Game show government: the big idea for economic development?

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.

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12 Responses to Game show government: the big idea for economic development?

  1. Oh yes, content free, fact free . . . or did you simply not bother reading it?

    We are switching over 700 million pounds from resource to capital spending between now and 2014-15 to keep that vital investment flowing.
    And, we are delivering 2.5 billion pounds in Non Profit Distributing investment, building schools, hospitals and roads.
    Taken together we are delivering:
    • 67 new schools,
    • The Aberdeen Bypass.
    • Edinburgh sick kids’ hospital.
    • The M8 upgrade
    • 30,000 new homes
    • And, the new Forth Bridge.
    Conference, for every 100 million pounds of additional capital spending we invest, fourteen hundred jobs in the Scottish economy are supported.
    Our Opportunities for All initiative ensures every 16-19 year old not already in work, education or training is offered a learning or training opportunity;
    The new employer initiative will create up to 10,000 opportunities for SME businesses to recruit young people.
    We have maintained the Education Maintenance Allowance – abolished by the Tories in the rest of the UK.
    And, we are delivering 25,000 modern apprenticeships

    You may not agree with their priorities, but the current Scots government are in fact being quite proactive and creative in what they do with the funds available. This is why they are the only trusted pair of hands in Scottish politics at the moment.

    Another dull substance-free Nat-bashing article I’m afraid Newsroom. You could try syndicating it to the Hootsmon, but as it has taken you two days to come up with this response I don’t suppose even they would be interested.

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  2. There is nothing there that would not have been completed by the old Scottish Office with the saving of billions of tax payers monies in having to keep the Holyrood gravy train going. What was it I read recently – after only 5 years each MSP has nearly a half million pound pension pot. Farcical !

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    • Malcolm: read the list again: it mentions Roads, and one commitment is to rebuild the failed stretch of the A82 at Pulpit Rock on Loch Lomondside.
      This is something that the old Scottish Office chose to ignore, and it’s been an indictment of this country’s Lib / Lab / Con governments for many, many decades.

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  3. Well said SR.
    Newsroom, I don’t recall the attempted dissection and criticism of the content of the other parties conferences. It is plainly obvious given the relentless barrage of anti SNP reporting where your politics lie however, it might be refreshing to at least make an attempt to provide an accurate and impartial overview on matters such as this, not a scewed misrepresentation of proceedings based on personal bias. Let us all view and comment upon the facts, not what appear to be your personal views. We, the general public, have come to expect partisan representation of the Conservative and Labour party in our tabliods and broadsheets as each paper tends to have it’s political stance however I for one visited Argyll News expecting at least an appearance of impartiality in it’s reporting of political matters, absolutely no chance sadly. Was there any condemnation of Joanne Lamont’s recent alignment with the tories? Ruth Davison’s recent Scotlands 12% contribution claim? both extremly contentious issues and equally shameful.

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    • The reality is that the other parties’ conferences are of no account. The SNP are the government and have an overall majority. Governing is about a lot more than this nonsense.

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      • The reality is that the other parties’ conferences are of no account

        What an insulting remark.

        I am astounded that other commenters on here seem to have let you away with this one.

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        • It was the electorate who decided in 2011 that the other parties were of no account.
          The SNP are the party of government with a majority the system was specifically designed to prevent them from getting.
          They are also overtly leading Scotland to a decision on whether it should remain in the UK or become independent – a situation the SNP are in no way ready to manage.
          The SNP conference was no more intrinsically worthwhile than any of the others and we paid no other attention to it than its NATO debate and John Swinney’s quite shockingly feeble ‘economic case’ for independence.
          Both of these issues matter to all of us because they are part of the independence proposition we will be asked to vote on around this time 2014.

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      • So, when an independent Scotland arrives in 2014 then the Scottish elections in 2016, we can expect such vitriolic condemnation of say a governing Labour party if elected? I would be fairly confident the SNP party if in opposition would get this continued treatment, mind you, you by then would have failed in your attempts to dissuade Scottish voters to vote ‘yes’. Regarding your comment “The reality is that the other parties’ conferences are of no account” So the opposition’s (unionists) intent to thwart Scottish independence is of no account bearing in mind that it is Camerons top priority. If you are so fervently opposed to what the SNP have to say during their conference with their vision for an independent Scotland surely it is equally important to scrutinise the unionists arguments with an equally critical eye at theirs. I didn’t recall much detail of extra devolved powers for Scotland from Labour or Tories at either conference so what was their vision for a post no vote. I for one believe this to be ‘of account’.

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  4. I think we need to get you accredited for the next SNP conference.

    If you had been at Perth you would have discovered that the SNP policy now supports Housing Expos.

    Another positive step in our securing a Housing Expo for Helensburgh and Lomond.

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  5. A visit to Perth would also have afforded the opportunity to attend the Sunday Times lecture where John, a man who commands the respect and affection of most in the political world, explained in detail how our finances are run. In a small nation it’s much more possible to achieve efficiencies and our “something for nothing” was paid for entirely by savings made elsewhere – not cuts, but actual savings made by improving efficiency and cutting waste.

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    • it would be interesting, with John Swinney’s experience since 2007, to know what figures he gave to demonstrate this from the savings already made.

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