jimtoggleJim O’Neill takes on the Scottish Government on the economic madness of independence given the latest trade figures, and the budget choices they have made which are leading inexorably to inevitable results. 


Last blog, I tried to say something nice, without criticism, about this SNP government. I waited for a response from the usual suspects. And I waited and I waited, until I began to believe that if they couldn’t say anything bad about what I wrote, they, to paraphrase Thumper in Disney’s Bambi, would say nothing at all.

Foolish me. If they could not directly criticise what I said, after some time they resorted to post-truth nationalism. This is where either fake news is created, like Trump, or direct nonsense is spewed to try to deflect the reader from the subject.

I note that the same bunch have now also turned to my good friend, Alastair Osborne, strangely comparing him with me. I have news for Mike and others. As a former Minister, who weekly had to write sermons for believers and unbelievers, Alastair is much more erudite than me, and much more likely to forgive his detractors. So, I return to my regular themes

When the Supreme Court ruled that the British Government did not have to consult Holyrood on Article 50, Nicola Sturgeon and failed Education Minister Mike Russell ratcheted up the politics of grievance. They had argued that the Sewell Convention and the Scotland Act required their involvement. They seemingly did not notice that the Scotland Act reserved all European matters to Westminster, and their education failed them in believing that a convention is a requirement. Sadly, it is called a convention quite specifically because it is not a requirement. So, it was no surprise to anyone who understood the law in these matters that the court resisted their views 11 – 0, the Bon Accord defeat of legal history.

As a matter of interest, London has a bigger population that Scotland, has its own Assembly, has more MPs than Scotland and voted remain by a bigger margin than Scotland. Does her logic mean that the London Assembly should be consulted separately as well, but that all those areas that voted no should not be? What a ridiculous situation. But that is standard in the SNPs obsession with independence.

New trade figures show how ridiculous their position even more starkly. The Scottish Government’s own figures show that our trade with rUK is now £49.8bn per annum, while our trade with rEU is £12.5bn. So trade with England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 4 times that with the EU. Yet Nicola and her cohorts want to pull out of the UK free trade area, giving up all that free trade, but want to stay in a vastly smaller one. I do not believe how economically stupid that sounds. Maybe she should convene her group of economic advisers, or maybe she should listen to the enormously respected Fraser of Allander Institute on this. What we don’t need right now is an exodus of all our producing industries as a result of the uncertainty which, at worst case, could leave us out of both!

So, Derek Mackay lost the initial vote on his budget on Wednesday. Now he has eight days either to swallow his pride and do a deal with Labour, the Greens or the LibDems to save his budget or to go down, all guns blazing, into history as the first Finance Minister at Holyrood to lose his budget. Nicola’s comments at FMQs did not give any inclination of concession but does she really want to fight Brexit, the local government elections and a Scottish Parliamentary election at the same time? Scotland waits with bated breath.

And finally, a new report suggests that children’s health in Scotland is among the worst in Europe. This is after 10 years of SNP control of health in Scotland. This is nothing to do with the austerity imposed by Westminster. It is entirely to do with the choices and competence of the Holyrood government. And now they want to limit the bus pass, which has done more for undermining elderly isolation than any other single policy. It’s choices, people. Choices!