That’s not funny

I occasionally come to Michael Fry’s column for the entertainment value of his deft special-pleading on behalf of unfettered capitalism. But what gave me the greatest amusement on this occasion was his outrage at the SNP’s 2016 election manifesto containing “page after page of spending commitments” and a mere six revenue-raising proposals. I laughed aloud at the ‘more is always better’ attitude that is so characteristic of those who worship at the altar of the markets.

I wonder how many revenue-raising proposals would have satisfied Mr Fry. What number of such proposals would be required to balance the unspecified, but presumably large, number of spending commitments filling all those pages? If six isn’t enough, might ten do it? Or twelve? Or a hundred?

Those who come at the issue from a less abacus-based perspective will, I’m sure, immediately recognise that the number of revenue-raising proposals is totally irrelevant. What matters is the potential revenue-raising capacity of each proposal. In reality, only one such proposal is necessary, so long as that single proposal can match the spending commitments.

We may well laugh at this foolishness. But that amusement is all we can usefully take from Michael Fry’s article. Few, I suspect, will be moved by his exhortation to disregard the catastrophic failures of capitalism which litter recent history and set ourselves to creating a Scotland which persists in banging its head off that wall in the hope that it will eventually cure society’s headaches. It will. But the cure is very much worse than the disease.

Other than that, the article is founded on the patently false premise that “we are all telling one another how poor we are”. Here in the real world, one of the principal objectives of the SNP administration has been to talk up Scotland’s actual and potential wealth. But then, that’s the real SNP administration, and not the grotesque caricature that haunts Michael Fy’s imagination.

However laughable we may have found the nonsense about revenue-raising proposals; however wryly amused we may be at the evangelical capitalism; even if we are able to smile at the portrayal of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola as someone who believes herself to be “omnipotent”, the smile must surely evaporate instantly at Michael Fry’s suggestion that devolution is a necessary constraint imposed on a democratically elected Scottish Government. This is downright offensive.

I find utterly abhorrent the implication that Scotland’s democratic institutions are unfit to be trusted with the powers of a normal nation. I totally reject the notion that the Scottish Government must be reined in by a paternalistic British state lest it actually fulfil its mandate and respect the will of the people rather than meekly accepting the ‘no other way’ mantra of capitalism’s priesthood.

Turns out the article isn’t that funny after all.

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About Peter A Bell

Thinker. Listener. Talker. Reader. Writer. No attitude immutable. No conclusion final. No opinion humble. Lifelong campaigner for the restoration of Scotland's independence.
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4 Responses to That’s not funny

  1. Alan J. Magnus-Bennett says:

    I am not a business minded person so do not always understand Michael Fry’s comment. However, today I got a feeling he was talking a load of pish. I have come to the conclusion that he still a Tory with Tory business instincts, which if I’m honest, doesn’t ring too many bells, uhm, doesn’t ring any bells for me. Today I felt he insulted not only the government but the whole SNP membership and probably the whole of the independence movement with notion that we all think Scotland is too wee and too poor. I just wish the National could find someone who actually supports Scotland in a more business way and positive way and just get rid of Michael Fry.


  2. broadbield says:

    I stopped reading Michael Fry some months ago (although I am pleased he is for an independent Scotland, so we do have a little in common), since he seems totally uneducated in modern economic thinking, the kind of thinking that rejects neoliberalism and classical economics as harmful nonsense that has brought us huge inequality and the greatest financial collapse since the Great Depression.

    I wish he would read some of the work of the likes of Richard Murphy who frequently explains on his blog ( the relationship between spending and taxing – where the spending comes first and the taxing later in order to, among other things, reclaim the money spent and the earth shattering idea that a country with its own currency can create money out of thin air.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Michael Fry is the piece of grit in the National’s oyster. He’s not there to produce any convincing unregulated capitalist model for an independent Scotland, he’s there as an irritant, a controversialist, to get people thinking and reacting — as has happened here and elsewhere!


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