The curious case of the Scottish economy

Before the EU referendum the Scottish economy was growing far more slowly than the UK as a whole. From the 2008 crash to 2015 the Scottish economy only advanced by 4% in cash terms, compared to 23% for the UK. Since the referendum the Scottish economy has continued to underperform. On the latest figures the UK is growing around 1.2% real more per annum than Scotland, with the Scottish economy in danger of stalling.

It clearly isn’t the EU referendum doing that as a few would suggest. It is a longer term Scottish  trend. Part of the reason is the decline in oil output. The North Sea fields are in decline. As oil volumes and revenues tail off, so that has knock on effects to the supply industries and the service sector that has lived off the oil industry where it is strong.

Recent figures show disappointing results for manufacturing as a whole, and a weak balance of payments. Scotland spends more per head in the public sector than England. Scotland borrows more as a percentage of GDP to support public spending than the UK as a whole. If larger deficits and higher public spending made for more growth , Scotland would have a more successful economy than England. It does not seem to.

I would be interested in views on why Scotland has been lagging, and what the Scottish government can and should do about it. The SNP live on the fact that the Scottish average GDP per head is  not too bad compared to the UK and European averages, but this relies on the residual advantages of a declining North Sea oil sector and past achievements from pre the 2008 crash. They need to answer more of the questions about the disappointing performance over the last decade when they have been in office, and to explain why so far their approach has not even succeeded in getting Scotland back to the average growth rate for the UK as a whole. The crash of course hit the high value added financial sector whose Investment Bank activities were concentrated in London, but this has  not had the same impact on the London economy as the oil decline on the Scottish one.

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87 Comments

  1. Caterpillar
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    Is there a measure on the effect of uncertainty on possibility to leave UK?

    Reply What is clear from the Scottish e.g. is the adverse trend began well before the referendum was thought of.

    • S Matthews
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      Pretty sure SNP policies contributed to the trend though.

  2. Mark B
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Or to look at at another way. Just think how much better England would be doing without that millstone around our necks ?

    They have more than I have, yet they produce and show less for it.

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      ‘Just think how much better England would be doing without that millstone around our necks ?’

      – The union has been a great thing for this country overall for over 300 years. We can’t allow Nicola Sturgeon and Mel Gibson’s Braveheart to ruin it.

      • James Matthews
        Posted April 9, 2017 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        Too late. Tony Blair ruined it in 1997.

        • alan jutson
          Posted April 10, 2017 at 7:12 am | Permalink

          James

          Agreed, devolution was the killer, they wanted the best of both Worlds but its ended up as just a begging and blaming so called National Parliament, always someone else’s fault.
          Devolution let the cat out of the bag, they say still not enough power, but then want more money, because they do not want to take the responsibility of raising taxes to pay for their Socialist ideas.

      • libertarian
        Posted April 9, 2017 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        Ed M

        Neither should we continue to live in the past. In the 21st digital century, top down central control is failed. It no longer works. Local autonomy in a loose collaboration is the future

    • Iain Moore
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      Then there is Northern Ireland, Wales, the EU and Aid. It is no wonder England is looking so run down for the British establishment has put world sized millstone around the necks of the English. They are sweating the English assets to make them look good to everybody bar the English, though the English are paying for everything, and you might have thought they would treat then well, they instead treat them the same as something nasty they might find on the bottom of their shoes. Very odd, they really do want to kill the golden goose.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    The reason for the poor growth in Scotland (and indeed indeed England) is of course – very high taxation, over large government, incompetent government, over regulation, endless red tape, usually dire virtual monopolies in education & health etc., the expensive unreliable energy religion, CAP, the EU fishing policy, the benefit culture and lack of incentives, too many people going to university to study largely often pointless courses, central wage controls, the destruction of saving and pensions by the government, daft employment laws…..

    But even May and Hammond clearly like nearly all of these things. It is not just the dire Ms Sturgeon and the socialist SNP. May even wants to criminalise parents from taking their children on holiday a day early, to have workers forced on to company boards, forced gender pay reporting, central pay laws and build on worker “rights”.

    Is socialism just a genetic birth disorder perhaps that some can do nothing to overcome? One that the dafter people simply cannot escape despite all the endless evidence of history?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      Such people often seem to be drawn to study PPE, Geography, social sciences and similar I find. Like moths to a candle. They often to suffer from irrational beliefs in other areas & religions too, both conventional (and the newer greencrap, PC and “equality” (regardless of merit) ones.

