‘UNEMPLOYMENT is universally recognised as undesirable.” This is not a quotation from a left wing think tank, this is from Investopedia. Any Scot over the age of 50 would probably be aware of the detrimental effects mass unemployment has had on our country.

However, many Scots will be unaware this was, and still is, a political policy choice fuelled by a nefarious economic concept termed the Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment, or NAIRU.

During the Covid-19 pandemic we witnessed the seemingly magical ability of the UK Government to become the employer-of-last-resort. However, there is nothing magical about this because this is always possible for a currency-issuing government. Yet the NAIRU states that a certain percentage of your citizens must exist in abject misery to fight off inflation.

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Our current central bank, the Bank of England, makes reference to “the natural rate of unemployment”, the “equilibrium unemployment rate” or even “our NAIRU estimates”. There is no equilibrium when you are unemployed. There is fear, stress, anger and uncertainty.

Furthermore, these emotions are experienced not just by you, but also by those around you too, especially your partner and your children. The right to work is a human right that is stated within the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is not something the private sector can guarantee, and nor should we expect it to. Its purpose is clear – profit.

The UK Government is currently creating courses to help people retrain and get them back into private sector employment, but this is akin to playing musical chairs with nine other people and five chairs.

Currently in Scotland, we have around 116,000 unemployed people of working age. They have no “right to work” and are unlikely to gain that right as long as we remain within the Union. Moreover, when we consider under-employment, the total unemployment figure comes to more than 300,000.

At Modern Money Scotland, we advocate for a Job Guarantee, and we have written a paper explaining the “why” of a Job Guarantee and are now working on a paper describing the “how”. But this is a policy for an independent Scotland with a central bank and Scottish currency. In an independent Scotland, a Job Guarantee can ensure dignity and security for all its citizens.

For any National readers who have never experienced involuntary unemployment, the importance of this cannot be overstated. Even with the improved levels of social security that an independent Scotland can offer, for many people “living off the state” is anathema, perhaps even more so for those who are independence-minded.

We want our independent Scotland to thrive and thus contribute to its success in the world, so it’s important to understand that a Job Guarantee also offers a sustainable solution to price instability and inflation. This is because a Job Guarantee is counter-cyclical; that is to say that if the private sector grows again, then the Job Guarantee will shrink. However, when the private sector is declining, the affected workers will be buffered by the Job Guarantee. Not only is the Job Guarantee an economically and socially responsible policy, it is also a popular one too. A YouGov poll found 74% of Scots supported the Job Guarantee and it is universally popular amongst all age groups, genders, parties, classes and regions across the country. If there is any policy that can unite the country through independence, it is this.

Countries such as Sweden, Argentina and India have already shown their own Job Guarantee programmes to be successful. Despite their differing economies, they demonstrate the same results – that is greater equality, economic stability and community empowerment. Scotland can be the first country in the world to offer employment as a universal human right, and we can do this with the full monetary and fiscal powers of independence.

A resolution for a Job Guarantee pilot is being put forward for the next SNP conference.