Once again the rubber stamp “Blow to SNP” comes in handy – this time on its flagship policy on childcare (your report, 4 April). First, the policy was included in the Scottish Government’s autumn white paper – it was not the SNP’s white paper. It was intended as an example of how, with independence, we could receive a return from an investment in childcare, both by way of additional income tax, if payable, and from the VAT proceeds of higher high street sales.
For both of these examples, we do not know, and we cannot know, the types of occupation the women engage in – it could range from shelf-stackers in a supermarket to high-flyers in the financial sector, so we cannot even hazard a guess about the level of financial proceeds that would accrue.
And it does not matter whether sufficient receipts come in to cover the costs; it would be seldom that a public expenditure initiative such as this would be related with any accuracy to a calculable definite return.
It is all a matter of principle. With all of our UK-based tax proceeds being shipped off to the UK Exchequer, there is no advantage to Scotland from a childcare policy, so, for the Labour Party and its colleagues in Better Together to be haranguing the SNP over the issue is cosmetic. The economy and employment are matters reserved to Westminster, so it would take credit for any increase in Scottish employment, while its coffers would benefit from both the increased tax proceeds, as well as from the related saving in unemployment benefit payments that we here have paid tax to provide.
In other words, Labour’s insistence that “we could do it now” would help the coalition led by the Conservatives, whom it professes to dislike. It is only when Scottish employment figures are adverse that the unionist parties ask: what is Alex Salmond going to do about it?
Douglas R Mayer