Be Afraid, Be very Afraid
Why we should all be scared of the SNP's increasing authoritarianism
by Derek Gardiner
A few weeks ago, I was listening to the radio and heard on the news that the SNP had plans to ban prawn crackers. I immediately thought that something was seriously wrong. It was not too long after that the SNP Conference began and the topic of Scottish Independence once again resurfaced in the media. While they did not announce a date for a second independence referendum, they made it clear that independence was their long term ambition. With the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, despite Scotland voting to remain, the SNP believe they have a mandate for another referendum.
But what would an independent Scotland under the SNP look like? Would it be a free market and small government Scotland that could compete with the rest of the world? Would we continue to have good relations with the rest of the UK? Would we go down a statist and authoritarian path? Would we have hostile relations with the rest of the UK? It seems if the SNP were to form the government of an independent Scotland, the latter would prevail.
Two worrying signs of the SNP’s creeping authoritarianism were prevalent in the last few weeks. The first was the aforementioned proposed ban on prawn crackers and poppadoms, part of wider food restrictions as part of a “national obesity strategy”. This will force people - especially students on low incomes - to pay more for food, by banning vouchers and special offers on foods that the government deems too unhealthy. This is an attack on one of our most basic freedoms and that is the freedom to decide what we put into our bodies. The freedom of business is also at stake. Why should the government tell them at what price to sell their confectionary? The Government’s policy paper on its national obesity strategy talks a lot about “bold new measures” and “breaking new ground”. However, the reason this ground has never been broken before is that even the most authoritarian and repressive regimes do not tell their citizens what food they can and cannot eat.
The second sign of increased authoritarianism was the “Dear Bigot” billboards that began appearing around the country. The most worrying of all was the poster that reads: “Dear Bigots, you can’t spread your religious hatred here. Yours, Scotland.”This is signed off by the Scottish Government and Police Scotland. These billboards are threatening, especially to religious people. Religious hatred can be defined in a variety of ways and those who have a religious opposition to gay marriage or gender reassignment may find themselves charged with hate crime. While it is the duty of the state to defend anyone, regardless of their sexuality, from violence and intimidation, these posters do not explain the nuance of religious hatred. A Christian charity, the Barnabas Fund, went so far as to describe the posters as “state-sponsored hatred”.
The backlash, however, has already begun. In 2016, opponents of the Named Person scheme, which would have seen a massive increase in state interference into private life, took the Scottish Government to the Supreme Court and the court ruled that it violated the right to privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights. The public outrage faced by the SNP’s plans to ban all-you-can-eat-buffets forced them to go back on the policy. The Scottish Parliament also brought about the repeal of the toxic and anti-free-speech Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act 2012. Despite this, the SNP are steamrolling ahead with more and more invasive policies.
It’s important to remember that the role of the government is to protect citizens from harm and ensure public safety. But the SNP has gone well beyond that. They are trying to micromanage our lives, from introducing minimum pricing on alcohol, banning food promotions, increasing hate-speech laws and seeking to control the upbringing of children around the country. This is why an independent Scotland with an SNP government terrifies me, and it should terrify you too. It should terrify anyone who believes in limited government, freedom of speech and religion, and a free market. I hope the people of Scotland will vote them out soon before it’s too late.