by Keith Hamilton
This morning first minister Alex Salmond addressed business leaders and politicians at the sixth annual Business in the Parliament conference.
Mr Salmond called the current and planned fiscal cut-backs implemented by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in Westminster as severe as those forced on the UK in the period just after world war two, implemented by Clement Attlee’s Labour government.
They were said to dwarf those in the seventies under Labour’s James Callaghan, during the winter of discontent or Thatcher’s in the eighties. Yet Salmond felt that society in the forties was better equipped to rebuild and unite through the cuts.
He argued there was a collective spirit which “is not out there now”. Many people, he resigned, blamed the bankers for the financial crisis, creating disharmony whereas the forties generation had solidarity from winning the war.
Solutions to the recession were offered in the address, arguing that capital is available at an all time low in cost terms and it was bemusing that the Westminster government did not take a view of increased capital spending, defined as purchasing anything which has a recognizable, material value, in order to promote recovery: “The lost output of the recession should try to be recaptured because that output brings recovery.”
Scotland’s future, he told his audience, will be greatly benefited by investment in the energy industries and the renewable energy sector. The country is on course to match its government set targets for consumption of energy from renewable sources and could feasibly produce 60 gigawatts a year, enough to power Germany or England.
The first minister was unable to remain at the rest of the convention as he was scheduled to open the new medical building at his old university, St. Andrews.