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Strategic economics

Brian Taylor | 17:41 UK time, Tuesday, 13 November 2007

It is, Team Clinton told us, “the economy, stupid.” John Swinney would never echo those precise words.
He’s too ineffably polite to call anyone stupid. And, in any case, it isn’t good politics to be so blunt when your majority is non-existent.
However, it would appear that Mr Swinney agrees with the underlying sentiment.

Today SNP Ministers published their economic strategy.
There they sat in Glasgow University: Alex Salmond (economist), John Swinney (financial accountant) and Jim Mather (millionaire businessman.) A triumvirate of fiscal reassurance.

Everything is to be subjugated to the need to improve Scotland’s growth rate. Improve health? Certainly, best way to get people back to work. Improve skills? Yes, but make sure they’re marketable.
There are two targets: match UK growth by 2011 and match small European economies like Denmark and Ireland by 2017.

There was a flurry of excitement when Mr Salmond forecast that Scotland would have the powers of a full economy by that latter date. So is that: “independence – keen by 2017”?
Not quite. It is possible to interpret his comments as meaning that Scotland might achieve extra fiscal powers, short of independence. In any case, do we expect the FM to play down the prospect of independence?

Today was mostly about what can be done within devolution. Opposition critics, perfectly understandably, want to talk about what won’t be done. There won’t be 1000 shiny new police officers. There won’t be class sizes of 18 in the early years of school any time soon.

Mr Salmond and Mr Swinney say they’ll do the very best with the relatively tight settlement from the Treasury. They invite the public to judge them on that – and, explicitly, on that target of matching UK growth by the next Holyrood election.


  • 1.
  • At 06:03 PM on 13 Nov 2007,
  • Bill wrote:

Brian just wanted to be first before AM2 woke up after his afternoon sleep. I look forward to JS first budget.Go on John and show all those idiot unionists to take back 90% of the rubbish they post here

  • 2.
  • At 08:05 PM on 13 Nov 2007,
  • J Nicholson wrote:

An extra ÂŁ10K/annum/family? Does this mean the pensions going up by ÂŁ200/week or is this another disappearing police syndrom. The latter I think and another case of opening mouth before engaging brain. No wonder most peole switch off poltics and politicians.

Now that the SNP have talked the talk the opposition should shut up and see if they can now walk the walk.

Certainly people must be getting thoroughly fed up with inane howling over the 1000 policemen and class sizes of 18 by now.

People understand that the Government can only work with the money they have available and that whilst their intentions are honorable they may fall short because of financial restrictions e.g ÂŁ500million being spent on the trams courtesy of the opposition.

Re the police: if 1000 extra police are seen on the streets by 2011 then will the public care how they got there? I don't think so. Especially if it's being achieved in a way which is saving money, i.e. redeploying existing police instead of having to recruit (and pay) an extra 1000 police.

I think we will find that overall, the public are very happy with the SNP performance and of course, that's what's worrying the opposition, thus the constant carping from the sidelines.

  • 4.
  • At 11:08 PM on 13 Nov 2007,
  • Bill Beattie wrote:

The SNP,s election manifesto was one of hope and aspiration. I believe it still is.

Unfortunately because of the limitations of the devolved settlement, the "barnett" formula (reduced this year) and all the "Scottish??" unionist parties allied against them, they have to deliver what they can and as the English would have it "cut their coats according to their cloth"

I'm sure most thinking Scots know what parties are not delivering for them.

  • 5.
  • At 11:30 PM on 13 Nov 2007,
  • Alan wrote:

Just remember that ÂŁ600 million is being spent by Tories, Labour and Liberals on an Edinburgh tram scheme before you ask where the budget is for classrooms and policemen.

  • 6.
  • At 12:59 AM on 14 Nov 2007,
  • Russell Somerville wrote:

One gets the feeling that the SNP crying out about the "tight treasury settlement" is nothing more than trying to lay blame to their already inevitable failures and broken promises.

As a Scot in exile in England (as a result of Labour no less) I feel anger and sorrow for the land I left behind in my search of decent work.

  • 7.
  • At 07:02 AM on 14 Nov 2007,
  • Craig wrote:

When a individual like Alex Salmond puts forward his patriotic and forthright views on his country we should all take note.

The current political insurrection has been without question lead by his party,as his vision of a free,democratic and independent Scotland gathers momentum daily.

His bona fide plan for Scotland is now shared by many, many more are converted on a regular basis. The opposition are in danger of being overwhelmed by this nationalist steamroller.

As Alex Salmond puts our case forward one cannot help but notice the wall of silence eminating from the opposition,it seems this man will establish himself and his party as the future of positive politics.

Alex Salmond, I salute you and your cause.


