The most serious challenge facing the UK is the deficit. The UK deficit is high, but the Scottish deficit is higher and growing. As Alex Massie outlined in the Scotsman today (16.01.15), unless the deficit is eliminated the UK debt will slowly drag the economy down.
At the forthcoming General Election voters will be faced with to realistic, but quite different, alternatives to deal with the deficit: a Tory party which ideologically believes in a small state, and a resurgent Labour party which believes the wealthiest in society have an obligation to make a fair contribution to support the welfare state. The problem the SNP face is that a significant part of its traditional support prefers the former, whilst the bulk of its new support is tempted by the latter.
The solution for the SNP is to say nothing, but promise everything. They want to pretend that Scots can have Scandinavian public services, with American levels of taxation. Worst of all, the belief is being promoted by them that this change would be as effortless as showing the rest of the UK the door – they, not us, are responsible for our problems.
Despite this cynicism, I hope that as the General Election nears those who have trusted the nationalist blindly will begin to ask questions. Not questions about the line-up of a TV debate or the independence nirvana, but about the challenges Scotland faces and the detail of how best to deal with them.