The SNP have launched their manifesto, presenting their vision as an ‘alternative to cuts’ laid out by the other parties and pledging spending increases. As well as committing to votes on matters in England and Wales (not just Scotland), the party promises to end privatisation in the NHS and ‘restore the NHS in England to a fully public, publicly-accountable service – reversing the 2012 Health and Social Care Act’, and save billions of pounds by cancelling the renewal of Trident.
As things stand, the SNP is set to become the UK’s third largest party, with perhaps 45-50 MPs – which may or may not be enough to provide the ‘winner’ of the election with a majority. What is clear is that, one way or another, Scottish politics will have an unprecedented degree of influence on the decisions that the next government will be able to make, and likely on the nature of that government. What does it mean to have a party in the government of the UK who will use the opportunity to encourage separation from the UK?
You can read our thoughts on a biblical approach to Scottish independence in an article in an edition of Engage from last year. In summary:
- Self-rule is the biblical ideal and national identity matters – but this applies to both British and Scottish nationality.
- God is sovereign over the ebb and flow of nationhood.
- Subsidiarity – the idea that power should be distributed to the lowest appropriate level – is a thoroughly biblical concept.
- This also means tasks that can only be handled by a more centralised authority must be passed upwards.
- There remain questions of currency. A currency union without a political one does not share risk, reward or responsibility.
- The Bible is similarly clear about the need to pay your debts, which is relevant in the context of the suggestion that Scotland might default on its share of UK borrowing.
A degree of compromise is inevitable and often desirable in any coalition (or confidence-and-supply relationship) but, as Jesus said, ‘If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.’