Friday, 23 October 2009

Economic with the facts

A couple of interesting recent quotes on economics/public finance from two of the SNP's leading figures in Dundee.

In the Courier council leader Ken Guild has warned of significant savings required in Dundee City's Council's budget to avoid council tax increases in the coming years, and has indicated that the city's no compulsory redundancies policy might not be sustainable. Naturally, Mr Guild is heaping the blame on Westminster and the cuts in the amount of money going to the Scottish Government, which in turn impacts on the Holyrood grant to councils. He added:
We have to be realistic and live in the real world. Gordon Brown may be prepared to bankrupt Britain but I will not bankrupt Dundee.
Eh? So if Mr Guild is worried about Britain going bust then presumably he's in favour of public spending being reined in, so surely the Scottish Goverment/Dundee City Council can't be immune. Or perhaps he wants Westminster tax rises instead. But presumably not council tax rises in Dundee!

Meanwhile, one of the Scotsman's weekend reports on the SNP's annual conference quoted Stewart Hosie, the party's Westminster Treasury spokesman, as saying that the small, independent northern European countries dubbed the "arc of insolvency" following the world economic meltdown had now become the "arc of recovery", since their economies were recovering better than the UK.

Mr Hosie also said that "small countries with control over their own economic levers can be very successful, even in an economic crisis".

Thus it was more than a tad ironic that on the same day the Irish Times reported that Ireland - one of the "arc" nations - might have to call in the International Monetary Fund if Government expenditure was not reduced by at least 30 per cent, according to a senior Government minister.

Of course, this may well have been overdone as part of a softening up process in the run up to a crunch Budget in a few weeks time, but spending cuts of this magnitude in the Scottish context would reduce expenditure by billions of pounds rather than the relatively insignificant £500 million that SNP politicians constantly carp about because the size of Scotland's budget depends on the Labour Government in Westminster.

While the facts will become clearer when Ireland's budget is announced in December, we should certainly not look to the SNP for a candid appraisal of the figures.

Meanwhile, the news from Iceland seems equally bleak.

(Hat tips to the Grumpy Spindoctor and Polaris for the news on Ireland and Iceland.)

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