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The Dinwoodie Interview

SNP annual conference is upon us, and no matter what the formal agenda says, the talk bubbling under at the Scottish SEC next week will be of two things — the controversy over allegations against former leader Alex Salmond, and the weighty report produced by the Sustainable Growth Commission chaired by his former protege Andrew Wilson.

Love it or hate it, and there have been plenty of reactions from both supporters and critics, Scotland – the new case for optimism will inform the whole economic debate ahead of IndyRef2, whenever it is called. But in spite of the fierce reaction of some critics, particularly on opting to continue using sterling for a time and to pursue deficit reduction, Wilson is not backing off at all and is happy to defend his corner.

“Nothing I have heard in the arguments that have come back dissuades me one bit because you need to play out the alternative that would happen,” he said. “People appear to be arguing from the harder elements of the Left that it’s OK just to keep borrowing lots of money at what would be very expensive rates and if necessary printing money to keep going. I can think of no examples of any small, advanced economy where this has worked well and there are numerous examples through history – and over the last few weeks – where just such a strategy is terribly disruptive for the very people we exist in politics to serve and to help.”

I first met Wilson in 1996 when, reporting politics for The Herald, I dropped in to SNP headquarters in North Charlotte Street in Edinburgh’s West End for a chat with him, his boss as head of communications and research, Kevin Pringle, and the party chief executive Michael Russell. Largely through digging by Wilson as economics researcher the Treasury had been forced to concede that allowing for its share of oil revenues Scotland had been running a healthy deficit for many years and we made it the front-page lead story.

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