John McLellan: Universal citizen's income idea is just about sooking up to the Greens
Nobel Prize-winning left-wing economist Professor Joseph Stiglitz has once again proved himself very useful to the SNP, but in a different way to his oft-quoted support for independence in the 2014 referendum campaign.
Still a leading member of the SNP’s Council of Economic Advisers, this week Stiglitz rubbished the idea of a guaranteed state wage for all, the universal citizen’s income (UCI), as a costly diversion from boosting well-paid employment.
Although Nicola Sturgeon has promised to pursue the policy, Stiglitz has given her a get-out from what we now know, thanks to Scottish Conservative Freedom of Information requests, would cost Scotland over £12bn a year. Even significant personal tax rises would still leave a shortfall of more than £3bn.
Much of the utopianism behind UCI is based on a supposedly conclusive, four-year 1970s experiment in Manitoba which turned out to be anything but. Claims about revolutionary findings and a right-wing cover-up have been deconstructed by the Canadian professor who extensively studied the data.
It’s therefore surely only a matter of time before the SNP dumps such a ruinous idea, but sadly Edinburgh Council’s weak administration has just sooked up to the Greens, whose pet policy this is, by agreeing to run a feasibility study here.
Who knows how much this pointless exercise could cost Edinburgh tax-payers, but how much more do Edinburgh’s coalition parties need to know other that UCI will cost billions we don’t have and the SNP’s own economy guru says it’s a waste of money.