The SNP sink hole will push up your cost of living in any event - Brian Monteith

The cost of government crisis continued to mount last week despite the efforts of Rishi Sunak to help people who will be finding it tough.

His throwing of money at the problem as a short-term pain killer runs the risk of itself being inflationary as well as addictive, encouraging appeals for more relief in October when energy prices rise again, yet his predicament is like nothing compared to what the SNP Government has brought upon itself by its financial mismanagement.

This is not to excuse the mistakes made by HM Treasury by funding the avoidable pandemic lockdowns by inventing money, but there is an additional cost of government in Scotland that cannot go unremarked.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The trouble brewing has been visible for months thanks to forecasts published by the Scottish Government’s own Fiscal Commission and a critical Holyrood Finance Committee report (where the SNP/Green coalition has a majority) and goes back to policy decisions taken by the SNP over many years.

Scottish Finance Minister Kate Forbes  has been told she faces a multi-billion pound shortfall in the coming years. (Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament via Getty Images)Scottish Finance Minister Kate Forbes  has been told she faces a multi-billion pound shortfall in the coming years. (Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament via Getty Images)
Scottish Finance Minister Kate Forbes has been told she faces a multi-billion pound shortfall in the coming years. (Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament via Getty Images)

The financial reckoning for SNP mismanagement grows ever closer, but unfortunately it is not the politicians responsible that will immediately feel the pain. That, dear reader is far more likely to be you and your extended family.

Even though the Scottish Government has received the most generous financial settlement in real terms from Westminster since the Scottish Parliament opened, it faces a shortfall between anticipated spending and revenues of £3.5bn by the financial year 2026/27. That is far too big a sink hole to be hidden in plain sight among Scotland’s moonscape of potholes.

In its latest review of the Scottish Government’s finances published last week, the Institute for Fiscal Studies laid out the stark choice facing Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, “choose between spending cuts, tax rises or hoping for extra UK Government funding”.

To sum up, it is SNP government cuts, SNP government taxes – or Conservative government charity. Believing the Conservatives would feel in a charitable mood to solve a problem of the SNP’s making would be a high-risk political gamble putting public services, jobs and livelihoods at risk. Nor would going cap-in-hand do much for the economic arguments for “independence”.

The reason the SNP-led Government faces this existential crisis is because it has been incompetent, spendthrift, collectivist and distracted.

We do not have to look far to see the incompetence; the multitude of contracts and interventions in the economy that have turned sour continue to mount and they have a cost.

Ferries that are years behind in construction, that have no guaranteed fuel source available in Scotland, that require larger quaysides to be built and have been plagued by design faults and changes have accordingly seen costs escalate to nearly £300 million. Taking in all the additional costs the grand total cannot escape being higher.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

One such scandal would be bad enough but there are other examples of failed economic dalliances, such as the £40m and rising nationalisation of Prestwick to maintain it as a passenger airport, the high-risk exposure of £586m for the Lochaber aluminium smelter deal and now the nationalisation of ScotRail – which will require Scottish Government funding where before the risk was on the private contractor.

These scandals have real impacts on people, costing not just the taxpayer but the individuals who rely on vital services such as ferries and trains and end up seeing their journeys cancelled and their employment disrupted. Those are cost of SNP government crises.

And yes, the SNP government is spendthrift; employing ever more ministerial advisors (to develop or defend policies that create more problems than they solve in education, justice and transport), countless media personnel (to defend the indefensible decisions) and opening up pretend embassies around the world to play at international politics and the fleet of chauffeur-driven limousines for the growing number of ministers that the bloated SNP/Green government now boasts. No expense is too great for the taxpayer to pay.

It is collectivist by nature, turning always to regulations, restrictions and bans; the Minimum Pricing of Alcohol has cost Scottish consumers some £270m of additional costs since its introduction and brought no measurable improvement in the reduction of alcohol-related health risks. Another cost of government crisis that could and should have been avoided.

But chiefly Nicola Sturgeon’s government has been distracted by the belief that one-more heave and it would deliver independence. Well, more than seven years on since she took the reins of power from Alex Salmond she is, if anything, further from holding a second referendum and yet continues to conduct a charade that it will happen next year.

An expensive team of officials that taxpayers pay for are busy writing up how it will all come about and why it will make sense – but she has no power to deliver it and she has no chance of running it illicitly.

Irrespective of the outcome, a rogue referendum would not receive international recognition and would be nigh impossible to conduct now that the SNP runs less than half of the Scottish local authorities who would have to administer a vote. There will be no legal referendum and there will be no illegal referendum – yet the costs are still being run up.

The distraction of seeking to have a second referendum has meant the focus of the SNP government has been away from its responsibilities for health, schooling, transport, justice, housing and all the rest of our public services.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Always dividing us, turning Scots against Scots, blaming our English and Welsh voters for backing Brexit and giving Boris Johnson an 80-seat majority, warning people from England not to come to Scotland, but appealing for their help to deliver the vaccines and handle calls for ambulances.

The cost of SNP government crisis can only get worse – and no-one is to blame but the SNP and the Greens who support them.

Brian Monteith is a former member of the Scottish and European Parliaments and is editor of



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.