Recovery, Covid-19 and the Scottish Economy

WHITHER THE Scottish economy?  This week (21 April) the Scottish Government published an update on the state of the economy following the COVID-19 lockdown.  It is issued under the signature of Gary Gillespie, the Scottish Government’s Chief Economist since 2011.  Gillespie was formerly with the Fraser of Allander economic think tank and remains a visiting professor at Strathclyde University. Gillespie is a fairly conventional bourgeois economist, but his pre-civil service research papers indicate he believes state intervention can yield positive economic performance.
The Gillespie report makes sober reading. It begins: “The COVID-19 pandemic is a health crisis that has now become an economic crisis”.  By crisis, Gillespie predicts that output in Scotland is set to fall by a third “during the current period of social distancing”.  Unlike other more optimistic agencies (the Treasury-influenced Office for Budget Responsibility, for instance), Gillespie seems more sanguine about the speed of economic recovery once the lockdown is lifted.  He advises correctly: “…not all sectors will come back immediately as external demand, consumer tastes, and business models will have changed significantly”. (emphasis added)
To coincide with the Gillespie report, the new Scottish Secretary for the Economy, Fiona Hyslop (Derek Mackay’s shotgun replacement) presented to the Scottish Parliament what she termed “her plan” to restore and reboot growth in output.  This “plan” comes in four stages: response, reset, restart, and recovery.  Curiously, Fiona Hyslop’s mnemonic repeats word for word the same four stages presented in a new economic briefing paper published by PR agency Charlotte Street Partners.  This briefing paper is penned by Andrew Wilson, author of the SNP’s infamous Sustainable Growth report – which rather suggests that Wilson sits at the very heart of SNP economic policy making – or is at least influential.
Fiona Hyslop’s statement began by rehearsing the emergency subsidies and loads offered by the Scottish Government to keep the economy ticking over – the so-called “response” stage.  The cash involved is largely the Barnett consequentials resulting from UK aid programmes, though one must commend the Scottish Government for allocating the monies in a manner focused directly on the distinct needs of the local economy. So far, so good.
To my mind, the other three stages (reset, restart, recovery) seem very artificial divisions – more a PR person’s attempt to pretend there is a strategy when there isn’t.  I think it is very difficult to elaborate any precise recovery timetable given the uncertainties regarding the mitigation and eradication of the virus. Most probably, different economic sectors will come out of the downturn at different times. The best one can do is prepare contingency plans to implement as and when.
To this end, Fiona Hislop has set up an advisory panel tasked with reporting back in June.  Again, I think there is a bit of artifice here.  Setting up an advisory commission looks like activity when not a lot is happening.  My beef is that the minister has chosen the wrong advisors.  The commission is headed by Benny Higgins, ex-banker and current chair of Buccleuch Estates, the feudal landowner. If the Tory Government at Westminster had appointed the chairman of the Duke of Westminster’s property empire, Grosvenor Estates, to head the body advising about post-virus economic recovery, every SNP MP in the House would have been screaming blue murder.
Fiona Hyslop used her statement to Parliament to appoint Robert Smith (aka Lord Kelvin) to support Higgins “to gather the views on the business aspects of the economic response”.  A former investment banker, Smith is the pre-eminent leader of the Scottish business class.  Like Branson, he even owns his own island, not to mention vineyards in South Africa.  Last year Derek Mackay appointed Smith as chair of Scottish Enterprise, with a modest annual pay packet of £44,520, for 1.75 days a week.  Smith is also chairman of the British Business Bank (which manages the Treasury’s virus bailouts for companies) and Forth Ports (a strategic land and property developer as well as a logistics group).  And yes, he chaired the infamous Smith Commission after the 2014 independence referendum.
True, the new recovery group includes Graham Smith, outgoing STUC Secretary and a Yes supporter. But Smith retires next month.  Why not appoint his successor, Rozanne Foyer?  Also on board is Sir Anton Muscatelli, boss of my alma mater, Glasgow University (latest salary: £342,200).  Muscatelli is a liberal, pro-Europe economist whose recent report for the Scottish Government on industrial innovation recommended boosting research and development spending to £1.7bn by 2025. Frankly, that’s less than a third of what they spend now in Norway or Denmark, and fully an eighth of the Israeli figure. In other words, Muscatelli will not be recommending anything radical, even in bourgeois economic terms.
Next on the list of recovery advisors is “Dame” Sue Bruce.  As Chief Executive of Edinburgh Council, she strong-armed the Scottish Government into subsidising the giant US investment and property conglomerate Nuveen to rebuild the St James Centre. Nuveen, readers of Bella will remember, makes its dosh from burning large tracts of the Brazilian savannah (and wildlife) to turn into agribusiness. Why either Edinburgh Council or the Scottish Government is subsidising American finance capital I cannot fathom, but “Dame” Sue is party to the game. Having retired from the Capital’s local government she is now on the board of Scottish and Southern Energy.  Last year, SSE moved its Scottish and UK business into a new Swiss holding company.  SSE explained it had done so because of Labour Party’s pledge to take energy into state ownership.  So much for “Dame” Sue’s commitment to the Scottish economy or taxpayer.
Next up is the maverick energy economist Dieter Helm – because no advisory panel is ever complete without adding an Oxford academic, to ensure the British Establishment is always kowtowed to. Helms gives the impression of being a “green” economist, but he is a vocal critic of wind power, which he claims is over-priced. Which perhaps explains why Helms was appointed by Theresa May (remember her?) to head up a review of the financial cost of energy in the UK.  Helms is also a big supporter of more natural gas, which will please the energy giants.
I note that Fiona Hyslop, in her statement to Parliament, went out of her way to mention Big Energy: “We continue to work closely with the UK Government and Oil and Gas UK to assess what more can be done to support the sector during its immediate and longer terms challenges”.  Taken together with Helms’ appointment to the recovery commission, assume there will be a high priority in rebooting North Sea fossil fuel production.  Just the opposite is required.
Bringing up the rear on the commission are Prof John Kay of the London School of Economics (a long-time advisor to Scottish administrations) and Anna Vignoles, Professor of Education at Cambridge University.  Kay has always shown sympathies towards independence but his vision of indy Scotland is irredeemably conservative.  A business economist much lauded by Andrew Wilson, Kay welcomed Wilson’s Growth Commission report by saying it was the equivalent of “teenagers growing up” and that Wilson had put an end to “flag-waving fantasies”.  But what’s the point of independence if nothing changes?
The appointment of Vignoles is another bow to the Oxbridge Establishment but at least she is more willing to challenge the status quo.  She is involved in a major study project to examine the impact of university degrees on life-chances and the economy, across the UK. Early findings show that graduates from wealthier social backgrounds do better in the labour market than other students, even if they have equivalent degrees.  Vignoles says: “Even students who studied the same subject at the same university earn on average 10% less than more affluent peers if they come from poorer backgrounds”.  In other words, the rich have personal networks (the City, private schools etc) that the children of working class or lower middle class parents are denied access to.  Let’s hope that the Scottish Government decides to abolish private schools as part of its rebooting of the labour market, but I won’t hold my breath.
Conclusion: any recovery plan that this lot comes up with is going to be business as usual in Scotland – and for the usual suspects.

Comments (35)

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  1. James Anderson says:

    This reads like you are disappointed not to have been chosen as a member and a bit envious of those that have been chosen. Who would you have appointed?

  2. Cathie Lloyd says:

    Aren’t you talking about Kate Forbes?

  3. Josef Ó Luain says:

    “Conclusion: any recovery plan that this lot comes up with is going to be business as usual in Scotland – and for the usual suspects.” Fortunately, perhaps, not one of the “usual suspects” has a notion how long the pandemic is going to last – so much then for their orthodoxies, predictions and projections.

  4. fred marinello says:

    Nothing changes and everything remains the same.
    Sue Bruce received £50,000 from SSE and said she donated it to charity but refused to say which one. She also managed to wangle a consultant pal of hers a million quid to supposedly sort out the trams mess. She alone merits much further scrutiny. Whatever happened about the so called break in at Waverely Court where conveniently papers related to the Tram debacle were stolen, and under her stewardship.
    Mr Wilson had as one of his clients with his consultants hat on the crew who constructed the New Sick Kids Hospital, and the mess that’s in.
    It’s a good article and shows up the that the great and the good never go away and always manage to get their feet under the table regardless of who is in power. It is one step or maybe not depending on your view point from corrupt practices, and when it all goes wrong it’s the mug punter taxpayer who inevitably picks up the tab

    1. grafter says:

      “Next on the list of recovery advisors is “Dame” Sue Bruce. As Chief Executive of Edinburgh Council, she strong-armed the Scottish Government into subsidising the giant US investment and property conglomerate Nuveen to rebuild the St James Centre.”

      Another career politico trougher. Did nothing for Aberdeen whilst in office.

  5. Jell says:

    Thanks for keeping us grounded George. Again, not a hint of economic democracy from the assembled crew, but the same train driven by the same people driven out of the same economic marshalling yard!. People will inevitably continue to jump off this SNP neo-con train.
    There is an election next year on the 6th May.

  6. Stroller says:

    SNP = New Labour in a kilt…
    Plus Ça Change, Plus Ç’est La Meme Chose…
    Very, very disappointing to read the name on Hyslop’s panel…

    1. grafter says:

      SNP are finished. Nicola is an establishment stooge. Have cancelled my membership.

  7. John O'Dowd says:

    Excellent article. This indeed shows that the “usual suspects” are in control, and that the SNP – at least at the top, is a very bourgeoise, neoliberal party.

    (I have indicated as much in some of my articles in Bella with respect to SNP government higher education and research policy.

    There is only one reason to be a member of, or support, the SNP – independence. Full Stop.

    The problem is that the present leadership seem very content to run a devolved administration, and from where I am sitting, appear to have lost sight of the only reason for the SNP’s existence.

    In the context of Irish independence, the Edinburgh socialist and revolutionary James Connolly said this:

    “If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country.”

    It looks very much as if the “Usual Suspects” – if not the SNP leadership – understand this very well, and are positioning themselves for ‘business as usual’ in what seems the( increasingly unlikely) event that the SNP will actually move for independence.

    We need George Kerevan to use his unrivalled expertise to show us what they are up to – and we in turn must ensure that this is not allowed to happen.

    Otherwise, what would be the point of independence?

  8. w.b. robertson says:

    Mr Kerevan tells it as it is. what a parcel of rogues indeed…!

  9. Gerry McNally says:

    “Also on board is Sir Anton Muscatelli, boss of my alma mater, Glasgow University (latest salary: £342,200). Muscatelli is a liberal, pro-Europe economist whose recent report for the Scottish Government on industrial innovation recommended boosting research and development spending to £1.7bn by 2025. ”

    Is that the same Anton Muscatelli – the banking economist who failed to see the upcoming banking collapse, when he was an adviser to the World Bank and when he was a member of the Panel of Economic Advisers of the Secretary of State for Scotland from 1998 to 2000.

    Or the Anton Muscatelli the economics professor at the University of Glasgow who said: “An off-the-record forum makes sense for this type of gathering. The last thing large companies want is to be seen to have opinions that are politically loaded. Powerful companies are anyway going to have powerful influence”.
    At the Portugal Bilderberg Conference in 1999

    You know, Bilderberg -the secret organisation of ‘elite’ bankers, industrialists and their political puppets that meets annually to plot the means to control world governments and inculcate the nostrums of the Rothschilds, Goldman Sachs the rest of the Banksters in the minds of captured politicians?

    Or is it the same Anton Muscatelli who as Dean of Social Sciences at Glasgow awarded Sir Fred (the shred) Goodwin an honorary degree where he described him as a business genius in his (Muscatelli’s) oration at a graduation ceremony:


    “Having seen for himself how banking can go spectacularly wrong, Fred Goodwin obviously decided to show the business world how to do it properly. the rest is the stuff of corporate legends. In 1995 he joined the Clydesdale Bank as Deputy Chief Executive and he became Chief Executive in 1996. The informed consensus is that he would have risen to the top of the National Australian Group, if the Royal Bank had not had the foresight to hire him in 1998. The rest is the stuff of corporate legends.”

    Well that is certainly true, but not in the way that the credulous Professor Muscatelli thought it would be!

    Muscatelli made this magnificently perspicacious speech in the year 2000.

    By 2008 RBS was scrap metal seeking salvation from the taxpayer.

    In any rational world Muscatelli would have followed the Shred into ignominy -instead – in 2009 – he was appointed Principal of Glasgow University.

    And now he is advising Nicola Sturgeon on economic issues! Unbelievable?

    No. That’s how it is done!

  10. Paul McMillan says:

    Bourgeois economist?
    So what kind of economist are you.
    Isn’t also about time you told people in Scotland how much Russia Today pay you .

  11. Stroller says:

    The poverty of thinking on display by the SNP needn’t simply be replicated by those on the left who call for “socialism” instead of the Scottish government’s absolutely unbelievable conservatism, (because that is what it is.)

    We are all too eurocentric. It is our biggest blindspot. We cannot see things except on the western axis of left and right. Both socialism and neo-liberalism are ideas born in western europe. Those are the white man’s creeds. What other ideas are out there, what of Asia? It’s the most populous continent on the planet and it barely exists except as a bogeyman (China) in our consciousness. It is the continent which is growing fastest and the most dynamic today and most of us know nothing about it.

    We know that the West has over the last 40 years begun to import things from Asia, such as mindfullness, a westernized and simplified version of one technique from Asian philosophy. What else is out there? Why do we keep moving in the same pre-established and very worn out ruts?

    The SNP have to go. I cannot take them anymore. They are complete bullshit artists. The names on this committee say it all, as do the names on all of their committees. There is no point going through the upheaval of independence just to replicate New Labour. What is the point of that? In that sense, people like Gordon Brown are right.

    A poverty of thinking by the SNP, a crisis of ideas. It’s nowhere near good enough.

    1. Stroller says:

      It seems to me that with the environmental crisis we need a totally different template for society and the economy. The solution is unlikely to be found once again in the same corner of the planet which gave us capitalism….

      We need to open our minds to new ideas. State socialism for the last40 years would have polluted as much as capitalism by the way. Both are seen by many non-standard as two different sides of the same materialist coin….

      1. Stroller says:

        ***non western*** not “non-standard” which is my spellchecker’s stupid idea, not mine…

    2. Paul McMillan says:

      Year zero came out of Asia , as did the Great leap forward and the ‘Culturaĺ Revolution’
      Circa 60-70 million.people died unnatural deaths as result.
      The ‘white man’ is no better or worse than any other ethnicity.

      1. Stroller says:

        It’s about opening up to new ideas. The West has been implacably materialist for the last 400 years, the East has always been much more spiritual during that time.

        Given we need to become less materialist if we are to survive, then it might be a good time to start engaging more with Asia, its peoples and intellectual and spiritual culture…

        The C19 lockdown is a good time for reflection. But as is born out by the names on this committee, no one should expect change to come from above…

        1. Paul McMillan says:

          You’ve obviously been listening to too many Beatles albums.
          The Asians are less materialistic?
          Presume you’ve not been to Shanghai, Singapore, Toyko, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Seoul?
          These cities are shrines to materialism..

          1. Wul says:

            You’re right Paul. Also, none of the cities you listed have been controlled in any way by western capitalism.

          2. Stroller says:

            Almost all the cities you mention have grown over the last 20 or 30 years, the result of globalisation, and I’m of the opinion that you can’t listen to too many Beatles albums by the way. But anyway, it doesn’t have much to do with the point I am making which is about ideas, not cities.
            George Kerevan talks of “bourgeois economists” and as always makes no bones about his Marxist tendencies. Fair enough.
            What is it that socialists and Marxists would nationalise these days in Scotland? The tourism industry? Financial services?
            These things can be hardly be nationalised. It’s not like back in the 60’s and 70’s when Marxists talked of controlling the commanding heights of the economy, when there were steel mills and shipyards and coal mines.
            That’s all gone, and that’s the landscape that gave rise to traditional European socialism. Which is possibly why it has been in crisis for the last 30 years or so.
            The point I was making is that, since the French Revolution more or less, the great struggle in European society has been between Socialism and Capitalism.
            Both are materialist philosophies, the fruits of the earth that primitive capitalism opened up were to be relentlessly exploited under both systems, the difference came in how the wealth was to be divided, whether capital was to be accumulated by private individuals or owned by the workers and shared in the community.
            Capitalism won, and it won because whereas the State can satisfy needs, it does not create them or cultivate them nearly as easy as Capitalism does.
            Capitalism is seductive in a way that Socialism never can be.
            The State works well when services are provided that rely upon a certain public ethos: teachers, doctors, university professors. But capitalism will win every time when it comes to fitted kitchens. Capitalism makes people want to buy several fitted kitchens over a lifetime when one or two would probably do. It appeals to our aesthetics and by doing so, sells you things you don’t strictly need, with fashion being the obvious example.
            In any case, now many of us have come to the conclusion that we need to move away from a materialist conception of human life and move…to what? To socialism.I find it hard to believe that a doctrine which is also known as “historical materialism” is going to save us from global warming and suspect that in the myriad strands of philosophies and religions of Asia, which stress the spiritual inner life over the material world, there may be some ideas worth exploring at the highest level…

  12. Wul says:

    Most of the people currently keeping me & my family fed, who are looking after the ill and saving lives whilst risking their own, are earning less than £30k/yr.

    Why are these people, the ones who really matter, not being consulted about finding a way out of this mess? The cut-out-and-keep money leeches listed above know a lot about enriching themselves; they know feck all about sharing wealth around.

    Let me guess what they will come up with; “Lets give all the folk who were making a packet, before this shit storm, lots and lots of free public money. That way a tiny fraction of it will find its way into the working man’s pocket, the way it used to do”. Can I have £50 grand please? I’ll probably give it to charity.

  13. Alistair Taylor says:

    Stroller is right.
    Once Scotland embraces Buddhism we’ll be off to the races.

    1. Stroller says:

      Alex Salmond has the girth and stature to make a passable Buddha now I come to think of it.
      If he had taken to the airwaves sat on a handwoven mat, dressed in a Buddhist monk robe, instead of fronting his own crass show in a full tweed suit, then things might have turned out quite rosy for him…

      1. Kevin Hattie says:

        Haha. Alex Siddharta.

        I have been reading works from Eastern Philosophy for a few years now. Are there any particular ideas that you think the West should pay greater attention to @Stroller?

        1. Stroller says:

          I don’t know much about Eastern Philosophy, but I know that capitalism is predicated on the never-ending proliferation of material needs, which is an observation Adam Smith made, and that much Eastern Philosophy rejects materialism as the goal of life.

          And that if we are to save ourselves and the planet we need to come up with a new philosophy or ideology which rejects the short term buzz of materialism – that nice feeling you get when you see money appearing in your bank account, or buy something you always wanted – and get back to some of the questions which preoccupied philosophers, and thinkers for millennia until Modernity came along and blew away thousands of years wisdom by reducing everything to the capitalism – socialism dichotomy.

          But you don’t have to go as far as Asia even to get to something similar in the shape of the Ancient Greeks. The question they asked themselves was, “What is the Good Life”? What does it consist of?

          We need to get back to philosophy and some kind of spirituality. Because people’s whole lives are geared around consuming, whether it be going on a holiday, or buying an item for your wardrobe or going our for dinner, that’s what most people’s lives consist of. And what the experts are saying is, that is not sustainable for the planet, so you need to replace the vacuous and very addictive pleasure of consuming sh*t with something else…

          Are we capable of it? That I don’t know.

          But maybe, just maybe the last 250 years of frenzied free market capitalism will seem like a bad dream to other earthlings far in the future, a crazy couple of centuries thankfully left in the past.

          As for Salmond, no doubt his detractors would say he doesn’t have the karma to be the Buddha of Bathgate…sorry Linlithgow…

          1. Kevin Hattie says:

            I have sympathy for the point you’re trying to make.

            We do need to reassess our values and try to align them with more sustainable practices. One of the issues with spirituality in modern society is that it has become, like everything else, commodified. Yoga, meditation practices, spiritual retreats, various healing practices; all of them are being sold for fairly hefty prices. It’s possible, of course, to practice some of these things on your own at no or little cost, but then there’s the danger that spirituality becomes a very individualised thing, where we retreat from the world in order to find an inner-sanctuary from it. There’s definitely a place for something like meditation in our modern lives. Even the NHS are advising people to practice it. We just need to use it to help us transform the outer, as well as the inner.

            I hold out hope for a different world, where our current social, political and economic arrangements are replaced with more humane and sustainable practices. Eudaimonia is a long way from where we are now.

          2. Stroller says:

            Hi Kevin

            Yes, you’re right about solutions to our problems ALSO being commodified and the need to find a sustainable balance. And it’s hard to be optimistic.

            The 20th century voices from the East who spoke out against godless materialism leading to ruin for humankind, such as Rabindranoth Tagore for example, have been proved right. I mean, if you think of the hundreds of thousands of years of sustainable human existence on Earth prior to Modernity, and then you think that in a mere 200 years, a tiny fraction of the time we have been around as a species, capitalism has put our whole future in jeopardy, then I think any objective observer could only conclude that capitalism has been absolutely disastrous for human beings as a species… a Faustian pact the price of which we now have to start paying…

            So, I agree with those who think capitalism has to end. But I can’t see how 20th century doctrinal Socialism is the answer. There are elements of Socialism – which often can be found in other systems of thought anyway and predate it – which can be saved certainly, like wealth redistribution, but as an economic- philosophic system, it has no more credibility than capitalism in my eyes.

            I mean, the idea that the proletariat is the motor of the history has been discredited. Technology is. Or the idea that the State will just “wither away” in a Communist society, as Marx said it eventually would, these are not ideas which stand up to much scrutiny. Its Utopian aspects are just wishful thinking…

            And above all, Marxism and Socialism, are totalizing theories, and anyone who knows 20th Century history ought to distrust totalizing theories…they are a lodestone to fanatics. Neo-liberalism is another totalizing theory of course, no question. There Is No Alterantive as Thatcher used to say….

  14. grafter says:

    “I don’t understand why you are bothering to even acknowledge any debate on the statistics! Its as irrelevant as the misdirection on PPE for health workers.
    We all know politicians are liars. We all know this is a propaganda campaign! Which evidently was compiled with great care & attention long ago, to destroy our culture (as if we had one worth saving) lives, economy & country.
    The simple fact is no amount of deaths are worth more one enslaved life, our grand parents, great grandparents & their parents before them died in their millions to fight for our freedoms! Politicians don’t have the right to take a single persons freedom! No arbitrary mass house arrest can be justified under any circumstance. So stop trying to legitimize their terrorism.
    The real tragedy here is how easily the masses who can barely lift their heads from their smart phones have swallowed this BS & been so complicit & compliant in their own imprisonment. No amount of facts or articles is going to change that egregious reality.”

    1. Paul McMillan says:

      Friday is perfect for a good rant, leaves the weekend for more considered reflection.
      Time to get the White Album on
      ….give it a go.

  15. Pete Roberts says:

    So the SNP strategy for getting us out of this multi dimensional global catastrophe is to carry on appointing their pals to committees, bodies and commissions that we are told will lead us to the way forward. The same pals with the same beliefs which got us into this mess in the first place. Which beliefs have not changed a bit.

    They are saying that things will not be the same, but their pals are dedicated to the idea of business as usual, i.e. us proles, plebs and serfs must carry on maintaining our gilded elite in the manner to which they have become accustomed over the centuries.

