A FRENCH international newspaper has analysed what kind of country an independent Scotland could be.

Le Monde Diplomatique, a monthly newspaper which is editorially independent from the daily Le Monde, said that Scotland has a “residual fidelity to centre-left politics” compared to down south, where support for the Conservative party has grown and politics has moved to the right. It notes that both the Tory and Labour parties are “struggling to adjust” to the people of Scotland wanting more than just a devolved parliament.

And the piece, which was written by Edinburgh-based journalist Rory Scothorne, was not kind to Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar – pointing out that the party has not offered a vision for Scotland.

The article said that during Margaret Thatcher’s battle with miners in 1984, she warned her opponents wanted to turn the UK into a “museum society” and that to move forward, heavy industries had to be sacrificed regardless of their value to the communities they sustained.

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The article continued: “In Scotland, however, a different kind of museum society has emerged, and even thrived. Scotland’s parliament, established in 1999, was demanded by trade unions, Scottish nationalists and the Labour and Communist parties throughout the 1980s and 90s, as a means of defending Scottish industry.

“By the time it arrived, much of that industry had gone. In its place was – and is – a residual fidelity to centre-left politics, a broad cross-class hostility to the Conservatives, and a popular faith in the ‘public sector ethos’ that still legitimates Scotland’s overwhelmingly state-run public services.

“Deindustrialised England, with no separate English parliament or regional assemblies, has been forced to leave its memories of a more benevolent social state under Labour behind. In Scotland those memories were preserved – and institutionalised – in the Scottish Parliament.”

On Scottish Labour, the paper was scathing in its assessment of the party and its current state. It said Sarwar aimed to ‘move on’ from the constitutional deadlock, but that “his party offered no vision of where the country might move on to.

“In Scottish Labour’s eyes, Scottish politics need not stretch beyond public service delivery, cleaning up the consequences of Conservative UK governments while the nation waits for England to shift left again. Museum management, in other words, making sure the facilities keep functioning and the exhibits don’t fall to bits.”

Labour, the article said, was the “most obviously decrepit exhibit” as their support in Scotland completely collapsed in 2015 after supporters switched to the SNP.

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For the SNP, the newspaper dubbed Nicola Sturgeon as popular due to her “perceived competence” and “expert communication” through the pandemic.

But it also turned to Angus Robertson and said his election as an MSP in the “affluent, cosmopolitan” seat in Edinburgh Central was the SNP’s “most symbolic election achievement” and pointed to him as a potential successor to Sturgeon. It added: “A fluent German speaker and Europhile, he is a former foreign correspondent for the BBC World Service, and was instrumental in reversing his party’s decades-old opposition to Nato membership in the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum. His liberal, rule-following multilateralism is a snug fit with the party’s political realignment in the aftermath of Brexit, when Scotland’s cosmopolitan professional classes swung behind independence and the SNP in horror at the trajectory of British politics under Boris Johnson.”

The piece notes that more affluent voters - who voted remain in the EU referendum - are now backing independence.

It adds: "The SNP’s dominance in post-industrial Scotland was built on the museum-logic of ‘reindustrialisation’, a prominent theme during their successful 2011 election campaign, alongside rhetorical opposition to the austerity agenda of the Conservative-Liberal coalition at Westminster.

"With Labour helpless and the other unionist parties shredding the social state, Scottish nationalism appropriated the best of Britain — its industrial and welfarist visions of citizenship, forged by Labour — and gave them a new, Scottish container.

"Yet the party’s survival since then — sustained even while implementing austerity themselves — has been helped by a deft pivot towards another native tradition, expressed not in crumbling west-coast mining towns but in the elegant sandstone townhouses of Edinburgh Central: careful, cosmopolitan enlightenment, floating above the material struggles of the great recession and finding its calling in the defence of both reason and abstract morality against the blonde-haired barbarians at the gate — Johnson, and Trump too."

The piece ends by suggesting that the irony of independence “when it happens” will be an escape from Scotland’s past and present – as much as it is “a rejection of Britain, for the two can never really be disentangled”.

Read the full article here.