Saturday 26 April 2003

The election campaign

The Glasgow Herald's Alf Young makes some good points about the campaign. I particularly appreciated his observations on the Nationalists:
For instance, the SNP still wants an independent Scotland, but it now thinks it can win more of us to that cause by talk of creating a low-tax environment for business - an essential pre-condition, in its current thinking, for turbo-charging Scotland's economic growth and wealth generation. However, if its No 1 fiscal priority is now to tax the profits of private business less in an independent Scotland, why is the SNP so determined to block off any prospect of some of these same companies making any money at all out of building and running state schools, hospitals, and prisons through the private finance initiative?

Its manifesto talks of PFI schools and hospitals being "run for profit rather than the public good". Clearly, it does not believe that profit should come before service provision. It rejects explicitly the "notion of PFI-privatisation" or of "financiers and bankers" profiting from the process. It has its own alternative idea for not-for-profit trusts. But Scotland's public sector represents around half the entire Scottish economy, and has done for much of the past 20 years.

Alf is correct. The pro-business SNP candidates like Jim Mather and Andrew Wilson talk a good talk about the need to encourage entrepreneurs and grow the economy but almost everyone else in the SNP is focused on spending taxpayers' money. Scotland will only achieve a strong economy when the political culture favours a much smaller state with low taxes and low spending.