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Inside Track
SNP Conference
– powers that are currently exercised by independence that recognised the extensive Scotland and Halifax Bank of Scotland.
Westminster. On the issue of fiscal autonomy, interdependencies between Scotland and the This puts the SNP’s economic case for
the SNP has proposed gaining the right to rest of the UK and Europe, which was part independence into question, despite the
set tax rates, define tax bases and introduce of a long tradition of SNP accommodation probability that if an independent Scotland
borrowing to raise the money that the of various forms of shared sovereignty in its were part of the eurozone, it would have
Parliament spends. This would improve the constitutional goals. received financial help from European
Parliament’s accountability to the electorate, Seeking self-determination within larger institutions. But this fact in itself serves
and the responsibility of MSPs by forcing political and economic structures is especially to highlight the dependent nature of an
more discipline into spending decisions. independent Scotland on Europe. Because
In 2008, the SNP repackaged these of these challenges, the SNP has been forced
proposals as ‘devolution-max’. At the time,
“The SNP has been forced to
to revise its notions of absolute Scottish
Finance Secretary John Swinney declared
that he was to consider a watered-down
revise its notions of absolute
sovereignty. It has moved to supporting
degrees of independence for Scotland, which
form of independence, whereby full financial
Scottish sovereignty” has importantly allowed the SNP to endear
powers would be devolved to Scotland, giving itself to a Scottish electorate that is generally
the Parliament control over everything except unfavourable to separating from the UK.
monetary policy. Cynics might argue that important for a stateless nation or region if
this strategy was pursued primarily to gain the territory possesses a small population Dr Eve Hepburn is a Leverhulme Fellow in
Liberal Democratic or Conservative support and few resources, and its ability to maintain the Department of Politics and International
for an independence referendum, and to pass pre-independence standards of living seem Relations, University of Edinburgh.
the necessary legislation through the Scottish slim. This issue has become more pressing in
Parliament. Others could reason that the the light of the current economic downturn, This article is based on a more extensive study of the
SNP was merely responding to public where small countries such as Iceland and SNP’s independence goals, which can be found in
opinion, whereby the majority of support Ireland have been rocked by collapsed banks Eve Hepburn (2009) ‘Degrees of Independence:
was for increased powers for the Scottish and deep recession. Critics have argued that SNP Thinking in an International Context’ in
Parliament and not independence. But an independent Scotland would not have G. Hassan (ed) The Modern SNP: From Protest
another argument could also be made that been able to afford bailing out its two major to Power (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University
‘devolution-max’ represented a ‘softer’ form of financial institutions – the Royal Bank of Press).
12 October 2009

Holyrood

23


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