by Colin Campbell
TRAINEE accountant finance secretary Kate Forbes will this week deliver her budget for the year ahead in the Scottish Parliament.
The content of what she says will of course be closely scrutinised.
But one unknown factor about her speech is whether she will attack Westminster, Boris Johnson and the evil Tories for underfunding and cheating Scotland at the beginning, in the middle or at the end.
Or whether she’ll lash out at the beginning and maintain the theme all the way through, which seems the most likely scenario.
The winsome July bride who received so much favourable attention in the media for her engagement at the beginning of the year and the subsequent nuptials may be a charmer to all when she’s out and about in her Highland constituency, but she has scowling grievance etched in her face whenever she’s on the day job at Holyrood.
No wonder she’s one of the leading favourites to replace Nicola Sturgeon when she finally buckles under the strain of promising another referendum she cannot deliver.
As billions poured across the border from Westminster this year and last to fund the furlough scheme and give very many people a long free holiday, Forbes persistently demanded “more, more, more”.
Of course no amount of UK Government support could ever be enough when the primary objective of Forbes and the SNP was to depict our “colonial masters” as short changing Scotland and “treating us with contempt”.
As the billions flowed north to fund deckchair and gardening leave.
She was at it again only a couple of months ago. No chance to stir up grievance is ever missed, even when there are non-existent grounds for trying to do. That would be viewed as negligence by the nationalist hierarchy.
In September she growled that financial support for covid measures from Westminster had tailed off in recent months. And she had serious doubts as to whether the UK Government would resume providing Scotland with furlough money if was considered necessary to impose another lockdown due to rising covid cases this winter.
That is, another lockdown north of the border under a diktat from Sturgeon, while people in England carried on working. England works, Scotland reclines in armchairs. That’s the SNP’s definition of “fair”, and any arrangement to the contrary is another example of Scotland being cheated yet again.
The fact that another lockdown was not on the agenda in September didn’t matter. Just another day, just another manufactured grievance for Kate Forbes and her ilk to whip out of thin air. The ratio has to be maintained. To appease the nationalist zealots there have to be at least two or three a week.
Kate Forbes was shoehorned into the role of finance secretary within hours of her predecessor Derek Mackay being exposed as having sent hundreds of dubious text messages to a 16-year-old boy.
This was done in a rush because the following day, reading from a script, she had to deliver the Scottish Government’s budget at Holyrood, and there was no one else available. The fact that she was a novice first time MSP and her financial experience involved having been a trainee accountant was neither here nor there. She’d have to do.
In the event she rattled off her speech quite well, in a composed manner, and gained plaudits for her performance.
Now she’s settled in as finance secretary. But if there are problems she has to deal with she merely demands ever more money from Westminster, and if there is any reluctance to provide it, she passes the buck and directs the blame south. Nationalists buy into that of course and for Forbes it’s job done.
In one particularly bold move, she promised to provide an economic plan for an independent Scotland. It never materialised, because the SNP doesn’t have one.
A trainee accountant as Scottish finance secretary, and glorified ex-councillor Drew “I’m no economist” Hendry as the SNP’s “Shadow Trade Secretary” at Westminster.
What a wealth of talent would lead us to “freedom” in the land of milk and honey.
Kate Forbes will deliver her budget speech and God alone knows what benefit her considered judgements will bring to the people of Scotland.
But if it succeeds in whipping up anti-Westminster, anti-Tory, and anti-English grievance among the faithful, the SNP will consider it work well done.