By Ian Carse
I am very much looking forward to listening to Lesley Riddoch’s talk tonight, Tuesday 1st September 2020. [Ultra Local Focus of Power – Talk by Lesley Riddoch] She is a very good presenter who usually has very stimulating ideas to contribute.
Indeed when I last heard her speak in Stromness during the folk festival in 2017 she prompted me to look, once again, at Scotland’s future economic prospects in a different light.
During the 2014 Referendum I had continually thought that what our weakest arguments centred around currency and our economic future and to some extent, for me, that still remains the case.
I have never been in favour of the proposition put forward by Alex Neil and others that Scotland would join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
Admittedly there could be benefits because EFTA has an enormous number of Free Trade Agreements with other countries around the globe which we could benefit from, and the four members – Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein – do have a lot in common with Scotland.
However, for me, there are always question marks in my mind about Switzerland’s efficacy over tax havens, and to some extent the same applies to Lichtenstein, a country which was once described as an “uncooperative tax haven along with Andorra and Monaco”. In addition I am uncomfortable with Lichtenstein’s attitude towards democracy where the local Prince is Head of State and he may veto laws adopted by their Parliament. Apparently he can call a referendum at anytime, propose new legislation and dissolve Parliament. In the 21st century is this really acceptable?
Admittedly there is a New Independence Party which claims to be shaking up politics in Lichtenstein but in a country which only gave the vote to women in July 1984 they may still have a long way to go.
In 2017 Lesley Riddoch invited us to consider “Would an Independent Scotland be better off in the ‘halfway house’ of the European Economic Area? Having thought about it and looked into that prospect a bit, currently I would say “yes we would”
My views on that matter were shaping up that way anyway but recently the publication of “Scotland the Brief” written by Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp and published by Business for Scotland have made me more positive, and confident, about making the economic case for Scotland’s Freedom and independence when the next referendum is called.