    • Excalibur
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      You are right as usual, Lifelogic. Why our government cannot grasp the nettle and make the radical changes that are so demonstrably needed defies my understanding. We have in Britain a predilection for delaying the process, and for making the wrong decisions. Hence the god awful muddle we are all condemned to live under.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 9, 2017 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        Indeed even the direction of travel from this May allegeldy “Conservative” government is totally wrong. Still going for even more tax, more government, more intervention and more red tape. Quarterly tax returns soon too. How will anyone have any time to do anything productive and useful?

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted April 9, 2017 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

        Excalibur and LL. Agree entirely with your sentiments. Politicians know what is needed to lift the country out of the doldrums but none of them seem able to get behind reality and do something.

    • APL
      Posted April 14, 2017 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic: “Is socialism just a genetic birth disorder perhaps that some can do nothing to overcome? ”

      I guess you’ve heard of r/K selection theory?

      I imagine free credit, loose money, attacks on social strictures and structures tends to encourage decadence and to bias the population further towards ‘r’ strategy behaviours.

      We as a country and indeed the world economy is just now just past peak credit and expansionary policies that have lasted for the best part of sixty years.

  4. eeyore
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    An interesting problem to which I do not pretend to have an answer, but I bet the SNP do and it’s that Westminster and England are “holding Scotland back”.

    In s sense they may be right. An independent Scotland would have little choice but to abandon the dead hand of statist socialism and become a low-tax, small-government nation in the classic Adam Smith mould.

    Then, in their chilly but beautiful offshore tax haven, the formidable native genius of Scots for making money would find free expression, and the Scottish economy would thrive again.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      An independent Scotland would have little choice but to abandon the dead hand of statist socialism and become a low-tax, small-government nation in the classic Adam Smith mould.

      Well they have a hell of a journey to get to that! The population endlessly elect Labour and the SNP – almost exclusively.

      • APL
        Posted April 14, 2017 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

        Lifelogic: “little choice but to abandon the dead hand of statist socialism ”

        Maybe in years to come, those of us who escape from the Peoples Republic of Scotland, will still be able to use the internet and look at the satellite images of the United Kingdom and see a resemblance to those images of the Korean peninsula. South Korea high energy usage – lit up with street lighting, North Korea feudal peasant economy gloomy and dark.

    • JoolsB
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      An independent is never going to happen. The canny Scots know which side their bread is buttered on. Why one earth would they vote to become independent when they can have the best of both worlds by staying. All they have to do is stamp their feet and threaten to throw their toys out of the pram and the UK Government panders to their every whim.

      The Scots Government will soon be getting even more powers giving them devo max and the UK Government will keep chucking more and more of English taxes at them for their socialist utopia, far more than they chuck at England. Why, Hammond even managed to find an extra 350 million to give them in the budget at the same time as English departments including social care are being slashed to the bone.

    • John Probert
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Not convinced about that. There is much more to independence than
      just talking tough. Scotland can become independent but they need
      to prove to the people of Scotland that they can run a robust economy.
      The people of Scotland are not convinced and will not vote for it.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      The problem with that scenario is that the SNP is basically a communist organisation.
      They would have a public sector as big as France and a welfare system like Finland.
      After 2 years they would be bankrupt and begging to rejoin the Union.
      Unlike us leaving the EU because we will embrace freedom and trade with the wider world.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 9, 2017 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        “we will embrace freedom and trade with the wider world” well perhaps but under lefties like May and Hammond? I rather doubt it.

      • eeyore
        Posted April 9, 2017 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

        Well, I don’t insist on my powers of prophecy, and I don’t really think Scotland will vote for independence. But if they did they would soon have to dump socialism, and the SNP with it, because they could no longer afford such self-indulgent silliness.

        As for applying to rejoin the UK, I think the English voter might want to comment on that in a referendum.

        Scotland would have to become a tax haven because there would be no other way to make a living. And because Scots’ ability, energy and enterprise merit no one’s condescension – “there are few sights more impressive than a Scotsman on the make” (JM Barrie) – very well they’d do too.

  5. formula57
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Scotland is in the wrong place, isolated from the pockets of wealth in the rest of the UK and Europe, with poor communications. It has not developed itself in ways that overcome its natural disadvantages (call centres aside, though temporary and less than attractive) and now that the SNP has made whinging the national pastime, it is destined not to improve.

