The Programme for Government is full of detailed initiatives to support and encourage everything from manufacturing in the West Highlands to tourism in Ayrshire. Mostly it is a description of what is already being done, but where’s the evidence for what works, asks a former government adviser.
“Truth springs from argument among friends,” is often attributed to Hume, although it doesn’t appear in his writings. As long as it doesn’t count as a slogan or a soundbite, I’m happy to subscribe to it. The former David Hume Institute director says au revoir…as a happy sceptic to the end.
“That would mean far more savage austerity than Scotland has experienced so far under the protection of the Barnett formula. It probably would also mean tax increases, which the First Minister has so far mostly avoided for fear of driving high earners out of Scotland.”
“Why might she want to delay a decision? One reason is that she cannot guarantee to win a second referendum. Opinion polls still show a majority for remaining within the UK. Calling another vote now carries a high risk.” Nicola Sturgeon’s narrowing options examined.
“A full-blown universal income would be even more expensive, involving rises of 10%, taking the basic rate of income tax to 30% and the higher and top rates to 50%. Politically those increases are unthinkable. They would take us back to the 1970s. Since then the direction of income taxes has been relentlessly downwards…”
The new economic initiatives are all welcome, but are unlikely to make much impression on Scotland’s low productivity and lack of investment. Yet the weak economy remains the Scottish Government’s biggest problem. Growth lags that of the rest of the UK and…under the Smith Commission changes, lower growth means lower public spending. Home grown austerity may not be far off.
“Theresa May has other problems to confront. The court ruling has emboldened the opposition and is likely to unite them around a ‘soft-Brexit’ line – wanting to keep Britain in the single European market, or at least the EU customs union.”
“One of the arguments of the Leave campaign, after all, was that sovereignty should be repatriated from Brussels to Westminster, not to No.10 Downing Street.” So: parliament(s) should have the last word on leaving the EU.
‘Instead of policy issues we were presented with one of two questions. Either “the minister wants to do this, can you provide evidence to show it is a good thing?” Or “the minister wants to do this, can you help us kill it off?”’ The DHI director on the rush from evidence into the dark world opf politics….
The Bank of England has cut rates to an historic low but: “The experience of other central banks has been similar. They have slashed rates and pumped huge sums into their economies with only modest effects on growth rates.” We need a big fiscal stimulus too