Friday, June 08, 2012

John Swinney jumps the gun with new tax quango

"Everything the SNP does is a stepping stone towards independence".

These were the words of the former leader of the SNP's councillors in Glasgow, Allison Hunter, during the disastrous election campaign  which saw her group fail to form the administration.

I sighed a bit when I heard yesterday that John Swinney had announced the creation of a new Scottish revenue quango to collect a new landfill tax. What was wrong with giving it to local councils I have no idea, even if HMRC were going to be more expensive. I'd like to see more about that, some more detailed costings. I wonder if this is like the £250 million that they SNP claim to have saved on the new Forth Crossing. Public sector projects have a habit of costing a lot more than planned.

I think we need more in terms of new ideas and less in terms of creating, in fact, replicating, the machinery of bureaucracy.

But Swinney gave us a glimpse of his real motives:

With full fiscal responsibilities, we could tailor policies to match the aspirations of the Scottish people and deliver competitive advantages… These are the opportunities opened up by independence.”

The SNP are talking like they have already won the referendum, even though polls suggest that they are far from close to a majority. Alex Neil on Question Time last night was talking about how "Independence Day" would be in 2016.

It seems they've already decided how it's all going to pan out. Allison Hunter, John Swinney and Alex Neil may well find that the Scottish people don't agree with them. I'm making no predictions because I'm not taking anyone's vote for granted. I will be campaigning our socks off because I think we're much better off staying in a reformed union than we would be as an independent country.

There's a feeling that the SNP are marking time - but now is the time where we need ideas, vision and passion. People need them now, not in 4 years' time. I sometimes think that the SNP have forgotten what they were elected for last May. It wasn't just for a referendum on independence, it was to look after health, education, the legal system, transport, the environment, housing and we need them to do it now.

Willie Rennie talked about the lack of SNP vision yesterday:

Mr Swinney didn’t set out today a grand new vision for the use of these new tax powers.
“Instead, what got him excited was the prospect of setting up a new tax office quango with all the potential costs and extra administrative burden on business that come with it.
“He reluctantly accepted the need to look at Scottish Liberal Democrat proposals on the potential use of the taxes for high street regeneration, brown field redevelopment and energy efficiency."
The Scotland Act gives so much scope and plenty new powers. We need to make sure we can make best  use of them, not just concentrate on the government architecture of an independent Scotland which might never come to pass.

1 comment:

Peter A Bell said...

"The SNP are talking like they have already won the referendum..."

A remark which demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the referendum. It is not about party politics, it's about...

What's the point? If you haven't got it by now, I doubt that you ever will. Which is a large part of the reason why the treacherous LibDems have become a political irrelevance.


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