    Were it was a plc’s subsidiary, undoubtedly it would be sold-off as having no strategic future and to stem losses or maybe more likely disposed of in a management buyout. Why cannnot the SNP gift horse be embraced?

  6. agricola
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    For Scotland to be successful it needs a dynamic manufacturing, financial services, tourist , and agricultural economy. Who looking at the governance of Scotland would wish to invest in it’s future. The SNP is a socialist political party that is striving for an independence that not all of the people want. On the plus side, if they all wanted it and were cut loose it would be a great burden lifted from the remaining UK economy. Were they to leave , the mere act of doing so would not solve their perceived problem. The real problem is that socialism has numerous programmes for spending money, preferably other peoples, but nothing for the creation of wealth.

    My prognosis is that the people of Scotland will tire of the SNP’s caterwauling fight with the rest of the UK and consign them to the dust of history.

  7. Prigger
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Hard to say. SNP MPs in Westminster don’t talk much about the Scottish economy. The Scottish devolved Parliament does not seem to mention it either as much as you might expect. They enjoy rather the “big issues” . “Yemen, Saudi Arabia” are their thing,
    I didn’t know the Scottish economy was so intertwined and dependent on that of Yemen

  8. James neill
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Yes i believe scotland will fare much better for themselves when they have independance.. they will then have to stand on their own two feet and work harder, and like a lot of small countries they will succeed. The scots are a bright intelligent resilliant people i have no doubt but that they will shine through when they have independance and are allowed to make the trade deals that suits them best.

    • ian wragg
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      The Scots where a bright and intelligent lot until they destroyed an extremely good education system.
      They are now subsidy junkies egged on by Sturgeon and Co.
      The ones that stay in Scotland are not up too surviving the 21st century, only the bright and best that leave.

  9. alan jutson
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Take away our nuclear base, a host of Government Department offices, the Barnet Formula, and a host of other State expenditure, and they really are in a poor state.

    About time this was made absolutely clear to them.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, and it will get even worse if they keep voting for dire socialists as seem to.

  10. Dave Andrews
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Scotland has suffered the demise of the coal and shipbuilding industries, and now faces similar problems in the North Sea oil industry. In this sense, they mirror regions of England and Wales.
    The challenge for Scotland is to grow new industries, which they need to do regardless of Brexit or Indyref, neither of which have much bearing on their prosperity.
    Bleating about how horrible the English are is no answer to their problems.

  11. Antisthenes
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Just a casual observation tells us why Scotland’s economy is under performing. The SNP is a left wing political party and anywhere in the world where left wing politics dominate will be found economic and social under performance and often worse failure. The reason being is that left wing policies and practices are based on idealism eschewing practical considerations. Telling is that those countries who after a period of pursuing left wing economic policies ditch them for free markets economic improvements rapidly follow. Not just the economy suffers under left wing rule. Democracy, culture, justice, standards and values and more are altered to fit left wing idealism. Society is impoverished also.

  12. William Long
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Surely the answer lies in the fact that Scotland with the help of the then Scottish Secretary, M. Rifkind, refused wherever it could to adopt the Thatcher reforms, preferring instead to continue the rule of postwar socialism to which it adheres today. Scotland to my mind demonstrates very clearly the economic result of a high tax – high spend economy.

  13. Bert Young
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    It is not during the last decade that Scotland has been stalling ; it goes back much further than that . Automotive plants that were established there were closed because of low output and Union problems ; Shipbuilding – once the pride of Scotland was lost to Japan for much the same reason . Energy and resourcefulness seemed to disappear in Scotland during the late 60s and it has never returned . North Sea Oil certainly provided a boost to Scotland’s economy and its supporting service sector certainly grew as production increased ; today the outlook for it is dull .

    As things stand today the SNP have ruined any possibility of further investment from South of the Border . Individuals who once viewed property ownership in Scotland as an attraction no longer do so ; those who did move there a decade ago cannot now afford to shift South again . Companies in Scotland mainly associated with financial services have warned Sturgeon that they will move South if she continues with her madness for another referendum – as a precaution I sold my shares in one such organisation as a result .

