Judging by pageviews, my most widely read post ever was on Scottish independence, and its title was ‘Scotland and the SNP: Fooling yourselves and deceiving others’. I was extremely critical of the fiscal claims made by the SNP. I wrote
“There are many laudable reasons to campaign for Scottish independence. But how far should those who passionately want independence be prepared to go to achieve that goal? Should they, for example, deceive the Scottish people about the basic economics involved? That seems to be what is happening right now. The more I look at the numbers, the clearer it becomes that over the next five or ten years there would [be] more, not less, fiscal austerity under independence.”
That was half a year ago, and of course lower oil prices have only strengthened that view. But more recently it has been refreshing to hear Nicola Sturgeon make the case against UK austerity. So when I was asked by The Conversation to fact check this statement by her:
“In the last five years, austerity has undermined our public services, lowered the living standards of working people, pushed more children into poverty and held back economic growth.”
I was happy to provide a report which concluded:
“Nicola Sturgeon’s statement on the economic impact of austerity on the UK is correct, with no qualifications.”
Today the SNP put out a press release on the Conversation report. Unfortunately it contained the following comment from Stewart Hosie, Deputy Leader of the SNP and Treasury spokesperson:
''Professor Wren-Lewis reflects what many other experts and indeed members of the public know all too well - that Tory/Lib Dem austerity has done deep harm to the country's recovery from the Labour recession.”
Oh dear – ‘the Labour recession’. That would be the global financial crisis that originated with US subprime mortgages! Calling this the Labour recession is just stupid, and is something I would never say. It is very unfortunate (and I hope it is just a misfortunate) that Stewart Hosie appeared to suggest that I had said or implied that. Whatever the intention, it indicates that at least some in the SNP are still in the business of making highly misleading statements to advance their cause.
While on the subject of the SNP and this election, let me make one final point, just in case any prospective SNP voters read this. In the quite likely event that the Conservatives get more seats than Labour, but less seats than Labour and the SNP combined, in a situation where either side would need LibDem support Nick Clegg has made it clear he will talk to the Conservatives first. That will almost certainly lead to the current coalition government continuing. Clegg’s reasoning for doing this makes little sense, but the SNP cannot influence Clegg’s decision, and I suspect nor can his party even if they were minded to.
If that comes to pass, then every vote for the SNP rather than Labour that loses Labour seats becomes a vote to continue with the current government. That is not an opinion, but a factual statement. So, to be consistent with his own logic, I think Stewart Hosie would have to call this election result the SNP’s Tory-LibDem second term.