Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I read with regret of the failure of the Scottish economy predicted by Professor Brian Ashcroft (article 19th June). That it would slow to under 2% & still be nearly 1% behind the UK average in 2011. This is the date when the SNP promised, very modestly, to reach average UK growth rates as part of Alex Salmond's much less modest promise to produce a "Celtic Lion" economy matching Ireland's Celtic Tiger (which has managed a long term growth rate of 7%).
While Gordon Brown may claim that economic failure owes much to world conditions & the high oil price Mr Salmond can hardly use either excuse to say why we continue to do worse than England. [By contrast Ireland achieved high growth by 1990, Less than a year after its change of direction.]
The real tragedy is not that the SNP cannot do anything but that they seem no more prepared than their predecessors to do the things they know can be done. If corporation tax cannot yet be cut for constitutional reasons they can make equivalent cuts in business rates which should have very similar effects. So far they have made only a minor cut in rates & even had to be pushed into that by the Conservatives. Our economy remains mired in rules & quangocracy [as the 3 year minimum delay in letting Trump's £1 billion investment here, nominally supported by all parties, proves. The only apparent good news is that house prices aren't falling here as in England but this merely proves how much more stifling our bureaucracy is - nowadays house prices are dictated more by either shortage of land or "planning" constraints rather than the cost of building the things - & Scotland has no shortage of land.] Even Labour & the Tories have belatedly recognised that we will not have an economy if the lights go out yet the SNP continue to pretend that if they talk enthusiastically enough about windmillery it will work.
The promise they made could, without great difficulty, be fulfilled yet while they talk the talk they are abjectly failing to walk the walk.
The bit of the 3rd para edited was probably because it was moving into more controversy & thus blunting my main point, particularly by saying that house prices are largely regulatory, in what is anyway a fairly long letter. but I think it is important not merely to complain but to put forward alternatives.
To be fair Brian Ashcroft is Mr Wendy Alexander & it may be that he is being over cautious about progress but I think not.