Sunday 2 June 2013


Well, it seems that, based on academic research over 30 years of UK economic statistics, the 'Better Together' life that we are promised if we vote to stay with the UK, is more of the same sh*t in a different bucket, or even possibly in the same bucket...
This article was extremely interesting, perhaps all the more so because many of its findings have been pointed out time and again by proponents of independence.

The research was commissioned by the Jimmy Reid Foundation, a left of centre organisation, and carried out by economist Margaret Cuthbert, a respected ex-government economist whose work is quoted regularly by political parties of all colours.

In short it was not commissioned by the SNP or the Yes campaign and it was not carried out by John Swinney, or anyone associated in any way with Scotland's independence campaign.

The main facts appear to be that we have been incredibly badly served over the last 30 years by remaining a member of one of the least productive economies in Europe, inefficiently run from London, for London.

Firstly in distribution of wealth (represented by GDP per capita), the UK has the most uneven performance of any EU country. Even though Italy is always held up as the example of inequality in distribution of wealth (rich booming industrial north and poverty stricken south), the truth is that whilst the difference between richest and poorest areas in Italy is a factor of 2; it in the Uk it is a factor of 4.7. Yes...London has a GDP of 4.7 times that of the poorest part of Britain.  Almost everywhere in Britain suffers in comparison to London which hordes its wealth. The GDP growth in London for example, in the period 2007-2011, was 12%: in Scotland 6%.
Welfare is expensive in the Uk because it is used to compensate the rest of the country for all the economic benefits hoarded by London.

Of all the advanced economies of the EU, the UK is the only one to have seen industrial production decline in the last 30 years. Austria has seen a rise of 99.8%, Norway of 122.5%, Germany 32.7% and Sweden 54.3%. By comparison, since Mrs Thatcher came to power the UK has seen growth of minus 1.2%

Scotland has far more part time and low paid jobs than London, suggesting that there is a structural fault with the labour market.

Exports have weakened, precipitating a weakening balance of payments, and consequently increased borrowing, disproportionately hitting everywhere compared to London.

Productivity in the Uk is 16% weaker than the average of the G7 countries of which the UK pretends to be a member. This is disproportionately felt in areas, like Scotland, where economic activity is real, rather than London where the economic activity is The City.

UK R&D is ranked very low in the EU tables, but what there is is concentrated in London. Scotland's R&D is the lowest in Europe.

Housing debt is massive in London, and economic policy is geared to creating affordable housing within London at the expense of economic growth needs elsewhere. (Didn't one senior banker once say publicly that unemployment in the north was a price worth paying for keeping inflation down?)
The UK is one of the worst places in the EU to be an employee in terms of career development.

Scotland has had years of population decline by comparison to the rest of the UK. This is an indication of economic under performance.

The report also concludes that we should not continue to be in a sterling economic zone after independence, but should strike out with our own currency (let's for now call it the 'Sporran' as a working name). 

Ms Cuthbert suggests that because the UK economy is so concentrated on London, and the housing market in London so different from the rest of the economy, monetary policy is set, and will continue to be set to suit that market... at the expense of the rest of the sterling zone.
(Given that we have already heard a sound reason for staying IN the sterling zone [relating to the strength of the Scottish Sporran v the weakness of the English Pound, creating a situation where, like Switzerland, it would be virtually impossible to sell goods to the sterling England/Wales... one of Scotland's biggest markets], I'd be interested to hear what people think of Ms Cuthbert's opinion.)
Interestingly a spokesman for the Flat Earth Society Better Together said:

"LA LA LA LA LA LA LA Being a part of the United Kingdom is good for Scottish jobs, mortgages and pensions. We sell more goods to the rest of the UK than we do to all the other countries of the world combined. Tens of thousands of people in Scotland earn a living working for UK companies.
"The nationalists may want to turn our biggest economic market into our biggest economic competitor. However, the overwhelming majority of Scots think that this simply makes no sense. LA LA LA LA LA LA"
PS: Questions for Better Together. 
Do we not compete with English industries at the moment? Are you saying that if we hear that an English or Welsh company has tendered for a job we just roll over and let them have it... or do we put in our tender and hope to win?
Tens of thousands of British people (Scots or English) work for American companies like Cadbury, or French companies like Electicité de France, or German companies like Rolls Royce or Mini. Why could Scottish people not continue to work for English companies? 
Just asking guys...


