Boris Johnson announced the UK Government’s programme for the year ahead yesterday with a promise to “level-up” the country.
The Tory Prime Minister will spend billions of public money in the north of England, which should mean more cash spent in Scotland as well.
But while Johnson was promising to get out the cheque book, another example of the reality of Conservative Brexit Britain was playing out in the east end of Glasgow.
The Victoria Biscuit Works – best known for producing the McVitie’s brands we all know – is to close after almost a century of continuous production.
McVitie’s was once a proud Scottish institution but like so many other businesses it was long ago flogged off to foreign owners without even as much as a raised eyebrow in the Treasury.
As a result, more than 400 jobs are at risk in an area with an already above-average rate of unemployment and deprivation.
Glasgow’s manufacturing base was being eroded long before the Prime Minister was even born but it’s no exaggeration to say the decline really stepped up when his Tory hero Margaret Thatcher took office.
The Scottish Government holds a lot of cards when it comes to areas like health, education and domestic policy but the real economic levers of power remain in Whitehall.
Its brand of anything-goes capitalism has closed factories across the UK and thrown countless skilled workers on the scrapheap.
If Johnson was serious about levelling up we would see factories opening in Scotland – not more being closed down.
Hug but hol at home
When even the First Minister admits to being “a wee bit emotional” in announcing we can once again hug loved ones then you know it is a moment of huge relief.
After a long, hard year of lockdown it does look as if we are approaching something like normality.
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While there will be joy and celebration in welcoming those we know and love back into our homes, that has to be tempered with caution too.
The vaccination programme is still to be completed and the situation in Moray, where there is widespread transmission of Covid, is a lesson the virus can still spread quickly and close the economy.
There is, as the First Minister cautioned and as experts fear, also the danger of a new strain of Covid mutating here or coming into the country through international travel. That’s why summer staycations are recommended this year.
The message is – stay close to home and hug those dear to you.