Last week’s newspaper headlines told the terrible truth - “Stalled Scotland” “Red alert warning as economy slides” “…alarm bells on the economy” and “the threat of recession is hanging over us”. The actual figures make the dawning realisation of a crisis on the horizon more concrete - in the past year manufacturing down by more than 7%, the construction industry down by 6% and across Scotland zero growth in the country’s vital services sector.
Now of course some will say this is all a harbinger of what Brexit is to bring. But it’s hard to make that argument when the whole of the UK is threatened by Brexit and general growth in the rest of the UK is much healthier. For the record, Scotland’s economy fell by 0.2% in the last three months of 2016. In the same time the rest of the UK economy grew by 0.7%.
So it must be the oil and gas problem. Wrong again. The figures quoted here strip out oil and gas extraction to avoid distorting the results. Don’t just take it from me. One of the top professors at the International Public Policy Institute at Strathclyde didn’t pull any punches. He said that Scotland was on the brink of recession. So after ten years of government it’s time the Scottish government carried the can for the crisis in the economy. It’s time they owned up for their decisions on investment, their decisions on austerity, their obsession with independence.
But fear not our troubles could be over. After all we’ve just signed a climate change agreement with …California! The governor of California, Jerry Brown, and Nicola Sturgeon did a Mamas and Papas act last week counter signing each others’ climate pledges - California Dreamin’ right enough.
Before visiting the UN to pose for more selfies with the under-secretary general for UN women - surely £billions of trade deals will follow - our First Minister addressed an audience at California’s Stanford University. She told them that independence (for Scotland) is the best way to build a fairer society at home.
Where have I heard that before I asked myself? Google came up with the answer. When Susan Aitken became leader of the SNP in Glasgow two years ago she told the city: “I will be arguing strongly that only the powers of independence will provide the opportunities to improve the lives of Glaswegians and the economy of our city.”
Nicola wants to stop gallivanting around America, on her “Nicola the Independence Tour - why we need Indyref 2” and get back to the day job. And Ms Aitken ought to stop trashing Glasgow - it seems her dreams are about Barcelona not California - and face up to the facts of what Labour has done for the city. For jobs. For houses. For schools.
I’ve laid out Labour achievements in Glasgow in this column many times before now but it’s time to talk about the future. Labour’s manifesto will Put Glasgow First. We have pledged to created 50,000 new jobs. We have pledged to build 25,000 new homes. And we have pledged to create an IT revolution across the schools in our city - every upper primary school pupil and all high school pupils will have their own tablet for learning in an IT transformation that will put our schools at the forefront of the best that high technology can bring.
That’s putting Glasgow First. For me Knightswood is more important than Hollywood; Pollok more important than Pasadena and Castlemilk more important than Sacramento. When Nicola Sturgeon gets up in the morning she thinks Independence, Independence Independence. When I get up its Glasgow Glasgow Glasgow.
On the campaign trail of late I’ve had to answer a few questions about Ruth Davidson - the Tory leader. I make the point to remind people that Davidson is the leader in Scotland of the same party as Cameron Osborne and May. Not that you’d know listening to Ruth.
She has tried to disconnect the Tories in Scotland from those down south That’s right the Tories of cutting tax credits for the poor to give more tax breaks for the rich; the Tories who laid waste to the British economy with years of austerity with the working poor paying the biggest price; the Tories who are totally responsible, because of their own civil wars about Europe, for the disaster of Brexit.
“Aye but Ruth loves Glasgow” one Glasgow resident told me on the doorstep. “So much that she left to become an MSP in Edinburgh” I said.Then I added that the only way the SNP can be stopped in Glasgow is to vote Labour. Fact.