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. tris

    Lets be honest the 'YES ' campaign is by and large stalled and going nowhere they
    started on a positive (they said) agenda for a better life for Scots.
    And now thats not had the impact the snp hoped for its back on the negative attack.
    Problem is the unionists are past masters at that and the nats just make the whole
    Independence debate a turn off.

    The campaign is way too long most have made their mind up not to make there mind up and do more interesting things like fishing or playing chess that sort of thing.

    the Nats hero no doubt back to being a anti hero now Iain Macwhirter has lots to say on this ' listless quality'.

    Cant help but feel on present trends the snp will still be within the UK after the referendum but maybe that is the plan and the devolved Scottish Parliament has killed Independence stone dead.

  3. Well, I suppose you won't be surprised to find that I don't really agree with you, Niko :) Well not on all points.

    I would agree that the campaign (if that is what it is) has been FAR too long.

    That is the fault of both sides. The fact that there is an argument to have has meant that there is an argument going on. I also agree that the bulk of those who have any view on it at all, are those who are political by nature. Most, as you say, are amusing themselves with Corrie or the Football, or who mrs McTavish at number 17 entertains on a Friday night!

    But for the argument, well, I've tried to get people to give an argument for being part of Britain, and the arguments I have got are:

    1) We wouldn't have nuclear weapons if we were just Scotland, In fact we wouldn't be ALLOWED to have nuclear weapons.

    2) We wouldn't sit on the Security Council if we were little Scotland. We wouldn't be important.

    3) We wouldn't have the 4th largest military in the world if we were just Scotland. This military makes the world fear and respect us.

    4) We have hundreds of years of being together; why would we break this up?

    5) We'd have to get a passport to go and see our granny in Carlisle

    6) We wouldn't be important and influential members of the EU, if we were only little Scotland. The UK has real power in teh EU.

    7) We wouldn't be in the G8 if we were only Scotland.

    And I'm trying hard to think of one of these reasons that I should give a stuff about any of that.

    On the other hand we know that because Denis Healy told us) they lied to us about our oil (even if Mrs Curren was far too young to remember that, only being 21 at the time and secretary of the Labour Party at Glasgow university... she would be unlikely to have heard of mr Healy...except when she was protesting about him being too right wing).

    We also know thanks to research done for a Labour/Trades Union organisation that the Uk is one of the most backward countries in the EU or the G8 and certainly on the Security Council. We are tolerated in these big international bodies, because America wants us there.

    We also know that there is a lurch to the hard right in teh UK, with Nigel and half the Tories urging withdrawal from Europe and many of the Tories wanting to become in all but name the 51st state of the USA.

    We know that Tory , Labour or UKIP, there will be no decency about benefits in the UK. Sink of swim.

    OECD and other organisations have agreed that Scotland would be one of the top ten rich countries without London dragging it down (and the research shows that that is what it does).

    One of the things that I've admired about Mr Macwhirter is that he doesn't really take sides. he was one of the first mainline journos not simply to repeat what he was told to say by Mrs lamont and Mr Cameron, but no one knows what his real feelings are. He criticises both sides pretty evenly.

    But hey, we'll see how things change as time goes on.

    I'd not be surprised that both sides are keeping things under their hats.

    Probably in the last few weeks of the campaign things will happen that will make people concentrate carefully on what will happen.

    When it comes to Cameron, I'd put nothing past him. I wouldn't be surprised if they organise some sort of disaster in Glasgow so that the British Army can rescue the good Scottish citizens, and point out that useless stupid clog hopping Scots would have been completely at sea without the suave sophisticated brains of the English MI5 to sort out their problems, and the English soldiers to fight off terrorists.

    That or they will arrange for some senior royal to die a week before so the funeral will be on referendum day. Nothing is too sneaky for an Eton boy who wants his own way.

