Usually when that Scottish economics think tank with a name that sounds like a knitwear college in Pitlochry, the Fraser of Allander Institute, publishes one of its papers, the British nationalist media in Scotland is all over it like flies at a dug’s arse, looking for the crap. There is absolutely nothing in this universe that the media in Scotland likes more than new ways of telling Scotland just how rubbish it is at everything and how mince we are. It’s what they live for.
Economic statistics are a favourite for this sort of thing. They tend to be reassuringly complicated, and couched in arcane jargon that only people who enjoy accountancy understand. This is how opponents of independence have managed to persuade themselves, and many other people in Scotland, that one of the richest countries in the world, a country with an embarrassment of natural resources which few other European nations enjoy, would be too poor to maintain current living standards if it became independent. It’s a lie that’s been repeated so often that it has become an article of faith amongst British nationalists.
However a recent paper from the Fraser of Allander Institute didn’t make headline news on Reporting You’re Too Wee, Too Poor, and Too Stupid. That might just be because the message of this particular paper was deficient in ways of making Scotland look bad. Instead it suggested that Scotland isn’t doing as well out of being a part of the UK as British nationalists would have us believe. The figures show that Scotland’s Gross National Income (GNI), the calculation of the wealth Scotland keeps, was just 94% of Scotland’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the calculation of the wealth produces. In other words, a significant proportion of the wealth that Scotland produces flows out of this country and benefits people elsewhere.
You can read the paper yourself by clicking on the following link. https://fraserofallander.org/scottish-economy/gross-national-income-statistics-for-scotland-a-net-outflow-of-scottish-income/ The paper is titled “Gross national income statistics for Scotland: a net outflow of Scottish income?” With a title like that, you can see why the Scottish press didn’t give it the publicity that they give to any study or survey that claims Scotland is an economic basket case.
The study from the Fraser of Allander Institute confirms a study done by Business for Scotland some years ago, enquiring where Scotland’s wealth goes. http://www.businessforscotland.com/where-does-scotlands-wealth-go/ Despite the fact that in terms of wealth created per head of population, Scotland’s Central Belt generates as much as the South East of England, and the North East of Scotland regularly comes at the top of the economic league table as one of the best performing regions in the UK, Scotland has the lowest proportion of wealthy households in the entire UK. Scotland’s wealth is being sooked out of Scotland. It’s the Union drain.
The same picture is confirmed by a study carried out by the Jimmy Reid Foundation in 2013. A link to this paper is here. http://reidfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Dysfunction1.pdf This study showed that during the period between 1963 and 2011, if Scotland’s economy was unhindered by the systematic drain imposed upon it by UK government macroeconomic policies and priorities, it would be 25% larger that it actually was. The UK is putting a brake on Scotland’s growth, and then opponents of independence sneer that we can’t go fast enough.
For the latest figures available, Scotland’s GDP is calculated at £159.9bn, whereas Scotland’s GNI for the same period is calculated at £150.8bn. That means that during 2016, a time when opponents of independence were insistent that the collapse in oil prices meant that Scotland couldn’t possibly afford to support itself financially, the country was in fact exporting £9.1bn worth of the wealth produced in Scotland. Apparently Scotland is too poor to maintain current levels of public services as an independent nation, but not so poor that it can’t make people outside Scotland extremely wealthy indeed. Just think about that for a second.
Scotland possesses resources which most European countries of an equivalent size can only envy. Denmark is somewhat smaller in surface area than Scotland, and has a population slightly larger. Denmark doesn’t possess anything like Scotland’s natural resources, but somehow it manages to provide a very high standard of living for its citizens. It does so by ensuring that the wealth that Denmark creates is used to benefit the people of Denmark. Scotland has a GNI which is 6% lower than its GDP, Danish GNI is higher than its GDP. That means that all the wealth that Denmark produces stays in Denmark, and on top of that Danish companies import earnings that they have made abroad.
We have more natural resources than Denmark. The people of Scotland are every bit as capable and as well educated as the people of Denmark. Scotland is a country which has invented much of the modern world, despite the fact that according to the British media in Scotland we are a nation of morons. We could only invent stuff like television, or discover penicillin, because of the glorious Union, allegedly. Left to our own devices we do stupid stuff like produce baby boxes that can double up as weapons of mass destruction. Who knew that cardboard would go on fire if you put a blow torch to it? It’s a national scandal. The press would have been much happier if the Scottish government had made sure that the baby boxes were made out of asbestos. Oh. Wait.
There is a significant difference between Scotland and Denmark, and it’s not that Danes are intelligent and capable in a way that Scots are not. The difference is that Scotland’s natural resources and the products of our people’s talent and ingenuity are, under the current constitutional settlement, largely owned and controlled outwith Scotland. The difference is that the wealth that Scottish talent and resources produce flows out of Scotland. The difference is that Scotland’s taxes are collected by a UK government which spends them on things that Scotland doesn’t want or need. The UK government borrows to spend on things that Scotland doesn’t want or need, and then it sends us the bill and tells us we’re too poor.
Scotland’s wealth doesn’t benefit the people of Scotland. It is drained out of Scotland to benefit wealthy shareholders in the South East of England and abroad. Yet we are constantly told that if Scotland takes control of its own political destiny and thus gives itself the capability to take steps to ensure that Scotland’s wealth is used to benefit the people of Scotland instead of flowing out of the country, that we’d be worse off than we are just now. We’d be worse off if we ensured that companies which operate in Scotland pay all the taxes due on wealth generated in Scotland to a Scottish treasury. We’d be worse off if we keep more of our own money rather than see it drain away. We’d be worse off if we stop spending money on things we don’t need. It’s illogical. British nationalism in Scotland is founded in making the people of Scotland believe in magic. By keeping more of our own money, we’re magically supposed to become poorer. The UK makes Scotland’s wealth vanish, and it calls it a Union benefit.
The difference between poverty and impoverishment is the difference between not being able to pay your bills because you’re incapable of earning a living, and not being able to pay your bills because your pay packet is being docked. Scotland isn’t poor, it’s being impoverished. British nationalism depends on making sure that people in Scotland don’t understand the difference.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
Wee Ginger Donations & Speaking engagements
Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send the necessary information. Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.