    Where does this overall situation in Scotland stand now? . The SNP presence is a major drawback and will inhibit change and growth ; individual aspiration is handicapped and those who are talented will tend to move elsewhere . Without the Barnett formula Scotland is a dead duck . Political change has to be on the cards if any improvement is to happen . The SNP and all it represents has to be banished .

  14. Establishment
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Nothing short of a miracle. The SNP and the Labour Party, after just one night’s cruise missile attack by America, are now eminently listenable to.
    The Scottish economy? Now a side issue

  15. graham1946
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Perhaps as they are such fans of the EU they need more ‘freedom of movement’.

    We are told that unfettered immigration is a wonderful thing and that all immigrants add greatly to our wealth and we’d be knackered without them. Perhaps Scotland could do with a couple of million more of them to help out their economy.

    • James Matthews
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps we could offer them some of ours?

  16. David B
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Scotland elected its firs SNP lead government in 2007. The SNP are a single issue party and their policies on all matters are views through the prism of the single issue, namely independence. Consequently policies are selected based on how they advance that cause. This has resulted in poor decision making on the economy, education, health, etc. All these policy areas have seen falling standards and ever time that happens the SNP minister says it’s the fault of Westminster and the only solution they can think of is Independence.

    How is this fixed? That’s a difficult one. The Scottish Parliament needs to be held to account for policy and policy areas it has responsibility for. One method would be to call the First Minister to Westminster to ask her to explain why she thinks the Scottish Parliament has no power in these areas then move forward from there!

  17. Jack
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Look at other countries that relied on oil, like Russia. They’ve suffered a lot more because they (unnecessarily) implemented austerity in response to the oil price collapse, which is the complete opposite course of action necessary.

    The only reason why Scotland hasn’t slipped into massive negative GDP growth is because the government deficit has widened to somewhat offset the income lost due to the fall in net exports.

    It is clear, however, that Scotland’s government deficit is actually too small for current circumstances. It should be expanded significantly through UK government spending (since UK govt is the currency-issuer, Scot gov is simply a currency user like everyone else). Likewise, UK govt deficit is tiny and should be above 10% of GDP if we want 7%+ real GDP growth & <1% unemployment.

  18. norman
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Areas of the UK with a high proportion of the population content to live simply and frugally (albeit with the help of various subsidies) do not register highly on an economic scale, though they be rich in other ways.

  19. libertarian
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Thats easy

    Scotland has a socialist government

    Next question

    ( By the way an independent Scotland would boom under a free market government with similar models to Singapore, Hong Kong or Switzerland)

    Sadly its the SNP in charge of independence so it will never work, that is why their referenda fail too, they ask not just for independence but a socialist independence model. No one should vote for that its unsustainable

  20. Robin Wilcox
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Clearly the SNP have not accepted the result of the referendum in 2014. They have been agitating for an excuse to try again ever since.
    A neverendum hanging over Scotland isn’t an attractive proposition for business. In fact it isn’t even attractive for public sector investment.
    No doubt the SNP will find a way to blame others for a situation of their own making.
    To be frank if we do have another referendum I’d be quite happy for Scotland to go it’s own way rather than have a narrow majority to remain in the UK and then have to continue to put up with this neverendum.

  21. Paul w
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    If the scots want to be independent then i dont see what the problem is – it will mean more independance for us south of the border as well with less tax to pay..

    • getahead
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      They don’t.

  22. Pat
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Where a government focuses on growth it may or may not get it. Where a government focuses on something else there will be little growth. The EU has focused on acquiring and consolidating power. The SNP remains focused on independence. Hence both the EU and Scotland experience weak growth.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      Growth will come as night follows day just by reducing the size of government, reducing taxation and reducing red tape. But they never do.

  23. Treacle
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I live in Scotland, and the fear of independence is something that affects our daily lives. It also affects business. Independence clauses are written into business and property contracts: if Scotland goes independent, the whole thing’s off. A recent survey suggested that 700,000 Scots would move to England if Scotland became independent. You can’t expect Scotland to thrive in these conditions. The SNP poison everything. Only if they are got rid of will normality return to Scotland, and with it a chance of economic success.

    • Andy
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      This is what the SNP have created. I have friends who are Scottish and have started to move assets to England. You can’t blame them.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      Treacle. Yes, we live in Scotland too and are really concerned over what will happen eventually. I know loads of people personally who are already on the move. We want to sell up too but don’t think we will have much luck. I am waiting for an operation on the NHS up here and my husband is waiting for an ‘urgent scan’ but it has been weeks now. The whole place is falling apart and the Scots still vote in the SNP. Unbelievable!!

