments necessarily slip down our list of priorities.
If, instead of giving over the debate so entirely to the dour doom-mongers of the dismal science, we preserve the larger part of it for a conversation about the promise and potential of independence in terms of the way it opens up the possibility of transforming our nation and society, then perhaps we will better engage with people who previously felt excluded.
Of course, it all has to be paid for. The “beautiful dream” comes at some cost. But there are two sides to every transaction. British nationalists will use the “malleable” nature of economic data to massively exaggerate the cost of realising the dream of restoring Scotland’s rightful constitutional status. We can either get caught up in a largely futile effort to refute every one of their self-serving calculations; or we can devote a larger part of our campaign to emphasising the positive and aspirational aspects of our vision for Scotland.
If there is a flaw in George Kerevan’s article it is the apparent assumption that the next independence referendum campaign will replicate the first one – with the same arguments being rehashed in a prolonged episode of nightmarish déjà vu. It doesn’t have to be that way. The anti-independence campaign will undoubtedly resort to the same distortions, dishonesty and scaremongering that characterised Project Fear 1. They will do so because they have nothing else. If there was no positive case for preserving the union then, how much less possibility is there of such a thing now?
But we need not let them set the agenda to suit themselves. Their grindingly negative economic arguments will not have the same potency second time around. The scare stories have been debunked. The lies have been exposed. The emptiness of the promises is revealed. We can create a completely different debate this time. One which is as much about democracy and social justice as it is about deficits and interest rates.
Yes! We need facts and figures. But we also need aspiration and ambition. We need to reassure. But we also need to inspire. We need a message that will placate “The Markets”. But we also need a message that will motivate the people. Most of all, we need to communicate that message with power, clarity and confidence.Views: 2941
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