Fairlie: independence must win over middle class

FORMER SNP deputy leader Jim Fairlie has claimed that any future campaign for independence needs to set the idea of socialism to one side if it is to attract the support of Scotland’s middle classes.

Former deputy leader of the SNP Jim Fairlie at home. Picture: Greg Macvean

Writing on his blog, the left-leaning former politician, who was deputy leader of the party for four years in the 1980s, argued that the Yes campaign needs to “temper” the message about solving problems such as poverty, unemployment, poor housing, health etc so that the middle classes are shown they will have an “important part to play” in an independent Scotland.

“Perhaps the greatest problem faced by the Yes side, and the most obvious problem, is how to get Scotland’s middle classes to support independence,” he said. “I have already said I believe the Yes campaign was a class campaign, from the constant repetition of “we want to create a fairer and more just society” to the concentration on “poverty” to the appeals to “the Labour vote”.”

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Mr Fairlie said that although he was “on the left” of Scottish politics, independence campaigners needed to accept that a stand-alone Scotland only “may” result in a social democratic government north of the border.

“A class campaign where socialism is the priority, is unlikely to lead to independence,” he said. “From what has been said both prior to the referendum and since, many Scots feared the type of government an independent Scotland would produce, as much as feared independence per se.

Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: “It’s clear the new SNP administration is going to be the most left-wing Scottish Government there’s been.

“But Jim Fairlie has a point in that the Yes campaign completely neglected huge swathes of Scottish society, just as the SNP intends to.

“Immediately after the referendum Alex Salmond effectively came out and said as much, blaming all kinds of groups like the over 55s and hardworking families for losing the referendum.”

An SNP spokesman said: “The SNP is fully committed to making Scotland a fairer, more prosperous country for everyone who lives here – which is exactly why membership has grown by more than 56,000 in the last month and the SNP is in a strong position going into next year’s election.”