Sunday, 13 March 2011

Cronyism writ large?

If Scotland on Sunday's main article on the SNP's weekend get-together is to be afforded credence then the most significant part of Alex Salmond's speech was his commitment to no compulsory redundancies across the public sector, this encompassing not just mainstream local and central government, but also extending to schools, colleges and the health service. And the quangocracy as well, presumably.

Elsewhere in his speech, Mr Salmond lambasted Labour's "crony state, where helping out your pals came before helping the poor. Where a party card was a passport to the cushiest numbers."

But doesn't Mr Salmond's preoccupation with job security in the public sector smack of a kind of Labour cronyism writ large? Of course, in other contexts such a commitment to a specific interest group might be termed an electoral bribe, but this looks just too much like low-level cronyism on a grand scale, particularly when compared with the majority who have to tough it out in the private sector.

And despite my current cynicism about the public sector, I still believe in a strong state and decent working conditions, but this smacks a bit too much of preferential treatment.

Moreover, this also seems a bit too much like Dundee Labour's Holyrood campaign being led by the promise of a Living Wage for public sector workers, which as I said previously might not go down too well with the majority who are more exposed to the 'slings and arrows' of the free market's 'outrageous fortune'.

But, to reiterate the point made in those previous posts, perhaps all this underlines the size of the public sector in Scotland and to that extent its pivotal role in deciding May's election, particularly in view of the likely pitiful turnout overall. In effect the SNP is pitching for the public sector vote and thus trying to 'out-crony' Labour.

But to that extent it's unlikely to endear either Labour or the SNP to the rest of us, and will merely extend the characterisation of the former's 'client state' to the latter, and also help confirm Scotland as a nation over-dependent on the public sector.

And perhaps this also underlines the lack of overarching vision from both parties.

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