The imagery of Nicola Sturgeon enjoying the sunshine in California, touting her independence dream is powerful, when back home Scotland teeters on the edge of recession.
In the last economic quarter growth in 2016 (oct-dec) the UK economy grew by 0.7%, while in Scotland it fell by -0.2%. If we witness another fall of economic growth next quarter we will be officially in recession.
The cause of the Scottish slump, according to the SNP, is ‘brexit’. Yet their reasoning lacks coherence. For if ‘Brexit’ has caused the economic slowdown in Scotland, then it equally must be responsible for the economic speed-up in England. Now I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound very logical.
The wider picture in all of this is the actions of the SNP government. It is far more honest to blame them for the poor state of Scotland’s economic potential. And the blame games of Derek MacKay (SNP finance secretary) aren’t cutting any ice. He actually has the brass-neck to blame the voters for the slowdown. Yes, that is his implication when he tries to blame Brexit. Us voters are too stupid or easily startled by the whole brexit process that we’re not spending enough cash in his economy. Never mind retail spending actually grew during the same period the wider economy slowed down…those are just thorny facts undermining the SNPs
Let’s take a look at the parts of the Scottish economy which shrank, and then decide the ‘why. Over the course of 2016 food & beverage (-6.6%), textiles (-11.6%), refining (-8.3%), metals,(-6.3%) computers (-5.9%), transport equipment (-8.85%) & assorted others (-6.7%) all contracted. That means in all of these sectors, also including construction and investments, saw reduced economic activity. Fewer jobs, less wealth creation, reduced growth for our society.
And the ‘why’ is startlingly obvious and myriad. The SNP have put business rates up (from 1.3 to 2.6), income tax, stamp duty and council tax. Scotland is now the highest taxed part of the entire UK. I put it to you that that has something to do with the economic slowdown.
Then there is Nicola’s touting of separation mrkII to anyone with a microphone. 64% of all Scottish exports in goods and services goes to our partners in the UK. That means England, Wales, Northern Ireland. Any credible threats of separation of the ilk Sturgeon is promoting would adversely affect market confidence. Investors, businesses looking to expand, construction giants with portfolios and future projects – they’re all telling the same story. Talk of indyref2 has adversely impacted on their willingness to pursue investment opportunities in Scotland or with Scottish partners. Independence would mean the termination of our optimal currency zone on these isles, it would end the free movement of goods, services, people between Scotland and England. Is it any wonder that we’re seeing industry in Scotland impacted by this threat?
But not to worry! Nicola Sturgeon is in California, discussing separation and trying to take credit for the fruits of Scottish Enterprise long efforts to secure investment.
I’m reminded of 1979 and ‘Crisis? What crisis?’
Journalist Brian Monteith summed it up, ‘Sturgeon Slump’.