Since its inception, the Scottish Parliament has not been renowned for its reforming zeal. But the pandemic has thrown up a range of challenges that must be addressed if a ‘working’ system is to re-emerge in hospitals, schools and the courts. It is surely right then that the electorate has some idea of the competing views of each of the political parties as to how they intend to respond to the pandemic’s effects.
“This lack of economic engagement by senior SNP Ministers remains a weakness for the independence message on the economy. Such a policy vacuum in a key area of the independence debate may be manageable when minds are focussed elsewhere but if a Second Referendum were to become a reality then it would soon turn into a significant weak point in the pro-independence argument.”
‘Overall, a combination of : the pandemic lockdown; the existing post financial crisis slowdown, in both absolute and relative (to the UK) terms; and another looming North Sea slowdown, means that Scotland’s economic prospects are far from bright.’
Nicola Sturgeon wants to measure Scotland’s economic success by wellbeing/quality of life, not just GDP. But where’s the beef? The Scottish Budget in February will be the test of what lies behind the rhetoric.
‘Although lying mid-table, Scotland can still be viewed as a relatively prosperous OECD nation. This ranking is likely to apply regardless of whether Scotland is part of the UK or independent. However, independence would still pose questions over how to reduce Scotland’s relatively large fiscal deficit.’
‘The comment by the Scottish Finance Secretary at the time of publication that “Scotland’s economy and public finances are strong” seems fanciful given any reasonable analysis of recent low economic growth figures and a still high, by international standards, fiscal deficit.’
‘All in all, great care needs to be applied when making judgments comparing national productivity levels. As a result, choosing a shift in international rankings as a government policy target is probably unwise.’
‘Underlying (onshore) economic and fiscal fundamentals are little different now to at the time of the first referendum. Economic debate around any second referendum is therefore likely to concentrate on: productivity growth prospects; how to narrow Scotland’s fiscal deficit; and how to improve the Current Account.’
Hence in the same sense that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ is a meaningless statement (without defining Brexit), then so too would ‘Independence means Independence’ be.
‘The Index goes beyond a simple measure of GDP growth in trying to determine relative changes in well-being across similarly developed countries. Indeed, given the tenuous link between government policy and short term economic growth, the Index is better suited to identifying areas which government can influence in order to improve the economic fundamentals’.