SNP blasted for ‘luring’ voters to back independence with ‘ludicrous’ 4-day week plan
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The Scottish Conservatives have warned the plan could cost Scotland’s sector £2.5billion alone each year and blow a massive hole in Scotland’s already vulnerable economy. During the SNP conference in November, party members voted in favour of a four-day working week by 1,136 votes to 70, calling on the Scottish Government to launch a review of working practices in Scotland, including the “possibility of a four-day week”. Employment law is still controlled by Westminster, meaning any policy aimed at reducing working hours could only be introduced if the SNP is successful in securing a seconreferendum on Scottish independence.
Nicola Sturgeon has continued to lead the SNP’s calls for a second independence vote – more than six years after the country voted to remain in the Union
Scotland’s First Minister has vowed to hold another vote on independence if the SNP is successful in winning a majority at the Scottish elections, scheduled to take place in May.
She has ramped up her independence calls since Brexit, continuing to insist the UK’s departure has been concluded against the will of the Scottish people, who had voted to remain part of the bloc during the referendum in June 2016.
But Ben Harris-Quinney, Chairman of the Bow Group think tank, accused the SNP of “luring” people to vote for independence with unviable policy pledges.
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He told Express.co.uk: “Anyone with a basic understanding of economics and the current state of the UK economy and our national finances should scrutinise and oppose these proposals.
“It seems to represent more irresponsible policy promises to lure voters to backing independence and the SNP without explaining the potential economic ramifications.
“An independent Scotland would likely be a poorer nation than the UK.
“SNP economic projections rely on the idea of majority control of North Sea oil post independence, which is not only unlikely but North Sea oil is running out and oil as a natural resource is rapidly being replaced by other fuel sources.”
Scotland’s economy has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdowns that have been imposed.
Last month, the Fraser of Allander Institute set out three scenarios in its latest Economic Commentary report.
But it warned that a pessimistic scenario, involving business closures, rising unemployment and a slow rollout of a coronavirus vaccine across the country, would mean Scotland’s economy may not return to pre-pandemic levels until September 2023.
Mr Harris-Quinney continued: “I struggle to see how the Government would even be able to afford their current obligations, and substantially slashing working hours would further compound this deficit.
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“Both the Scottish Government but more importantly the Scottish people would end up poorer.”
The Scottish Conservatives have claimed the SNP’s four-day week plan this would cost the NHS an extra £1.5billion, the education system would need an extra £430million, police would require £431million, the fire service would need another £108million and the prison service would need an extra £43million – all before cuts to staff salaries or public services.
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Economy Maurice Golden told Express.co.uk: “This is an absolutely ludicrous plan that would cost Scotland £2.5billion.
“At the height of the pandemic, how can we possibly be considering additional costs without the associated benefits is just absolutely mind-numbingly excruciating.
“It beggars belief that this is being actively considered by the SNP.
“I’m an economist and I can’t see this being a good idea at any time, but particularly at this time when we have an unheralded economic shock to the system.
“To try and change working practices so dramatically, to add vast costs onto our NHS, schools, police, fire or prison service, seems entirely out of keeping with rational economic thought.”
But the SNP has hit back at the criticism, with MSP George Adam responding: “Once again the Tories are well out of step with the views of Scottish voters – in July a poll found that 70 percent would back a four-day working week.
“The idea of a four-day week is one that is currently gaining momentum across the globe as we look to rebuild a different economy that is fit for the future.
“It is absolutely right that we discuss progressive policies like this as we look to improve the lives of people in Scotland and support our economic recovery in the coming years.
“The SNP won’t be taking any lectures on workers’ rights from the party who opposed the minimum wage and now want to scrap the 48-hour limit on a working week.”
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