by Colin Campbell
KATE Forbes, the former trainee accountant who is now the SNP Government’s “Finance Secretary” was interviewed by Inverness MP Drew Hendry on his latest “podcast”. Grievance Girl Kate was given the job in a hurry when her predecessor was caught sending dubious texts to a young teenage boy, there was a budget to deliver and she was considered in a panic to be the best they had available.
And she’s been earnestly swotting up on her subject. Macro-economics, micro-economics, fiscal powers, and of course “the levers”, the only financial catchphrase she didn’t toss out on the pod was “endogenous growth theory”. There’s no doubt she can talk the hind legs of a donkey.
And if you’re talking about complex financial issues with Drew “I’m no economist” Hendry, you’re certainly in the right place for that.
What she said was inevitably full of wishful thinking, drivel and fantasy about how things would be in an independent Scotland. She’d hardly opened her mouth before declaring that, post-independence we’d have “the best of both worlds”. In the fabled land of milk and honey, we’d have the best of all worlds, in everything.
Forbes: “We could enjoy the best of both worlds with free movement across the UK and free movement across the EU by voting to become an independent country within the EU.”
How this miracle would happen she didn’t explain, and needless to say Hendry didn’t question the claim.
If we re-joined the EU, there would inevitably be a hard passport controlled border separating Scotland from England. We’d be the equivalent of Italy and France. Trade with the rest of the UK would be subject to the same raft of new regulations and difficulties that the SNP blames on the “horrors of Brexit”. That’s what they’ve been making so much noise about. Around 70 per cent of our trade is currently with the rest of the UK. There would be no guarantee of “free movement” with the rest of the UK.
In fact the rest of the UK, particularly people in England, are getting sick of “the Scots” endless whingeing and what they see as incessant hostility directed against them. It’s hugely regrettable that they confuse “the Scots” with the SNP and Sturgeon and Blackford and co with their endless manufactured grievances. But that’s the grim reality. Many south of the border are very likely to think that a “free Scotland” after trashing the United Kingdom could go to hell in a handcart, and would actively boycott Scottish goods and produce. And our tourist industry, dependent to a huge extent on visitors from south of the border? The attitude among many would be: “No thanks. If they despise us so much we aren’t going there on holiday. Sod them. Viva Espana instead.”
What Hendry did not say to Forbes was: “Kate, during the pandemic the UK Government poured billions of pounds into Scotland to enable millions of people on furlough to get free money while they were at home doing a bit of gardening or watching Netflix. But of course you kept demanding more, more, more. Would an independent Scotland have been able to provide all that furlough support money?”
Yes, of course we would in the SNP and Forbes fantasy world. Forbes would have had control of “the levers”, and would have shaken the non-existent magic money tree to prevent people begging on the streets.
Except no-one would have lent us anything to see us through the crisis. If you were of generous disposition you might lend a few quid to someone you’d known all your life with the certainty he’d pay it back (ie the UK Government). But you wouldn’t lend a brass farthing to a newcomer you met in the pub who had no track record on anything (ie a “Free” Scotland).
It was sheer baloney from the Grievance Girl who has perfected imitating the Sturgeon scowl, and is one of the favourites to replace old Queen Nic when she finally moves on.
What also went entirely undiscussed was if an independent Scotland would have had the foresight and most importantly the billions of pounds required to secure the lifesaving vaccine, as the UK Government did, second in the world only behind Israel.
But of course there was no need to ask that question. Sturgeon has already given a one word answer: “Yes,” she brazenly lied.
Case closed. And by heaven, who within the SNP hierarchy is ever going to question anything ever said by Queen Nicola?
What currency would be used, Hendry asked. Nothing would change, said the ex-trainee accountant, we’d still use the pound, until it was judged the time was right to move to a new Scottish currency, whatever that might be. She brought in the views of SNP financial “expert” Andrew Wilson and his “Growth Commission”. Wilson has said it could take 10 years before a new currency could be created.
His assessment that we should still be beholden for a decade to “a foreign power” (England) in using their currency has turned him into one of the most reviled figures in the nationalist movement.
How would we be independent and free if we were still using “their” money, and entirely at “their” mercy on finance for years on end, ask legions of seething nationalist critics and English haters. What kind of “levers” would that give us? Levers? You’d be as good with a pair of drumsticks.
But all Forbes and senior nats like her want to do is to provide “reassurance” to doubters and sceptics, and of course those who happen to have mortgages, are in jobs and run businesses. After the most seismic change for Scotland in 300 years, nothing would really change, at least not for the worse. All change would move in the opposite direction, with the vast number of drug addicts and alkies giving up their bad habits and becoming highly productive members of society, and the unique talent, energy and dynamism of every citizen – currently being held back by Westminster – being unleashed to the full by independence as we became the best small country in the world.
What about pensions, Hendry asked, citing a reply to the same question by Ian Blackford who squeezed into his podcast studio a few weeks ago.
Asked what would change regarding the state pension, Blackford had replied: “Absolutely nothing… that commitment to continue to pay pensions rests with the UK Government. That’s no different to a UK citizen that chooses for example to live in Canada or Spain or France or anywhere else. That’s an obligation of the UK Government.”
The trainee accountant said she “did not dare” disagree with Blackford, so she agreed with him. That was the Scottish Finance Secretary apparently missing the point that after independence we would not be UK citizens living in “Canada or Spain or France or anywhere else”. We’d have left the UK. We would be citizens of an independent Scotland. Isn’t that what it’s all about? But of course she didn’t miss the point. Forbes is as ready to mislead people as any of the rest of her fellow SNP chancers. It’s what they’re all about. And if pensioners end up paying a very heavy price, so be it.
There was other stuff, all in the same, “Everything will be fine, people just need to trust me/us” mode from the ex-trainee accountant.
The same verbiage they all come up with.
Forbes said she’d embraced the cause of independence because it had run through her family for generations, and she remembered as a kid being out delivering leaflets.
Things would be better if she was still out delivering them.
Both of them are good enough local MPs. Hendry’s at his best in the local papers banging on about excess charges for private car parks. Or the inflated cost of parcel delivery charges to the Highlands. Forbes last year said dog owners in her constituency should be much more aware of the problem of sheep worrying.
But this pair aspire to have leadership roles in the creation of a new, “free” Scotland. Or so they claim. It’s a terrifying thought.
Like all the rest cashing in on the independence industry, in truth they’re both probably quite happy with things as they are.
Hendry never thought he’d become the SNP’S joke “Shadow Trade Secretary” at Westminster. Forbes must still wonder at her luck in getting instant promotion because of hundreds of dubious texts sent to a teenage boy.
In any case, I spent 41 minutes listening to this. That’s 41 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.
If you can bear it I suggest you experience Hendry’s podcast purgatory as well.
It’s all but guaranteed to put you off any idea of backing independence for life.