Iain Macwhirter: SNP mismanagement has sunk the cause of state ownership

Nationalisation is an important tool of economic management. State ownership of utilities like energy and rail is widespread across Europe and broadly successful.

The French EDF runs much of our gas and electricity while state-owned companies like Dutch Abellio run railways across Europe including Scotland – until recently. Scotrail is to be nationalised this Spring in a move which was broadly popular. Until now

Why has public ownership been a disaster in Scotland? Ferguson Marine, BiFab, Prestwick…everything the Scottish government touches turns to bust. Of course, part of the problem is that it tends to intervene after the businesses are already basket cases. But that doesn’t excuse subsequent mismanagement.

Audit Scotland’s report on the ferries fiasco identifies the root of the problem. “A lack of transparent decision-making” said the finance watchdog Stephen Boyle, “ a lack of project oversight, and no clear understanding of what significant sums of public money have [not] achieved”

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