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      Dear Treacle–You give me hope, building on my visits to the Lowlands where it is really difficult to find anybody pro independence

  24. fedupsoutherner
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Everything you say here is true John. Trouble is the SNP keep getting voted in for all the freebies on offer that is being funded mainly by the Barnett formula. If the rest of the UK started saying no to their demands then maybe they would break free and have to do things for themselves. At the moment it is very easy to spend someone elses money ie. English money. Everything the SNp touch is toxic. The police force, education, NHS and energy are all in a mess. All they say is “compare it with England”. That is not what we want to hear. The SNP has devolved power over so much now but they don’t know what to do with it because most of their MSP’s are totally in it over their heads. They just like causing problems for Westminster and think that is doing their job. Who in their right minds when working and on a good wage wants to pay more tax in Scotland? Who wants to come to a country where they constantly snipe and argue about being independent and where business doesn’t have a clue what is happening from one moment to the next? If the Scots were canny enough they would kick the SNp out and see how a real government works.

  25. fedupsoutherner
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    If Queen Sturgeon would stop flouncing around in the USA trying to look good then perhaps she might think about doing something in Scotland. God knows she needs to get her thinking cap on.

  26. Juliet
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    I hear Scotland has no more Oil. Scotland is heading towards a recession. BMG Poll says most Scots hink jobless EU migrants, homeless EU migrants or those living in temporary accommodation should be sent back to their home country after Brexit.

  27. fedupsoutherner
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Can you explain John, why the rest of the UK and the Uk government is so keen to hang on to Scotland??? If it is such a failure then why does the Uk still want to keep them? Surely it would be better to let them go and free the rest of the UK? I really don’t understand what the attraction is. Why not just let them find their own way in life and bring back all the shipbuilding jobs, nuclear jobs etc?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      I suspect a referendum in England and Wales would vote for them to leave and one in Scotland would vote for them to stay!

    • getahead
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      If Scotland were to leave the Union – and I don’t think it will, there would be an awful lot of sadness. Despite our early confrontations we have travelled a long road together.
      The English would miss the Scots. Especially their whinging.

    • ian wragg
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      We need somewhere to park our nuclear fleet and the rock at Ailsa Craig makes a good navigation point for the subs.

    • My Land
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      fedupsoutherner

      Because we are one land.

      • JoolsB
        Posted April 10, 2017 at 7:39 am | Permalink

        “Because we are one land”

        But no longer one nation.

    • simple soul
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      How would you feel about a Scotland in the Schengen area and single currency on your doorstep? Or with Russian naval bases ?

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      Dear Fedup–We would look even more minuscule to the rest of the World and perhaps even to ourselves

  28. Peter Davies
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    I don’t believe the Scottish people outside the snp hardcore are interested in breaking away at all.

    The fact a significant snp Base support brexit and have no wish to re join the eu calling into question the snp demands

    In a nutshell the snp are making a mess of things and I don’t think it will take much for the electorate to turn on them

  29. Jason wells
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Scotland will probably only realise its own true potential when it becomes wholly independent.. for instance there are very many similar small countries throughout the world who became independent and who have since thrived when given half the chance to make their own decisions.. we Brit southerners will be much better off too – it seems to be the way things are going – everybody wants to take back more control – can’t blame the scots for wanting the same.

  30. norman
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    When all is said and done, the UK is great as a whole, and should function as a whole. The SNP is capitalizing on our decline and fragmentation, aided and abetted by he EU’s divide and rule mentality. Please do not play into their hands with all this talk of letting them go their own way. I never thought we would have a chance to exit the EU. I was wrong: our once godly nation has been shown a great mercy. Let’s rather appreciate the strengths we have enjoyed the past 300 years, in the hope that the UK will also survive intact, for the good of all its citizens.

    • JoolsB
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      The UK hasn’t functioned as a whole since 1997 when Blair introduced his asymmetrical devolution act. Anyone who thinks there is still a union to preserve should take off their rose tinted glasses.

      • Andy
        Posted April 10, 2017 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

        Then it is time to renew the Union. Hold a Royel Commission and create a Federal United Kingdom making each country raise the taxes it wants to spend. Give the English the respect they deserve by having a Parliament of their own to rule England as they see fit.

