As shown through the previous articles on here there are major debates in politics about the economic record of differing administrations and those who are hoping to make up the next administration. So I thought that it would be an idea to dedicate a series of posts to the issue. I have already done a bit of this on the previous posts regarding a Scotland on Sunday article last week, although mainly in the comments section so this week thought that I would concentrate on the SNP Economics.
This week there was a story in the Scotsman regarding the £4.5 Billion black hole in their financial plans for Scotland, I would not recommend anyone wanting a greater understanding of the issues to simply rely on one source, but, unfortunately for the SNP they don't need to.
According to a similar article in the Guardian newspaper on the 21st of January this year there are serious concerns over the SNP's economic plans. In the Scotsman newspaper Professor Midwinter suggests that there would be a £4.5 Billion pound deficit in the plans, in the final paragraph of the analysis he concludes that the SNP will have to raise taxes, cut spending or borrow heavily to tackle the deficit and meet their pre election commitments. A lot of the analysis is based on the difference in how the figures are calculated, where the other parties use the Government Expenditure and Revenue in Scotland (GERS) figures the SNP have suggested these figures are wrong, yet are using them where they feel they can help their economic case. An article in the Times newspaper similarly highlighted that leading SNP economists have concluded that the GERS figures are extremely robust
It is true that some say it is £11 billion, some say £6 billion and one Professor Midwinter even says £4 Billion the last one takes into account the Oil revenues and this is why Professor Winter comes to his final conclusion that the sums simply do not add up.
The Times Article is an interesting analysis of the issues involved, it shows the figures in plain English and in doing so highlights that the Estimated Scottish Public Spending was £47.6 Billion in 2004-2005, the taxation income was £36.4 Billion leaving the gap of £11.2 Billion, this is not including the oil revenue. When taking into account the oil revenue (ALL OF IT not a percentage as suggested by the SNP) of £5.2 Billion you are still looking at a £6 Billion pound deficit.
Although it is true that the Oil prices of late have been rising, it is similarly true that the market price for oil is very volatile and is rarely steady for a prolonged period of time. It also might be worth examining the green credentials of a party that suggests that they would be basing the whole economy on a damaging and scarce fuel source, reducing the oil consumption of Scotland while relying on the increasing consumption of other nations in order to bring in the money is a strange and contradictory position. As we all know global warming is not just a Scottish problem, it affects the whole planet and this needs to be kept in mind in every area of policy it needs to be sustainable, this is where I believe the SNP's economic policies fall down.
Putting this into a local context it does put the SNP plans to freeze Council tax for the next two years into a different light, it resoundingly gives backup to the suggestion that the reason the SNP in Renfrewshire did not put forward a budget was that they could not stick to this commitment. A more interesting question has to be IF the SNP make up the Executive after May the 3rd will they be able to stick to it then keeping the above in mind? And what does that mean for Scotland in the long term economically speaking?