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Frank Gilfeather: Sturgeon hasn’t counted cost of an indy Scotland

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It’s official: Nicola Sturgeon hasn’t thought out the ramifications of Scottish independence.

The first minister admits there is no economic plan, no strategy on cross-border trade relations and no ideas on issues surrounding tax.

All that will come, she says, once a timescale for a referendum has been decided.

“Don’t worry your pretty little heads,” she tells the electorate before next Thursday’s Scottish Parliament elections, “just vote for us and independence anyway. It’ll be fine.”

But it hasn’t been fine since she’s been at the helm. Think about it – despite Scotland’s powers courtesy of devolution, have our lives improved because of SNP policies?

“It’ll be better when we have full control,” party propaganda insists.

That’s comforting, though we wonder where all the Covid vaccines would have come from over the past few months and how much we would have had to pay for them.

Nitpicking, I know.

So, why are those pesky people at the Institute for Government (IfG) poking their noses into SNP affairs and warning of an immediate need for “difficult fiscal choices” post-independence to deal with the funding gap between spending and tax revenues?

How dare they highlight that Scotland would face years of budget cuts and tax rises on a deficit that has increased dramatically in a generation.

Well, since 2014 and the “No” vote.

How the generations fly by.

Those keen on independence might change their thinking when reading the IfG report which states that even Scotland’s 2018/19 deficit of almost 8% would bring major problems.

Since then, we’ve had the pandemic which, when figures are revealed, will prompt tears from “Yes” voters as they stare into a future of financial hardship.

Covid, says the IfG, will have a lasting effect on public finances and such a prognosis might just blow the SNP cause off track if and when Ms Sturgeon’s disciples realise the game’s now a bogey.

In England, the deficit per person in 2018/19 was £91. It was £2,543 in Scotland, £4,412 in Wales, and £5,118 in Northern Ireland.

And while, in principle, an independent Scotland could function, we would no longer benefit from the current redistribution of resources across the UK.

“The larger the deficit,” the IfG reports, “the harder the case for independence becomes.”

This will be a crushing blow for the SNP and its aspirations, not to say its fundamentalist followers, eager for a hard border with England and a Saltire on all public buildings.

The IfG is an independent think tank.

At least there’s one word in that last sentence, they’ll like.

TTL Sunday promises to expose who‘H’ is in LOD

TTL (thank the lord) that Sunday will bring a suitable conclusion to BBC1’s Line Of Duty (LOD).

Won’t it?

Writer Jed Mercurio has kept us hanging on for seven seasons of the crime drama about bent coppers, each time refusing to tell us who H is.

No, he’s not the guy in Steps.

He – or is it she – is involved in or the leader of an OCG (keep up, please) as the penultimate episode pulled in 11 million viewers last Sunday.

Now we prepare to say TTFN (ta-ta for now) to this TV blockbuster.

But we’ve faced difficulties.

Like trying to remember many of the characters from previous series.

That’s tough when some of us can’t even recall who’s who from the episode we watched seven days earlier.

Line Of Duty has been a massive success, though the casting of Kelly Macdonald as a dodgy DI with a flat Glasgow accent was questionable.

She was too twee, too “I’m a volunteer in a Byres Road charity shop” to be a crook, surely.

If Jed is ever in need of a rough, tough, hardy-biff female Scot for future crime dramas, may I recommend Aberdeen’s very own Joyce Falconer.

The ex-River City actor certainly scares the life out of me.

Vowel-free ‘Abrdn’ rebrand no joke

Did financial services giant Standard Life Aberdeen call on the ingenuity of a Primary 1 class to produce their latest rebranding?

Imagine a child-like flash of inspiration if asked: “What new name would you give us?”

And so a new name for the company was coined, I guess, by a kid who has just learned how to spell the name of his home town – Abrdn. Bosses are pleased and say “the new (vowel-free) brand builds on our heritage”.

Clients and customers ask: “R U joking?”

This article originally appeared on the Evening Express website. For more information, read about our new combined website.