By Rab Bruce’s Spider

It is encouraging to see that the SNP and Scottish Greens are both now seriously advocating the possibility of introducing a Universal Basic Income in a post-independence Scotland. Whether the SNP are doing this because they genuinely realise it would make handling such things as the current crisis easier, or whether they are talking about it as a ploy to gain support for independence doesn’t really matter. The fact that they are talking about it is a major step towards a fairer society.

One thing you can be sure of is that UBI will not be introduced in the UK. This is because it is fundamentally at odds with Tory ideology. They need millions of low paid workers to be reliant on employment. This allows employers to exploit people, using the fear of unemployment as a tool to ensure compliance. UBI would place more power in the hands of workers as it would remove that fear of unemployment. Anyone who was not happy at their work could leave in the knowledge that they would still receive some income, albeit not enough to maintain a lavish lifestyle. However, a modest income would allow many people to bridge a short period of unemployment far more easily than the current system of applying for Universal Credit, which is itself a tool used by the UK Government to encourage a reliance on taking any job, no matter how low-paid or unsuitable it might be.

UBI has been shown to work in places where it has been introduced. Mental wellbeing and health outcomes are improved, and the impact on the economy is positive. But that won’t stop the Tories objecting to it. Above all, UBI shifts the balance of power away from employers towards employees. In Tory eyes, that is simply not acceptable.

What the current pandemic has shown, however, is that UBI would have mitigated many of the problems people are experiencing, so becoming a normal country and establishing a Universal Basic Income must surely soon become a priority.