GAPING VOIDS IN THE NATIONALIST MODEL
Having awarded the contract for two new CalMac ferries to Turkey, the SNP/Green coalition at Holyrood has confirmed its credentials as the most incompetent government in Britain. The nationalised Ferguson Marine shipyard on the Clyde, home to two half-built rusting hulks, failed to win the £110 million deal. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was quick to blame the ferry fiasco on disgraced former SNP minister Derek Mackay, despite the fact he had apparently been on holiday when the disastrous deal to take the Ferguson Marine shipyard into state ownership was signed.
Nicola Sturgeon’s steady hand on the tiller was evident once again when she voiced her opinion on the Ukraine war, recommending NATO’s involvement in a no-fly-zone, while at the same time demanding the scrapping of the UK’s nuclear deterrent! At least she clarified the SNP’s two-word defence policy in an independent Scotland: “We surrender!” If Scotland left the UK, we would no longer be eligible to bid for big defence contracts such as warships, forcing companies like Babcock and BAE Systems to relocate to England. The cost in jobs to the Scottish economy would be devastating and would make the ferry fiasco look like child’s play.
The cracks that have appeared in the SNP government’s superstructure over the past fifteen years have now widened into gaping voids. 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 Scottish Finance Secretary 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 tenuous grasp of Scotland’s finances. The First Minister’s cries of joy when she landed £700 million for the public purse following the January auction of seabed plots for windfarms by Crown Estates Scotland, were quickly shot down by claims that we could have nailed annual pre-tax profits of up to £5.5 billion, had we created a national energy company. Those profits will now be enjoyed by foreign shareholders or by companies from the many countries that have invested in Scotland’s windfarm boom. This sad state-of-affairs has been a key feature of the SNP government’s race to turn Scotland into a giant wind factory, slamming the door on future nuclear generation and further oil and gas exploitation in the North Sea. As average household energy bills look set to soar to a mind-boggling £2,000 a year, Western efforts to fill the void left by a ban on Russian oil and gas, could have generated huge profits for Scotland. But SNP/Green intransigence means that our oil, gas and nuclear resources will remain untapped, while giant, industrial wind turbines will continue to be manufactured abroad by foreign companies and installed in Scotland mostly by foreign workers, with profits snared by foreign shareholders and foreign governments.
Facing the daunting impact of a brutal war in Europe and the economic challenge of post-pandemic recovery, the people of Scotland could have hoped for some reliable leadership. The SNP government published its own half-baked economic recovery strategy at the beginning of March. Full of self-congratulatory praise for the welter of failed business and economic growth schemes that have been a hallmark of SNP 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 tackle the cost-of-living crisis, 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.
The SNP/Green lunge towards centralised autocracy has not blunted their appetite to ignore the priorities of our nation, as it struggles to recover from Covid-19 and to comprehend the escalating dangers of a European war. Instead of facing these pressing matters, Patrick Harvie, the Green ‘Luddite’ minister in Nicola Sturgeon’s cabinet, says that the Ukraine crisis should not be allowed to delay indyref2. His desperation to break up the UK transcends even war and peace! As Scottish households struggle to make ends meet, the SNP coalition has nevertheless devoted Holyrood staff time and resources to planning for another divisive referendum in 2023.
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 at Gretna 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? Maybe our First Minister is not only keen to have our ferries built in Turkey, maybe she is also a fan of the autocratic strategies of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan?