With a grand fanfare, the SNP released their manifesto. Never have I seen such desperation and cynical attempt to pass off a promise that “we will try to fix what we broke” as something new and revolutionary, done in such a fundamentally self-contradictory manner.
No doubt you will have heard the headline that the SNP will now give you a free bike. Well, one kid somewhere may end up getting their photo taken with a bike. A closer look at this fabulous generosity reveals a manifesto that combines the policies of Jeremy Corbyn with the outlandishness of Willie Wonka and the financial sense of Wesley Snipes.
Not only is the manifesto much less generous than it seems — particularly with regard to NHS spending — its entire funding relies on the most ridiculously illogical assumptions possible. The manifesto relies on a 20% increase in tax revenue and a 14% increase in the block grant from the rest of the UK, and will increase government spending from £45 billion to £90 billion pounds; This outlandish number should set alarm bells ringing like a Geiger counter in the heart of Chernobyl.
Where will the 20% increase in tax revenue come from? The SNP have again promised to freeze council tax rates (which they had also promised to abolish in 2007), and will now also freeze income tax rates. So those can’t provide a penny more for their projects. This means they will have to attract investment into Scotland, which they can tax.
It doesn’t take a financial genius to know that regions with political instability are not seen as attractive locations for investment. Why would anyone invest in a country that may, at a moment’s notice, fundamentally destabilise its entire economy? Why would anyone want to invest in a country that doesn’t even know which currency it would use? They wouldn’t. While the SNP keep beating the separatist drum, there will be no significant inward investment to be taxed.
The SNP plan to use a 14% increase in the block grant from the rest of the UK to fund these giveaways. That’s right; they expect UK taxpayers, those who reside in London, in Belfast, in Cardiff and myriad other places to pay for their bribes.
Furthermore, the SNP promises this investment over the next five years despite wanting to be a separate country as early as next year. This makes absolutely no sense because the moment secession is announced, the tap from London will be shut off, leaving those projects without any funding. No serious economist, or anyone for that matter, can take this budget seriously. It is the equivalent of trying to run a race while simultaneously sawing your legs off.
Of course, the fatal flaw in all of these giveaways is that they are planned by the SNP and will be operated by the SNP. Take the newly announced six-mile bridge between Gourock and Dunoon; the manifesto says it will cost £30 million pounds. It sounds exciting and interesting till you realise the 1.6 mile Queensferry crossing, which is often closed due to design failures and falling ice, took nearly six years to build and ended up costing £1.35 billion pounds.
Despite Nicola Sturgeon admitting that the economic plans in her party’s White Paper are “out of date” (in fact, the plans were never “in date”), she and others are adamant that secession is vital to Scotland’s recovery from COVID, without being able to give us even a shred of economic evidence to support their position. Scottish politics is no longer about facts and figures, but is an exercise in mass cognitive dissonance.
Reading between the lines, however, their manifesto does not paint the picture of a confident party. It has too many giveaways, too many promises and too little substance to justify it; it stinks of desperation and “one last job”. It feels rushed and panicked, feverishly cobbled together to stay one step ahead of a rapidly approaching enemy.
The SNP are blinded by their ideology, but even they must see that relying on money from the UK while trying to break away from the UK is not a stable platform on which to stand. Clearly, the economic and political picture is not a rosy one for the SNP.
With little public support for a referendum during recovery, it seems the SNP know they will not be able to force a vote within the next five years, and that those five years will not be kind to them. A vicious civil war and disaffected supporters and disappointed voters, have made the SNP rightly fear that these coming years will be their last in power for a long time, so, with all the desperation of a cornered criminal, they promise the world and each other “one last time, honest”.
It’s pitiful to watch and will be painful to live through, but at this rate, we will be done with them long before any bikes are ever delivered.
Angus Robinson is a lecturer at a UK university. Follow him on Twitter @AnguspfRobinso1
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