The SNP love comparing Scotland to the Scandinavian countries. Perhaps then they should reread their Han Christian Anderson tales - especially the Emperor's New Clothes. They love to parade around dressed in the fine clothes of a progressive outward looking party. Scottish NGOs have been courted assiduously with a vision of a Scotland meeting and exceeding its 0.7% aid target. The reality is that Scotland will be faced with a £5 billion black hole in funding after leaving the UK, and that's before the money markets put the squeeze on for abandoning a central bank and lender of last resort and opting for sterlingisation of the currency. Even if the will is there in an independent Scotland, the money won't be.
They are prepared to slice over £1 billion from the current UK DfID budget to set up their separate vanity project of an independent Scottish Development Department. As a result not only would the Scottish budget lose the economies of scale of being part of the greater UK effort but the Remaining UK would have to reduce its programme and reorder its priorities. In addition, there would be time and money spent both sides of the border on setting up new departments, institutions and systems - time and money which could have gone to relieving world poverty.
600 people get up in the morning and go to work at East Kilbride to make a difference in the world - they represent 40% of the total DfID establishment. What would happen to these jobs post independence? When I asked Humza Yousaf that very question the other week he repeated the promise the SNP have made to have no compulsory redundancies in the civil service and he pointed to other Scandinavian countries who have 400 plus staff in development departments. The truth is Scotland would need barely 100 staff to run their International Development Department and if they kept on 400 to 500 staff it would be at the expense of money that could have gone to front line projects throughout the world. How could they justify 40% of the current UK establishment to run a budget 10% of the UK budget?
Isn't it ironic that, if there was a Yes vote on the 18th of September, the SNP could bring about what the Tory right have failed to do - the end to a UK consensus on sticking with the DfID programme and the 0.7% target, achieved largely due to Labour's record over the years. Everything would be up for renegotiation, projects competing with other projects to survive.
"But he hasn't got anything on," a little child said. "Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?" said its father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, "He hasn't anything on. A child says he hasn't anything on.""But he hasn't got anything on!" the whole town cried out at last.
The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all.