Michael Fry has finally seen the light. I look forward to him joining me on the SNP podiumby Jim Mather / December 16, 2006 / Leave a comment
Published in December 2006 issue of Prospect Magazine
Like most thoughtful new converts to a cause, Michael Fry brings some fresh insights to the debate about Scotland’s future. However, what is even more striking is the sense of urgency he attaches to the need for Scottish independence and the impatience he has for others to see the light.
I like to think that the arguments we have been putting forward over the past few years have played a large part in Fry’s decision. That is why I believe that his analogy of support for Scottish independence as a “wave” that rises and falls could do with being beefed up. The “subterranean tremors from deep inside Scotland” that Fry detects are being powered by a new and widespread appreciation of the successes of many small developed countries.
Fry’s statement that his was not a casual conversion rings true—and makes it all the more commendable. He is aware of his own influence within Scottish conservatism, and his attempts to change Tory attitudes will doubtless trigger many converts. He reminds me that the economic case for Scottish independence, which I spend my time pushing, is not the only ground on which an argument for independence can be made: breaking away from Britain would also give Scotland a much-needed emotional, moral and cultural boost.
Fry’s analysis is remarkably close to mine, especially in his identification of Labour’s crass manipulation of statistics, which produces evidence of economic growth in Scotland while at the same time managing to manufacture a financial deficit that would make this country the worst managed economy in Europe. I look to Fry to join me in puncturing the false euphoria of GDP data that contradict the “World Competitiveness Scoreboard” produced by business school IMD, which rates Scotland as the 30th and the UK as a whole the 21st most competitive nations; that contradict the fact that the Scottish public sector constitutes 51 per cent of our economy as against 41 per cent in the rest of Britain; and that contradict the academics, who tell us that if we could raise our lamentably low life expectancy to the average British level, we would increase our GDP by 21.3 per cent.