This post is a bit of a double header. The first part is to bring to the attention of anyone interested a quite remarkable bit of presentation and exposition by Scottish businessman Kevin Hague (AKA @kevverage on Twitter). Hague has been a major thorn in the side for the numerous SNP fantasists who are either too thick, deluded or malign to admit that the entire Nationalist economic ‘strategy’ went up in smoke a long time ago – the main reason they lost the referendum, as the public aren’t daft. He seems to do this stuff in his spare time, and it is quite brilliant in both content and execution. His Chokkablog is great reading. Any teacher or lecturer could learn from the clarity of his thinking and his use of evidence. The video is worth 8 minutes of anyone’s time, particularly if you live in Scotland. See what I mean:
You could probably rename that video ‘why Scottish independence is dead in the water, whatever you may hear to the contrary’. The point is that besides Hague’s narrative and logic skills, he is a genuine practising economist, ie: a succesful businessman who sinks or swims according to his decisions. This is compared to current Finance Minister John Swinney – nice guy but a politics graduate who has always lurked in the public sector – Alex Salmond, who bafflingly claims to be an economics guru because he worked for RBS aeons ago, despite his lies/ramblings over the years, and Nicola Sturgeon, a lawyer who has only worked briefly in that area, then the public sector. In fact the SNP have still not provided any factual and coherent assessment of the Scottish economy. Who would you trust with your dosh?
Cross the border and head today for Westminster, where (history graduate) George Osborne knocks out a budget that is economically cautious and safe, but politically astute. No Eck-like lies or wild claims. The initial reception is remarkably good, both from fans and enemies – as the Guardian says: a dish of Conservative and Labour ingredients seasoned with the promise of economic competence. Both Osborne and Hague frame their message around evidence freely available to the public. Plausibility and pragmatism.
The Knife, as an interested observer, makes no claim to economic expertise, but I’m happy to pay homage to Hague. The standard of debate in Scotland has been so poor at times, he stands out like a beacon of common sense and reasonableness. When it comes to Osborne however, four years ago when the Osborne hatred and the cliched omnishambles claim were really building up, I invented PWUGO (People Who Underestimate George Osborne), in response to the now utterly defunct DUEMA (I lifted Iain Martin’s witty joke). PWUGO appears to have a rapidly declining membership now.
The point is that Osborne always struck me as having genuinely thought things out carefully, developed a long term plan accordingly, and stuck to it. This was greatly helped by Cameron’s refusal to sack him, despite a clamour which reached a peak in 2012, aided and abetted by Ed Balls and serious political commentators alike**. Nobody knows anything, as the saying goes.
My conclusion: you don’t have to be likeable (Osborne struggles) to make it. You do have to be serious, plausible and authentic. Both Kevin Hague and Osborne in their different ways demonstrate this. Salmond and his cronies, along with the two Eds, have proved that the alternative approach always ends in failure. Deservedly.
**It’s amusing to read Peter Oborne, one of the guilty parties, drooling a bit over Osborne now