John Ferry John Ferry

Humza Yousaf’s pound shop populism isn’t cutting through 

(Photo by Robert Perry - Pool/Getty Images)

Have you opened a letter recently from your energy supplier and gasped at how much of your monthly budget is now going on electricity and gas? Are you living in constant pain or discomfort because you need an operation, but under the Scottish NHS you’ll have to wait years for treatment? Or do you live on one of Scotland’s islands and have been forced, for the first time in your life, to take to the streets in protest at the Scottish government’s failure to provide lifeline ferry services for your community?

If Scotland ever does cut away from the UK, the split is many years away. This makes it all the more frustrating that the Scottish government is spending millions of pounds on civil servants tasked with creating fantasy papers.

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions then fret no more. Scotland’s first minister, Humza Yousaf, has a new white paper out called ‘Creating a Modern Constitution for an Independent Scotland’. It doesn’t explain how ferry services will be improved, or how to deal with the crisis in the NHS, or how households can be shielded from the cost-of-living crisis. What it does do is talk about abstract notions of sovereignty in an independent Scotland that currently has no prospect of becoming a reality. Who needs the real world with its trade-offs and complexities when you can spend your time in government indulging in fantasies about creating a new utopia? 

The paper is the fourth in the ‘Building a New Scotland’ series, which was launched by Nicola Sturgeon last year. One previous paper compared the UK with a cherry-picked collection of small countries doing relatively well on certain economic measures, and from there made the spurious claim that Scotland can emulate their success by being independent. To make the data fit the required conclusion, the analysis left out countries like Portugal, which has relatively low GDP-per-capita.

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