Scottish independence: Liz Truss might seem like gift to SNP but she provides warning about blind faith in ideology – Scotsman

Liz Truss’s ideological obsession with flawed economic policies had many unintended consequences, from a crisis of confidence in the markets and rising mortgage rates to her impending political downfall. It has also created a moment of enormous peril for the future of the UK.

Liz Truss put her ideological faith in low taxes above the advice of 'orthodox' economists (Picture: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
Liz Truss put her ideological faith in low taxes above the advice of 'orthodox' economists (Picture: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Since the ‘original sin’ of Brexit, successive Conservative governments have been flailing around trying to define the values and character of this reborn nation. They have been doing a bad job. Amid the damage to the economy caused by erecting new barriers to trade, they have continued the rancour of the divorce from the EU, appearing to relish disputes with our closest allies because of the rallying effect on their supporters.

Truss’s elevation to Prime Minister saw her introduce tax cuts for the wealthiest people in the country to be paid for by state borrowing. Facing the hardest of times, her government’s policy of taking from the poorest taxpayers to give to the rich was rightly described as a “reverse Robin Hood” approach. It was cold-hearted and cruel, and played into the hands of the SNP who have long sought to portray the UK Government in this way. The dramatic response by the markets to the mini-budget, with the pound collapsing against the dollar, then added to this grim picture. Not only immoral, it was also economically incompetent.

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As the new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt scrambled to restore credibility, Nicola Sturgeon stepped forward to set out her economic prospectus for independence. Sounding like the rational adult she is, the First Minister will have appeared to many as the sort of politician who can be trusted. And not that many people need to be swayed to create the kind of majority in favour of independence that would be difficult to deny.

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However, Truss is also an example of what happens when people put their faith in ideology over and above hard, and sometimes harsh, reality. For all that nationalists sincerely believe independence will be good for Scotland, our economic health depends on far more down-to-earth factors, like barriers to trade and confidence in the markets, that can have very real effects on mortgage rates, pensions and much more.

Truss’s calamitous government may seem like it offers further reasons to back independence. However, quite the opposite is true. It provides a warning.

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