    Looking at the world through the rose coloured windows of their taxpayer funded ivory towers and six figure salaries, they really haven’t got it yet, have they? Things are changing and their illusion of being in control is about to hit the rocks of reality. Bring it on.

    Tick tock…..

  16. Ian Davidson says:

    Wow! You have just cogently burst my delusion that perhaps the post CV 19 Scotland would be run on different principles than pre CV 19. Unless Scot Gov is willing to embrace income/wealth redistribution then the CV 19 recovery will exacerbate existing inequalities. For example, the hospitality industry cannot embrace social distancing and still make money so who is going to employ all these young folk who work in it (on zero hour contracts, low wages etc)? What’s the point of subsidising oil and gas extraction when the oil price has slumped and we know that we have to go green faster/now or die from some future environmental disaster? What levels of compensation are we going to pay to the families of all those health, social care and other public-facing workers who have died from CV 19 due to the lack of PPE etc? There are so many £$ issues and it is hard to see how this panel of “great and the good Ecosse” is going to cut it. Depressing, thanks George!

  17. Jess Allaway says:

    Mistaken name for financial minister. You mean Katie Forbes. Definitely not Fiona Hyslop.

    1. No we dont.

      Fiona Hyslop is the new Economy Secretary.

  18. Muscleguy says:

    During the LibLab excuses for a Scottish Executive I was a Devo Maxer because I concluded the Scottish political class was not capable of running an independent country (I grew up in NZ so I have something of a feel for the necessary class (Jacinda Arden eats Sturgeon’s lunch). Then in 2007 we got an SNP Scottish Government and we got technocratic competence. The SNP seems to have cracked how to contract public contracts on time and on or even under budget (Borders Railway, Queensferry Crossing). So far so good, but of late the Sturgeon led SNP have dropped the baton, cf the latest illiberal offensive behaviour bill filled with vague terms which have not been defined. We see how police forces have failed to properly interpret legislation and guidance over hassling people in parks who are being perfectly safe.

    Now this and add in pictures posted by themselves of Scottish MPs hobnobbing with the landed gentry and enjoying it. It appears that staying out of the HoL to avoid capture by the British Establishment has failed to properly protect the modern SNP. They have been co-opted and are enjoying the supposed cachet which comes from being good with the denizens of the Establishment. We should be running a rebel province grating at the Imperialist yoke, the world would not blame us for it. Pharaoh, let my people go kind of thing. Instead it’s please Pharoh let me be your Provincial Governor.

    If the wounded angry beast in his lair does not bring his protege down and Joanna Cherry doesn’t then defenestrate her there will be no hope for the SNP and we can only hope the Rev Stu (am I allowed to mention him on Bella?) forms his Wings Party and the sensible half of the SNP who want Indy First will decamp to it. Twitter and the comment pages are replete with folk leaving the SNP or cancelling their dues and donations. A lot of SNP money is being sent to Craig Murray’s defence fund. The Scottish criminal establishment are being allowed to attack a Yes blogger whilst leaving the Press who broke the contempt laws multiple times unscathed. Why isn’t Humza having a word? Danni Garavelli should be up before the beak long before they get around to Craig.

  19. Malcolm Hutchinson says:

    We’re screwed.

    In agreement with all others on here that point out the list of gruesome “establishment figures”, of which we have than enough in Scotland without raiding the Oxbridge parlour.
    To have permitted the appalling Iain Duncan Freeman into the SNP was disgraceful enough. To fact track this one time Jack McConnell’s Rottweiler beast from the depths a Cabinet Secretary in Scottish Government was disgusting to witness. That the Rottweiler became Health Secretary killed irony stone dead in the same insane way that making Blair the lead of the ‘peace making’ quartet for the Middle East.

    To see Hyslop as Economics head is now simply extracting the urine from the Scottish public. What she knows about economics is about the same as her other woeful terms in “Culture” and Education..

    Ship of fools ably abetted by the corrupt greed of the dark arts of the “adviser” world.

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