  • 8.
  • At 08:41 AM on 14 Nov 2007,
  • Ross wrote:

#1 here here

  • 9.
  • At 09:11 AM on 14 Nov 2007,
  • Scamp wrote:

But has anyone told the banks and other financial institutions that in order to achieve real growth they've got to start to get involved in doing what every other country does so much better which is proper provision of risk equity capital.

  • 10.
  • At 11:21 AM on 14 Nov 2007,
  • Mac wrote:

Today is a first of many firsts.

The first of the firsts was of course a SNP government (how that sticks in the craws of the Unionists and their buddies in the Scottish newspaper and television media), and now a SNP budget (I would imagine that Gordon Brown's face must be turning purple at the very thought.)

Today will be another bad day Scottish Unionists everywhere, and if there is a God we Scots should give thanks for that.

Well done the SNP.

  • 11.
  • At 11:23 AM on 14 Nov 2007,
  • Derek Burns wrote:

The perfectly imperfect put out their plans for growth for Scotland but I am amazed at their zeal and confidence. This is a "government" which lacks punch and depth. It is a "government" which remind me of a bunch of unruly kids who are being "empowered" by a New Age school teacher at Secondary. We allow them certain status, power and decision making around the class but they will never run the school. The SNP still don't get; they got here by default. Yip, those soiled votes. And we, tolerate them. It's nothing personal. They can continue planning the plans but the outcome will be brought back to perfection when the next elections come round. Meantime, growth rates, great plans for independence, etc will need to wait for another generation...

  • 12.
  • At 11:31 AM on 14 Nov 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

I think it's fairly clear that to get anywhere near that kind of growth, we need to reduce the dependence on the public sector; it contributes a significant chunk of Scotland's GVA, which is troubling. I'm all for it - so hopefully more investment in new companies, tax breaks for startups, and a bit of a hand through the byzantine regulations and myriad bodies that may or may not help start-ups.

If he can deliver the economy, then independence will look less like the apocalypse with every passing day, which is exactly the SNP's plan - get in, get a record in governing and prove it's feasible. I'm a sceptic, but happy to be proven wrong about independence.

  • 13.
  • At 12:47 PM on 14 Nov 2007,
  • Rod West wrote:

I felt sad the other day, when I saw the front page of "The Scotsman", criticising the SNP on their 1000 new Police pledge. As the name suggests, "The Scotsman" should be Scotland's newspaper, not an anti-SNP rag.

The people of Scotland, showed, not just support for the SNP, but also a distaste towards negative campaigning (read reporting?).

Take heid, you should be priviliged to use the word, "Scotsman".

  • 14.
  • At 04:14 PM on 14 Nov 2007,
  • Dave "Boy" wrote:

# 1, I can't let your comment go without response.

A political party who believes - that those who don't support them, are "idiots" - is quite simply not fit to govern. I sincerely hope that the SNP's elected representatives do not share your intolerant view of life.

I enjoy this blog as there are many insightful posters on here across the full spectrum of opinion. I'd encourage you to give it a try!

  • 15.
  • At 08:31 PM on 14 Nov 2007,
  • Derek Ld wrote:

#13. So if a newspaper dares to print an article or story daring to criticise or question the SNP policy it will automatically be regarded as an "anti - SNP rag." How sad, yet what I find even sadder and no less frightening, is this ever increasing xenophobic attitude toward anyone who dares to differ from the nats new world view.Oh,lets just have some government censorship of the press why not?

  • 16.
  • At 07:30 AM on 15 Nov 2007,
  • Craig wrote:

In reply to #15.

As for media blanket blackout,the nationalist's can learn much from the Labour Party, lest we forget the attempted media blackout during the 'Cash For Honours' scandal.

Derek,I find the simplest solutions work best for me, I no longer purchase the newspaper in question.

Simply, Craig.

  • 17.
  • At 02:28 PM on 16 Nov 2007,
  • Ed Gray wrote:


The point is that much of the press seems to feel obliged to do the unionist parties' job for them; a situation that was accepted prior to May's election, and is not about to change overnight.

Take for instance the 'neutrally balanced' political coverage of the Daily Record. Although these days at least the worst of its anti-SNP diatribe appears to be tucked away on some obscure inside page.

And in regard to pre-election promises, wasn't it Labour who pledged that an SNP victory would cost every family ÂŁ5,000? When does that one come to fruition, Wendy??

Then again, maybe that was less of an election promise and more typical of a barefaced Labour lie.

Thanks for very interesting article. btw. I really enjoyed reading all of your posts. It’s interesting to read ideas, and observations from someone else’s point of view… makes you think more.
So please keep up the great work. Greetings.

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