  4. tris

    All well nearly all politics in the uk is of the right even the snp is more right than left as there choice of policy's and anti trade union stance proves.

    unfortunately it seems that our political elite believe you can vote any party you want
    but you always get neo liberal economic governance.
    Although there is no real evidence do they need it or want it the people by that i mean the majority are happy and content being subjugated by our economic overlords .
    as a few msm reporters are now prone to say can we afford the rich any more after all we get poorer by the day as they get more and more wealthy.

    anyway i digress

    In Political campaigns, truth is the first casualty.

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  6. Actually we could never afford the rich. The rich are only rich at the expense of the poor.

    Blair once said that he had no problem with people getting obscenely rich, as long as the poor gained too. He just failed to carry though the second part of the deal.

    The rich in Britain are so much richer than the poor, by more than twice the nearest country, Italy.

    It's obscene to have people starving (500,000) now using food banks) and others so rich they could afford to buy the crown jewels.

    It's not a healthy way to live, but it is how Britain has always been.

    We have to change. Even if it is not independence, we really cannot go on living in this awful country where the rich rule and poor starve to death.

    I suppose we could beg the Norwegians to take us over.

  7. tris

    I think you will find its a million using food banks still
    ids says nobody needs to use food banks in the uk.
    and he is a reputable source of unbiased information,

    Politics is as most say broken in the uk and has been for
    many a year now. it seemed a good idea (to some) to
    use "triangulation" to get elected.
    But all it led to was people without any morals.beliefs
    or values getting themselves into office for personal financial
    without even the advantage of doing something to make a better
    life for the people.

    All the leaders of the three political parties have gone
    to elite unis become spads and then MPs and finally.
    top office and ministers without any real experience
    of the working world at any time.

    I mean top Labour figures arguing Labour should
    be more tougher on welfare claimants just for
    political gain. Not even as a belief it is the right thing
    to do just to garner a few votes.
    how can anything improve with scum like that in

    1. Bang on Niko.

      Can't argue with any of that.

      Most of them are utter crap.

      At least Johann and Alex had proper jobs before they got into politics. Ruth on the other hand worked briefly for the BBC... 'nuff said.

  8. As for comment number 4. We have been apart for a much longer period.

    1. True.

      I didn't mean to indicate of course that I believed any of the crap.

      I mean it's not the independence people who say that we would have to become enemies or competitors. It's unionists saying that if we become an independent country we will have all sorts of barriers to everything... including visiting your granny in Carlisle, even though you have no problems visiting your other granny in Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, or your Aunt Matilda in Douglas on the Isle of Man.

  9. I read that that red Tory is going to speak to his buddies at the Scottish Tory conference in how to keep us in line to protect his income to avoid losing his winter fuel allowance. Enforced radio silence tomorrow as the Beeb crawls in reverence.

  10. Is that Darling, CH?

    He's pretty much a Tory. he should feel at home at the Tory Party Conference.

    I wonder how Willie Bain feels about his pledge to Scottish pensioners now that Ed is about to means test pension benefits, just like Osborne and IDS wanted.

    What's your policy now Willie? The opposite of what the SNP says, whatever that is, I suspect.

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  12. The whole Yes vs No debate has been squalid thus far.

    All tactical manoeuvres masquerading as 'valued arguments'.

    Darling raised questions about the risks of fiscal freedom in Scotland while also being in monetary union. But ... that alienates me from No frankly. I sit here wanting fiscal autonomy inside the Union (yes, including geographical divisions of nat resources). So, I disagree with the notion you can't separate fiscal and monetary unions off from one another, at least in an optimum currency zone (which the UK unarguable is).

    That said, I fail to see why we need to risk building border check-points with the rest of this small island to get said fiscal autonomy as per the Yes camp position.

    Isn't there a middle way here? Full devolution without the parochialism of outright separation?

    1. Why would there be border posts, Dean. There are none between the Republic of ireland and the UK?

      It's already been made clear that further devolution (of any meaningful type) is not possible.

      None of the parties will do it. Mainly because it would require the renegotiation of the 1707 treaty of Union.

      That would require England to vote too (parliament if not people) Scotland would come out winning and England by contrast losing.

      It won't happen.

      When Cameron talks about further devolution he means the smallest of things... Nothing else is possible (pretty much agreed by everyone, although first suggested by Michael Forsyth).

