Sunday, November 11, 2007

Promises are a bit like presents - they're only good when you get them.

The SNP have behaved just as one would have expected from a party trying to get into power and promised more than they can deliver. They also have another problem - they've got into one kind of power, but it's not the power they want. Independence to them is everything and instead of getting on with the job of playing the cards they've been dealt they want to change the game, the rules and of course get a fresh hand.

John Swinney's pronouncement that EVERY household in Scotland will be £10,000 a year better off within a decade (under an independent Scotland run by the SNP) is just plain stupid. He bases his prediction on boosting small and medium-sized businesses, investing in industries of the future and better training, resulting in better-paid jobs. It all looks good on paper but of course like many such predictions it's also based on statistical extrapolation. Having been involved in economic planning at one time in my life I came to realise that forecasting was as much as anything a matter of luck. As often as not getting to the right answer depended on so many factors out with your control and correct forecasting happened a lot less often than it did.

Swinney said the £10,000 rise in average wealth would be achieved by economic growth reaching 4% per year, the same rate as small independent countries in the EU, compared to Scotland's current 2.1% rate. Of course it all depends on Scotland becoming independent, which is still an unlikely outcome. However, it's tactics like this by the SNP that are designed to make it more likely. Promising the earth and then having to deliver it is always a tricky political manoeuvre. In this case it's amateur forecasting that Swinney well knows will never be tested and all he's doing is grabbing some headlines for the SNP. It's also designed to divert attention from some of their other failed promises (notably class sizes and the extra policeman).

I guess this is also another example of the SNP having a ‘conversation’ on independence; pretty soon people are going to realise that it's a pretty one sided. Isn’t it about time we started talking about the cost of independence? It is inconceivable that the cost of running an independent Scotland will not rise. The SNP and John Swinney are a bit like salesmen - all they think about are their revenue targets. Would I trust a man like him to run my business? It’s all very well having a man with “a work rate the size of Jupiter”, multi-tasking, as John Swinney does, but it would also be good if he also had "a brain the size of a planet".

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