by Colin Campbell
INVERNESS MP Drew Hendry has been producing a series of podcasts on the whys and wherefores of independence and I’ve listened to several of them in a 30 minute exposure to jargon, soundbites and the usual SNP “ifs”, “buts” and “maybes”.
In the latest effort he’s joined by a couple of SNP cohorts discussing “Scotland’s Finances”.
I almost switched off before I’d barely switched on when Hendry trotted out the smug nationalist answer to the serious question: “Can Scotland afford to be independent” by insisting the real question is whether Scotland can afford NOT to be independent.
They seem to think this is a clever response. But it is up to Hendry and the SNP to provide answers on what currency an independent Scotland would use, the impact on jobs, pensions and mortgages, the prospect of a hard border with England and the implications for trade, businesses and jobs, the massive deficit that would burden an independent Scotland from day one, and the loss of the £2,000 per head in extra public spending that we get compared with people in England.
That cannot be dismissed by a tediously repetitive soundbite that offers no answers to any of these questions and is essentially meaningless.
But just four minutes into his latest proud podcast Hendry prefaced a statement by saying: “I’m no economist…”
Well, who would have guessed?
Hendry indeed is no economist. He’s an ex-councillor who got on the greasy pole with the SNP and has climbed ever upward. He’s no more of a credible, serious economist than I am.
But he currently holds the role of Shadow SNP Trade Minister. Maybe that should be renamed Very Pale Shadow Trade Minister.
That to me sounds like the kind of job where some grounding in economic expertise would be useful, and in fact essential.
It wouldn’t exactly add to your credibility on trade negotiations with representatives from other countries if you declared upfront, “I’m no economist”, when every facet of trade negotiations relates in one way or another to high finance and economics. Your adversaries across the negotiating table could assume you were there for the taking and would be better trading vegetables for cash in a street market stall.
Back in February academics from the London School of Economics produced a lengthy report compiled by economics professors over several months, which concluded that independence would lead to the equivalent of a wage cut of between £2,000 and £2,800 per person.
And who did the SNP put on the airwaves to try and trash this analysis from the LSE?
None other than Drew “I’m no economist” Hendry.
As I wrote at the time: “He’s no brain of Britain but he partly compensates for that with his brash willingness to appear on television and radio to argue the case for the cause. And he’s not fussy about who he takes on.”
Drew “I’m no economist” Hendry had taken just a few hours to conclude this extensive, detailed economic analysis was completely wrong and appeared on the radio to say so.
The scenario of a glorified ex-councillor trying to trash the in-depth research of top economists at the LSE was risible. His “rebuttal” was pathetically inadequate.
That’s what happens when a brazen chancer takes on people who know what they’re talking about.
This is what makes the SNP exceptional. Denial, evasion, winging it, and if they don’t like what they hear from an entirely neutral organisation like the London School of Economics they put up the likes of “I’m no economist” Drew Hendry to challenge it, not because he can present a reasoned argument, but because he can make a noise.
Hendry’s admission on his silly podcast isn’t exactly a “Gotcha” moment. Everyone knows he and the rest of them are out of their depth when it comes to providing serious answers to serious questions on the finances of an independent Scotland.
They have no answers, despite having had the past seven years to try and come up with some.
Cult members fall for it and will keep on falling for it. But the majority of people in Scotland who will demand precise, detailed and completely credible answers on how independence will affect them and their families financially won’t accept it, not now, not next year and very possibly not ever.
Maybe SNP politicians should all start producing podcasts like Drew “I’m no economist” Hendry, when they are relaxed talking candidly to others of their ilk, and for once some simple and very obvious truths are allowed to slip out.