AS estimates of the public cost of the Ferguson ferries mount faster than the cost of malicious prosecutions by the Crown Office, it seems it would be cheaper now to scrap the projects and start again. But what to do with the Potemkin hulks rusting quietly on the Clyde? I have a suggestion.

Finish Glen Sannox, to maintain the Port Glasgow skills base, but turn Hull 802 into a contemporary work of public art, a bit like the Finnieston Crane. A rusting testament to political folly and delusion. Something to remind future politicians that wealth has to be created before it can be spent, and that this applies as much to state-owned ventures as to the private sector.

The SNP has done more damage to the cause of public ownership than a dozen Boris Johnsons, but I don't intend to repeat here the litany of nationalised basket cases with which it has burdened the taxpayers, Bifab, Prestwick etc. The case for state ownership of public utilities may be strong elsewhere in Europe, but clearly not in Scotland. Voters have seen through the thin veneer of socialist rhetoric to the reality beneath. No one will trust anything the Scottish Government handles in future.

Read more: SNP mismanagement has sunk the cause of state ownership

The ferries fiasco is emblematic of a culture of incompetent defeatism and buck-passing that is widespread in Scottish public life, but never more damaging than in industrial policy. The unseemly scramble this week by the various Scottish ministers involved in the Ferguson fiasco to duck responsibility speaks volumes. Nothing to do with me, said Nicola Sturgeon, I just work here. Normally, the First Minister blames Westminster for anything that goes wrong, but not this time.

The Scottish National Party has no particular economic ideology, though Ms Sturgeon tends to lace her speeches with vaguely socialist rhetoric. Yet the Scottish Government's only concrete policy in recent years, bar the recent underwhelming National Growth Strategy, has been the “green” freeports initiative, giving tax breaks to air, rail and sea hubs. This is essentially a Tory policy, initially resisted by Scottish ministers on the grounds that it would institutionalise tax avoidance and undermine workers' rights.

Scotland's greatest industrial opportunity remains energy, in particular renewables. But this administration's policy on offshore wind appears to be to not have one. The Scottish Government reneged on its 2017 promise to set up a Scottish state-owned energy company to harvest the renewable bounty of the North Sea.

It was widely criticised in January for the Scotwind “give-away”of leasing arrangements for North Sea wind farms. Potentially worth billions, the Scottish Government meekly accepted a one-off payment of £700 million from various corporations which couldn't believe their luck. There is nothing socialist in selling Scotland short.

Read more: Never has the SNP's complete lack of an industrial policy been so obvious

The dismal history of Scotland's oil looks likely to be repeated. Yet Norway, with no socialist rhetoric to speak off, took from the start a singularly hard-headed approach to managing its North Sea wealth. In 1972, it created the state-owned energy company, Statoil, effectively nationalising half of its oil and gas industry. It then started funnelling hydrocarbon revenues into its famous sovereign wealth fund, which now owns two per cent of all the world's stock markets.

The Scottish Government seems too embarrassed by Scotland's remaining oil and gas to have any policy at all. It seems content to wave farewell to an industry employing 100,000 skilled workers, in order to “keep it in the ground” – even if this means importing oil and gas from Russia.

For more than a decade the SNP has promised that Scotland would instead become the Saudi Arabia of renewables. But the green jobs revolution has been even more delayed than Ferguson ferries. In 2010 the SNP administration promised 130,000 new jobs in wind, solar and the like by 2020; it delivered 20,000. The number of low-carbon and renewable energy jobs is now actually declining according to the Office for National Statistics.

The SNP Government blames Westminster for failing to promote Scottish carbon capture and storage technology by sidelining the Acorn Project at St Fergus in Aberdeenshire. But this is hardly surprising since the Scottish Government is in coalition with the Scottish Greens, which insists that capturing CO2 at chimney tops and storing it in exhausted oil wells is just a con by the fossil fuel industry. The Greens are of course opposed to economic growth on principle, which I suppose makes them ideal partners for a do-nothing administration.

Part of the problem is the constitutional settlement. Over the last 20 years of Barnett handouts, Scotland has turned into something like a rentier economy. Scottish politicians have turned into managers of a distributional state. Their primary job is not to generate revenues by promoting economic activity but to allocate resources from Westminster. Their political raison d'etre is therefore to demand money from whoever happens to be in government in London.

Every problem is reduced to lack of funding. More children in poverty than 20 years ago? Tory cuts. Inadequate housing? Tory cuts. Social care scandal? Tory cuts. Economic decline? Don't ask. Yet the reality is that Scotland has throughout those decades received substantially more per head in public spending than the rest of the UK – 11 per cent more according to the House of Commons Library. Indeed the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies claims that the “Scottish Government has £1.30 to spend on public services for every £1 spent in England”.

Any way you calibrate it, Scotland, has received tens of billions in additional spending since 2000 despite being one of the wealthier regions of the UK. This can no longer be ignored or wished away by SNP sophistry. At the dawn of the Scottish Parliament columnists like myself talked of the so called “Barnett Squeeze”. This was supposed to lead to equalisation of spending over time between Scotland and the rest of the UK. It never happened. The Scottish premium remains.

This economic dependency underpins the culture of mediocrity and denial. Recent history validates the old Tory image of Scotland as the twenty-something stay-at-home, constantly demanding more while contributing less. The SNP used to aspire to what it called “fiscal autonomy”: Scotland raising through taxation the means to fund its various programmes. Perhaps it is time to talk about that again.

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