SNP deaf to economic issues that really matter

All of a sudden, the debate around Scotland’s future has gained the kind of substance that many have been yearning for.

All of a sudden, the debate around Scotland’s future has gained the kind of substance that many have been yearning for.

After months, if not years of constitutional navel gazing about when the referendum might take place, what the question would be, who would be eligible to vote and which government would oversee the process, the central question of the independence debate has surfaced, namely is an independent Scotland an economically viable option.

Surprisingly, the Scottish government believes that it is. Publishing today its economic case for independence, first minister Alex Salmond, never knowingly modest, stated in no uncertain terms in his forward to the document:

“Our economic strengths – our ingenuity, our natural resources and our advantages across a range of growth sectors – mean that we should be confident about our economic prospects as an independent country.”

The paper cites what it dubs Scotland’s “financial strength” with the country, according to ministers north of the border having generated more tax per head than the UK for every one of the last 30 years. Likewise, it cites rising food and drink exports, a “thriving” creative industry, a “global reputation in life sciences”, green energy reserves, oil and gas supplies, tourism and manufacturing as reasons why Scotland could go it alone.

In arguing that Scotlands’ biggest hindrance to growth remains a Westminster government that is working “against Scotland’s best interest”, deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon has today argued:

“We have so much going for us as a country and as an economy: the resources, the talent, areas of real advantage and firm financial foundations. Our national balance sheet shows that for every one of the last 30 years Scotland has generated more tax revenue per head of population than the UK as a whole.

“But we currently lack the full range of economic powers to help create jobs, grow the economy and realise all of that potential…Westminster’s economic policies have seen the UK become the fourth most unequal country in the developed world.”

And yet for all the bombastic rhetoric that is the hallmark of Scottish nationalism, the inconvenient truths never really get addressed. Take for example their failure to outline how being part of a currency union with the UK, controlled by a Bank of England in what would be a foreign country, is actually the hallmark of an independent country?

And what of HM Treasury’s analysis of an independent Scotland being unable to absorb the kind of bank shocks seen since 2008?

Then there is finance secretary John Swinney’s assertion that Scotland’s oil market is volatile.

How can that be the basis of a sustainable economy?

As the Institute for Fiscal Noted in a paper last year, North Sea Oil revenues are falling. The paper explained:

“On a geographic basis they were more than 20 per cent of Scottish revenue in 2008-09 but just 12 per cent in 2009-10. Looking back further they accounted for nearly half of all revenue in the mid 1980s, falling to just 3 per cent in 1991-92.”

In light of this comment the IFS significantly went on to state:

“Without oil and gas revenues or, equivalently, assigning them on a population basis, there has been a bigger gap between spending and tax receipts in Scotland in recent years than in the UK as a whole.”

Declaring to the Scottish government’s paper to be short on the kind of detail Scotland should be able to expect, Alistair Darling, chair of the Better Together Campaign, responded:

“This is long on grievances about the past, but it is very short on Scotland’s future. What was billed as an economic framework for independence has turned out to be a list of objections with barely any mention about how leaving the UK would have any impact on them. In the absence of having any answers to difficult questions, the nationalists have reverted to negative type…

“What is most striking is that even the nationalists don’t seem to know why they want independence. Their high point is Air Passenger Duty. Is that worth breaking a 300 year old union with our biggest and most important trading partner?

“They must know that in a currency union, it is highly unlikely that Scotland would be able to undercut the rest of the UK.”

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7 Responses to “SNP deaf to economic issues that really matter”

  1. OldLb

    I think it might be you whose in need of a hearing aid.

    Why no mention of pensions?

    e.g How are you going to pay off 5,300 bn of state pensions debts, with no assets, when you are overspending by 30%?

    Got to keep quite about that little fraud haven’t we?

    e.g Where’s the 5,300 bn in the accounts? Ah is missing. – Tick one

    Getting people to top up their entitlements? Tick two

    Going to cut pensions? Yep – Tick 3

    2006 Fraud act, section 2 and 3 – tick

  2. Don

    The IFS and Alistair Darling – LMFAO

  3. Baxter Parp

    It’s always a surprise when a “left-leaning” website doesn’t support independence and self-determination for the Scottish people. Why anyone with a socialist bone in their body would be willing to accept the half-truths and scaremongering of the Tory-funded Better Together is beyond me.

    Oil and Gas is not the basis of our economy, it’s part of it.

  4. Blair McDougall

    What is most extraordinary about yesterday is that the First Minister, on a day when his aim was to make a credible economic case for separation, instead threatened to default on Scotland’s share of UK debt. What a way for us to start life as an independent state – as a pariah in the international economy.

  5. Chris Brown

    Blair – Salmond’s not always wrong. According to the ‘No’ campaign Scotland was subsumed into England in 1707 and has no international existence.If so, an independent Scotland would start life with a clean sheet, just like other new countries. She would have no debt to default on and would not therefore be a pariah.
    On a practical level, If Scotland is to get no share of UK assets – and that seems to be the position of Cameron and Ed Miliband – then she clearly gets no share of UK debts.
    This does need to be a more mature and honest debate; one that does not include government departments in London or Edinburgh issuing assertions as though they were factual…the same applies to what are laughingly called ‘think tanks’. There needs to be a proper and honest discussion of the risks of independence and of the risks of continuing the Union. If the two Eds really wanted to be sure of winning they would commit Labour to Full Fiscal Autonomy and that would destroy the gnats. They should not dither about it, but do it while Labour still enjoys the support of the newspapers and the BBC. They should certainly not promise jam tomorrow, It worked for Callaghan and then for Thatcher, Major and Blair (as did lying), but it is less likely to work again in the future.

  6. Jimmy

    Whats the old fool on about now?

  7. JPJ2

    This is a dreadful and inaccurate (i.e. deliberately misleading) comment from the campaign director of Better Together, Blair McDougall.

    He knows perfectly well that Alex Salmond has simply pointed out that if the UK is determined to maintain that it, and it alone, is the successor state to the union then it follows that Scotland cannot be responsible for liabilities if it is denied access (as a successor state) to its assets.

    The unionist campaign is thoroughly lightweight (few have even heard of Blair McDougall), and its current narrowing lead is sustained only by the uncritical support of the unionist press most of which is owned by those opposed to Scottish independence and most of whom will have no vote.
    Expect to see (as they fear) the unionist lead fade or disappear in the last 16 weeks of the campaign as BBC Scotland will be obliged to cover the campaign in neutral terms unlike the present.
    In, for example, a debate between this Blair and Blair Jenkins, there can be only one winner.

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