Stuart McMillan and Jackie Baillie, respectively SNP MSP for West Scotland and Labour MSP for Dumbarton, have had an interesting exchange of letters on the subject of economic regeneration through government investment in capital projects.
The English Opening: Stuart McMillan
First Mr McMillan wrote to Ms Billie asking for her and Labour’s support in an approach to the UK government to support increased capital investment spending in Scotland.
‘As you will be aware the SNP has been calling on the UK Government to provide Capital Spending Investment to assist Scotland’s economic recovery. This investment in shovel ready projects would have a significant impact on creating jobs and opportunities in Scotland and would take a stand against the austerity politics of the Con-Dem Coalition.
‘I am writing to you in order to ask that you back these calls by the SNP.
‘I believe that the interests of the people of Scotland are best served by the Labour party working with the SNP Government on this issue. I am sure you will agree that the Con-Dem Coalition austerity measures are proving deeply damaging to Scotland and that it is important to take a stand against them. I am sure grassroots Labour supporters would be keen to see their local politicians stand up against the Tories and their austerity agenda.
‘Although in terms of employment Scotland is outperforming the rest of the UK, it is clear that more direct action from the UK Government is needed in the form of funding for the shovel ready projects.
‘The case is that properly targeted shovel ready projects – with £400 million for Scotland – could make a profound difference to the construction industry immediately at this particular time and tackle the problems in Scotland inflicted by the UK Government.
‘I hope you will support your constituents by backing the SNP Government on this issue.’
Leave aside the jaw-grinding irritation of the ready adoption of the ‘shovel ready’ sound bite the First Minister ebulliently introduced a while ago – and most probably from a position of never having used a shovel.
In chess, what is called The English Opening is a flexible choice for White.
Here Mr McMillan may either back Ms Baillie into a difficult public spot if she fails to respond positively to a move in the interests of Scotland. Alternatively he may lead her to make the move he wants to see.
The Hedgehog Defence: Jackie Baillie
Ms Baillie responded to this opener first by making a scribbled note on the McMillan letter, asking her office staff to enquire of party HQ if there was a line to take on this issue. This is what makes Boris Johnson a politician attractive to voters if not to senior colleagues.
Ms Baillie replied:
‘It is disappointing that, whilst you call for extra investment for shovel ready projects, you fail to address the opportunities where the Scottish Government already have powers at their disposal to reinvigorate the economy.
‘Naturally, I favour capital investment in projects such as schools, hospitals, roads and transport to get our economy moving again. Yet, the SNP has by its’ own actions has failed to stimulate the economy. Indeed some would argue the SNP Government has chosen to do the opposite of what is required – slashing the housing budget by £100m, money that could have been used to boost construction and grow the economy; delaying long promised projects like the Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh; and, in the case of big spending contracts, such as the Forth Road Bridge, awarding the steel contract to China rather than keeping the money in Scotland. All of these, I am sure you would agree, are lost opportunities.
‘It would also be interesting to hear your view on the level of youth unemployment in West Dunbartonshire, a subject on which you have been remarkably silent. This area has suffered from a huge rise in the level of unemployment, and youth unemployment in particular. Surveys indicate that 30 people are chasing each job vacancy in the area. So imagine my disappointment that Enterprise Zone funding from the Scottish Government was denied to West Dunbartonshire. This insult was compounded by the lack of any financial assistance from the SNP’s Youth Employment Fund for this area.
‘It would be helpful to know whether you agree with the SNP Government’s decisions on the Enterprise Zone and Youth Employment Fund, effectively diverting money away from West Dunbartonshire?
‘I am always happy to make common cause with any politician or political party to get the economy moving again. The current UK Government austerity policy is clearly not working, but equally the Scottish Government could do more with the powers already at its’ disposal to get the local economy moving again.
‘I look forward to receiving your response.’
The Hedgehog Defence produces games that are usually excessively slow maneuvering affairs,with both sides trying to remain flexible and solid while attempting to provoke weaknesses in the opponent.