Murdo Fraser’s “Laffer” gaff is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Tory irresponsibility on the economy.

The Tories are reliant on sound bites when it comes to the economy. Ruth Davidson likes to refer to Scotland’s Gini coefficient (a measure of the distribution of wealth, used to compare inequality between countries). Murdo Fraser used to frequently summon the spectre of the Laffer curve during budget debates, but has been curiously silent on the matter since asked to explain how it actually works.

It would be prudent for several things to be included in The Scottish Conservative’s Econ 101 sessions; for example, government spending multipliers. Scotland has an engaged and politically literate electorate, and our public will not be fooled by pretending that running a country’s finances is the same as running a household. Pursuing the Tories’ agenda of austerity is unnecessarily punitive, and the arguments have been deflated by Nobel Prize-winning economists the world over. Governments need to invest to create jobs and wealth, and Scotland’s hands continue to be tied by an uncaring and economically illiterate elite in Westminster. This effect will be exacerbated further by the prospect of the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Loading article content

A hard Tory Brexit threatens to be the biggest economic shock that this generation will encounter. The independent experts, the Fraser of Allander institute, estimate that being taken out of the single market could cost Scotland 80,000 jobs and cost families on average £2000 a year in wages. Not content with inflicting this economic chaos onto the people of Scotland who did not vote for it, it looks like the Tories may use Brexit as a whitewash for the repatriation of devolved powers at Holyrood. A report by the UK Parliament’s Exiting the European Union Committee warns of the risk to “the protection of the positions of the devolved nations” in areas including agriculture, fisheries and the environment.

There is a real worry that the Scottish Parliament’s ability to safeguard Scotland’s future and mitigate the effects of Brexit for the people of Scotland could be compromised. I’ve written to David Mundell this week to ask him to clearly and unequivocally rule out any threat of devolved powers returning to Westminster – the Scottish Parliament must be able to use all economic levers available to protect our industries from the devastation that Brexit threatens to bring. Our ability to generate wealth and create jobs should not be at the whim of a party with one Scottish MP and 22 per cent of the vote in the Scottish Parliament elections. What’s more worrying still, is that the parliamentarians in question have shown little more understanding of economic policies than can be squeezed into a cheap sound bite. When Murdo Fraser, David Mundell and their chums are finished picking fights with Spain and choosing the colour of their passports, perhaps they could investigate the more serious matter of what Brexit will mean for Scotland’s economic future.