WHERE IS THE OTHER SCOTLAND?

BILL JAMIESON says either Scotland has succumbed to an all-encompassing political revolution or a large number of people are keeping very quiet.

The SNP advance has now reached fever pitch. Opinion polls tell of an epochal collapse of the Labour vote and the unstoppable advance of the SNP.

The polls suggest the SNP is set to win all but a handful of Labour seats.

It has torn into traditional Labour areas of support with a markedly Left wing manifesto – indeed, more to the Left than Labour. Election pledges range from a dramatic £100 billion rise in NHS spending to an extension of free child care, higher spending on public services and higher taxes for the well-off.

Questions on how these commitments are going to be funded have been brushed aside. It seems that figures on spending, borrowing and tax have had very little impact.

Indeed, it is hard to recall an election in Scotland so detached from reality as this one: it is scarcely credible so many spending commitments have been stacked one upon another on an already sunken fiscal base.

It is as if such facts and figures no not matter; that the election in Scotland is about something else or certainly something other than the economic issues that have normally dominated election campaigns

In all this very little is being heard from the ‘invisible voters’ – those who, in the Scottish referendum last year, turned out to vote decisively against independence.

They didn’t feature in the opinion polls that showed the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ votes neck and neck – indeed with several polls just before the vote pointing to a ‘Yes’ victory.

They didn’t feature in those partisan and raucous TV debates on the referendum.

And they didn’t feature in the windy analyses of Scotland’s Lefty commentariat.

It would be strange indeed if they have suddenly succumbed, not just to a change of heart on the desirability of “full fiscal responsibility” but to a markedly Left of Centre programme of higher spending – and higher tax.

Central to the concerns of those quiet ‘No voters’ was the impact of breaking up the UK on their businesses and employment prospects.

And for many there was concern over the stability and security of the provision they had made for their old age. Uncertainty over the treatment of savings and investments caused many to switch into UK-registered financial institutions.

Very little has been heard of this substantial constituency in the course of the election campaign.

Now there is- and has always been – another SORT OF INDEPENDENCDE IN Scotland – that independence of mind and spirit. This is the undemonstrative Scotland – one quiet in its opinions and sceptical of political pledges. It is a Scotland that is not readily seduced and reduced to the politics of ‘spend, spend, spend’.

Whatever happened to this rational, sceptical Scotland, one that promoted saving, solvency and endeavour? The country once respected the world over for its prudence and its canniness with money?

Has it truly crossed over to the noisy clamour for an ever bigger state and ever greater public spending? Is it ready to bear the brunt of higher taxes? Or has it just chosen not to be demonstrative in its views? If you are deemed to be among those “with the broader shoulders who must bear the greater burden” perhaps you might not wish to advertise the fact too loudly.

I suspect this Scotland has not gone away, that it is very much present even though it might not make for the angry and ferocious outburst of opinions so much preferred by TV news cameras and documentary makers. And it may be set to spring another quiet surprise on May 7.

They also vote who only quietly speak and save for a rainy day.

 

 

 

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