FIRST Minister Alex Salmond has been blamed for a rise in unemployment in Scotland after the overall UK jobless total fell.
Another 16,000 people joined dole queues in just three months because of the "Salmond Slump", Labour leader Iain Gray said.
And he accused the SNP regime of failing Scots while the overall UK jobless total fell 33,000 - a figure which would have been far better but for the Scottish number.
Unemployment north of the Border rose to 205,000 in the three months to January, according to the figures. That is 67,000 more than in the same period last year.
Gray accused Salmond of "failing Scotland", adding: "Unemployment rises here due to the Salmond slump but falls in the rest of the UK.
"There is grave concern among business and unions over the SNP's lack of action. The bare facts are Scotland is faring worse in the recession than the UK."
First off, call me pedantic but since Scotland is a part of the UK that last sentence is factually incorrect. The fact that the unemployment rate is still less in Scotland than the UK average also weakens Gray's case.
But pedantry aside, Gray is surely making a nationalist argument here, ie Scotland's economy somehow operates in not so splendid isolation to the rest of the United Kingdom. With that theory (expounded in the opposite direction here by the SNP at the start of the year) Scotland's economic well-being is dependent only on what the SNP adminstration decide or decide not to do.
It shouldn't have escaped Gray's notice that:
a) Scotland remains an integral part of the United Kingdom economy and thus is affected more by the economic decisions of the United Kingdom government as opposed to the devolved administration.
b) World recessions have no political preferences, they affect different parts of the world and even nation in different ways at different times. Blaming Salmond merely because this month its Scotland's turn to suffer rather than, the N of England or Wales or N.Ireland is simplistic in the extreme. If Scotland goes back to outperforming according to certain economic measurements does Iain Gray believe we should then hand Mr Salmond the total credit?