In a markedly poor and fact free address to the SNP conference at Perth, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney, on message, went through the tedious ritual of blaming Westminster for all of Scotland’s economic woes.
This, of course, conveniently ignores the fact that even in the good times bef0re 2008, our chief economic development agency, Scottish Enterprise, scored a performance that would not qualify it for the business equivalent of the Dark Sky Discovery Site status now awarded to The Putechan Hotel in Kintyre.
Then there is the matter of government strategy for economic development – but we haven’t got one of those. That will be Westminster’s fault too, somehow.
Mr Swinney’s presentation was supposedly demonstrating how an independent Scotland could survive and prosper economically. In fact he avoided everything to do with that topic – still unfocused and devoid of figures. He centred his address on political points-scoring and a remarkably inappropriate notion to emanate from national government.
In simultaneously taking a swipe at UK Chancellor George Osborne’s austerity regime to pay down the UK’s substantial debt burden and at Scottish Labour Leader, Johann Lamont’s courageous naming of the politically unnameable, – ‘the something for nothing culture’, Mr Swinney subliminally offered an unrealisable economic vision.
This sees a Scotland spending its way out of recession [by borrowing - but the means were, unsurprisingly not mentioned] – and at the same time funding the range and nature of universal benefits we currently enjoy.
Where the money would come to finance Scotland;s hugely swollen debt burden from this tactic as well as continuing to fund our current benefits, was undefined.
The revenue side was left vaguely with the universal oil panacea and supported by a notion of alarming mundanity, belonging in the domestic entertainment world but advanced as the route to economic development through innovation in an independent Scotland.
In short, the Government plans to go in for game show business development.
The scale of this visionary ambition is breathtaking – in reverse.
The Government will support business development through creating a fund of – wait for it – £1 million.
This will support a Dragons’ Den series of bids from budding businesses, to be adjudicated by the predictable and much farmed business trusties, Sir Tom Hunter and Sir Willie Haughey.
The ceiling for bids is a dizzying £50,000.
Folks – this is play school economics.
Nothing accelerates more powerfully than this the growing awareness of the inability of the SNP administration to raise its game to the level required to govern a newly independent state – and one which would be born in the very worst of global economic circumstances.
This single proposition shows how far the strategic planning capability of the Scottish government is distant from what it would need to be to lead a new nation to growth while maintaining and bettering the standard of living to which people are already used – which is exactly the promise being made.
- According to Deputy First Mister Nicola Sturgeon, every Scot will be £500 a year better off in an independent Scotland;
- And according to First Minister Alex Salmond’s version - each household will be £1,000 a year better off in an independent Scotland.
This broadly similar figure appears to have been plucked from no more substantial an economic analysis than the fact that some time ago a poll result showed that people would vote for independence if they thought they would be £500 a year better off.
We are expected to believe that this can be achieved by a spending Scotland, funding the current menu of universal benefits and stimulating business development with a pocket money version of a television game show.
This is a child’s letter to Santa.