Guy Stenhouse: And another thing, Ms Sturgeon, where exactly is the money for public sector pay rises coming from? – HeraldScotland

Guy Stenhouse: And another thing, Ms Sturgeon, where exactly is the money for public sector pay rises coming from? – HeraldScotland

Guy Stenhouse: And another thing, Ms Sturgeon, where exactly is the money for public sector pay rises coming from? – HeraldScotland 0 0 Alan Dickson

And And And. Andism. Not a real word. I’ve just made it up but something new is needed to describe the feeling which is gripping the country.
Andism is a fantasy, the fantasy that you can have things which are either mutually exclusive or otherwise make no sense together.
Some examples might be helpful.
We want to pay less tax And save our clearly failing public services And get help with energy bills And keep the drive to use less carbon on course And avoid financially ruining our children’s lives by crushing them with our debt.
At the more micro-level in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has arrived back from Denmark to “solve” a public sector strike which was largely of her own government’s making through starving local councils of cash.
The deal she brokered enables poorly paid public servants to receive a pay rise which broadly matches inflation And no modernisation of working practices has been obtained in return And public sector workers can continue to look forward to pensions which workers in the private sector can only dream of for themselves whilst they pay for those of their public sector fellow citizens And there must be no increase in fuel bills And finding the extra £200 million a year for the pay increase is going to be fine.
There is an unpleasant reality check coming and coming soon. This Andism has to stop. Choices have to be made: hard, difficult choices which politicians will need courage to tell us and we will need the courage to vote for those who speak the truth.
The UK’s public finances are under considerable strain. Scotland’s are worse not better. Overspending, slow growth, dealing with the 2008 financial crash and the cost of the Covid pandemic have left us in a position where the economic cost of the war in Ukraine is not easily borne.
The UK can shoulder the burden helping citizens with high energy bills but there has to be consequences, above all pay rises need to be below the rate of inflation. If they are not we will get into the absurd situation where pay increases reflect inflation which in turn is largely driven by energy price rises which in turn are dealt with by direct subsidies from government to citizens. You end up with the country paying an amount it cannot afford in order to solve the same problem twice. There needs to be more “Or” and less “And”.
When public sector workers get good pay rises – and for many that is entirely justified, there needs to be an understanding that these must be paid for – and largely through more efficiency rather than ever greater burdening of taxpayers or by future generations.
In Scotland the disputes over pay which appear to have been solved by Sturgeon’s largesse with our money are only the advance guard. Others await their turn. Up next are the teachers whose leaders lost no time in telling the world the 5% they had been offered was an insult and “a deep and painful real terms pay cut for Scotland’s hard-working teachers”.
I always feel slightly nauseous when public sector unions describe their members as “hard working” – indeed they generally are but so is the till operator at your local Tesco and the waiter at your local restaurant neither of whom have the generous pension arrangements of teachers.
Leave that feeling aside though and ask, if as seems certain, significant direct help will be given to enable people to pay the energy bills which are causing most of the current inflation, why exactly is it that a 5% fully pensionable pay rise is an insult?
The trouble is even if you think that question is worth answering it doesn’t matter. The position now is that Scotland’s First Minister has sold the pass. Why on earth would teachers settle for 5% when the Scottish Government has shown it can provide the funding for 10% for other groups. They won’t, their leaders can’t, almost certainly they will get considerably more. This is how a short-lived inflationary spike becomes a damaging long-term spiral. Inflation is the nastiest economic thief of all, robbing those on fixed incomes, those who have saved, those who do not have aggressive bargaining power. Stopping inflation becoming embedded is the key priority.
Scotland’s fiscal position is already weaker than that of the UK as a whole. We spend much more on public services and are taxed more highly without much tangible benefit. Scotland needs a government which makes tough decisions and does not endlessly pretend we could have it all if we were on our own, which recognises the benefits for Scotland of being within the British union and works with the UK government and not against it to make the Union work better for Scots.
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