First crack in SNP’s facade

Belfast Telegraph columnist Lawrence White has provided inspiration for the first half-convincing counter attack against the SNP since it gained office in Holyrood last year. The ammunition comes from an innocent enough Scottish Policy forum analysis by Prof White of the importance of Scotland’s links with sterling, and the perceived irrelevance of Alex Salmond in spite of much screaming and shouting, to the consequences of the Lloyds-TSB takeover of Halifax-Bank of Scotland last week. Jim Wallace, erstwhile Lib Dem leader in Holyrood invokes the analysis to ask: “ In the circumstances, how viable is Scottish independence?”

From the SNP’s candid friend Iain McWhirter comes a rejoinder:

“A lot of small countries have had very successful banking systems, including Ireland, Iceland and Sweden. Yes, Ireland is in trouble with its housing crash and Iceland recently increased interest rates to 15%. But that doesn’t mean they are eager to become a part of the UK and Denmark again.”

McWhirter mounts a kind of Occam’s razor attack on Gordon Brown, arguing that talks between HBos and Lloyds TSB began two years ago and had nothing to do with Brown…and anyway it’s not a done deal yet… and anyway the merger may be too big.

A dialogue of the deaf on replacing council tax with a local income tax rages in the Sunday Times between Andy Kerr Labour’s finance spokesman and the SNP government’s financial secretary John Swinney.

When the going gets tough the tough get going to the Middle East. First Minister Alex Salmond with unabashed ingenuity says he’s off to Qatar “next year” (why wait so long?), to negotiate PFI funding for Scotland’s crumbling roads. These will be different PFIs of course from the ones he denounced to build Scottish hospitals.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London