Many years ago along with the much missed Dr Allan Macartney we set up and ran the Scottish Self Government College. It sadly ended soon after Allan’s untimely death while representing us with such distinction as an SNP Member of the European Parliament. Allan was one of my great friends in the SNP and I owe him a great debt.
In a rare fit of tidying up my office, I came across some old papers from those days together. Some of our courses at the college used activities to engage participants in serious political debate. I had forgotten about the one I’m about to discuss.
We would set groups the tasks of discussing and agreeing what their ten priority actions would be for the first session of an independent Scottish Parliament and Government. Their actions had to include some things related to the economy, the environment, foreign affairs and Justice.
Although this was about 30 years ago, it is arguably even more prescient today. What would you say were your priorities?
Rather than me posting some of the more obvious ones, I am posting below some that hopefully are a bit different from the expected, with the aim of stimulating discussion. The list could be huge, given there is so much to consider.
1. Simplify, make more efficient and fair our tax system. This could include implementing a Land Value Tax.
2. Remove visa barriers that prevent the attraction of new innovators wanting to work and invest in Scotland.
3. Change banking regulations, by imposing a “duty of care” on banks towards their small business clients.
4. Require all registered companies to include a statement in their annual accounts of their activities in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
5. Ensure public procurement requires assessment of environmental impact before contracts are awarded.
6. Immediately convene an international conference with EU, EFTA and other appropriate countries to establish an agreed route into European markets and European cooperation (depending on circumstances at the time looking towards EU/EFTA membership).
7. Ensure international taxation treaties are world leading in their ethical treatment of other countries and particularly poorer countries.
8. Review the law to ensure Scotland is world leading in the protection of human rights and freedom of speech.
9. Implement independent regulation of the legal profession in the interests of fair treatment of clients both individual and corporate.
10. Scotland should immediately join the World Skills movement and operate to world class levels of skills training standards in Scotland.
This kind of exercise might be a worthwhile one for political education officers and branch level to consider.
On a wider point, maybe it is time to re-establish the Self-Government College and provide those committed to independence the opportunity to study and reflect on the politics and economics of independence.