SCOTTISH VOTERS ARE CONFUSED
Are you a confused voter? With the council elections only two weeks away, voters should be focusing on who they think may do the best job locally, rather than who they love or hate nationally. But confusion has engulfed Scotland’s electorate. They are confused that while a war rages in Europe, the Scottish government continues to obsess on the need for a divisive indyref2 in 2023. They are confused that while energy bills are rocketing, the SNP/Green coalition has turned its back on North Sea oil and gas and new energy-efficient nuclear plants. They are confused that while First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Finance Secretary Kate Forbes slate the Westminster government for the cost-of-living crisis and increases in national insurance, Scottish taxpayers face the highest income tax bills in the UK, thanks to the SNP. They are confused that Nicola Sturgeon’s much vaunted ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ has led to a sharp fall in Scotland’s educational standards, while insidious nationalist messages are allowed to creep into our textbooks, like claiming the Loch Ness Monster is a symbol of English domination! Most of all, voters are confused that while the SNP and Greens blame Brexit and breaking away from the European Union for Scotland’s woes, they want to implement Scexit and break away from our 315-year-old Union with the rest of the UK.
The voters are not the only ones who are confused. It seems like Scottish government ministers share that confusion. They are confused about the need to sustain jobs in Scotland, so they awarded the £110 million deal to build two new ferries to a Turkish shipyard instead of to their own nationalised Ferguson Marine yard on the Clyde. Determined to show that SNP and Green ministers can do a better job of running our transport services than commercial companies, the Scottish government has nationalised air, sea and rail, with predictably disastrous consequences at Ferguson Marine and Prestwick Airport. Now that they have taken ScotRail into state ownership what could possibly go wrong?
Faced with the perfect storm of post-pandemic economic recovery, the cost-of-living-crisis and the Ukraine war, the SNP government published its own half-baked recovery strategy last month. Full of self-congratulatory praise for the welter of failed business and economic growth schemes that have been a hallmark of SNP government incompetence for the past fifteen years, the report neglected to come up with any sensible plans for growth. SNP Finance Secretary Kate Forbes was quick to demand that Chancellor Rishi Sunak should do more to help Scotland’s poor, while simultaneously refusing to commit to reducing our spiralling taxes in Scotland. Instead of innovative ideas to create jobs, we have witnessed the worst signs of the SNP’s tendency towards authoritarianism, with their decision to introduce new regulations that will make powers granted to ministers during the pandemic permanent. The First Minister and her team seem to relish the ability to close businesses, hotels, pubs, nightclubs, universities and schools on the advice of public health experts, without the need to seek the approval of parliament.
Confusion also seems to reign in the Justice department, where Justice Secretary Keith Brown thinks that locking up criminals is a mistake. As rape cases have soared by almost a third in the past year and as Scotland leads the world in drug deaths, the SNP/Green coalition want criminals under the age of 25, including murderers, spared jail because, at that tender age, apparently their brains are immature! This is the same SNP/Green coalition that wants 16-year-olds to be able to stand for election as MSPs! Presumably they believe that someone with an immature brain might excel as an SNP/Green cabinet secretary!
Confusion seems also to have infected the SNP’s team in London. Nothing illustrated this better than their major gaffe over pensions. Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader at Westminster, made the absurd statement that following independence, our state pension would continue to be paid by UK taxpayers. This ludicrous suggestion was quickly supported by Nicola Sturgeon and Kate Forbes, arguing that those who had contributed to the state pension pot, had a right to access their pensions from it. Of course, there is no such thing as a state pension pot. Pensions are funded from current revenue paid by today’s taxpayers. If Scotland broke away from the UK, Scottish taxpayers would have to meet the pension costs. This brazen attempt to hoodwink pensioners compounded the overall view that the nationalists have a confused grasp of Scotland’s finances. They also seem to suffer from deep confusion over gender. The SNP/Green coalition’s plans to reform the gender recognition bill, enabling trans women to gain access to female changing rooms, toilets, hospital wards and women’s prisons, appears to fly in the face of public opinion. But Nicola Sturgeon seems to adhere to the philosophy that people have a right to their opinions, and she has a right to ignore them.
For beleaguered Scots who wonder what an independent Scotland run by the SNP and Greens would be like, the evidence is clear and plain to see. Our public spending deficit more than doubled last year as spending increased and revenues fell, due to the pandemic and repeated lockdowns. Total Scotland-related spending rose to over £99 billion, while income from taxes fell to £63 billion, leaving a gap of £36 billion, or 22.4% of GDP. How would that enormous gap be filled after independence? Right now, the Treasury at Westminster makes up the shortfall. With a hard border with England after the breakup of the UK, there would be no fiscal bailouts and we would face swingeing cuts in services like education and the NHS, or massive tax hikes, to make up the shortfall. These unanswered questions must surely sound alarms? But for nationalist zealots, harsh economic realities matter little compared to the dream of independence. There is a famous saying that democracy is a see-saw tilting between chaos and tolerable confusion. It seems that Scotland’s separatist see-saw has passed the tolerable confusion mark and is now tilting towards chaos.