Leaders: Salmond must flesh out case | Andy’s granny

IF THE document on the Scottish economy published yesterday by Alex Salmond was an attempt to regain the independence initiative after a series of set-backs, it looks to have been at best a damp squib and at worst a failure.
Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: GettyAlex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Getty
Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Getty

The arguments and 
material in it have all been well-rehearsed and will do little to convince no-one outside the ranks of the already committed.

Where the recent publications by the UK government have, generally, been extensively researched and draw on much academic and other non-aligned material, the Scottish Government document relies on not much more than its own material. It reads more like a hastily put together party manifesto, missing even some sketchy definition of how the ambitions in it might be realised through practical policy implementation.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Having said that, many of the points in it would find agreement with many people. Yes, many would agree, income inequality has grown in Britain in recent years and this is a bad thing. But the publication is silent on how this inequality might be narrowed.

Yes, the UK economy was allowed to engage in a boom-and-bust cycle that has turned out to be especially pernicious. But we do not recall the First Minister denouncing this during the boom period, except to say that Scotland was not getting enough of it. And apart from some vague talk of an “Employment Rights Authority” and a “Combined Economic Regulator”, there is scant detail on how the powers of independence might be used to avoid boom and bust again.

Indeed, Mr Salmond seems to have fallen back on his old, trusty weapon of promising a cut in corporation tax to a level three percentage points below that set by the rest of the UK. He is reported to have rehearsed that argument recently at an Institute of Directors conference in London and reiterated it again yesterday.

Yet even this pledge has problems. The main one is that the UK government has already cut the rate from 28 per cent to 
24 per cent, has promised to reduce it to 21 per cent by 2014 and still further to 20 per cent by 2015. The Scottish Government’s room to compete with this, if it wins independence, is being steadily reduced. If it is indeed “the best available weapon” to improve Scotland’s economy, as he is reported to have said, the rest of the armoury must be pretty thinly stocked.

If the Scottish Government, whose aim of independence is well behind in the opinion polls, is to make a serious challenge to the unionist case, Mr Salmond must put far more flesh on the policy bones. Publishing this document looks likely to achieve little more than to boost the morale of the already committed. There are good arguments to make and good evidence to back them. Other countries have become independent recently and succeeded. But if Mr Salmond cannot produce more convincing stuff, his cause is already in jeopardy.

Ye cannae whack yer granny’s love

Without grannies, where would everyone be? Not here, obviously, which is one reason to cherish granny. True, they are much loved by grandchildren in most families because they often provide too many treats and much less chastising than parents, but these are essential granny roles.

But pride in the grandparent for the grandchild is the outstanding quality in such relationships, an aspect which leaps out from the interview with 79-year-old Shirley Erskine, who will be henceforth better known outside Dunblane as Andy’s granny – that being Andy Murray. Mrs Erskine, we suspect, has probably had a more formative role in the tennis superstar’s character than is generally realised. So, too, have the townsfolk, as she delightfully recounted in the tale of the butcher’s gift to Andy after his first grand slam win in the US Open – two packs of sausages. Brilliant!

This kind of thing must help prevent Andy from being swept up in his celebrity status, a temptation to which many sports stars succumb and lose their sports stardom as a result. He knows how to keep his feet on the ground, and the familiar ease with which he treats, and is treated by, his home ground is very much part of the reason.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The other part looks to be granny’s wisdom and experience. Mrs Erskine may not have known stardom but, like all grannies, knows life and passing on the art of handling that is another essential job.

She will, we are sure, be cheering him on at at Wimbledon, provided he recovers from an injury that has forced him out of the French Open. And she’ll be ready to congratulate him if he wins. Perhaps by giving him a Milky Bar, which she reveals is still his favourite treat.