Monday, May 19, 2008

John Swinney

I was invited this afternoon to a seminar which included the above gentleman as the keynote speaker.
I'm not an SNP supporter, but if Swinney is true to his word, all of us in Scotland might just vote for him. On the other hand, he IS a politician ( and a bloody good one at that)
He spoke well, but for me there were two points at which I thought " Yes."
The first was that the piece of paper he carried around with him at the Holyrood elections last year, and which he used at the first " Cabinet" meeting thereafter said " We will make Scotland grow economically and sustainably". Brown may have thought he would do this for the UK, but unfortunately his ideology and complete lack of understanding of economics, markets or even how to make a trade blew that one out of the water.
Swinney went on to say that the critical thing about the sustainability part of his dictum was making sure that everything in Government, local Government, the Health Service, and every other Government connected body all pulled in the same direction and were focused , not on a quick fix which could fall apart just as quickly, but on a long term sustainable position.
He made the point that he and his colleagues were about to launch metrics by which their performance could be measured, " For, " he said, " Why are we bothering to do anything otherwise?" His goal was nothing less than raising Scotland's average growth rate ( which over the last 30 years has averaged about 1.8% pa) up to the same level as the UK ( about 2.7%). This would have profound effects on Scotland's prosperity.
The second point where I was silently saying " Yes!" to myself was when a questioner said "That's all very well, but with your tax varying powers, surely you're going to squeeze that prosperity with higher taxes."
Swinney smiled.
" Let me answer that with a story. In 1992, when I was working for Scottish Amicable, I was given the job of finding the perfect spot for our European headquarters.
We could have chosen anywhere, and I had visions of jetting around Europe on expenses for some months.
The only problem was, I started - not by booking the airline tickets - but by doing some basic taxation research.
I never even left the office. Ireland had just started it's low tax regime for companies. It was such a complete and utter stand out that I simply told my Director that we should put the headquarters in Dublin.
Dublin now has it's own huge financial services sector, which didn't exist 16 years ago - sustainable, high value jobs"
Now OK he's a politician trying to sell his wares, but if he genuinely goes down the low company tax route, Scotland will be rich and happy.
And so will I.

1 comment:

Winchester whisperer said...

Don't leave us!