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By Jason Michael
How disappointed London and Scottish unionists must be to discover that Scotland isn’t in recession. We never gave them what they wanted. Even with Westminster imposed austerity we are the healthiest economy in the UK.
Well it turns out that we are not in recession. Quite the opposite is true in fact, but you wouldn’t have guessed it if you had been tuned into the British media for the past week. Regardless of inward investment being up and the employment rate being the highest in the UK, the British press hacks were all primed to report that Scotland had at last sunk into recession. What actually happened in the last quarter was that Scotland’s GDP grew by a staggering 0.8 per cent in the three months to March, compared to the paltry 0.2 per cent growth across the UK.
That these figures represent a one per cent upward swing from the last quarter – where our economy was reported to have shrunk by 0.2 per cent, an unexpected shift in the numbers that has caused even Bill Jamieson in The Scotsman to question whether perhaps the last quarter had been “over-stated.” He asks a good question: “How confident can we be about the robustness of figures showing such a marked swing in our fortunes over such a short period?” Suspicious right enough, and, given the hype that was being generated in the BBC – with many commentators positively beside themselves with expectant glee, our curiosity has to be piqued.
Brilliant from Andrew Kerr on Reporting Scotland "look at this chart". Yes Andrew, thanks ... we're f*cking useless… twitter.com/i/web/status/8…—
(@GAPonsonby) July 05, 2017
Why would a Scottish recession excite the British media and why were so many Scottish unionists itching for news that we had gone into recession? We don’t really have to answer those questions. The answers are quite obvious. Nothing would delight the opponents of Scottish independence more than some economic evidence that the Edinburgh government wasn’t capable of keeping the country in the black, regardless of the pain this would inflict on ordinary working people.
It turns out – much to the consternation of the unionists – that the Scottish government is doing quite well at the job of improving the economy. British Prime Minister Theresa May has, in defending the public sector pay cap, made it crystal clear that austerity is here to stay. Yet as Westminster continues to slash savagely at the Scottish budget the Edinburgh government manages to mitigate the cuts, drive employment to the highest rate ever recorded, attract foreign direct investment, and have the healthiest NHS and the brightest education system in the UK. In spite of the cuts we still have free education in Scotland. Still the unionists grumble. They have grasped at every straw; baby boxes – excellent everywhere else in the world, are uniquely evil in Scotland, delays on the best functioning rail network in the UK is somehow a sign of an impending apocalypse, and every mention of independence – almost always by them – is fatal to business.
Unionism, whether that is in Scotland or in the British establishment, needs Scotland to fail. We have a pro-independence government which is now in its tenth year of government in the devolved Edinburgh parliament. Support for the SNP has continued to increase in the country and support for independence in that period has risen steadily from 22 to about 53 per cent. The direction of travel is clear for all to see, and the longer the Scottish National Party stays in government the more likely independence for Scotland becomes.
Few have done more to highlight the consistent negative portrayal of the Scottish economy by the BBC and other British media outlets than academics like Prof John Robertson and the blogs Wings Over Scotland and IndyRef2. They have made us aware of a systematic policy within the British media establishment of presenting Scotland’s economy as a “basket case,” singularly incapable of functioning without the support of the London government. Positive economic news items are understated or ignored and negative stories are emphasised and amplified in order to convince Scottish viewers that Scotland is uniquely incapable of prospering outwith the United Kingdom.
“How confident can we be about the robustness of figures showing such a marked swing in our fortunes over such a short period?”
Oil is a prime example of this BBC strategy of undermining Scots’ confidence in their national economy. Per barrel the price of oil has fallen steadily, due to an OPEC agreement far beyond the control of Scotland, since July 2014 from $104.59 to $45.52 today. This has been used by the UK establishment media to construct a narrative of oil being an “unreliable” resource for an independent Scotland. In spite of this, however, Norway published an expected £16.5bn net government income from its oil production for 2017 – that’s 17.5 per cent of the GDP of Scotland. Even for an “unreliable” commodity, had this be going into the Edinburgh rather than the London exchequer as it presently does, any idiot can appreciate how such an income could benefit Scotland.
Now that we have again defied the London basket case model of our country we must think seriously of how much better these figures would look if Scotland had the power other nations have over their economies. Remove all the cuts London has imposed, inject the revenues from our oil, and consider the shape of the economy then. You don’t have to be a mathematician or an economist to see that things would be a damn sight healthier. London and the unionists in Scotland know this as well as we do, and so it will always be in their interests to keep this rubbish of the basket case economy going. We are a basket case, and so long as we are under the control of London we will continue to be a defunct, basket case economy.
No other country in the world reports its economy quite like this: