The first was Scottish Enterprise's launch of a "Yes to Growth" campaign which offers ways for businesses to flourish in tough times. The other was from the Scottish Government, spinning political points out of new jobs statistics.
The latter trumpeted a single-quarter 0.2% difference in the decline in unemployment between the UK and Scotland, plus five other trivial statistical differences. It then reiterated John Swinney's call for an "injection of capital spending" by the UK Government to subsidise a £300m, 35-item shopping list of "shovel-ready" projects, from rural roads to a leaky roof at the National Records office. But Swinney was short on suggestions as to where the UK Government, which has seen public debt rise by £218bn in a single year between 2009-10 and 2010-11, and which has struggled to "slash" public spending by 1.1% over the same period, might source the extra cash. Nor did he mention how this redistribution or expansion of UK spending might affect Scottish taxpayers in other ways. Economists do not all agree that construction projects, let alone this random selection, automatically produce lasting stimulus, or that "shovel-ready" public works would automatically be the best target for extra investment. More private-sector building could be made to happen with less subsidy. If these projects really are the best use of public money, then at 1% of its own £35bn budget, why can't Swinney rejig his own spending priorities to get things going, or add them to Scotland's £2.5bn NPD/PFI pipeline of capital projects? Action, not rhetoric, is the best politics.