      Alistair Darling has pointed out that they might also take that devolution which we have away, at least in parts.

      Mr Farage has, I see, sween the error of his ways and his lack of knowledge of history that let him down before. The same laws that prevent us getting more devolution, do mean that education, law and religion cannot be subsumed by their English counterparts, and whether they are decided by Edinburgh or London, they must remain separate, so he has decided that we may keep our parliament, but with fewer powers and only over such things as were always in the hands of Scotland alone.

      The pandering to UKIP could take us in that direction.

  13. And Niko is right to say, in politics the first casualty is 'truth'.

    This whole indyref debate at the media level has left me thoroughly jaded. More so than before, if that were even possible.

  14. I think - yes, I do - that the debate will come alive when we have the big guns debating the issues especially if, and it must, it comes to the stage where agreement in one way or another is reached over economic union, the EU, Nato etc etc.

    I would be interested to see how Niko and Dean or indeed anyone else would see Scotland after a no vote. Would things stay the same and why? Would Scotland we better off and why? Would Scotland be worse off and why not?

    My own feeling is that after the referendum and before the General Election that the two main parties will be even more right-wing in an attempt to attract UKIP voters and that one of the first target would be Scotland which the same voters regard as enjoying "freebies" not available to England and as "everything for nothing" territory.

    1. There is a huge resentment in England about all the things that Scots get from free: prescriptions, bus passes for elderly, university education.

      The are told we get a better deal under the Barnett Formula. (It's never mentioned that we put in even ,re in the way of taxes.)

      Probably your summation is right John. UKIP will be calling the tune, offering (as it can) completely uncosted, impracticable solutions to problems. Of course as they won't win so, rather like the Liberals of old they can promise the moon on a stick.

      The other two parties will bend their already right of centre policies to win potential UKIP voters away.

      Remember that UKIP policies mean getting rid of welfare to pay for a 40% increase in armed forces (that is the 4th largest military spend country in the world!!!) Presumably they want us to be the third! Removal from Europe. Removal of Barnett; reduction in power of Scottish parliament, and removal of MSPs (MPs only to sit at Holyrood, part time. No more first minister, of any colour.

      One of the worries would be that the NHS might be taken back to London (as it wasn't part of the original 1707 agreement), and almost undoubtedly planning would go back to Westminster, allowing them to build nuclear power stations in Scotland.

      I wouldn't want to live in that kind of country, with Nigel pulling the pints, sorry strings (always think of pints when Nigel is concerned!!)

      BTW...did you notice, he has said that all MPS should eat and drink much more... (he's a big fan of expenses!)

    2. John

      I agree, this campaign will not come alive until next spring at the earliest and more so in the 8 or 6 weeks of the campaign as the media start to take sides and people start to take more notice. If the country is an even bigger basket case and that lovely man IDS goes ahead with his additional billions in cuts next April we will see a different campaign and the BT lot will find it increasingly difficult to defend their position and Labour will be in a whole world of hurt.


  15. John: I too would like to see Niko or Dean tell us what they think will happen if we vote NO.

    I see mr Balls has been saying that we should pay more taxes and get smaller benefits in Scotland, on the basis that it is cheaper to live in Scotland than London.

    I'm not sure that Mr Balls is aware that Spring doesn't arrive here until the end of May, just as it's ending in Scotland, and that gas and electricity bills here are sometimes twice the size of the southern English ones.

    Dean...Niko? Any ideas?

  16. Re Dean's border posts, on Monday I traveled to the Republic of Ireland, crossing the border in a small town called Pettigoe.

    The border wasn't even marked, some way after where it might have been, a sign warned us to 'drive on the left'. We did have a problem buying two cokes in the pub right enough, but this was solved with a calculator so the barman (who was watching - I shit you not because it wouldn't available in Scotland [probably] Top Gear on Dave) could work out the exchange rate of pounds to Euros.

    Excellent blog Tris, all points are salient and when taken individually are reason enough to reject the union, any sensible, open person can recognise reasonable argument when they see it and act accordingly.

    1. I've just seen your blog on the border crossing.

      I can't understand why people are still making a fuss about this. It doesn't happen anywhere else.

      Thanks Pa... All compliments gratefully received :)