Saturday, 18 October 2008

Gordon's economic policies - a failure of financial deregulation

This afternoon at conference was dominated by Nicola’s speech and once again her performance and her delivery was inspirational. After days of hearing about Gordon Brown as Europe’s conquering hero and how he had come to save both Europe and the world from the brink of complete financial collapse, I cheered with delight when Nicola said, “It’s not Scottish policies that have led to rising unemployment, the highest inflation in a generation, massive hikes in public borrowing and almost certain recession – that’s down to Gordon Brown and his economic policies”.

The real lesson of the economic crisis is not that Scotland can’t be independent. It’s that we should never let London run our economy in the first place.

And let us never forget – even though Gordon Brown desperately wants us to – that it was New Labour that helped create the climate for the banking crisis”.


After Nicola’s speech – how could anyone follow that? – it was time for the debate on the motion brought forward by the Brussels Branch on the future of Europe. The debate turned out to be a good opportunity for delegates to hear from each of the party’s seven European candidates as we all got up on the stage one by one.

I started by saying that the forthcoming European election campaign provides us with an opportunity to demonstrate once again that we are the only party ready to have a frank and honest discussion with the people of Scotland about the types of policies that we, and they, want to see coming out of the EU. None of the other parties in Scotland want – or are able – to have this debate, required as they are to follow the lead set by their London-based leaderships.

I reminded delegates that the European Parliament is one of the most powerful legislators in the world, and the task of Scotland’s MEPs is to stand up for Scotland’s interests in that Parliament, to make sure that EU legislation is fit-for-purpose in Scotland. Only this party, the SNP, can do that. That is the message we need to get across to the people of Scotland in the run-up to the European elections in June.

We cannot under-estimate the importance of EU legislation to Scotland and to ordinary Scots. The turmoil on the world’s financial markets over the past few weeks has demonstrated once again the degree of interdependence that exists between the world’s economies. The root cause of that turmoil has been the glaring inadequacies of the regulatory regime that oversees the global financial services sector. Scotland is a victim of that regulatory failure.

Once the dust has settled there will be a need to reform the regulations governing how the banks and the finance houses ply their trade. And part – probably a large part – of that regulatory response will come from the EU. The integration of the EU financial markets will make a common, EU-wide, response a necessity.

As those regulatory reforms are being discussed in Brussels, and the associated legislation debated, it is vital to this country that our voice is heard, and that our collective interests are properly represented. Only the SNP can deliver Scotland’s message, because only the SNP has Scotland’s interests – and only Scotland’s interests – as its sole concern.

It is true that the future of Europe is shaped by Treaties, and the failure of the London Labour Government to deliver on their promise to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is deplorable. But we also should not forget that in a real sense the future of Europe is debated and determined day and daily in the corridors of power in Brussels in the form of the legislation that the Council and the Parliament enact.

We need to have an on-going conversation with Scotland’s peoples on those matters – the future of the CAP, on climate change, on regulation of the financial services industries and all the rest of the important policies over which the EU has competence to make laws that affect Scotland’s vital interests.

In closing I made the point that it was up to all of us to take to the voters of Scotland that only a vote for the SNP in next June’s election will ensure that their interests in EU policies will be properly represented. And that the only way we can have real influence and a real voice in Brussels is with real independence.

You can watch the speech I gave below:

Aileen McLeod - SNP EU Candidate from Daibhi Anseo on Vimeo.

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