Scottish independence: What do the 11 civil servants tasked with updating Alex Salmond's fictitious White Paper do all day? – Brian Wilson

Our economic performance is “deeply worrying” with low wages, poor productivity and changing demographics putting “Scotland’s fiscal sustainability at risk”.

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon launch the Scottish government's White Paper on independence in 2013 (Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)
Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon launch the Scottish government's White Paper on independence in 2013 (Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)

Is this “talking Scotland down” or a glimpse of reality under a devolved government that cares nothing for wealth creation or industrial strategy?

Well, the dire warning comes from the all-party Finance and Public Administration Committee at Holyrood. One hopes it is read by the 11 civil servants whose daily task is to prepare an updated edition of Salmond’s Fables, the 2014 White Paper.

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One wonders what this second 11 do all day. Perhaps they track the price of oil. Older readers will remember the first edition told us it would average $112 a barrel – a figure never come close to on a single day.

And younger readers should be reminded of Honest John Swinney’s memorandum that the public was never meant to see which warned that if oil revenues fell, there would not be enough money to pay pensions and benefits.

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Since then, the fiscal gap has widened dramatically, Ms Sturgeon has blackballed North Sea oil and gas and, as a result of tax devolution, “Scotland’s fiscal sustainability is at risk”. Dearie me!

Clearly the second 11, costing £700,000 a year, will require overtime to spin the update. Meantime, we have a Scottish government caught between options – using its powers to good effect or weaponising failure as grounds for separation.

Sadly, they show no signs of adopting the former, as long as the latter provides enough cover to satisfy the gullible.

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