White paper lays out a bold vision for Scotland - Lorna Slater

Lorna Slater is the minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity. Picture: PALorna Slater is the minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity. Picture: PA
Lorna Slater is the minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity. Picture: PA
Kwasi Kwarteng may have been the worst Chancellor in modern history. From start to finish, his short tenure was a disaster.

Over the course of three weeks he did years worth of damage: throwing the pound into freefall, fuelling a big hike in interest rates and forcing a £65 billion intervention from the Bank of England. It would almost be laughable if the consequences weren’t so serious.

He didn’t do any of this alone. He acted with the explicit support of the Prime Minister. She didn’t just back his failed economic policies, she co-wrote them and sat right by him as he delivered them. They were the same policies that she ran on when she was trying to become Tory Party leader and the policies that a majority of Tory members consciously voted for.

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He was also supported by a Cabinet who cheered him to the rafters, as well as influential MPs like the Scottish Tory leader, Douglas Ross. In fact, Ross went further, and even called for the Scottish Government to replicate all of the former Chancellor’s disastrous plans.

It can be difficult to write a column like this when there is a real chance that it will be out of date by the time it is published. With the pace of change there are no guarantees that Liz Truss will even still be Prime Minister by the time you read this.

How can she expect to carry on with any credibility when she was just forced to sack her closest colleague and long-term friend for implementing the policies that she asked him to? Even her own colleagues are making moves against her, with regular briefings and talk of a Rishi Sunak coup. Can she really hold on?

The fact that this is even a question is a measure of the instability and turmoil that has been created in Downing Street.

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Jeremy Hunt may be a new face in the Treasury, but he certainly doesn’t represent the change we need.

On Sunday, in his first interview as Chancellor, he made clear that nothing would be "off the table" in terms of cuts. In his own leadership campaign he called for an expansion of the racist Rwanda deportation flights and even greater tax cuts for the biggest corporations than those that Kwasi Kwarteng tried to implement.

But the issue is much bigger than Liz Truss, Kwasi Kwarteng or Jeremy Hunt. It is the policies and the worldview that they represent.

When I think of the misery that is being piled on communities in Edinburgh and beyond, I know that we can do much better than this.

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Yesterday the First Minister presented the Scottish Government's economic white paper, which lays out a bold, optimistic and forward-looking vision for an independent Scotland.

With proposals for a major investment in green infrastructure, the scrapping of anti-trade union laws and an increase in the minimum wage, it was an urgent and positive contrast from the cruelty and chaos on offer from Westminster.

In 2014, we were told that a No vote was the only way to secure our economic stability. Since then we have had four Prime Ministers, each has been even worse than the one before. Scotland voted for none of them. Will it be five by the time you read this column? I certainly wouldn’t bet against it.

Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity

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