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Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Scotland's SNP government are committed to producing a "Scottish Lion" economy (a heraldic version of Ireland's Celtic Tiger. Alex Salmond said
"Scotland's economy has suffered from decades of mediocrity. Over the last 30 years, Scotland's growth has averaged just 1.8 per cent - around a half of the average rate of growth for small European countries. And over the last 25 years, this same figure can be compared to the UK's growth rate of 2.3%.

"Scotland deserves better. And the Scottish Government believes that Scotland can - indeed must - become wealthier and fairer.

"Each of the five priorities in our economic strategy will be the focus of our efforts, and must be the focus, too, of our public, private and third sectors. For the first time, this is a national strategy that everyone can recognise and sign up to.

"This is also the first strategy of its kind with measurable, time-bound targets - including our ambitious target to raise Scotland's growth rate to the UK level by 2011. ....

"My hope for Scotland is that we will be honest about where we are and ambitious about where we can go. And, perhaps, as people now talk about the wonder of the Irish Celtic Tiger, within the next generation we can introduce the world to a new marvel - the Scottish Celtic Lion."
So lets be honest then Alex - your targets are disgracefully modest - that is a commitment to raise our growth by under 1% to 2.5%. This is not going to look like a tiger to anybody. Ireland has managed 7%, so has Estonia & Russia, China has managed 10% & seems if anything to be rising. I am willing to grant that the SNP are doing better than the Celtic Potato Sacks of Labour & the LibDems & the Tories seem little more active but you could do so much better. With world growth at 5% this cannot be a target for rejuvenating anything.

John Swinney waters it down with
....tightest financial settlement since devolution ..... sustainable economic growth .... investment in learning and skills, infrastructure and place, with a supportive business environment and an effective government ..... reducing income and regional inequalities
Well not really. You have to be single minded to achieve things. 9% growth would double everybody's income in 8 years. Serious growth is so important that it should be be the clear priority & if that takes tough decisions so be it.

Part of the reason for this can be seen in their listing of priorities.

* Learning, Skills and Well-being

* Supportive Business Environment

* Infrastructure Development and Place

* Effective Government

* Equity

No. The necessary & sufficient condition for success is a good business environment. Skills are well worth pushing. Learning & well-being are both worthwhile for their own sake & the former is of long term economic importance, but making entrepreneurship rewarding rather than a slog through government regulations should override everything.

What the SNP should do

Abolish business rates [cost about £1.8 billion]

Freeze each Ministry's spending including a hiring ban until 2% personnel cuts have been made {save about £1.5 billion rising each year it is maintained]}

Cut income tax 3% [cost £870 million]

Go nuclear [cost zero of done by private industry, £500 million a tear if done publicly but then the public owns the asset]

Stop subsidising windmills [save £1 billion]

Cut Scottish Enterprise you can attract more entrepreneurship with lower taxes. [save £500 million}

Publicly commit to cutting corporation tax so that the total tax stays the same, when Westminster allows. [cost zero now & ultimately zero to the net tax take as well]

Cut homebuilding regulations on the Irish model {cost zero]

Pay for the SNP's other promises only from the £3 billion potential saving publicly identified by Professors Sir Donald MacKay & David Bell. If that means some of the SNP's promises are delayed explain exactly why to the Scottish people, apologise but do it.

At 9% growth we would be a 41% better off Lion by 2011, at the UK average we will be 10% better off budgies

We will see what they are planning tomorrow.

I am looking for my memories through the stories, the narrative of people. I feel it is difficult but I will try.

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