IF you were only to read certain anti-independence Scottish papers you might think that the only important news story this week was the British nationalist obsession with cost overruns and delays in the procurement of new CalMac ferries.

Of course, it's a news story when an important government contract is delayed and incurs cost overruns of some £150 million. No one is disputing that it's an important news story, and it's certainly to be expected that it should be in the news on the day that the First Minister gives evidence to the Holyrood inquiry looking into the issues with the contract.

However, that said, the amount of time and attention devoted to this story by sections of the Scottish media is vastly disproportionate to the actual cost to the public purse that it has caused. Liz Truss's brief foray into Number 10 has cost the public tens of billions, the malfunctioning super-carrier recently acquired by the Royal Navy went an estimated £1 billion over budget and is still not fully operational, and the cost of repairs will run into the millions.

Meanwhile, in London, the Elizabeth Line railway crossing the city east to west in tunnels under the city centre finally became operational this year, three and a half years late and £4 billion over budget. The HS2 high-speed railway connecting London with Birmingham is already experiencing eye-watering cost overruns.

The project has been beset by delays and rising costs, some estimates put the final price tag at more than £100bn. The initial cost estimate was between £30.9bn and £36bn – costs currently sit at £42.5bn.

Then there is the scandal of PPE contracts which saw the Conservatives waste £4bn in the purchase of unusable equipment and a so-called VIP access lane for contracts for friends and associates of senior Conservatives – a scheme that reeked of blatant corruption. Yet the shameless Scottish Tories are now accusing the Scottish Government of “jobs for the boys” in the allocation of ferry contracts. The rank hypocrisy is galling.

There are abundant other examples, The proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station could cost UK taxpayers more than double government estimates and take an extra five years to build, according to recent research. Originally forecast to cost £20bn, the likely cost is expected to be in excess of £43bn.

All these cost overruns, which are the responsibility of Westminster, dwarf the sums involved in what the Scottish media is wont to call the ferry fiasco. The point here is not to indulge in whataboutery, although in this case one would certainly be justified in doing so – the real issue is that budget overruns and delays in completion are very far from being the sole preserve of the Scottish Government. They are endemic in British government at every level.

They most certainly do not point to an issue which is peculiar to Scotland or the Scottish Government, there is a far larger picture here which the petty-fogging Scottish anti-independence media is determined to overlook, because to mention it might highlight that the issue is not in fact with Scotland, but with the structures of British government.

With its obsessive attention to the cost overrun of new ferries, involving sums which although large to an individual are relatively trivial compared to the sums routinely splurged away in mismanaged Westminster projects, yet which pass unremarked by that same Scottish media which constantly bangs on about the ferries – despite the fact the portion allocated to Scotland of these Westminster-created costs represent a far larger burden to Scotland's public purse than the so-called ferry fiasco – it appears that the real goal of the anti-independence media in Scotland is not so much to hold power to account, but to cast doubt on Scotland's ability to govern itself.

Aided and abetted by much of the Scottish media, the Scottish Conservatives are clutching their pearls about the “scandal” of the ferries, while much more expensive scandals which are the responsibility of the Conservative Government pass relatively unremarked.

Conservative attempts to reap political capital from the ferry issue might have a tad more credibility if the Tory party was not itself responsible for corrupt dealings and massive budget overruns on a truly huge scale.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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