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New pro-indy group anything but small Fry

An independence debate that has hardened into tedious trench warfare may be enlivened by a cavalry charge on the right flank, in the form of a new pro-Yes campaigning group, Wealthy Nation, headed by the historian and journalist Michael Fry.

Backed by a number of credible non-lefty intellectuals and business people, Fry is making the case for a revival of the great entrepreneurial spirit of Scotland, whose principles were expounded by Adam Smith, and whose essence - the group believes - lies dormant beneath half a century of dull statism.

Fry's thesis is expounded in his brilliant new history of 19th-century Scotland, A New Race of Men. It is that during Victorian Scotland's moment of economic glory, the country was effectively independent anyway, but the centralising process necessitated by wartime bureaucracy got bogged down in welfarist subsidy-hunger, squeezing the country's commercial cojones.

It is a brave manifesto, but one that Agenda can't see being enforced in the event of a Yes vote. Modern Scottish Nationalism has defined itself as an extender of state largesse, and there is nothing in the White Paper that meaningfully explores the relationship between an expanded welfare state and an emphasis on wealth creation.

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