        • JoolsB
          Posted April 10, 2017 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

          Totally agree – the only fair way forward is for an English Parliament in a federal system but that would mean a dilution of powers for the UK Parliament and P45s for the majority of our self serving UK MPs. So whilst they espouse the right for self determination with more and more powers for the devolved nations, out of pure self interest, they continue to ignore England.

  31. Sam Duncan
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    I suspect much of it is to do with the uncertainty over Scotland’s future itself. A similar phenomenon was seen in Quebec during its 2-3 decades of seperatist rule, and has only started to improve recently with the collapse of the PQ. I don’t think it tells the whole story (the determination to cling to the corpse of mid-20th Century corporatist-socialism, which is the very engine of modern Scottish seperatism, shouldn’t be underestimated) but it can’t be coincidence.

    However, the trouble with the SNP’s propaganda is that it’s heads-I-win-tails-you-lose. If Scotland does better than the rest of the country, it shows how much better it (and, by extension, the nationalists’ administration) is. Conversely, if it does worse, that shows that Westminster is holding it back. Watch for that line in discussion about this issue.

    Frankly, Holyrood was a massive blunder. There’s nothing wrong with devolution per se, indeed I’m all for it, but creating a new centre, rather than bolstering existing local authorities, simply handed the nationalists a power-base on a plate. We’ve seen the First Minister talk of it over this last year as if it were an equal partner with, rather than a subsidiary body of, Westminster. At the very least, it should have been constituted as a Scottish Commons – or the “elected Grand Committee” which, to their credit, the Conservatives proposed once they recognised that some kind of assembly was all-but inevitable – with its legislation passing before the Lords. But even before the SNP gained power, it was a nationalistic force in Scotland. The nationalisation of the Police, fire brigades, and publicly-owned water authorities were, as the SNP are always quick to remind us, first tabled by the previous Labour/LibDem coalition.

    Labour were warned about all this (there’s a great clip on YouTube of Michael Heseltine predicting the events of the last two decades uncannily accurately back in 1992, to scoffs from John Smith), but wouldn’t listen. They said it would “kill nationalism stone dead”.

    Well, perhaps, as in Quebec, it will in the end, once people tire of its endless monomania and begin to long for normal government again. But it may be too late by then.

  32. The Prangwizard
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Put simply, what possible use and benefit is Scotland to the ‘UK’ today?

    • turboterrier
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 7:04 am | Permalink

      in a word NONE

  33. john
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    As with every other form of welfare, the recipient will not work because their benefits are so good, they should raise their own taxes and manage their own budget. In fact they should be independent.
    Sick to death of England being treated like the last colony of the British Empire, remember how the others got their freedom?

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      One of the reasons the Soviet Union was dissolved (for some reason not usually highlighted)was because the Russians were fed up with subsidising the other 14 Union republics and,after decades of suppression,finally found a voice in Boris Yeltsin.

  34. margaret
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    The only recompense is if they do become independent they can apply to join the EU . In this world of declining oil and taste for whisky in excess, they certainly won’t survive, unless they have got something up their sleeve.

    It is a strange feeling ;I always felt Scotland to be a part of who we are and suddenly I feel a sense of a partnership ending and am sad; much more than the EU.

  35. hefner
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    O/T (sorry): I found by chance the comments by Matt Ridley on the book “Inglorious Empire” by Shashi Tharoor, a book he wrote following some talks he gave in Oxford.
    They are on Lord Ridley’s blog rationaloptimist.com.

    It is worth reading the comments “Atoning for the Raj” and, I am sure, the book.
    A nail in the coffin of so-often lauded “benevolent British Empire”.

  36. Anonymous
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    If they gave the choice to English voters the Scots would be free in a thrice.

