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Scottish unemployment - it's up again

Brian Taylor | 15:18 UK time, Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Worrying figures yet again on Scottish unemployment.

The rate is up and the trend is worse than south of the border.

Politically, this has prompted two strands of debate. Firstly, the impact of coming spending cuts.

Secondly, an assessment of the nature of the Scottish economy.

In political circles, debate number one now centres around the depth and pace of cuts: not, mostly, whether those cuts should happen in the first place.

Political parties at Holyrood, as billed previously, are presently jockeying with each other as to which of them will show their hand first on spending strategy - or, more precisely, whether all the opposition parties will have a substantive response to offer to John Swinney's package when it emerges.

Longer term, debate number two may be more germane still. Is Scotland's private sector economy fundamentally stagnant or merely temporarily sluggish?

Enhancing growth

Is growth forever doomed to lag behind the UK average? Would changes in existing policy, within existing devolved powers, alter that? Or enhanced devolution? Or fiscal autonomy? Or independence?

Can a revitalised private sector replace the jobs which are bound to be lost in the public sector, once cuts are in place?

Or will that endeavour be neutralised or even reversed by the very impact of those cuts on, for example, private suppliers?

In response, we have the union sector broadly resisting cuts, most notably at the TUC.

We have the business sector attempting to straddle both debates by arguing that priority must be given within public spending to those programmes which sustain and enhance growth.


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