The National:

This is from a newsletter from Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, called Reinventing Scotland. It explores the wellbeing economy. Sign up here to receive it every Tuesday at 7pm. 

THE next leader of the SNP has but one card to play, and that is to go all out for independence.

Scottish politics seems complex, even chaotic at the moment – any political analysis of all the goings on becomes hard to follow. But when you cut to the chase, there is a very simple reason for everything.

The SNP have not, as yet, committed to a workable plan to deliver independence, therefore the wider independence movement is not motivated to vote for them.

The National: Humza Yousaf

The latest poll (prior to Humza Yousaf’s resignation) has the SNP on 33% for Westminster and looking at losing 25 seats. Mostly to Labour in the central belt, while winning a couple from the Conservatives in the north east.

However, the latest independence poll has independence support at 51%. You don't have to be a data scientist to figure that if the SNP were to offer a believable and practical plan to deliver independence, then a good chunk of that 51% would transfer back to them for the General Election.


I am not talking about dangling a carrot, but a commitment to a deliverable plan. The SNPs most recent conference committed them to a pretty ballsy manifesto pledge on independence and instead of shouting it from the rooftops and owning that electoral real estate, the SNP kept on falling into the “it's about getting rid of the Tories" trap.

The National: Douglas Ross has withdrawn the Tory confidence vote against Humza Yousaf

London-centric media and the Labour vote

The polls do indeed say that voters want to get rid of the Tories but, in the context of a UK election with voters being swamped by a London-centric media, getting rid of the Tories means voting Labour. Ironically, every Tory seat in Scotland is a Tory/SNP marginal and so the only way to get rid of any Scottish Tories is to actually vote SNP in those seats.

READ MORE: Scotland deserves a new economic direction – and the key will be resilience

Given the collapse of the Tory vote, the SNP don't need to get to 51%. Forty per cent could leave the SNP pretty close to their 2019 result of 46 seats, albeit losing six or seven seats to Labour while taking roughly the same from the Tories.

Wellbeing economics and the polls

The SNP’s poor polling show isn't just down to their failure to promote independence properly. It’s that they are also failing to connect with the core values that underpin that independence support.

Believe in Scotland's polling, conducted by Panelbase, showed that 21% more Labour voters would support independence (43% in total) if the offer was based on a trifecta of core principles that tap into the national mood.

Those core principles are:

  • Put a wellbeing economic approach at the heart of economic plans for independence.
  • A plan that recognises that quality of life, equality, fairness, sustainability, happiness and health are all outcomes that should be given equal weight to GDP in economic planning.
  • Pay a wellbeing pension: An amount (currently £241.50) calculated to allow those dependent on the state pension to live with dignity, feed and clothe themselves properly and be able to turn on their heating in winter time. In short, independence would end pensioner poverty in Scotland.
  • Independence within the EU: Promising to seek to join the EU as soon as possible after independence is achieved, possibly with a confirmatory referendum.

Multiple polls that we have commissioned indicated that this approach can lead to around a 12% increase in support for independence – often reaching more than 60% for Yes.

The wellbeing economy/independence approach is the key to stabilising the SNPs minority government, to a strong SNP performance in the next UK General Election and to creating a platform that would lead to a victory for independence in a de facto referendum at the next Scottish Government elections expected in 2026.

The National: Holyrood

How the wellbeing economic approach changes minds on independence

Focusing on wellbeing economics increases support for independence, but where does that increase to 60% Yes come from? The highest Yes total was found among women aged 16-34 where support for independence was at 80%, an increase of 16%. Indy support from women over the age of 55 (the toughest group for the independence movement to crack) increased 15% to 47% for Yes.

The SNP’s election strategists need to realise that the only way to stop Labour regaining a swathe of central belt seats in the General Election is by targeting those 43% of Labour voters who can be convinced to support independence based on those three policies.

Wellbeing economics provides answers to the big questions, such as how we combat climate change, reduce inequality, improve health outcomes and quality of life. The solution is simple: We must give these outcomes the equal weight we currently give to purely capitalistic economic indicators such as GDP growth or trade, incorporating them into official government publications and performance measures.

Scotland’s aim should be to become a world leader in national civic, economic and environmental wellbeing by building a strong society and a strong economy – as one cannot truly exist without the other.

Polling shows that the Scottish people want that future and if the SNP wholeheartedly adopt those policies and find the courage to offer it to them in a de facto independence referendum at Holyrood 2026, then Scotland will regain its independence – and not just Scotland but the world will be better for it.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp is the CEO of Business for Scotland, the chief economist at the wellbeing economics think tank Scotianomics, the founder of the Believe in Scotland campaign and the author of Scotland the Brief.