  37. turboterrier
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Sadly John the majority of politicians have not wised up to reality. Scotland for over the length of the union has relied and solely depended on Westminster handouts and the great British taxpayer has provided the money. It is in their genes and DNA. Why do the want to satay with the EU? Handouts pure and simple. The majority of the Scottish population do not understand financial workings and money markets they think that the governments pay for it all never realising it is their money in the first place. They hate the Tories with a passion and venom and all the time Westminster jumps through hoops to keep them afloat and part of this antiquated union they will hold their soup bowel out and keep asking for more. They have no comprehension when people leave Scotland to live elsewhere they also take all their money and investments with them. Why come to or invest Scotland? Higher taxes, third world roads and infrastructure, police, education, NHS, energy policies all falling apart. Still the Sottish Parliament does not wake up and see they are driving us over the cliff edge. If it don’t get funded it don’t get done. Give them what they want. Remove the boats from Faslane, stop the ship building, separate the grid infrastructure , remove all MoD bases and put up a controlled border and they will still grizzle for more. Let them join the EU and end up paying more and get less. They have to wake up to the hard fact of live that communism, socialism are on paper wonderful until you have not the means to pay for it. Give it to them tomorrow and the only clause is that if in a few decades or centuries they want to come back then it will be the rest of the UK that makes the decision. This madness has gone on for far too long.

  38. Thames Trader
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Alex ……………….. Salmond was interviewed on the Andrew Marr show this morning and said the collapse was due to the shrinkage of the oil industry and loss of (he said) 100,000 jobs. Again, his words: this loss was equivalent to losing over a million jobs from the English economy. Implication – it’s not the SNP’s fault, guv.

    Now I don’t know the real figures for oil industry job losses in Scotland. For all I know the 100,000 figure could include losses in England too.

  39. hefner
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    A question somewhat related to today’s topics: what is the future of the Scottish investment companies: Aberdeen Asset Man’t, Aberforth, Alliance Trust, Argyle, Artemis, Baillie Gifford, and about 15-20 others? Some of the trusts managed there deal with billions worth of people’s savings (e.g., Scottish Mortgage). Have there already been discussions about what could happen with Brexit, with a potential Scottish independence?
    Just curious.

    Reply No sign of Scottish independence. They voted to stay. Why do you think any of this causes problems – the companies will continue to have plenty of clients and run their investments.

    • Chris S
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

      Reply to Reply.

      After a 40 year career in financial services I am certain that the major Scottish Insurers and Investment Houses will want to remain regulated in the UK where the vast majority of their customers are located.

      Most will move their HQs to London or possibly Manchester. They might well leave admin in Edinburgh provided that the SNP don’t make conditions for employers uncompetitive.

      Their situation is very different to London-based institutions dealing across Europe. They would much prefer to remain under the UK regulatory regime not least to avoid the introduction of transaction taxation. All will do the minimum necessary to retain access to the EU markets and remain the leading players in Euro Clearing.

  40. Posted April 9, 2017 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Off topic I know but …..

    I see a wife and two English children are without a husband and father today because yet another Western Government failed to deport a militant who, more than a year ago, was refused the right to stay in Sweden.

    We have seen several incidents of terrorist atrocities being carried out by people who have entered Europe, been refused the right to stay yet have been allowed to remain in the EU.

    When are our representatives and the authorities going to wake up and ensure that those refused asylum are removed in short order or are detained while awaiting deportation ?

    Our security has to come ahead of the dubious rights of those who have come to our shores to do us harm.

    • APL
      Posted April 14, 2017 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

      ChrisS: “When are our representatives and the authorities going to wake up and ensure that those refused asylum are removed in short order or are detained while awaiting deportation?”

      Don’t be silly Chris. Our representatives only represent themselves. As was demonstrated a couple of weeks ago, when the radical pacifist drove his 4×4 through the pedestrians across Westminster Bridge.

      Despite living and working in an actual Fortress, they were seen scurrying around like scared little rats.

      Frankly it was shameful.

  41. John
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    I would be interested in what the effect of a failing Scottish economy has on the Barnet formulae.

    Scottish Life is now called Royal London.

    The bullish Aberdeen Asset Management on independence, is now owned by the Standard Life. Standard Life views in the subject are well known.

    I recon if Scotland left the UK, the UK economy would be the size it was within 2 to 3 years.

    What do they want, its fine by the English if they want independence, just decide!

  42. Tony Sharp
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    A Scots friend told me 20 years ago – before the Hollyrood Parliament “The oil revenue is only as high as it is because the UK Treasury was big enough to allow Big Oil to write off against tax the exploration and exploitation costs and then recoup it with the super Petroleum Revenue Tax – There is no private sector there -everybody works for the Government – Local Authorities, Public Health, Public Transport, Railways, the Universities, UK Defence Contracts and bases, UK Govt agencies … the private sector in Scotland is The Banks, Woolworths and MacDonalds ” Well we know about what happened to the Banks and Woolies – that leaves Big Mac rather than Big Oil as its main employer.

