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Friday, December 03, 2004


In the budget debate Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party, said:

"Can [Mr Brown] explain why his boasts for the performance of the UK economy are not matched by the Scottish economy, where unemployment is significantly higher and growth significantly lower. Who is responsible for that failure? Is it the Chancellor or the hapless Scottish Executive?" Independent

The correct answer, which Gordon Brown cannot give, is that it is the Scottish Executive's. The growth rate of 3.5% achieved by the UK is really rather creditable by historic UK standards. Our growth rate of no more than 1.5% looks pretty sick by comparison & the only real different factor is Holyrood. One virtue of federation is that, by allowing different areas to try different solutions you find which works best. Unfortunately Holyrood's role here increasingly looks less like a Good Example than an 'Orrible Warning.

Since Gordon can't answer Alex's question truthfully he cannot then go on to castigate the SNP as they also deserve. Alex is an economist to trade & Jim Mather their economic spokesman has said some decent stuff but consistently the SNP have attacked the Executive for not spending enough (fisherman's subsidies, highland subsidies, small hospital subsidies, windmill subsidies, national grid subsidies) - all good populist stuff but ultimately damaging to the economy.

The SNP suffers from a split personality - most of it's activists are left wing but most of it's voters, particularly in the North East where they win, are right wing. I was in the audience during the TV debate for the Euro election when the SNP candidate said that SSP voters should vote SNP because "their policies are a copy of ours". The SSP's policies are economically insane, or as they put it "not costed". This may not do to much harm for a party that does not aspire to be more than a lobby for their own supporters, though even then it does some harm, but it would be a disaster in government.

Every poll shows that independece is neither popular nor a priority (an opinion with which I agree) & so long as our politicians cannot demonstrate a level of competence at least equal to Westminster it is unlikely that the Scots people will choose to be rid of Westminster. The SNP should concentrate on proving themselves fit for government first (fortunately for them & unfortunately for us the standard isn't high).

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