THE Scottish Budget turned out pretty much as expected, but I think this means that by the time of the next one in December 2018 we will be more or less where we are now, assuming we can survive the somewhat greater risk of falling into recession. Over the next 12 months Scotland may still have hope of moving forward in a political sense, but I’m afraid that’s not true in an economic sense.

Why? I’d say it’s because the Scottish government has little discernible confidence in the private sector, though the private sector is what actually gives us our production and increases our wealth. Public money is being used to improve education and infrastructure – which is all to the good, because this is one basis for higher growth in the long term.

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But meanwhile the private sector will only revive through private profit and private investment. We see little sign of that, because the government remains indifferent. Perhaps these basic needs of a functioning capitalist economy leave it cold. As a result we face the prospect of a gentle drift downwards in average living standards in the immediate years ahead.

Higher income tax for many will make things worse, while compensating pay rises will occur only in the public sector – the private sector will not be able to afford them. A lot of this can be blamed on the economic environment created by the idiocy of the UK Government, but in my view the Scottish Government is not doing much better.