IN his article in Tuesday’s National, Michael Fry has revealed himself in all his neo-liberal glory (After all I’ve said it’s still SNP for me at this election, November 5). Heaven forbid that he should ever stand as an MSP and get elected, for his policies are a pean to the private banking industry.

He writes: “Instead of having the UK Government in charge of the cash Scotland needs to sustain its public spending, this must in future come from international money markets”. So he proposes going to the private banks, asking for money from them that they will create out of thin air and then having to pay interest on this “magic money” in order to run the country.

READ MORE: Michael Fry: After all I’ve said it’s still SNP for me this election

If the private banks can make money out of thin air, then the government of Scotland can, through its own central bank, do exactly the same, but producing the money in the form of infrastructure investment in the country, free from debt. That way, we get the much-needed infrastructure that this country needs, and employment as well, so that the taxes generated fund government spending.

This is nothing new, since the Atlee government, using Keynsian economics, managed a huge programme of investment with no borrowing from the private banks. Within a short period after World War Two, when the country was on its knees, the government created the NHS, nationalised and invested in the mining industry, the steel industry, the railways and public transport and the energy supply and distribution services. They improved education all over the UK, initiated massive public and private house-building, established the basis of the welfare system and nationalised the Bank of England. In short, they proved that Keynsian economics actually work, since the period between the end of the war and the 1970s was the time when the wealth of the country was most widely and evenly distributed.

Then came neo-liberal economics and vested interests, sweeping away the Keynsian economics. The result is easy to see – we have the widest gap between the rich and the poor in the Western world, our infrastructure is creaking and broken, our services starved of investment. Food banks, for heaven’s sake, in one of the richest countries in the world. Two parents, both working, unable to make ends meet because wages are so degraded, and the lowest pensions in Europe. In the 1950s, a working man’s wage enabled him to support his wife and children at home. The cost of a house was three times a working wage; now it is ten times. All of this proves beyond doubt that the neo-liberal experiment is a failure and the only chance we have of breaking free from the grasping claws of the private banking industry is at the point of independence.

People with the economic views of Michael Fry and Andrew Wilson pose a real threat to the prosperity of a newly independent Scotland. I just hope that they will eventually see sense and realise that the present economic principles are unsustainable.

Tony Perridge

I KNOW many National correspondents see Michael Fry as the devil incarnate but I prefer to see him more as devil’s advocate, because he himself accepts there is a range of views across the Conservative spectrum and he seems much more on the liberal wing to me. However, Mr Fry’s own logic seems flawed as he happily accepts the breadth of the Conservative philosophy yet only ever equates socialism with the failed Marxist-Leninist states like North Korea. Can I draw Mr Fry’s attention to the fact that in 1946 the British Medical Association opposed the establishment of the NHS because they felt it was “financially unsustainable”?

I am glad he agrees with me that being pro-enterprise and pro social justice are both compatible and desirable, but I cannot agree to his advocacy of the primacy of markets. It is belief in the primacy of markets that subjected a generation to austerity in 1931, and it failed miserably, just as it failed miserably in both 1981 and today. The market and the common weal must grow together as they have a mutual dependency, and when they work in partnership with initiatives such as workers’ shares, social enterprises, and workers’ co-operatives, society as a whole moves forward to a better place rather than a stratified elite at the top with many left behind.

I further accept the point Mr Fry makes that Scotland and Scandinavia have in the post-Enlightenment period diverged sharply because of the turbulent effect of the industrial revolution. Yet Germany experienced the same kind of profound industrial upheaval, but that has not prevented post-war Germany from enacting key social democratic policies of the positive nature I mentioned above.

An advocacy of Scottish social democracy was the de facto political philosophy of the SNP between 1974 and 2019 and it served the party well in this period of growth. The social and economic direction it takes in the future seems uncertain but I can predict one thing: if the SNP continues to take Mr Fry’s advice on the idolisation of the market as its watchword, its hegemony of Scottish politics will soon be over.

Cllr Andy Doig (Independent)
Renfrewshire Council