Wednesday 11 June 2003

Scotland's dome

The cost of the new Scottish parliament building has now risen by another 10% to £375 million. Contrary to what many people think, the decision to construct a new parliament building wasn't made in Scotland:
MSPs are not only embarrassed by criticisms aimed at them over the cost, but angered that they are being blamed for events over which they appear to have little control. Most of the early work on the building was under way, on the orders of Westminster, which chose the site, architect and main contractors, before the first Scottish Parliament met in 1999.
Tony Blair and the late Donald Dewar (then Secretary of State for Scotland at Westminster) opposed the use of the former Royal High School building which everyone up here had thought would be the home of the new parliament. The RHS was already set up with a perfectly adequate debating chamber but was seen by Dewar as a "nationalist shibboleth" because pro-devolution supporters had camped outside the site for almost 20 years. Labour's fear of the SNP has cost the Scottish taxpayers £375m and climbing.

The ongoing mismanagement of this project by our own local politicians should be compared with what's happening a few hundred yards along the road where the Royal Bank of Scotland has become the most profitable bank in the world:

According to the report into profitability at the world’s big banks by the respected research body Boston Consulting Group (BCG), RBS has delivered better value for shareholders over the past five years than the US’ biggest banks, including Morgan Stanley and Citigroup.
Scottish businesses are capable of being world class. It's such a pity that the political class lets us down.