  43. Eric Cire
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Since May 2007 (snp ‘won power’)

    increase / decrease of working age males in employment (Nov-Jan 17 reference period!)

    +792,000 = England (plus seven hundred ninety two thousand)
    -23,000 = Scotland (minus twenty three thousand)
    +6,000 = Wales (plus six thousand)
    -5,000 = N Ireland (minus five thousand)

    https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/datasets/headlinelabourforcesurveyindicatorsforallregionshi00

    ps unhide hidden rows for data back to 1992

  44. Posted April 10, 2017 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    If larger deficits and higher public spending made for more growth , Scotland would have a more successful economy than England. It does not seem to.

    John you know that they are both different set ups. Because Scotland is not the monopoly issuer of the £.

    You can’t compare apples with oranges. At the moment Scotland is nothing more than a county council. Even Yorkshire has a deficit that needs to be back filled by fiscal transfers.

    “Sterling savings” that leaks across broders makes up the Scottish budget deficit along with what the Scottish people save.

    Scotland is like Greece and the Bank of England is like the ECB in this regard. It’s in a fixed exchange rate mechanism that always ends up with someone else controlling the currency.

  45. Roy Grainger
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    I imagine part of the reason for Scottish underperformance is that by and large recent economic migrants from East Europe don’t want to live there.

  46. a-tracy
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    So has their decline gone alongside the rise of the SNP? We effectively had a Scottish led Labour government for years and where did that lead us – into a crash. Brown selling our gold at rock bottom rates, Blair creating lots of unrest with his devolution. The RBS buying up a much bigger English bank then wrecking everything with their Scottish leader who didn’t perform due diligence on his watch. Signing the Lisbon agreement in secret and Blair opening up our borders with millions heading into England instead of behaving responsibly as he was asked. Some of the Scots hate London Westminster Tory-led government with a passion because they are fed hate and prejudice and remember the poll tax trial from what I can gather when I had this shouted in my face.

    What exactly did Scotland gain when their ‘Lords sold them out for the English coin’, How have they benefitted from being in the Union they believe their taxes pay for more than they receive back. How many roads and railways have been built in the empty miles up in Scotland? How many schools are subsidised because of their remote locations, how much is the Royal Mail in Scotland subsidised because of the enormous costs of their last mile delivery. Free movement within the UK is something to be valued isn’t it? You won’t win over the Union by telling people they’ll be worse off if they leave, when they get their next referendum this time they need to be clear what they are giving up because Great Britain did give them money to join, and Great Britain needs to be told what the plan is for the RUK with a hard border, unsecured land borders to the North and the break up of the Banking system for a start.

  47. JasG
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 1:54 am | Permalink

    a. The Scottish government has almost no economic levers to pull and hence any poor numbers must therefore be the fault of Westminster. That is the principal reason for nationalism; ie they believe the Uk.gov is not economically competent and they want to try for themselves.
    b. These GERS figures are well known and well reported to be pure guesswork. It is of course politically expedient for uk.gov to claim that Scotland lags England in growth and leads them in subsidies. Ian Lang admitted that GERS was set up for precisely that purpose.
    c. It is obviously true that spending alone cannot lead to prosperity, however financed. It entirely depends if that spending leads to growth or is just flushed down the drain. Hence it is a false dichotomy you set up.
    d. Yes Scotland is more socialist than England. Well spotted! The South seems to prefer to slavishly copy the USA whilst the North seems to prefer a Scandinavian-style society. The trouble is that Scotland always gets what England wants. Rich or poor, right or wrong, this is not democracy. Scotland is in almost the exact same fiscal position as New Zealand – who btw have their own currency. To continually pretend they are too wee, too poor and too stupid to make it without the bankrupt rest of the UK is risible and deeply insulting.
    e. As I pointed out here before, though it may have been deleted. Scotland may be the backdoor to the EU that English voters – in the face of a dogmatic EU over Brexit – should welcome, if they can just manage to contain their anti-Scot nastiness.
    f. The oil industry is suffering a harsher decline than it should partly because of Osborne’s swingeing taxes on exploration. I’s a real triumph that despite this uk.gov fiscal incompetence there have been huge new finds made off the West of Shetland.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

    Promoted by Fraser McFarland on behalf of John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU

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